Being involved in a car accident is never a pleasant experience, but it can be made even worse if injuries are sustained. If you do find yourself involved in an accident, there are certain steps you’ll want to follow to make sure the situation is handled properly.
The following list provides the steps you should take if you become involved in a car accident in the state of Florida.
Steps to Take After a Crash
- Determine whether you have been injured. If you have sustained obvious injuries, call 9-1-1 right away. If your injuries are severe, do your best to stay still and wait for emergency personnel to arrive.
- Determine if anyone else has been injured. If your injuries are not too severe for you to move, make sure your passengers are okay. If anyone has sustained injuries, call 9-1-1 right away and request that emergency personnel are sent to the scene immediately.
- Get to a secure location. If you can move, it is a good idea to get out of the road. Move over onto the sidewalk if you can. If your car isn’t too damaged to be driven, make sure you move it out of the driving lanes to prevent further incidents. If your vehicle cannot be driven, get yourself to safety and leave your vehicle where it is.
- Call the authorities. Whether you’ve sustained injuries or not, it is always a good idea to alert the authorities of your accident. Once they have arrived, emergency personnel will complete an accident report to detail the incident in writing. Even if the authorities believe the accident is too minor to warrant an accident report, insist they make one anyway. If they refuse, you may go to the closest police station and complete a report on your own. This piece of documentation is critical to your case, so it is in your best interest not to proceed with your day until this step is complete.
- Wait for assistance. Make sure that your engine is powered off, your hazard lights are turned on, and utilize the road flares in your emergency car kit so that other drivers are aware an accident has occurred.
- Exchange information with the other party involved. Once all injuries have been assessed and handled, the next step is to exchange contact, vehicle, and insurance information with the other driver involved in the accident. You’ll want to make sure you collect the following information from the other driver, even if they make it difficult for you to do so:
- Full name and contact details
- Insurance company and policy number
- Driver’s license and license plate number
- Type, color and model of the vehicle
- Location of the accident
When you go over the details of the accident with the other driver, it is wise not to discuss who is at fault. While it may be tempting, don’t tell the other driver that you’re sorry, as this can be used against you in a court of law. It doesn’t really matter who you think is at fault anyway, because Florida is a no-fault state. That means you are legally required to carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance that will pay for losses sustained in an accident.
- Document the incident. In order to make sure your claim is as successful as it can be, you should gather the following information at the time of the accident:
- Obtain the authorities’ information. Once the police arrive, it’s a good idea to record their names and badge numbers.
- Obtain a copy of the police report. Once the authorities have finished making their report, you should ask where you can retrieve a copy. There’s a good chance your insurance company will ask for this document when you open a claim.
- Take images. You’ll want to make sure that you thoroughly document the incident by taking images of your vehicle from all possible angles. It’s best to take several pictures of the damage done to your vehicle. Take images of the other party’s license plate. Your insurance company may ask for these images to help support your claim.
- Record everyone’s names. Take note of the names and addresses of everyone involved in the accident, including passengers.
- Get to know the witnesses. If there are any witnesses to your accident, be sure to make note of their names and contact details. Witnesses have the potential to add a lot of value to your claim.
- Contact your attorney. Before you contact the insurance company and begin your claim, it’s a good idea to speak with your personal injury attorney and alert them of what happened. Your attorney will be able to provide you with helpful advice so you don’t say anything to hurt your claim. In some cases, your attorney may tell you it’s best if they do the talking with the insurance company. Your attorney will be able to say all the same things you can, but they are not held liable in the same ways you are.
- Alert your insurance provider and begin the claims process. If your attorney decides not to speak to the insurance company for you, be very careful about what you say to the insurance company. Wait until the shock of the accident has subsided so you are not emotional when you make the call. The representatives with the insurance company are not your friends. These companies are in the business of closing claims; not helping customers. They may try to trap you into saying something you don’t really mean. Choose your words carefully and be wary of their shady tactics.
We Are Here For You
Here at The Watson Firm, our attorneys are highly experienced in the field of personal injury law. Our firm has helped many people just like you who have been injured in car accidents and don’t know where to turn. When you hire The Watson Firm, we take responsibility for protecting your rights. Don’t hesitate to contact us with your case right away.