Florida Car Accident FAQs
Q: When should police be notified when an accident occurs?
Ideally, you should contact the police when an accident occurs, even if nobody is injured. This gives you an opportunity to file a report when there are damages. If anyone is injured in the crash, call local law enforcement right away.
Q: Is it necessary to report a very minor accident to my insurance company?
No Florida law demands that you report an accident to your insurance company. However, all car insurance policies state that you must
immediately report any accident. You will thus violate the terms of your insurance policy if you do not report the accident. This can result in voiding your insurance for the accident. You do not have to report it because of Florida law, but because if you have insurance, you are obligated by your contractual agreement with the company to report the accident.
Q: Who can I call for help to receive compensation for my damages and injuries if I was in a car crash caused by another driver?
The Bureau of Motorist Compliance is an entity that works to ensure that those who are responsible for motor vehicle accidents are held accountable for their actions. We require all drivers to have insurance to cover any damages that they may potentially cause and verify this when each vehicle is registered. It is also our job to help you recover compensation for damages and injuries.
You can count on the Bureau of Motorist Compliance to take action when you take action:
- Provide the Crash Report from the investigating law enforcement agency with indication of a moving violation charge.
- If you don’t provide this information, we will automatically process the accident within two to three months. Provide the Crash Report as soon as you can.
- You can then obtain a final judgment against the at-fault driver in a Florida court. After you receive this judgment, wait for one month to obtain your court certified copy of the judgment and send it to the Bureau of Motorist Compliance.
Q: What happens after I send my certified judgment to the Bureau of Motorist Compliance?
- If you sustained damages and injuries, and the at-fault driver has some insurance protection, but no Bodily Injury coverage:
- Provide a written request to obtain the insurance details for property damage coverage from us. Also provide a copy of the crash report. File for the damages with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. You will receive a judgment for injuries. Typically, we have the legal authority to suspend the uninsured party’s license for three years. If there is a judgment, we can suspend the licenses, tags, and registrations until the judgment is satisfied or for up to twenty years.
- If the at-fault driver has no insurance at all:
- Send your reports and judgment to the following address:
- Bureau of Motorist Compliance
2900 Apalachee Parkway, Room B260F, MS-87
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-0585
- The judgment will be enforced immediately ant he license, tags, and registrations of the at-fault driver will be suspended until the judgment is satisfied or up to twenty years.
Q: If someone causes a car accident, what type of motor insurance coverage is required?
The Florida Financial Responsibility Law requires that any person at fault in a crash resulting in bodily injury and property damage to others must have in effect at the time of the crash full liability insurance coverage. This coverage includes minimum limits of bodily injury liability of $10,000 per person, $20,000 per crash, $10,000 property damage liability per crash, and personal injury protection limits of $10,000 per person per crash.
Any person who causes a car accident that results in bodily injury and property damage for another driver must have full liability insurance coverage that is active at the time of the incident. This is required by the Florida Financial Responsibility Law. The coverage has to meet certain requirements:
- Minimum limit of bodily injury liability: $10,000 per person, $20,000 per crash
- Minimum property damage liability: $10,000 per crash
- Personal injury protection limit: $10,000 per person per crash.
Q: If I have been involved in a car crash, what do I need to do first?
It is important to ensure that your car accident is reported to law enforcement to get the appropriate forms completed by a law enforcement officer. Do not start negotiating a payment agreement to settle damages with the at-fault driver. If you don’t have a crash report and attempt to negotiate on your own, you may be unable to receive adequate compensation in the future. You can also be accused of being legally liable for the accident if no report of the accident exists. If there is no crash report, we cannot help you.
Also consider the following general guidelines:
- Always ensure that the complete insurance information of yourself and the at-fault driver is recorded in the crash report by the investigating officer.
- Contact your insurance company right away to report the accident. Your policy should specify the time limit within which you are able to report the crash.
- As soon as you discover that the at-fault driver may not have insurance, report this concern to the insurance company. Your insurance company will have the resources and information to begin pursuing compensation.
- Do Not confront any at-fault driver with your demands, personally. You do not know what sort of person you’re dealing with or how they will respond to demands. Your insurance company should handle this step on your behalf.
Q: Who will be responsible for my medical bills?
Who is responsible for your medical bills will be determined by who was at fault for the accident and what sort of insurance you have. If you own a vehicle, you are legally obligated to have Personal Injury Protection to cover the payments for injuries regardless of who is at fault. This is why it is also known as ‘No-Fault Coverage.’ The coverage of Personal Injury Protection can address 80% of medical expenses within the Personal Injury Protection limit, which is at least $10,000. If you are at fault for the accident, then you will have to pay the excess bills. If the other driver is at fault, then you can file a claim against them for your unpaid medical expenses.
