What to do After a Car Accident in Florida
If you are injured in a car accident, there are steps you can take and mistakes you should avoid to help preserve your legal right to compensation for your injuries. Simple things can mean a lot when you file an insurance claim or pursue litigation.
The number one rule is to remain calm. You may be injured, scared, in shock, upset, or angry. Try to slow down, think clearly, and do not panic. You cannot protect your rights if you are overwhelmed by the situation.
Get Medical Attention
You should get medical attention as quickly as possible. This not only may help you stay healthy but benefit your claim too. How and when you get to a doctor depends on the circumstances. If you are injured and cannot drive, call for an ambulance and go to the nearest hospital emergency department. If it is safe for you to drive and your vehicle still functions, you could drive there. At the very least, see your family doctor as soon as possible.
You will likely be in shock after the accident. Because of all the adrenaline in your system, you may not feel all the injuries you suffered. If you continue your day as planned, you might injure yourself further. The sooner you get a complete exam, the earlier your injuries can be diagnosed, and you may recover faster.
This is also a good idea from a legal perspective. If you delay seeing a physician, the insurance company is more likely to deny your claim. They may state you are not hurt or that your injuries are a result of a subsequent event.
Just being in a car accident is not enough to obtain compensation. Your injuries need to be a result of the accident. That post-accident physical exam will start building the evidence you need with medical records critical to your case.
Call the Police
If your vehicle is disabled and you cannot move it off the roadway, or you are injured, call the police. The officer will start an investigation and create a report. Depending on the evidence, one or both of you may be ticketed or arrested if there is enough evidence that a crime was committed. That report, a ticket, or an arrest is important to your claim.
What the police say and do after the accident won’t necessarily mean you do not have a valid claim or that the other party will compensate you for your injuries, but what they say will be considered when the parties try to determine who is at fault. If the officer blames you in the accident report or gives you a ticket, an insurance company will probably be reluctant to settle your claim.
After the officer arrives, you can refuse to answer his or her questions if what you would say could incriminate you and possibly lead to your arrest.Statements made to a police officer at the scene of a crash by the drivers of the vehicles cannot be used in a civil case. Honestly give the officer the facts as you know them. Avoid giving a long story because you may be misinterpreted or misunderstood, and the officer may think you did something wrong.
The officer should give you the other driver’s name, contact, and insurance information. If you must leave the scene because of your injuries, that information should be in the police report.
Document the Accident Scene
While avoiding traffic, take videos or photos of the vehicles, where they are positioned, and the surrounding area. If the road is covered in water or in bad shape because it is poorly maintained, make sure you get images of that. Take pictures of the stop light or stop sign if the other driver ignored it and struck you. If your injuries are visible, take photos or videos of what happened to you. If the other driver appears drunk, on drugs, or irrational, take videos without antagonizing the person.
Be Careful When Interacting With the Other Driver
No matter what happened, please do not yell at, argue with, or confront the other driver or their passengers. They may be intoxicated or angry with you. They may have a weapon on them or in their vehicle. Prioritize your safety and allow the police to handle the situation.
The other driver may claim they do not have insurance or they might offer you money if you do not call the police or make an insurance claim. Politely refuse. Your injuries and the damage to your vehicle may cost you far more than what is being offered. You also risk the other person later calling the police and blaming everything on you.
Get the Help You Need From a Lawyer You Can Trust
Personal injury attorney Jeffrey R. Davis has helped thousands of clients. Many are just like you – injured in a car accident and looking for answers and compensation for their injuries. Call us at (305) 577-3777 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation today.