Car Accident FAQs
What happens after a car accident? Who is notified?
I was a little surprised to hear some recent questions concerning the public’s understanding of what happens after a car accident, including who is notified of a car accident settlement. As a result, we created this little cheat sheet to clear up some confusion.
Are car accidents public record?
Yes. Under Florida Statute §316.066, crash reports become a matter of public record 60 days after a car accident. Having said that, someone would have to actively search for the record of your crash – which is unlikely.
Are car accident settlements public record?
No. Any settlement you receive “pre-suit” will not be in public record. If you settle a case in suit (i.e. litigation), the case style will be public record. Even with cases in suit, however, the settlement amount is rarely public. Your boss, friends, neighbors, etc. will not know your business.
Are car accident settlements taxable?
No. You do not have to pay taxes on a car accident settlement where you were compensated for your physical injuries for “pain and suffering”. That money is yours. If you have any questions, consult with your accountant.
Are car accident settlements relevant for alimony?
In many cases, personal injury settlements are not considered marital property. In all but rare cases, when you receive compensation for your medical bills or non-economic losses, you’re considered to be the sole owner of the money. So, the settlement belongs solely to the spouse to which it is awarded. As a result, it’s not available for the other spouse to claim during divorce proceedings.
Do I have to tell my boss I got into a car accident?
No. Your business is your business. Having said that, many people do advise their boss that they got into a car accident as it may affect their ability to perform certain jobs (i.e. lifting boxes, driving long distances), require you to take additional breaks during the day (i.e. to stretch) and/or require you to take time off to see doctor(s).
Will my insurance find out if I am involved in a crash if the OTHER party files a claim?
Yes – your insurance company will get notified. This is why it is prudent to advise your insurance company of any car accident – especially if the property damage is significant to either party (over $500.00) and/or if you are claiming injuries.
Someone rear-ended me. Will my insurance rates go up if I was NOT the at-fault party?
It may. It is our understanding that insurers may raise your rates slightly if you have an accident or claim, even if you were found not to be at-fault. Any increase, however, will be significantly lower than if you were found to be at-fault. It all depends on how your particular insurance company calculates your risk. A number of factors may apply including, but not limited to, is this your first accident in the past “X” number of years, does your insurer offer accident forgiveness, your age, gender, education, marital status, address, job, credit history, whether you own/rent, your driving record, any DUIs, how much you drive, where you drive, where you park your car, your claims history, the type of vehicle you drive, safety features on your car, any insurance lapses, the type of coverage your choose, the discounts you ask for, your loyalty, etc.
How would other insurance companies know about my crash?
A comprehensive loss underwriting exchange (CLUE) report discloses any insurance claims made by a policyholder in recent years on your vehicle. For example, if your car was involved in an accident, it will show up on a CLUE report. Insurance companies share information between each other about filed claims to assess risk. If you file a claim with Progressive, for example, State Farm will know about it.
After a car accident, you will have questions. Don’t guess – we will do our best to answer them. If we don’t know the answer, we will tell you. Please call us for a free consultation.