Q: What will Personal Injury Protection Cover?
The cap for Personal Injury Protection is typically $10,000 to cover 80% of medical bills and 60% of lost wages up to the coverage limit. At times, the expense of traveling to and from the doctor and various other accident related expenses can also be covered.
Q: Who is responsible for the cost of damages to my vehicle?
The responsibility for vehicle damages will depend on who is at fault and what sort of insurance coverage you have. If you are at fault for the accident, then you can only turn to your own insurance company, and only if you have collision coverage. If the accident is your fault and you don’t have this coverage, you are the only one who is legally responsible for the cost of your own damages. If the other driver was at fault for the accident, then you will file a claim with their insurance or use your own collision insurance.
Q: What would constitute a bodily injury claim?
Bodily injury claims seek compensation for pain and suffering endured because of an accident. If the accident was your own fault, then you will have no claim for bodily injuries. If the other person is at fault, then you may have a case for bodily injury compensation if your injury is permanent. This can refer to any injury that causes a fracture, bad scarring, the need for surgery, or injuries to soft tissue. You will need a qualified doctor to testify that the injury is permanent.
Q: What is my bodily injury claim worth?
The value of your bodily injury claim will be determined by fault, damage, and available coverage. You may have sustained major permanent injuries, but if nobody is at fault, then the bodily injury claim has a value of zero. The value of your bodily injury claim can also be weakened by the available coverage. Your case is strongest when you can establish fault clearly and demonstrate the severity of your injury.
Q: What is an uninsured/underinsured motorist claim?
If the person who is at fault for the accident does not have insurance or does not have enough insurance to cover your injuries, you can file an uninsured/underinsured motorist claim with your own insurance company, as the equivalent of a bodily injury claim.
Q: The at-fault driver may not be insured and I can’t contact my insurance agent. What do I do?
Obtain a copy of the final crash report and forward it to the Bureau of Motorist Compliance to request that the crash be processed in this way. You can also attach a written letter of denial if the insurance company on your crash report has denied coverage. Send your information to:
Bureau of Motorist Compliance
Neil Kirkman Building, Room B260F, MS-87
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-0585.
Q: How can I obtain the insurance information of the at-fault driver if they did not provide it?
Gather a copy of the complete crash report (front and back) or the driver exchange form and provide these forms to the Bureau of Motorist Compliance. You can fax your request and forms to 850-617-5216 or mail them to the following address (allow ten working days for research and reply):
Bureau of Motorist Compliance
2900 Apalachee Parkway, Room B260F, MS-87
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-0585.
Q: Once the crash report is processed, what does the at-fault driver have to do?
The at-fault driver is going to receive an inquiry from the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. This inquiry will request evidence that that at-fault driver was covered with bodily injury and property damage liability coverage when the accident occurred.
If they cannot provide this evidence, then they need to obtain coverage and get that coverage certified via Form SR-22 for the next three years. They will then need to obtain releases from the victims of the accident that compensation has been received in full to cover injuries and damages. The at-fault driver has a particular time frame to meet these requirements if they want to avoid having their license, tags, and registrations suspended. If the at-fault driver complies with these requirements after the suspension date, they will have to pay a reinstatement fee of $15.
Q: What do I do if the at-fault driver approaches me regarding releases?
You do not have to release the settlements for damages, though you can. You should never sign a release or any kind of document that refers to your compensation by your insurance company for the injuries or damages sustained in your accident. Instead, you should consult your insurance company if these requests are made. The insurance company is vested with subrogation rights against the at-fault driver when they compensate your damages. This means that you could be liable for the payments received from your own insurance company if you sign a release document.
Q: I received a ticket after the accident. Does this mean that I am the at-fault driver?
Typically, the at-fault driver will be the one to receive a ticket. However, this cannot be used as evidence to determine fault, and most cases involve shared fault with both drivers. When it comes to dealing with insurance claims, the initial decision about who was at fault will be based on the person ticketed and this will be the person who must pay damages. Because the insurance company could not witness the accident, they have to rely on the decision of the investigating officer.
Q: If I am at fault for an accident, what information am I required to provide at the scene?
You will be required to provide accurate insurance information to the investigating officer, and you need to ensure that the full name of your insurance company and all insurance information is recorded correctly. The department will then send your information for verification with the insurance company. If the information is incomplete or inaccurate, you may end up with your driver’s license, tags, and registrations revoked unnecessarily.
Q: What if I am uninsured and I cause an accident that involves damages and injuries?
