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.
Buy a car? Need minimum liability required. Buy a house? Got to have a homeowners’ policy. Living and breathing? Government says you better have health coverage or else. So why does it seem then that those insurance companies that we hire and pay regular monthly premiums to continue to fight so hard against acting in [..]
In June 2018, a horrific crash was caught on camera near Orlando. In this very dramatic footage, the vehicle is seen drifting into a concrete barrier at the toll plaza on the Florida Turnpike near St. Cloud. The impact ejects one of the four passengers onboard out through the windshield and sends him flying for [..]
If you recently suffered injuries from night out on the town, you know that slip and fall injuries are no joke. People have received millions of dollars in compensation after slipping and falling at a store or a bar. Maybe you want to pursue one of these lawsuits yourself. After all, the medical bills are [..]
If you have recently suffered a personal injury and are currently considering filing a claim, you are likely asking yourself whether the effort will be worth your time. Frankly, the answer to that question depends on what the incident has cost you. In a personal injury case, when a judge or jury finds there is [..]
No turn signals, sudden stops, swerving – driving on the road in Florida can feel like an accident waiting to happen. Even if you’ve lived in the state your whole life, it can be incredibly frustrating to drive here. Worse, the blame is shared between retirees, tourists, and just downright bad drivers. Unfortunately, it appears [..]
As a homeowner, you pay your premium for homeowner’s insurance trusting that your insurer will do right by you in the event that the worst happens. That they will pay out for covered damages. This is known as acting in good faith. Although most insurers operate ethically and meet their obligations to policyholders, it’s also [..]
When Harry Davila and his children first came to us in September of 2018, they were heartbroken and deep in grief. Harry had lost his dear wife Mary, and his children had lost their beloved mother. However, their sorrow not only came from the fact that they lost her to breast cancer earlier that month, [..]
This may be obvious, but if you are at fault in a car crash, you can’t receive compensation from anyone. However, you may be too quick to blame yourself if your brakes failed and caused the crash. There are a number of parties who could potentially be at fault for your car accident, so don’t [..]
Are you traveling with your children over spring break? Use these tips to keep your kids safe while you enjoy your family vacation. Prepping for Your Trip Since a trip to the emergency room is needed in a shocking 25 percent of all family vacations, it’s wise to prepare ahead of time for family safety. [..]
Did your child get a new bike over the holidays? Are they begging you to let them bike to school… but you’re feeling hesitant about it? Your worries are understandable. Florida can be a dangerous place for cyclists, and kids aren’t exactly known for being careful. However, children need to have some sense of autonomy, [..]
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, [..]
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 [..]
Car accidents can result in tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of dollars in medical bills, lost wages, and car repairs. How is it decided who will have to pay for these damages and bills? In Florida, it usually starts with personal injury protection (PIP). If you experience damages that add up to less than [..]
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 [..]
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, [..]
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 [..]
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.