With almost 250,000 vehicle accidents in the state of Florida every year, it’s important for Floridians to know what to do after a car accident. Car wrecks have the potential for significant injuries, which can lead to large settlements, compensation, and benefits if you are forced to miss work, undergo medical treatment, or experience long-term pain or injury. There are certains steps you can take immediately after a car accident to help build a strong case for your personal injury claim.
- Pull over to the side of the road – Most importantly, take caution during and after an accident to keep everyone safe and prevent further injury. Do not leave the scene of the accident without talking to the police: you can be charged with a Hit and Run offense.
- Call the police – Once you have stopped the car in a safe area, call 911 and wait for an officer to arrive at the scene. Tell the officer how the accident happened, and describe any injuries if there are any. The officer will create a police report to document the accident as well as yours and the other driver’s statements. A police report can be a crucial piece of evidence in determining who is at fault for the accident.
- Exchange information with the other driver – Get the other driver’s insurance information. Typically the officer will obtain this information for the police report, but you also should get a record for yourself. Later you can use the other driver’s insurance information to set up a third party claim. If you hire a car accident lawyer, he or she can use this information to contact the insurance carrier about securing economic damages.
- Write down witness information – Get the names and phone numbers of any witnesses to the accident. Witness testimony can be key to determining who is at fault for a car accident.
- Take photos of the scene – Take pictures of your car and any other automobiles involved in the accident. Also take photos of the intersection, traffic, road hazards, or anything else that may have contributed to the accident.
- Take photos of your injuries – Take pictures of your injuries and any other injuries in your party. Photo evidence of your injuries will help to establish your medical condition after the accident.
- Receive medical treatment for your injuries – In the state of Florida, you have 14 days to receive medical treatment after an accident, or else the insurance company can deny your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. PIP insurance is required by law in Florida. It covers up to $10,000 in medical benefits for covered individuals who are injured in a car accident.
- Call your insurance company – Call your insurance company and report the accident, but be careful about giving a recorded statement. Insurance companies are looking to pay the least amount of money possible for a claim, so they may use your statement against you to deny your coverage. Consult with your attorney before talking to an insurance adjuster.
- Don’t talk to the other insurance company – Oftentimes, insurance companies will try to settle injury claims quickly for less than the case is actually worth. Be wary if the other insurance company calls to speak with you. You can tell them that you are represented by an attorney if you don’t wish to speak with them.
- Discuss your options with a personal injury attorney – An experienced car accident lawyer can determine if you will have a valid personal injury claim against an at-fault party. A personal injury attorney can assist with gathering witness statements, police reports, and other evidence to build a strong case. Your attorney will also be able to negotiate with the insurance company lawyers on your behalf, fighting to get you the maximum compensation you deserve.
Car accidents are traumatic events, so be safe and know what to do if you find yourself in one. Every car accident is different, but if you have suffered a serious injury as a result of another driver’s negligence, it is probably in your best interest to speak to a personal injury lawyer about pursuing an injury claim. Most personal injury lawyers offer free consultations and serve on a contingency basis, meaning you only pay if you win money, so there is no reason to leave money on the table if you have been injured due to another driver’s fault.