Steps You Should Take Following A Florida Car Accident
As you may already know, it isn’t always easy to think clearly following a car accident. You may be full of anger towards the person that has caused this tragedy or you may be swimming in pain from injury or heart ache from seeing someone you love suffer injuries or even death from the accident. Regardless the situation, it is best to always be prepared and know what steps to take immediately following an accident should you find yourself in the unfortunate situation.
If you keep the these steps in mind following an auto accident in Florida, you should be well positioned to protect yourself and begin your recovery to the life you had before the accident happened.
Do not leave the scene of the accident. It is always best to stay put until the appropriate time to leave. If you leave the scene and someone has been injured or killed, you could face serious criminal charges. It is best to stay put until it is clearly communicated that it is safe to leave.
Check the Scene
Immediately following an auto accident, if you are safe to move about, you should secure the scene to check to see if anyone is injured and needs medical attention. Do not move anyone in case they have injured their neck or back. It is important to decide if it is best to stay where you are or if you would be safer if you moved yourself and your passengers away from the vehicles and the accident to avoid the accident area and other possible hazards. Call for medical emergency assistance immediately if needed.
Report the Accident
Call the law enforcement authorities to report the accident. Even if no one was hurt, it is best to have the call on record. State the facts on how the accident happened. It is important to stay calm and factual, even if the other person is lying about what took place. If the police are not on the scene, make sure you still file a formal police report.
Obtain Witness Names and Contact Information
Do not rely on the police to do this task for you. The importance of witnesses in your car accident claim are critical. Witnesses may leave the scene before the police arrive or law enforcement may not identify them as witnesses all together. If a witness does not want to cooperate you can take a picture of the car’s license plate and write down it’s make and model. Your attorney can use that information later to secure that witnesses’ identity.
Be sure to note the names, numbers, addresses, drivers’ license numbers, license plate numbers, and basic insurance information from all of the drivers involved. If there are passengers, also obtain their names, numbers, and addresses. In talking to other drivers, try to be as cordial as possible; as difficult as it may be at times. You should never apologize for anything having to do with the accident; event out of kindness. This could backfire on you later in a legal case. It is best to just stick to the facts.
Document the Scene
Be sure to take photographs and take notes on the accident from your own phone while you are on the scene. The accident will not stay as fresh on your mind once you leave the scene. Photograph the damages and the injuries. You may interview witnesses by recording them with your phone and take down their information. Collect as much information as possible. There is no such thing as too much information.
Receive a Medical Examination
It is a good idea to be fully examined following an auto accident. You never know what physical damages may have occurred to your body that may not appear at the time of the accident. Many injuries to the neck and muscle injuries may appear several days following an accident. This examination is important not only for your personal health, but also will play an instrumental role in a legal case if you need to have your medical costs covered.
Call Your Insurance Agent
Following an auto accident, it is your responsibility to report the accident to your own insurance carrier. You may share the very basic facts and be sure that they meet your immediate needs like finding a rental car and what your immediate responsibilities are. At this point, it is best to contact your attorney if necessary. Do not speak to the at-fault insurance company or any of their investigators. They will most likely try to obtain a recorded statement from you; they are trained in questioning you in a manipulative manner which can lead you to unknowingly admit accountability for the accident.
Refrain from talking or posting about the accident until fault has been decided. Social media should be avoided. Communication about the accident can backfire if your case ends up in court. It is best to not speak to anyone about your accident except your insurance agent and your attorney until fault has been determined.
Avoid Early Settlement Offers
Often times, the at-fault insurance company will attempt to offer you a settlement quickly following the accident. Please remember many damages may still arise following the accident; medical needs or significant damages to your vehicle that were not initially assessed. It is best to avoid any settlement offers early in the process. It is best to consult with your attorney before accepting any offers.
Contact an Accident Attorney
Knowing your legal rights is imperative to your protection. A Personal Injury Attorney can help you navigate through the legal procedures involved and can help you recover your damages from the accident. The most important thing an accident attorney can do for you is to help bring you back to life as it existed before the accident. If you have been injured in a car accident, contact us today for a free case evaluation.