This is a situation that can result in the suspension of your driver’s license, tags, and registrations. To avoid this, purchase a full liability insurance policy that includes bodily injury liability right away. Let the company know that you were involved in an uninsured motorist accident and may need a certification of liability insurance form (Form SR-22).
You will then to attempt to satisfy the losses of the other driver by negotiating with the person or insurance company. You can even negotiate a monthly payment arrangement if you are unable to pay the damages in full. Ensure that you legitimize the agreement with a document that can be used to prove payments as required by the department. You can obtain a release form from your nearest driver’s license office. In the event that the other driver’s insurance company compensates him or her for damages, contact the insurance company for satisfaction of damages.
Q: What do I do with the releases for damages/injuries and Form SR-22?
You can take these documents to your nearest driver’s license office to ensure that your driving privileges are not suspended. Alternatively, mail these documents to the following address when you receive an inquiry from the department that requests your proof of coverage at the time of the accident:
Bureau of Motorist Compliance
2900 Apalachee Parkway , Room B260F, MS-87
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-0585
Q: If I caused an accident, can I be sued by the other driver or their insurance company?
Yes, you can be summoned to court to face a lawsuit against you for causing the car accident. Do not ignore this summons because if you don’t appear in court, you will be unable to protect yourself from any excessive amounts in damages. You may not be able to pay the requested compensation in full, but you can ask the court for a monthly payment arrangement that is based on your income. You will not be subjected to a lawsuit if you have already obtained releases for having settled the damages.
Q: The operator of a vehicle that I own cause an accident that only involves property damage. Does this fall under the Florida Financial Responsibility Law?
No. If there are no bodily injuries sustained through the car accident, then the incident will be subject to the Florida Motor Vehicle No-Fault Law which requires that the owner of the vehicle that caused the crash and the operator who was charged with a moving traffic violations must have a policy in effect that meets the following criteria:
- Personal Injury Protection limit of $10,000 per person per crash
- Compulsory coverage / Property Damage Liability of $10,000 per crash
Make sure that your complete insurance information is accurately recorded by the investigating officer within the crash report to eliminate the necessity of future contacts from the department and to avoid suspension of your driver’s license, tags, and registrations.
Q: What do I do if the operator of a vehicle I own caused an accident, but nobody was injured?
You need to purchase a compulsory coverage property damage liability and personal injury protection policy from an insurance company as soon as possible. Then, work towards negotiating with the persons who sustained property damages and obtain releases for those damages. You can negotiate with the other driver’s insurance company that will assume rights of compensation if they have already reimbursed the insured driver for his or her damages.
Go to your nearest driver’s license office for a release form. If you can’t pay the full amount of damages owed, you can request a monthly payment arrangement. Avoid getting your driver’s license, tags, and registrations suspended by providing the insurance coverage, releases, and monthly payment arrangement to the department when you receive notice.
Q: What happens if the owner and the operator of the at-fault vehicle both lack full coverage at the time of an accident that resulted in personal injuries?
The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles will process the crash report and mail a notice to the addresses of the owner and the operator of the involved vehicle. These notices will provide information on what you need to do before the date of suspension to avoid suspension of your license, tags, and registration. You will need to do the following:
- As soon as you can, purchase an insurance policy that will cover you for bodily injury and property damage liability. Have this policy certified by your insurance company to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles with Form SR-22. You will have to do this for three years following the suspension date.
- Attempt to obtain releases from the victims in the accident for their damages/injuries. You can also post a security deposit with the department in the amounts listed in the crash report.
- If necessary, pay the $15 reinstatement fee.
Q: What happens if the accident took place while I was working?
Many employers provide workers compensation coverage. If your accident occurred at work and your employer offers workers compensation coverage, then you may have the option of filing a supplementing claim for worker’s compensation under Florida law.
Q: Can I hire any attorney to handle my settlement or lawsuit?
You can hire any attorney to represent you in your insurance claim, settlement negotiations, and potential lawsuit. With minor injuries and damages, most lawyers can represent you effectively. However, if you are facing major expenses from injuries, pain and suffering, and significant costs for damages and lost wages, you will want to work with an attorney who has experience in auto accident cases. If your lawyer already has a good reputation with the insurance lawyers and adjusters, this can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case.
Q: Who can I call to ask questions about car insurance laws?
The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles can answer your questions. Call their Customer Service Center at 850-617-2000.
**Remember that this FAQ page is a collection of general questions that can help you to take the right steps following an accident. You may have a lot of questions about your own case, and you will benefit from a free consultation with Miami Automobile Accident Lawyer.