Following a minor car accident, you may be tempted just to “let it go.” Dealing with the insurance companies can be a nightmare, and the last thing you need is for your insurance company to increase your monthly premium. The damage to your vehicle looks minimal – and the other driver said he would pay any repair bills directly. Plus, you feel completely fine. Is it really worth getting the police and the insurance companies involved?
In a word, “Yes.”
Any time you are involved in a car accident with another vehicle, with only limited exceptions, you should report the accident both to the police and your insurance company. In fact, in most cases, you will be required to do so. If you have been involved in an accident in and have questions whether to report it, we urge you to immediately for a free, confidential consultation.
Law Requires that Most Car Accidents Be Reported
Under law, drivers are required to report nearly all accidents to the police. Section 316.065(1) of the Statutes states:
“The driver of a vehicle involved in a crash resulting in injury to or death of any persons or damage to any vehicle or other property in an apparent amount of at least $500 shall immediately by the quickest means of communication give notice of the crash. . . .”
If you are involved in an accident that results in (i) injury or death, or (ii) at least $500 worth of damage, then you must report the accident right away. You should report the accident to:
- The local police department if the accident occurs in a municipality (such as West Palm Beach);
- The county sheriff; or,
- The Highway Patrol.
As long as the police come to the scene of the accident, you do not need to separately file a written report. However, if the police do not conduct an investigation, then you must also file a written crash report within 10 days.
If You Do Not Report the Accident to Your Insurance Company, You May Be Denied Coverage
With respect to notifying your insurance company, your insurance policy most likely requires you to provide notice of any accident involving an insured vehicle. If you do not timely report the accident, your insurer may be within its rights to deny coverage. While this may not seem like a big deal after a minor accident, your accident could end up being more expensive than you think. This is because:
- Vehicles often suffer damage that you can’t see by simply inspecting scratched paint or dented body panels.
- You may have internal injuries that do show immediate symptoms.
In fact, while some accidents cause less damage than others, few collisions are truly “minor.” As a result, to comply with the law, protect your rights, and prevent the insurance companies from using your failure to report the accident against you, you should generally call both your insurance company and 911 after being involved in an accident.
Brian D. Guralnick Injury Lawyers for More Information
At Brian D. Guralnick Injury Lawyers, our board-certified trial team has helped numerous accident victims throughout Palm Beach County protect their rights and Demand More® for their car accident injuries. If you have been involved in an accident, online or call me, Brian D. Guralnick, personally at (561) 202-6673 for a free consultation.