Can You File a Tampa Car Accident Claim Without a Police Report?
April 17, 2023 | Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers | Car Accident
Car accident claims are probably the most common of all personal injury claims, and police reports are key to the majority of them. Sometimes, however, car accident claimants fail to produce a police report because the police never arrived at the scene.
In other cases, a police report exists, but the accident victim doesn’t have access to it. Either way, it’s a disadvantage—but not necessarily an insurmountable one.
When Does Florida Require You To Call the Police After an Accident?
Florida law requires you to summon the police to the scene of your accident if it resulted in injury, death, or property damage of at least $500. Remember, it doesn’t take much more than a scratch on a high-value automobile to add up to $500 in property damage.
If you suffer an accident, you probably need to call the police to comply with the law. If you want to file a personal injury or property damage claim, you will need a police report, even if Florida law doesn’t require you to call the police.
Long-Form Police Reports
Florida Statutes section 316.066 requires a long-form police report if:
- Any involved driver appeared to be intoxicated;
- Any involved vehicle was totaled or towed from the scene of the accident;
- Anyone involved in the accident complains of pain or discomfort, even if there has been no confirmation of an injury;
- Any of the vehicles was a commercial motor vehicle; or
- Someone died at the scene of the accident.
You can file this report yourself. If you don’t, you need to cooperate with the police so that they can file one.
Can You File an Accident Claim Without a Police Report?
You can sometimes file an accident claim with an insurance company without a police report. It’s not a good idea, however, if you can find a way to obtain the police report. Here are some of the consequences of failure to create or obtain a police report:
- Many insurance companies will not allow you to file an insurance claim without a police report. Even if you have one, of course, you might be reluctant to file it if its contents are unfavorable to you. Remember, you can oppose an unfavorable police report with contrary evidence.
- The other driver might make false claims to unjustly hold you liable for the accident. Although you can still seek evidence to oppose an unjust claim, your position will be greatly strengthened with a favorable police report.
It’s a different story if you end up at trial. Although courts do not allow police reports into court as evidence, lawyers can question the police officer who created the report. However, if no police report was ever created because you didn’t call the police, the lack of a police report can mean losing your case.
Leaving the Scene of an Accident
A car accident serious enough to make it to trial will certainly be serious enough to require you to call the police and remain at the scene of the accident until the police arrive. If you leave the scene of the accident without speaking to the police (unless your injuries prevent you from doing so), you commit a crime. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, you could end up in jail.
How To File a Claim Without a Police Report
Filing an insurance claim without a police report is similar to filing one with a police report, except that you must supply information yourself that otherwise would have been contained in the police report. This information includes:
- The date, time, and location of the accident;
- Contact details for anyone involved in the accident, including witnesses;
- Insurance information for anyone involved, excluding witnesses;
- License plate numbers, descriptions, and state of registration for any vehicle involved in the accident;
- A description of any injuries or property damage; and
- Weather, time of day, and similar external factors.
Provide any other information or evidence that might help your claim. If you don’t have all of this information, provide as much as you have.
When It’s Time To Hire a Lawyer
Do you need a lawyer to help you press your car accident claim? That depends. For a minor fender bender, it might not be worth it, even without a police report.
However, if the resulting property damage or injuries turn out to be worse than you originally thought, you might want to think twice about handling your claim yourself.
Contact the Tampa Car Accident Law Firm of Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers for Help Today
For more information, please contact Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers to schedule a free consultation with a car accident lawyer in Tampa today. We have five convenient locations in Florida, including Tampa, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, New Port Richey, and Lakeland.
Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers – Tampa Office
601 W Swann Ave, Tampa, FL 33606
Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers – Clearwater Office
600 Bypass Dr Suite 224-D, Clearwater, FL 33764
Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers – St. Petersburg Office
111 2nd Ave NE Suite 350, St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers – New Port Richey Office
5006 Trouble Creek Rd Unit #200, Port Richey, FL 34652
Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers – Lakeland Office
1543 Lakeland Hills Blvd Suite 18, Lakeland, FL 33805