You’re on your way home from last minute holiday shopping or your work’s office party, the roads are congested, there are impatient drivers, and the worst happens, you find yourself involved in a car accident. It’s hard not to panic or at least be in a little bit of shock, but if you are prepared for these instances and know what to do, you will give yourself a much greater advantage in the long run.
Whether damages and injuries to all parties are minor or extensive, you should never leave the scene before taking these steps:
- Do not leave the scene of the accident no matter what. Whether you are not at fault, partially at fault, or entirely at fault, fleeing the scene and failing to report an accident can have serious consequences, including major jail time and fines.
- Make sure you and your passengers are okay. Check for injuries and if you’re unharmed, see if people in the other car need help. Under Florida law, you are obligated to offer injured people help or call emergency services for them. If you are seriously injured, skip the above steps, and try not to move until paramedics arrive.
- Call 911. If people are injured, be sure to ask for emergency medical services when you speak with 911. Even if everyone is okay, you are still legally required to report the accident to the police, so you will need to dial 911. But don’t worry, while you must make a report, the accident report cannot be used for or against you as evidence in a trial as outlined in Florida Statute § 316.066 (4).
- Photograph the scene. You’ll want to take pictures of everything. That means your injuries, vehicle and property damage, and weather or road conditions that contributed to the accident at that time.
- Exchange information. Under Florida Statute § 316.062, drivers involved in a crash resulting in death, injury, or property damage must give the other parties involved their name, address, vehicle registration number, and license information.
Friendly Reminder: Florida is a no-fault auto insurance state, meaning individuals are required to have insurance that covers their own medical expenses and lost wages should they get in an accident. This has resulted in a large percentage of uninsured drivers. Pro Tip: Make sure you have Uninsured Motorist Coverage with your insurance company! This will protect you or a loved one from drivers who are uninsured or under insured with little way or no way to pay you full compensation.
- Get witness information. Should there be any witnesses at the scene, it’s best to get their name and contact information as it can be of help should any legal action need to be taken.
- Get medical treatment. It doesn’t matter the severity of your injury; you should allow medical professionals to check you and seek further medical treatment if necessary.
What happens after all the above is done and you’re free to leave?
You may feel the need to share your auto accident on social media to inform your friends and family but resist the urge! Anything you post on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, or any social platform can be used against you, just like any other form of evidence.
If you receive a call from another party’s insurance company, it is within your rights to tell them they will have speak to your attorney.
When should I notify my insurance company?
Most insurers require you to report an accident within 72 hours, if not immediately, so it’s important to seek legal counsel straight away. You can be sure insurance companies will do anything to get out of paying you what you deserve for the accident and it’s critical to have legal representation protecting your rights. An experienced attorney will be able to handle the insurance company and guide you to a favorable outcome.
How are you feeling?
Though you may not have felt any pain or think your injuries are minor at the time of the accident, you will want to keep an eye on your health. Injuries can worsen or sometimes take hours or even days to fully present themselves, as well as cause other complications. Take note of these injuries and keep record of all your medical information, such as doctors’ appointments, test results, treatments, and any other medical issues relating to the accident.
Hopefully, if you should ever be in the unfortunate position of being involved in an auto accident, you will keep these steps in mind to help you through the process.
If you were in accident, contact us. We have expert personal injury attorneys that will be there for you and fight for you. Insurance companies play hardball… So do we!