Accident victims say self-reporting crash forms don't go far enough in reporting blame

Ken Amaro looks into a woman's self-report accident claim.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -  Accidents happen all the time - and they happen in the blink of an eye when no one is expecthing them.

"My son was involved in an accident - it was late at night," said Lori Warden. There were no injuries, according to Warden, and the damage to her son's car was minimal.

A Jacksonville Sheriff's officer even saw the wreck.

"The officer was behind him, saw the crash, and offered my son the option of filling out the self-report," she said.

It was new to him, but since November 2014, JSO has been using 'self-report' in an effort to relieve wait times for help.

"He said it was quicker, it wouldn't take as much time," she said. "My son respects the officer: whatever you say I will do."

It is a Florida DMV-approved form. The drivers exchange insurance information and file a crash report online as long as there are no injuries, minimal damage, and no citations.

The form, however, does not include is who is at fault. Warden made that discovery when she tried to file a claim against the other driver, whom her son said was at fault.

"Their insurance company said there is no proof," said Warden. "So  there is no way to know who is at fault in this accident because there is no crash report."

Matt Carlucci, a longtime State Farm agent is familiar with the self-report forms.

"For the most part it works," he said.

Carlucci said if there's a question of who is at fault, usually the insurance companies will figure it out.

"Most companies will do an investigation, including witnesses and recorded testimonies," he said.

Warden's insurance will pay for the repairs after she pays the $500 deductible. The damage she said that was caused by another driver. She said because the form did not say who is at fault she is stuck with the bill and that she says is not fair.

"I just think they need to figure this out that the officer needs to be more descriptive," said Warden. "there has to be officer participation in this somehow."

Lori-Ellen Smith with JSO said the form works and that, unfortunately, this is a civil issue.

"(The form) It is simpler for citizens; we would not use a vendor form if DMV did not approve it," said Smith.

Carlucci said Warden has the right to subrogate her claim, which means her insurance company will try to recover from the other driver's insurance company.

He said the process could take six weeks, six months, or even a year.

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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