9 Steps to Take Following a Car Accident

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9 Steps to Take Following a Car Accident

9 Steps to Take Following a Car Accident

Experiencing a car accident is no one’s idea of a good day. Whether you were commuting to work or returning home from errands, there is no comparison to the disorientation and emotional shock that can occur right after your car has collided with another vehicle. No matter how it happened or what the circumstances are, following the right steps after a car accident can help ensure that everyone is safe, legally protected, and prepared for the insurance SNAFU to come. As experienced car accident lawyers, we know that it is tough to do the right think when you are upset and possibly injured after a car accident. That is why we have broken down the smart post-accident response into nine easy steps.

Here is what to do after you have experienced a car accident:

1) Identify and Treat Injuries

The first step is always human safety and care. Check yourself for injuries using your mental awareness and your hands. Make sure no area of your body is numb (and undetected) and that you are whole and fully functioning. Then check your passengers. Make sure they are all right and that everyone is able to move and get out of the car.

Finally, check the other driver and their passengers. If any injuries are serious, call for medical assistance immediately and do not take on first-responder duties if you are not sure your efforts will be helpful. Also, do not apologize, this is an odd legal loophole req

2) Stay With Your Car at the Scene

Next, do not leave the scene. Florida law requires that both parties meet with the police at the scene if there has been significant injuries or property damage. It is illegal to leave the scene without both parties registering their identities and the details of the incident with local police officers or highway patrol. Both cars should try to get out of the road to a safe nearby location, then stay on-site until the police arrive.

3) Contact the Police

Once everyone is safe and the vehicles are as out-of-the-way as possible, call the police. If the issue was a small accident where no one was hurt and insurance will not get involved, you can skip calling the authorities. However, if there are any matters of injury or property damage, Florida law states that the police must be called. Give a neutral account of what happened without laying or taking blame when asked how the accident occurred.

4) Exchange Information with the Other Driver

Talk to the other driver, or drivers, who were involved in the accident. You will want to exchange some basic personal information, share this data about yourself and take a record (phone notes and pictures are handy) of the information from other drivers. Here is what to exchange:

  • Names
  • Phone Numbers
  • Home City (not street address)
  • Drivers License Number
  • License Plate Number
  • Insurance Provider and ID

Give this information about yourself and make sure you have the full set for each of the other drivers involved, whether that is one driver or several.

5) Get the Contact Info for Any Witnesses

Were there people and other vehicles nearby when the accident occurred? Ask them to act as witnesses, just in case. For each person still around who witnessed the crash, ask for their name and phone number so you can get in touch later. Witnesses tend to disappear back into the crowd so it is important to collect their contact info immediately after the crash.

6) Photograph the Scene & Injuries

Use your phone to collect photo evidence of the accident. Photograph the vehicles before they are moved, from several angles. Photograph specific damage done to your vehicle, and the other vehicle if possible. If there are injuries, photograph them as well to show the state of each injury on the day of the accident. Later, when insurance wants proof of what happened (or tries to lay blame or play down damages) these photos will be essential.

7) Call Your Insurance Agency

Now that the accident is cleaned up and you have collected some data, call your insurance rep or dial the number on your insurance card. Some insurance programs have an online registry for claims but it is often better to walk through the detailed claim onboarding with a live agent. When asked, give the information you have collected. A word to the wise, however, do not apologize or accept fault and do not agree to see an insurance-recommended doctor.

8) Keep Records of Medical Treatment and Repair Estimates

In the aftermath, keep very careful records of your medical examination reports, vehicle and property damage reports, and any expenses you pay out-of-pocket before insurance is worked out. These will be necessary to ensure you get the right insurance awarded and that you get the total amount covering the costs created by the accident.

9) Contact a Florida Auto Accident Attorney

Lastly, contact a Florida auto accident attorney to consult on your case. An attorney experienced in car accidents can help you understand your position with the insurance, fight for your rightful award amount, and protect you from blame-laying and undercutting so common with insurance claims. In addition, if your injury goes beyond what insurance can cover, you may need to prepare to file a personal injury suit against the responsible party to fully cover any medical bills and lost wages.

For more insight on what to do after a car accident and how to protect yourself, contact us today.

Starr Law Offices serves the Tampa and St Petersburg areas from our office in Pinellas Park.

 

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