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Car accident cases are common but also costly. Our immediate actions or reactions contribute significantly to the outcome of the accident. This guide explains 12 critical steps on what to do after a car accident in Florida..

what to do after a car accident - two car crashed together

1. Do Not Flee The Accident Scene.

Leaving the scene is the last thing you should do when you’re in a car accident. Stay at the scene even if it is a minor auto accident. According to this Florida statute regarding injuries or deaths during an automobile accident, you may face criminal prosecution if you flee.

The success of any legal matter depends on the unique circumstances of each case, therefore, we cannot guarantee particular results for future clients.

2. Show Concern For The Other People Involved.

If you are not hurt and can move, check out the passengers in your car and the other vehicle(s). However, do not argue with anyone. The police will best appreciate your story. So, keep it until they arrive. Also, do not apologize to anyone in any way.

3. Call The Police

It is obvious to call the police in the event of a major auto accident. It is still a good idea even when it is a minor accident. The accident report will come in handy when you need to file an auto insurance claim for property damage. It is necessary that all vehicles involved remain where they are unless they are blocking traffic.

4. Exchange Information With The Other Drivers.

It is important to get the identity of the driver(s) and any passengers in the other car(s). You can do this as you wait for the police to arrive at the scene. The most important details are:

  • Name and contact information of all who were involved in the accident
  • Insurance information such as insurance card or policy number
  • Location of the accident
  • Driver’s license number
  • Vehicle plate numbers

When the police arrive at the scene, an officer will also provide a police report number. Keep this number in a safe place, as you’ll need it when you notify your insurance company.

Accidents happen this vehicle is upside down

5. Speak With Eyewitnesses.

If there are any third-party witnesses at the scene, you should talk to them. Find out what they saw and ask if they are willing to speak to your attorney. If they agree, request their contact information. Again, keep these details in a safe place.

6. Capture Pictures, Videos, And Audio Records.

Photos provide detailed documentation of the accident scene. Find a camera or use your phone’s camera to take as many pictures as you can. However, do not interfere with the police’s process of handling the accident. You can take pictures before the police arrive or after they have left. The more pictures you take, the higher the likelihood of capturing a detail the police may have missed or overlooked.

Some of the details to capture include:

  • The name(s) and contact information of the other driver(s) and any passengers
  • The car’s license plates
  • Insurance coverage numbers
  • Any damage to your vehicle and the other person’s vehicle; focus on getting as many pictures of the damage to your vehicle as possible.
  • The part of the road on which the accident occurred: this will be necessary in case you need to prove that you were driving on the correct side of the road when the accident occurred.
  • Bodily injuries, if any, to yourself, the other driver, and any passengers in your vehicle and any other vehicle(s) involved in the accident.
  • The names and contact information of eyewitnesses who were not involved in the accident.

Besides taking pictures, you can record audios or videos of the conversations going on. However, chances are that not all parties involved will take this kindly. So, store your videos or audios in the cloud or share on social media using your mobile app immediately after you capture them. You can later retrieve them and put them together as evidence.

7. Report The Accident To Your Insurance Company.

Get in touch with your insurance company as soon as you can and file an insurance claim. Most insurance policies require that you report accidents immediately. Provide all the necessary details of the car crash. The deadline for the insurance claim process in Florida is 4 years before you can’t file. However, the sooner you start the claims process with your insurance provider the better.

It is essential that you take good notes and keep good records for the claims process. The details you’ll need to get include the claim number, the name of the insurance agent handling the claim, the phone numbers of all parties involved, rental car receipts, and evidence of payments for other expenses resulting from the accident.

8. Document Your Medical Expenses.

Get medical attention even if there are not any visible injuries and you are not in pain. The impact of the crash may have caused an internal injury to your head, chest, or spinal cord. Let the doctors examine you.

In case you incur personal injury medical expenses, keep records of all the bills. If your auto insurance policy includes medical benefits, then your auto insurance company will take care of the bills. Otherwise, you may want to check out your life insurance or health insurance coverage. Regardless of the method of payment, you need your medical bills as evidence in a court of law when it becomes necessary to file a personal injury lawsuit.

If you live in a no-fault state, then you will not need to make any insurance claims for coverage of your medical bills. Insurance companies must take care of the medical treatment expenses regardless of who is at fault. If you are involved in an accident in a no-fault state, all you need is to do is contact the other driver’s insurance company and report the accident.

