In the event of a car accident, you probably won’t be thinking very clearly. But learning how to respond beforehand can help protect you from further physical harm, in addition to protecting your legal rights.
We all know car crashes happen every day—according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, over 300,000 accidents have already been reported in 2015. But do you know what to do when you’re the one behind the wheel?
Though a car accident can be traumatic, how you behave immediately after the crash will have an enormous effect on you and your passengers’ physical wellbeing and your legal liability.
1) Check for Injuries. After a car crash, the first step is to check yourself and any passengers for serious, life threatening injuries. If your car is still in motion, pull it over to the side of the road when it is safe to do so.
Florida law requires you to stop and check for injuries at the scene of an accident, and contact emergency medical care for anyone who needs it. If your car is blocking traffic, you must move it out of the way. If your car cannot move, you are responsible for calling a tow truck.
It’s important to also keep an eye out for minor—but still serious—injuries. If you or any of your passengers complain of neck, head, or back pain, it is best not to move them until medical personnel arrive.
2) Stay at the Scene. This is critical—leaving the scene of an accident before it is appropriate to do so can leave you open to criminal prosecution. Even if your intention isn’t to flee from legal liability, you could be charged with a hit-and-run, especially if someone was injured during the accident.
3) Call the Police. In minor accidents, this may not be necessary. But if anyone was injured, or if there was more than slight damage to either vehicle, you are required to report the situation to the police. If you aren’t sure, it may be better to err on the side of caution.
4) Exchange Information. Talk to the other drivers who were involved in the accident. Exchange names, addresses, phone numbers, driver’s license numbers, license plate numbers, and basic insurance information.
While it is important to be as civil as possible with the other drivers, do not admit any fault in any way after an accident. This includes saying things like “I’m sorry, I just wasn’t paying attention to that stop sign.”
5) Talk to Any Witnesses. If there were any witnesses to the accident, try to get their contact information and ask them what they saw. Your insurance agency or attorney may need a statement from them later.
6) Take Pictures. Make sure to take pictures of any physical damage done during the crash—both to your car and any other drivers’ vehicles. Having pictures of any damage will help your insurance properly compensate you, especially if you have photos from before the crash. Taking pictures of other drivers’ vehicle damage will help protect you from fraudulent claims.
7) Contact Your Insurance Company.
As soon as possible, you should contact your insurance company to notify them of the accident. Inform them of any injuries and damage to your vehicle.
8) Keep Track of Medical Treatment and Property Damage. Keep careful records of any medical treatment you receive as a result of the accident, and obtain a valuation of damages to your vehicle from your insurance company. If you disagree with your insurance company’s assessment, you can get a third party estimate from a dealer or car repair specialist.
9) Speak to an Attorney. It’s often difficult to get the compensation you need from insurance company settlements. When insurance companies fail to cover the true cost of the accident, you may need to contact an experienced auto accident law firm to get the necessary compensation from the individual responsible.
About the Author:
Jeffrey Braxton is a trial lawyer in Fort Lauderdale who has devoted his 15-year career to the practice of personal injury law. As lead trial attorney for The Injury Law Firm of South Florida, Jeff has litigated thousands of cases and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an exclusive group of attorneys who have resolved cases in excess of one million dollars.
Although parking lot crashes are rarely high-speed, they do happen – a lot of them. Moreover, parking lot accidents often result in expensive repair bills and insurance increases. A parking lot crash can also cause serious or even fatal injuries, especially if pedestrians are involved. Below we’re going to break down how parking lot auto [..]
Consumer products regulations ensure that most products on the market are safe for their intended use. However, some consumer products companies push the boundaries of regulations or cut corners in the design or manufacturing process, which can lead to dangerous defective products reaching US consumers. When consumers are injured by a defective product, it may [..]
Medical malpractice is a type of professional negligence, and it can take many different forms. For example, it may be based on a negligent action that the doctor took, or conversely, on something the doctor failed to do. However, in order to successfully hold a doctor liable for medical malpractice, you must be able [..]
Florida policyholders purchase insurance and pay premiums with the understanding that – should disaster strike – their insurer will pay out damages to compensate for losses covered in the policy. That’s the whole point of insurance! Paying out covered damages is considered to be acting in good faith on the part of the insurance company. [..]
