If a Car Accident Results in Minor Damage, Do I Still Have to Call the Police?

October 18, 2021 Criminal Defense, Drunk Driving/DUI

Unfortunately, most people have gotten into a minor car accident, also called a fender-bender. A lot of times, these fender-benders occur at a low speed when someone rear-ends someone else. In cases where both drivers are uninjured and find minor damage to either one or both of their vehicles, they may wonder if calling the police is really necessary. Despite both drivers walking away with no physical injury and little property damage, they are statutorily required to call the police and file a report.

What’s the Law?

Under Section 316.061 of the Florida Statutes, the driver of either vehicle involved in a crash resulting in damage to the vehicle or other property must stop their vehicle at the scene of the crash or as close thereto as possible. Failure to do so will result in a second-degree misdemeanor charge, punishable by up to 60 days in jail and up to a $500 fine. A $5 fine will also be imposed and deposited in the Emergency Medical Services Trust Fund.

These stops must be made without obstructing traffic, and if the damaged vehicle is obstructing traffic, the driver must make a reasonable effort to move the vehicle, so it doesn’t block the usual flow of traffic. Failing to do so can result in a citation for a nonmoving violation, which is punishable by a $30 fine.

After a crash occurs and the drivers pull over, they must also fulfill the requirements codified in Section 316.062 of the Florida Statutes. This requires that the driver of any vehicle in a crash resulting in the injury or death of any person or damage to any vehicle give their name, address, and driver registration number to the other driver involved. They must also provide their driver’s license if the other driver requests it.  Furthermore, this information must be given to the police officer at the scene of the crash or who is investigating the crash, and a report about the crash must be filed. They must also render reasonable assistance to any person who is injured in the crash. This includes the carrying or making arrangements for the carrying of the person to receive medical assistance if they need it, or if the person requests it. If a police officer is not called to the scene, the driver of any vehicle in a crash must report the crash to the nearest police station. Any violation of these requirements is punishable by a nonmoving violation. Interestingly, the requirements under Section 316.062 do not apply to a fully autonomous vehicle operating with the automated driving system engaged in the event of a crash involving the vehicle if the vehicle owner, or a person on behalf of the vehicle owner, promptly contacts a law enforcement agency to report the crash or if the autonomous vehicle has the capability of alerting law enforcement of the crash. It is important to remember that these requirements do not apply in a situation where one driver is involved in an accident and no one else was involved, or no one else’s property was involved.

I Reported the Accident- Now What?

Because Florida is a no-fault state, you cannot get sued for a minor accident even if you are the one who caused it. However, Florida does require that you have vehicle insurance in the form of Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and Property Damage Liability (PDL). Failing to do so can not only cause you to have to pay for damage from an accident out of pocket, but can lead to suspension of your driver’s license/registration and a requirement to pay a reinstatement fee of up to $500. If it is found that the accident was caused by you breaking a law, you may also be issued a citation.

Tallahassee Criminal Defense Attorney

Florida has a vast array of traffic laws that, upon violation, can lead to significant legal repercussions in the form of jail time, fines, and the revocation of driving privileges. The requirements you must fulfill after a minor accident occurs are nuanced and, therefore, it is imperative you retain a knowledgeable and experienced Tallahassee criminal defense attorney. Don Pumphrey and the members of the legal team at Pumphrey Law Firm are incredibly informed on Florida’s traffic laws and can ensure that you are zealously represented. Call us today at (850) 681-7777 or send an online message to discuss your case during an open and free consultation with an attorney in our legal team.

This article was written by Sarah Kamide

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