What to do After a Car Accident
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 400,000 auto accidents occurred in the State of Florida in 2018 alone. In an instant, a crash can leave you shaken, disoriented, and unclear how to start putting the pieces of your life back together. However, there are several steps you can take right at the scene to strengthen your claim to seek to recover maximum compensation. If you’ve been involved in a car accident in Florida, it’s time to get expert legal advice for the best way to move forward. Let our experienced car accident attorneys guide you through the process, contact us now.
Important Steps to Take After a Car Accident in Florida
Several important actions should be taken immediately after you have been involved in a car accident in the Sunshine State. State law 316.062 requires you to give your information to either the other driver or an officer. If no officer is present and the other party is not in a condition to take your information, by law you are then required to self-report the incident to the nearest police precinct.
Following the procedures below makes sure you’re protected, supports your car accident claim, and overall, will strengthen your case.
- Dial 9-1-1 to Report an Accident: first and foremost, after an accident, stay at the scene and call 911. If you’re able, get your vehicle off the road and onto the right shoulder. Reporting an accident and getting an official accident report is important. The police will conduct their own investigation at the scene, and this will help when it comes to insurance settlements or in a personal injury lawsuit. The police will help you file an incident report but be sure to request a copy.
- Get Prompt Medical Attention: If you or your passengers are injured, stay stationary and wait for emergency personnel to arrive. Even if you or another person has only slight pain, adrenaline will be soaring and you/they may not even realize that an injury has occurred until you’ve had the chance to calm down. If you do not receive medical treatment at the scene, head to the hospital aftward just to get checked out, get copies of any X-rays/MRIs taken, and save all receipts for medical bills.
- Document Everything: Pull out your phone and take as many photos/videos as you can. You are seeking to document the entirety of the accident scene. Make sure to get close-ups of damage to vehicles and injuries, document where each vehicle was coming from/going to that led to the crash, document the traffic pattern at the time of the crash (was it rush hour, congested, etc.?), note any debris in the roadway, and even document the weather at the time of the incident. All of this information can be crucial to achieving maximum compensation for your car accident claim.
- Collect Contact Information: as stated above, you are seeking to document the pertinent information of the crash so either take a picture/video or physically write down license plates, names of parties involved and eyewitnesses, and everyone’s addresses/phone numbers. Eyewitnesses can help with insurance settlements for personal injury claims, if necessary.
- Contact Your Insurance Company: You should report the crash to your insurance company; however, you should be careful what you say to the insurance company when making an initial report. Remember, insurance companies do not want to willingly hand out settlements – in fact, their business model is built on minimizing claims payouts to maximize their shareholder’s investments. Your own insurance company will use what you say against you to limit the amount they have to pay out on a given claim. Therefore, it’s best to speak with a qualified Florida car accident attorney for advice on how to handle communications with all parties involved including your insurance company. Remember, Florida is a No-Fault state, which means you’ll need to go through your insurance company first to seek compensation. When damages exceed the limits of insurance, additional remedies are available under Florida law to make you whole.
- Never Sign Anything with Your Insurance Carrier: Often, your insurance carrier will be quick to have a claims adjuster make you an offer for what they have deemed to be the “fair” value of the claim. NEVER sign any release with the insurance company before speaking to an attorney specializing in Florida car accidents. By signing, you may be unwittingly giving up your right to additional compensation.
- Never Admit Fault: It’s best to not admit fault, often the accident occurs so quickly that you may not have the facts completely straight. Do not apologize or say that the accident was your fault. This can come back to be used as evidence against you in a personal injury lawsuit. Always let the investigators put together everything that transpired and let your accident attorney handle communications.
- Talk to a Car Accident Attorney: what you should say, what you shouldn’t, how to negotiate with your insurance company, doctors’ bills, oh my! After an accident, an experienced car accident attorney can handle all of these details of the case and more so you can simply focus on getting better.
Being in a Car Accident No Matter How Big or Small Deserves the Same Attention
Remember, the first thing to do after a car accident is to call for emergency services. Once the police arrive, you can take stock of your situation and follow the steps to take after a car accident noted above. Being even minorly injured is cause enough for a trip to the ER and always err on the side of caution after an accident. We absolutely understand an accident can be anywhere from a sheer inconvenience to a life-altering event.
For our firm, all cases deserve the same amount of attention and level of effort towards achieving maximum compensation for our clients. That’s why we’ve developed a complete guide for what to do after an accident in Florida. Download it to your phone or print it and put it in your glovebox. When you’ve been involved in an accident anywhere on the Florida roadways, our firm is available to walk you through all of your options to help you get every bit of compensation available to you under the law.