No matter how long you’ve been driving. No matter how safe your streets usually are. A car accident can happen to anyone. But what often makes car accidents worse is when someone other than you causes them. Because you have much less control over the situation, not only can the at-fault driver flee the scene, but the driver and their car insurance company can deny responsibility altogether. As a result, you’re left with little to no compensation for your car crash injuries and damages you didn’t even cause. It can’t get any more unfair. That’s why we’re giving you seven actionable steps to be fully prepared for the next time you end up in a car accident that’s not your fault.
7 Immediate Steps To Take Following The Accident
Check For Injuries And Stay Safe
First, take a deep breath. Check that everyone and yourself are alright. If anyone in the vehicle has life-threatening injuries, get immediate medical attention. Don’t move an injured person unless leaving them in place puts the person in more danger. If the car accident took place in the middle of oncoming traffic, make sure to move everyone and all vehicles in the car accident to the side of the road to prevent further damage. Otherwise, leave the accident scene as is for investigation. Then turn on your hazard lights until the police arrive.
Collect Information On The Accident Scene
By Florida state law (see section 316.066), you must give your information to the other drivers involved and the police. If the driver fled the scene and the police didn’t arrive, you create an accident report at the nearest police precinct. Get the name, number, email address, vehicle identification number (VIN), insurance company name, and insurance policy number of all drivers involved.
Take pictures of where the car accident occurred, the weather, severe injuries, vehicle damage, and the license plate of all drivers. Jot down the make and model of all cars on the scene. Most importantly, gather as much information as possible from the other driver. Also, don’t forget your witnesses! Gather their contact information and their statements about the accident. Their comments will become invaluable for building your car accident case.
Call the Police And Report The Accident
Don’t try to work out reparations with the other driver on your own – even if the driver doesn’t want to involve the police or insurance companies. Instead, we highly recommend you call the police regardless of the accident’s severity. That’s because the police will likely serve as your only leverage for filing an accurate police report and holding the at-fault driver accountable. After all, the laws for reporting a car accident vary by state, but it’s illegal to flee the scene nationwide. As you speak with the reporting officer, don’t forget to ask for their name, contact information, and badge number.
Get Medical Treatment As Soon As Possible
See a doctor as soon as possible – even if you’re alright. Because in a high-impact collision, your body releases adrenaline that can mask pain and other symptoms after a crash. As a result, you might not feel pain until hours or even days later.
Car accident injuries such as whiplash, concussion, and spinal cord injury can develop slowly, so it’s best to have them treated before they get worse. Also, get tested for internal injuries and fractures. These injuries, like internal bleeding and swelling, can be life-threatening if not treated immediately. Contact a medical practice treating car injuries if that option is available. Otherwise, go to your primary care physician (PCP). Keep all medical bills, medical records, and lost wages. They’ll be used as leverage to increase your settlement amount later on.
Preserve As Much Evidence As You Can
As you’re gathering your perspective of how the car crash happened, jot down as much information about the scene of the accident as possible with a pen and paper. Sketch a rough map to show the path each car was moving and the crash location. Describe the weather conditions and any other circumstances related to the crash.
As you’re gathering information, do your best to not discuss the car crash with others involved – even if it’s obvious who’s at fault. Never admit blame or give any written or recorded statements that others can use against you. Leave those discussions to the police, insurance companies, and car accident attorneys. Collect information even though the police will record their observations as well. This way, you can tell the story of your serious accident consistently to your insurance company, the other driver’s insurance company, and the attorney if you have one. Have all of your evidence in hand to support your collision claim.
Contact Your Insurance Company
Florida is a no-fault state. That means if you had a personal injury, your insurance company should automatically reimburse you under your personal injury protection (PIP) – regardless of who caused the car accident. However, all the damage and injuries can exceed the required coverage, leaving you to file a third-party claim to the at-fault driver’s insurer. The driver’s insurer should be liable for your damages and compensate you for all accident costs. But unfortunately, for-profit insurance companies often try to avoid liability to meet their bottom line, so you’re likely to get pushback from them. They’ll offer you a much lower settlement, try to blame you for the accident in some way, or even deny your car accident claim altogether. When this is the case, ask your own insurance company to speak to the at-fault’s insurance provider on your behalf. Be ready to tell the whole story of your accident in detail and have your evidence ready to support all your claims. But if the at-fault insurance company still denies all responsibility, consider contacting a car accident lawyer specializing in Florida car accidents to get the compensation you deserve.
Contact Your Personal Injury Attorney
We recommend you speak with an experienced car accident attorney before speaking with the car insurance companies. Insurance companies are usually required to protect the business’s best interest over the driver’s. This case is especially true when the at-fault insurance adjuster lowballs your counteroffer.
An experienced personal injury attorney can file a car accident lawsuit and negotiate with the insurance companies for a fair settlement on your behalf. An experienced attorney can also investigate the accident thoroughly enough to make a more compelling case in a personal injury lawsuit.
What Happens If You Lose Your Vehicle in a No-Fault Accident
The other driver would have to pay you the cost of your car in cash – meaning the cost of your vehicle if it were totaled. Usually, insurers define that cost by taking the difference between the cost of your replacement car and the depreciation cost. The driver is also responsible for covering the replacement car sales tax.
Who Is Responsible for Paying the Deductible in a No-Fault Accident?
The at-fault driver’s insurance company is responsible for paying the deductible in a no-fault accident (see section 324.021). However, processing this kind of insurance claim takes a long time. So if you need to get your car back on the road, you might have to pay the deductible yourself.
What to Do If You Become Injured in a No-Fault Accident
If you get serious injuries in a no-fault accident, you can still seek compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. If their coverage can’t cover all your medical expenses, you can still use your uninsured driver’s coverage to cover your bills.
Do insurance rates go up after an accident caused by an at-fault driver?
Even car accidents you didn’t cause can still increase your insurance rates – but the increase would still be lower than the at-fault driver’s insurance rates. If you want to reduce your rates after a no-fault accident, you need to shop around for other coverage options or adjust your current coverage.
Get Your Free Case Evaluation With A Car Accident Attorney
It isn’t fair for someone to get away with leaving you empty-handed after experiencing such a traumatic experience. If you had a car accident in Florida, contact us at Denmon Pearlman Personal Injury Law to speak with one of our car accident attorneys, so we can fight for the compensation you deserve. We have offices in Brooksville, New Port Richey, St. Petersburg, and Tampa. Also, check out our website for more car accidents blog posts.