Liability if I didn't exchange insurance information at the scene?
(Santa Rosa Beach, Florida)
I was in a drive through in Florida when the accident occurred. The brakes in my car lost pressure and I hit an older truck. There was no damage to my car, however the truck had a small dent on the rear bumper that can easily be popped out. We use Progressive and the snapshot in my car did not even alert (to my knowledge, but things happened fast).
The police were not called and no accident report was made as the damage was minimal (under 500$) and appeared to be superficial. We did not take any photos at the scene either.
The driver of the truck did not want to exchange insurance info and was unconcerned about the damage because he stated he works in a body shop and it wasn't a big deal. I was reluctant to not provide insurance but did exchange phone numbers in case he changed his mind.
I was still very concerned when I got home and texted him to see if he needed anything, at which time he said 500$ should cover the damage. I was thinking he would give me a bill for the bumper and damage, but once a money exchange was involved I again stated it was best to let insurance handle the situation.
The driver of the truck replied then that he was in pain. In response I gave him my insurance info and asked that he provide his so we can file a claim. He never responded to our request for his information (drivers license, insurance, plate info, etc.), but I thought it in my best interest to start a claim regardless.
I am now concerned that he will be filing a lawsuit for injury and damages. I feel like now he is trying to extort money out of me.
Did I do anything wrong by not pushing to exchange insurance at the scene? What can I do now to protect myself from losing a potential injury lawsuit? After all, I didn't really cover all my bases at the scene because the driver was not concerned. Thanks.
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ANSWER for "Liability if I didn't exchange insurance information at the scene?":
Collin (Santa Rosa Beach, Florida):
Under Florida law Title XXIII Motor Vehicle Code Section 316.061, a driver involved in a crash resulting in damage to property must stop immediately at the scene of the accident in a safe place and exchange with the other driver the following information:
Name, address, and the registration number of the vehicle he or she was driving at the time of the accident.
Unless a police officer responds to the scene of the crash and requests proof of insurance, the above information is all the information which must be exchanged between drivers.
From the facts you present, it appears you only exchanged telephone numbers. Although you don't state it, we will presume you also exchanged names. You both are in violation of Section XXIII Motor Vehicle Code Section 316.061 (1) and Section 316.061(1) because you failed to exchange registration numbers and addresses.
In addition, Section 316.065 (1) requires drivers involved in an accident where there is an apparent amount of damage in the amount of $500.00 or more, to report the crash by the quickest means of communication to the local police department, if the accident occurred in a city.
If the accident occurred outside city limits them the accident must promptly be reported to the County Sheriff's Department. If the accident occurred on a Florida State Highway, then the accident must promptly be reported the Florida Highway Patrol. Unfortunately, if the damage to the other driver's car was was as you say at $500 or more, you are both in violation of Section 316.056 (1)
To read the applicable statutes see:
Section 316.061(1) Crashes involving damage to vehicle or property.
Section 316.062(1) Duty to give information and render aid.
Section 316.065(1) Crashes; reports; penalties.
While it is true the driver of the truck can claim he was injured, from the amount of damage to his truck and the lack of apparent injuries, it is very unlikely he will have a legitimate basis for a personal injury claim.
Nevertheless, immediately report the accident to your insurance company. You have an obligation to do so so under your policy’s Cooperation Clause. This is especially important of the driver does decide to file an injury claim against you.
The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.
Best of luck,
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