Any car accident attorney can tell you that a car accident can leave you shaken. The nerves resulting from a crash may cause you to forget the basic things you should do to protect yourself after a car accident.
If you’re involved in a crash, take these steps before you consult a personal injury law firm.
1. Stay Where You Are
Make sure you’re safe but don’t leave the scene of the car accident. Check for injuries to yourself and any passengers, as well as vehicle damage. If you can, take photos of your vehicle from different angles.
In the United States, leaving the scene of an accident is illegal. If you do leave the scene, authorities may consider the accident a hit and run. You may face charges for a felony or misdemeanor if you leave the area before you report the accident.
You may have your license revoked, pay fines, or even go to jail if you do not stay at the scene. However, make sure you don’t apologize. Your words can be used against you later to prove that you acknowledged you were at fault for the accident.
2. Report the Car Accident in Florida
Call 911 to report the car accident, especially if you see severe damage or someone involved needs immediate medical care. Under Florida law, you must report any accident that involves:
- A crash involving a DUI
- A hit and run
- A car accident involving a commercial vehicle
- A car accident where the damage exceeds $500
- A vehicle that requires a tow truck to remove it from the scene
You can report a car accident online or by mail, but the best move is to call the authorities from the scene. A 911 dispatcher will send emergency personnel. Police will talk to the drivers, as well as any witnesses. An officer will create a police report, which they will share with your insurance company and personal injury attorney.
EMTs will check for injuries and provide treatment on-site. They will also transport any injured parties to the emergency room for additional care if needed.
3. Gather Information
While you wait for emergency personnel, share information with the other driver, if you can. Get their phone number, address, and insurance information, and give them yours.
Get contact information from witnesses, and note everything on paper or your phone. You will need accurate details for the insurance company or car accident attorney.
While you should share information with the other driver, keep details off social media. If the other driver contacts a car accident law firm, your post could be used as evidence against you.
4. Get a Medical Exam
If the car accident seems minor, you may think you can avoid seeking medical care. However, with the adrenaline of the crash, you may not notice your injuries right away. You must seek medical treatment within fourteen (14) days of the accident in order for your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits to be activated under your automobile accident insurance. Your PIP insurance benefits pay for the first $10,000 of medical treatment for your injuries arising from the accident. If you do not seek medical care within 14 days of the accident, your PIP benefits may be denied entirely.
Allow EMTs to evaluate you at the location of the car accident. Even if you refuse transportation to the ER, you should follow up with your regular doctor. Depending on the severity of your injuries, your doctor may refer you to a specialist.
Seeking medical care is not only the best move for your health. If you hire a personal injury attorney, your lawyer will need your medical records from the accident to build your case.
5. Call Your Insurance Company
Under Florida’s car insurance laws, you must file a claim with your insurance company. Since Florida is a no-fault state, your policy’s personal injury protection will cover any medical bills arising from the car accident.
Following a car accident, Florida applies pure comparative negligence. Pure comparative negligence means that if both drivers are found partially at fault, any claim for damages will be adjusted to account for the perceived negligence of each party.
6. Do You Need a Lawyer For Car Accident in Florida?
The laws surrounding car accidents, insurance, and personal injury can overwhelm anyone after a car accident. Skilled car accident lawyers will help you navigate your case and the process of filing a claim.
Contact DiBiaggio Law at (561) 473-9800 or 866-443-1212. Deirdre DiBiaggio PA practices in Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties. If you’re involved in a crash and need a car accident attorney, we can answer your questions and determine your next steps.
Disclaimer: The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.
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