As your teen approaches their 15th birthday, they have an exciting opportunity – the ability to get their learner’s permit. The Florida learner’s permit allows residents to start the journey toward driving – and freedom! However, in the immortal words of Uncle Ben from Spiderman (say it with us), “With great power comes great responsibility.” [..]
As a parent, you care about your child and you look out for their well-being. However, you may not be aware of which types of injuries occur the most often for Florida kids, and that’s something that can be the difference between avoiding an accident and spending time in the hospital. Children are treated every [..]
The holidays are just around the corner, and many Floridians are looking forward to getting into the holiday spirit with colorful decorations and fun family activities. However, the holidays also carry an increased risk of many kinds of injuries. On their own, holiday decorations are responsible for about 15,000 injuries annually. You probably know to [..]
Not sure which car seat is right for your child? You have an important job as a parent—providing a safe experience for your child while he or she is riding in a vehicle. Thousands of children are injured or killed in Florida car crashes each year, and the right car seat can protect your child [..]
Haunted houses are supposed to be scary. You want to jump. You want to scream. You want to be nervous about turning the next corner. What do you not want? To get hurt. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened to a Michigan woman in 2014. She visited the haunted house as a patron, and a moving [..]
Every day, Florida pedestrians are injured by car drivers. Some injuries are minor, yet some can be life-threatening. In this post, we’ll tell you the types of injuries you can expect if you get hit by a car, and what you can do to fight back and get the compensation you need and deserve. Stats [..]
Bars and advertisements for alcoholic products often encourage people to “drink responsibly,” but in some cases, the establishments or bartenders serving these drinks may be at least partially liable for a patron’s alcohol-related injury or death. Under certain circumstances, bars can—and should—be held responsible for over-serving patrons. Many states have “dram shop” laws (named [..]
The death of a loved one is traumatic and devastating experience— regardless of the cause. However, the ordeal can be especially upsetting if the death could have been avoided had it not been for the negligent actions of another. In Florida, surviving family members and loved ones may be able to recover compensation for [..]
Summertime is quickly approaching, which means barbecues, family vacations, and a lot of days sitting by the pool. While you and your loved ones enjoy the hot summer weather and cool water, it is important to keep yourself safe. In this post we will be focusing on swimming pool injuries and how to prevent them. [..]
Right now, all Florida drivers are required to have car insurance coverage that pays personal injury protection (PIP) benefits, but that may come to an end in 2019 if some lawmakers get their way. Florida currently operates under a “no-fault” system when it comes to paying insurance claims after a car accident. If a [..]
When you become a parent, every little decision regarding your child’s safety and development can become a hot debate. We’re not going to tell you how to raise your child, but we do have one piece of advice backed up with statistics from the AAP and NHTSA. When you are driving with your child, [..]
School is out, but that doesn’t mean your child has to be stuck at home for the summer with no structure and nothing to do. Summer camps are a great way to keep your child active, supervised, and having fun – while also allowing them to branch out. However, summer camps come with a lot [..]
What are your chances of getting hit by someone driving a rental car in Florida? Every year, the state of Florida has 15 million active drivers on its many roads and highways. About 250,000 drivers end up in car crashes annually in Florida. Since almost 85 million visitors come to enjoy Florida every year, [..]
It’s not every day that you get into an accident and need to file a personal injury protection (PIP) suit. This type of litigation may be confusing to many, especially since PIP laws are constantly being debated and changed in Florida. However, it is possible for you to get through this process and receive [..]
Image: http://pixabay.com/en/dog-man-attacking-canine-training-78117/ When Pets Attack, They Can Cause Serious or Even Fatal Injuries Most people like dogs. How can you resist those adoring eyes, the wagging tail, and the warm, fuzzy head that seems to appear in your lap just when you’re feeling your lowest? So many Americans like dogs, in fact, that [..]
The recent death of a Tampa couple is an example of what might have been a potential product liability lawsuit had they lived. On Thanksgiving Day, Kevin and Michelle Livingston were traveling home from a visit to south Florida. Reports indicate that their sport utility vehicle drove into the waters of a canal along [..]
This law firm helped me with my car accident case and helped me to get the most of the medical benefits that were needed after the accident, and gave me fair and helpful expectations on what I would recieve back for the pain and suffering after the accident.