What to Do if You're in a Car Accident in Florida
The Florida Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) offers drivers certain guidelines on proper procedure following a traffic accident. Despite a driver’s conscientious efforts to drive defensively and obey traffic laws, an individual can’t predict someone else’s actions. Even the best drivers may experience an accident involving a collision with one or more other vehicles.
Statistics show that Florida experiences nearly 250,000 traffic crashes every year. The leading cause of vehicle accidents is careless driving, which includes all cases of distracted driving, drowsy driving, and drunk driving. Knowing how to properly react to an accident may save a motorist time and money if it comes to dealing with authorities or insurance companies.
What to do After an Auto Accident
- Stop: Ensure the vehicle is at rest and will not continue to roll. Place the transmission in park and/or engage the manual parking brake. You can also engage the hazard lights if they are functional.
- Assess injuries: Try to determine if any other drivers are injured. If anyone at the scene appears to be hurt, call 911 for rescue medical assistance.
- Don’t block traffic: Move the vehicle out of traffic lanes and as far off the roadway as possible to avoid being struck by passing vehicles. If the vehicle is inoperable or unsafe to drive away from the scene, a tow truck must be called to remove the vehicle.
- Stay at the scene: Remain on the scene until you speak with the other drivers or until police arrive. Leaving without exchanging information can result in license revocation and potential criminal charges.
- Gather information: Gather the names, addresses, and phone numbers of all drivers, passengers, and witnesses. Obtain other drivers’ insurance policy numbers and company names and do not discuss policy limits or coverage details. Record or photograph license plate numbers of all vehicles involved. If possible, take lots of photographs of the other cars, roadway, skid marks, street signs, nearby buildings, and weather conditions.
- Contact police: Any accident resulting in over $500 of property damage or any injuries must be reported. If any doubt over damage value exists, call police anyway – such as local police, country sheriffs, or Florida Highway Patrol. They will tell you whether or not they plan to dispatch an officer to the scene. Responding officers will file an accident report.
- Unattended/Parked vehicles: If you collide with a parked or otherwise unoccupied vehicle, you are legally obligated to inform the owner. Leave a note with your contact information and license plate number and report the accident to local police.
Tickets and Traffic Court
If an accident results from broken traffic laws, such as running a red light, the violator will be cited in connection with the accident. A cited driver will have an opportunity to explain what happened in traffic court. The traffic court will decide any resultant penalties or fines and/or may permit the driver to complete a Traffic Collision Avoidance Course (TCAC).