A car accident can happen to anyone and can happen in so many different ways. The automobile accident can be a minor one with no physical injuries. However, what can initially appear to be a minor accident can sometimes lead to longstanding injuries. Therefore, it is important that you take the following steps to protect yourself and your interests after a car accident:
1. STOP. Never drive away from the scene of an accident, even a minor one. Although you are permitted and encouraged to move the vehicles from blocking traffic, make sure all parties (including witnesses) pull over with you.
2. PROTECT YOURSELF AND THE SCENE. You can prevent further accidents by setting up flares, or keeping your flashers on. If it is dark and your lights don’t work, you should have a flashlight to keep you safe while you wait in your disabled car or by the side of the road. If you cannot get move the vehicles from the roadway and are able to move, you should exit your vehicle to prevent a second collision.
3. CALL THE POLICE. Even if there are no serious injuries, it is a good idea to call the police. Without an accident report, it could be a “He Said/She Said” debate on liability. Also, it could be very difficult to get the insurance company to pay for medical treatment if an occupant is not listed on an accident report.
4. GET WITNESS INFORMATION. Much valuable information is lost if an unbiased witness leaves the scene after the car accident without providing contact information. If there are witnesses, get their name and telephone number. Take a photo of their driver’s license if they will permit it. Take a photo of their license tag as well.
5. TAKE PICTURES. If you happen to have a camera in your vehicle, or a cell phone equipped with a camera, you should take pictures of the vehicles if there is visible damage. Remember to take photos of both the front and back of the vehicle. If you have visible injuries, you should photograph them as well. Also, take photos of the persons involved in the crash and the license tag of any vehicle involved. You can take close-up photos, but also be sure to take far away shots so everyone knows where the close-up shots come from.
6. EXCHANGE INFORMATION. If no police arrives, make sure you obtain the name, address and telephone number of all persons involved in the accident. This includes the driver and passengers. Also, get their insurance information. A photo of the front and back of their insurance card is always best.
7. REPORT THE CAR ACCIDENT. Call your insurance company as soon as possible and report the accident. However, do not give a recorded statement. Simply report the crash and obtain their claim number. You can always give a recorded statement later with the assistance of legal counsel.
8. SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION. Under Florida law, you must be seen by a medical provider within fourteen (14) days after a car accident in order to be entitled to the Personal Injury Protection benefits you paid for. If a person waits more than 14 days, they would still have a claim against the at-fault driver, but all the medical bills will be outstanding.
9. KEEP A FILE. Keep all your accident-related documents and information together. This information should include a claim number, the claim’s adjuster who is handling the claim, names and phone numbers of all contacts, receipts for a rental car and other expenses incurred as a result of the accident.
10. PROTECT YOUR RIGHTS. Yes, I am a personal injury attorney so certainly I would tell you to call one of us. However, it is not to get a case, but rather to get you protection. Whether you call me or any other personal injury attorney, it is important that you understand your rights and responsibilities. A car accident can have a life-long impact. The legal advice from a personal injury attorney can minimize the negative impact of a crash.
Drive safely, but watch out for those who don’t. If you are involved in a car accident, make sure you know these ten important steps.
Personal Injury Attorney Matthew Noyes represents those injured in car accidents, motorcycle crashes, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents and other types of personal injury matters. He is a named partner at the Tampa Bay law firm of Perenich Caulfield Avril Noyes – one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Pinellas County. Call Attorney Matthew Noyes now at 727-796-8282 or complete the form on this page or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation. There are no attorneys fees or costs unless we make a recovery for you.