Should I Call 911 After a Car Accident in Clearwater?

When a car accident involves death or serious injury, it’s usually obvious that law enforcement needs to get involved. But what if the accident is minor and no one was hurt? 

You may not be legally obligated to call 911, but it’s the smart and safe thing to do after a car accident. In this guide, we’ll explore the reasons to call 911 after a car accident in Clearwater, FL.

When Am I Required to Call the Police?

Calling the police after an accident in Clearwater, FL, is only legally required in the event of a death or an injury. 

If there are over $500 in damages, drivers aren’t required to inform the police. In this case, drivers are required to complete and submit an accident report. This form can be picked up at any police department. It can be returned by mail along with proof of insurance. 

If damages are less than $500, drivers aren’t required to involve law enforcement or file a report about the accident.

Whether police officers are involved or not, drivers in Clearwater are required to move the vehicles to the side of the road. This keeps the roads clear and reduces the risk of further accidents. 

Let the Police Do the Work

With over 300,000 car accidents occurring annually in Florida, law enforcement stays busy. It may not be legally necessary to call the police in an accident. However, it’s still the smart thing to do. 

Letting the police handle the situation has a few different benefits:

  • Drivers receive an official report
  • A neutral account can help to protect against unfair lawsuits
  • A formal report helps to streamline insurance claims
  • A police report reduces paperwork required by each of the drivers

If damages are over $500, police will complete and submit the required paperwork for you, saving you a trip to the police station and the hassle of writing out and mailing the report. 

Although the law may not require an official police report, your insurance policy may ask for one as part of the documentation for an insurance claim. If you fail to call the police while at the scene and later realize it’s a requirement of your insurance company, you may have difficulty getting your claim approved.

Protect Yourself

When you don’t involve the police in an accident, you leave yourself vulnerable to unfair claims from the other party. 

Without an official police report, the insurance companies for each driver have to assign fault based on the evidence and accounts shared by each driver. Even answering a phone call from a claims adjuster can affect your claim. For instance, if they ask, “How are you today?” and you answer, “I’m fine,” a claims adjuster could say that any injuries you later report are exaggerated.

An Official Record of Damages

You might leave a scene with no injuries and minor damage, only to discover soon after that the other driver has claimed serious injuries or a destroyed vehicle. 

Unfortunately, sometimes people choose to use deceit to take advantage of a situation like this for financial gain. An official police report protects you from this type of situation. 

When the police officer completes a report, rather than the drivers involved, the details of the accident become part of the public record. The extent of damages and injuries at the time of the accident are documented in an official capacity, which makes the evidence harder to challenge at a later date.

It’s Better to Be Safe than Sorry

If the other driver objects to police involvement, it might be cause for concern. Let them know you’d be more comfortable having the incident formally documented. 

Although it may be inconvenient to wait for police to arrive at the scene when damages are minimal, it’s the best way to ensure that you are protected against an expensive and time-consuming lawsuit.