Florida Car Accident Laws

Car accidents happen, but in Florida, there are a few steps and laws in place to make sure all parties are covered and compensated fairly for damages or injuries.
Written by Kianna Walpole
Edited by R.E. Fulton
If you’re in a car accident in
Florida
, you must immediately call the police to report any crash that results in injury to a person or appears to have caused $500 or more of property damage. Failure to report these accidents immediately can result in a non-moving violation.
  • In the event of an auto accident, Florida drivers are required to contact their insurance company, the Florida DMV, and in more serious cases, local law enforcement. 
  • Florida is now a modified comparative negligence state, meaning that if you’re found more than 50% at-fault for your own personal injury, you can’t receive compensation.
  • You can self-report a car accident with the Florida DMV online or by mail. 

What to do after a car accident in Florida

The first thing you should do
after you've been in an accident
is to move to a safe location and check for injuries. 
If everyone is safe and there are minimal damages, you should gather the following information to help complete the relevant short-form online accident reports: 
  • Time, location, and date of accident
  • Description of vehicles involved
  • Names and addresses of parties involved
  • Names and addresses of witnesses
  • Policyholder insurance information
Once you have all the necessary information, and have provided your information to the other party involved, you need to report the accident to your insurance provider and your local Florida DMV. Additionally, if needed, contact Florida Highway Patrol for assistance with immobile vehicles. 
Drivers can file a
crash report
with the FLHSMV online or by mail:
  • Online: Complete all applicable fields in the Driver Report of a Traffic Crash report and email a copy to
    selfreportcrashes@flhsmv.gov
  • By mail: Download, print, and fill out the Driver Report of a Traffic Crash report. Mail finalized copy to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Crash Reports at 2900 Apalachee Parkway, MS 28 in Tallahassee, FL 32399.
Pro-tip: Take photos of the accident scene—it might help if you need to file an insurance claim.

When to report a car accident to Florida police

According to Florida’s statute of limitations, drivers are required to report an accident to local law enforcement when any injury or death occurs, or property damage exceeds $500
In these situations, there’s no time to waste. You must contact Florida police immediately and gather the following information to file a long-form report: 
  • Contact information of all parties/witnesses involved
  • Description of vehicle
  • Time, location, and date of the accident 
  • Policyholder insurance information
  • Driver license information 
  • Law enforcement officer’s name, badge number, and agency 
Drivers have up to 10 days to file the long-term report with their local Florida DMV. 
In addition, all drivers involved must provide the attending law enforcement office with
proof of insurance
for the police report—not doing so counts as a traffic violation and the appropriate fines and charges will be applied. 
Keep in mind: Failure to report a serious car accident to local law enforcement is considered a non-moving violation, but may still result in a $30 fine.

Claiming damages after a car accident: Florida’s personal injury law

Before you can claim damages in a car accident, it’s important to make sure that you have either a full coverage or minimum coverage policy in place. In the state of Florida, all drivers are required by
Florida insurance laws
to carry at least the minimum state insurance policy. This includes: 
Florida is a no-fault state, meaning you aren’t expected to carry bodily injury liability coverage (BIL)—but drivers do have the choice to add BIL and other coverage options to their current car insurance policy for added protection. 
If you are involved in an accident and caught
driving without insurance
, or without the proper insurance coverage, you won’t only be exempt from compensation—you can also be charged anywhere from $500 to $1,000 and face a
license suspension or revocation
.  

Economic and non-economic damages

When you choose to file a car accident claim against the at-fault driver after an accident, you can apply for either economic or non-economic damages. 
  • Economic damages encompass any economic loss that occurs due to an accident injury. This could be lost wages or medical treatment expenses. To claim economic damages, you will likely have to file an injury claim. 
  • Non-economic damages are more geared toward the pain and suffering you experience as a result of the accident. Some examples include emotional distress, permanent injury, and mental impediments. 
Drivers have four years from the date of the crash to start their case in the court system. 
If your injuries are recognized after the accident and diagnosed, your time begins the day of diagnosis. 
While there are no policy limits for economic and non-economic damage claims in Florida, there is a limit on how much a claimant can receive for punitive damages. This cap limits individuals to only 3 times the amount of compensatory damages, or $500,000—whichever is higher.

Exceptions to the Florida personal injury law

As with most Florida laws, there are exceptions that drivers should be aware of when looking to file a personal injury claim: 
  1. Minor: If you’re under the age of 18 at the time of the accident, most often, the timeline will extend to seven years for you to file a case. If you’re close to turning 18, the four year timeline still applies.
  2. At-fault party left state: Sometimes to avoid penalties and charges, people leave the state. If this happens to you, you might be able to pause the four year time limit until the at-fault party is located. 
  3. Government party: If you’re injured while riding public transportation, or in an accident with a government vehicle who is at-fault, you have only 3 years to file your claim and may be limited to the amount you can recover. 

Assigning fault in Florida car accident cases: Florida’s modified comparative negligence law

Under Florida’s no-fault law, drivers with the state minimum insurance requirements can be covered through their own insurance for medical expenses and lost wages—up to their policy limits. 
It doesn’t matter who’s at-fault in this scenario—each person’s insurance will pay for any car accident injuries. 
But what happens if you want to file a claim and need to assign fault? How does this work in a no-fault state? Through
Florida’s comparative negligence law
!
Prior to March 2023, Florida’s original comparative negligence law followed a ‘pure comparative negligence’ model. This meant that if the damages to your vehicle were deemed a result of your own negligence, you were unable to file for compensation.
Now, Florida resides under a modified comparative negligence law. If any party involved in the accident is found to be over 50% responsible, they are unable to recover damages. But it’s important to note that this change doesn’t include personal injury or wrongful death. 
In either situation, your personal injury lawyer and a jury will determine comparative fault, and adjust compensation accordingly. 
Keep in mind: Both parties are eligible to file for claims after a car crash, provided they have the proper liability insurance in place. 

How will a car accident affect my insurance in Florida?

If you’ve ended up in a car accident, you'll likely pay more for Florida auto insurance—especially if you had a claim filed against you and were found at-fault. Those found at-fault may have a traffic citation placed against their record, which can remain for 3-5 years. 
Luckily, there are a few solutions to help motorists offset growing insurance rates:
  • Ask for
    discounts
    : Most insurance providers offer discounts for good driving habits, multi-car policies, and student drivers. Reach out to your insurance provider to see what discounts you qualify for based on your profile.
  • Shop around: Another solution is to shop around and
    compare free quotes
    from several insurance companies in Florida. You may end up with a lower rate! 
The Jerry app remains the easiest way to find the cheapest insurance you can. As a
licensed broker
, Jerry compares plans from over 55 insurance companies to find you the best price for the coverage you need. 

FAQs 

Your insurance provider will pay for any injuries after an accident—up to your policy’s limits. However, if you’re deemed at-fault through the comparative negligence law, you may have to pay the remaining fees that the other party’s insurance can’t cover.
Florida’s 14-Day Rule states that any injured accident victim needs to seek medical attention and care within 14 days to access their PIP coverage. Without PIP coverage, you will have to pay for your medical bills out of pocket—and you won’t be able to file for a personal injury case.
Settling a car accident case in Florida isn’t a cut and dry process—rather, it can be lengthy, taking anywhere between a few months to years. The duration depends on different factors, including the details of your case, complexity, the law firm you select, and how busy your car accident lawyer is. 
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