Read More: How long after a car accident can you claim injury?

9. Get A Property Damage Valuation.

Evaluate the damage to your car and/or other property. If it is your car, get a mechanic to evaluate the extent of the damage. The same applies when things are the other way around. Ensure that you document all the details of the property damage you have caused. If possible, let the other party agree with your evaluation by signing it. It sounds self-incriminating, but it can save you a lot of money when dealing with malicious people.

10. Tread Softly When Discussing The Accident.

During accidents, even the most experienced drivers become susceptible and can easily accept unreasonable terms. There are insurance scammers on the roads causing accidents, and you never know who is honest and who is not.

Avoid doing any of the following to avoid problems later:

  • Voluntarily accepting that accident was your fault.
  • Signing any statements without the guidance of your attorney.
  • Promising at the scene of the accident to pay for the damages or any minor or serious injuries.
  • Saying that you are not injured. (Review #8 above.)
  • Watch out for tow truck scammers.

Some tow truck drivers receive referral fees for towing a car to a specific repair shop. You are charged more money for repairs than the average customer to cover the tow truck driver’s referral fee.

Your financial situation will get even worse if your insurer does not deal with the shop and your car needs to be towed to another shop. These scammers will charge you prohibitive amounts as towing and storage fees. If you fail to pay, the Repair and Storage Liens Act allows them to sell your car to recover the costs.

In the event that you need towing services, here are five tips on how to avoid these frauds.

  • Some municipalities require tow trucks to have a municipal license number displayed on its side. If you are in such a region, check for the license number.
  • Check if any reputable association or roadside assistance group is affiliated with the tow truck.
  • Ensure that your vehicle goes to the right place in accordance with your state and local laws. Some states and municipalities require that a wrecked vehicle be taken to a police station first.
  • Choose the location to which you want your car towed, preferably under the advice of your insurance company.
  • Stay informed. Read the Consumer Protection Act and municipal regulations regarding tow trucks.

11. Be Wary Of Early Settlement Offers.

There are times when the other driver may ask you to settle the costs of the accident without involving the police or the insurance companies. In spite of how convenient it sounds, this is not always the right thing to do.

You may not immediately know the full extent of the damage to your vehicle and the nature or severity of your injuries. Consequently, you risk losing your insurance coverage. Therefore, do not make this kind of deal with another driver.

Most of the time when the other party is an uninsured motorist, he or she will try to lure you to exchange contact information so that you can settle the issue yourselves. This is not a wise move. You should seek roadside assistance without indulging in any form of negotiation with the other driver.

12. Consider Hiring An Attorney.

Most people overlook attorneys when handling car accident-related issues until things get out of hand. Avoid this by contacting an accident lawyer early. You should not sign any statement with an insurance company or any other party without the guidance of your accident attorney. Learn from him or her how to protect your rights.

Our attorneys work in the following areas:

When You Are Not At Fault

What happens if you are not at fault in a car accident, but the other party accuses you of being at fault? How do you go about disputing fault after car accidents in Florida?

Video Transcript

The success of any legal matter depends on the unique circumstances of each case, therefore, we cannot guarantee particular results for future clients.
Click here for the audio version

Variables In Disputing Fault

Now, this can be a complex situation and the reason for that is there’s a lot of variables that go into what creates an accident and what causes someone to be, as we define in the law, at fault.

Law Enforcement’s Role

Essentially what happens in most cases when there is a car accident, law enforcement & other emergency services will respond to the scene, and they’ll make a determination.

Now, let me be clear about this. Just because law enforcement makes a determination that someone is or isn’t at fault doesn’t mean they’re right.

It happens regularly because most accidents are not actually observed by law enforcement.

They talk to one party, they talk to a witness, they talk to other individuals, and then they have to make a call. That is the normal course. That doesn’t mean that they’re right. And often we challenge those determinations and are successful when disputing fault.

Disputing Fault In Litigation

Even if law enforcement does make a determination that you are at fault, it might not have any relevance to the actual civil lawsuit itself when disputing fault.

If you’ve been accused of being at fault even though you don’t believe you are at fault, that does not mean you don’t potentially have a claim as well against the (other) party.

What it generally requires is an attorney who truly understands litigation and has the ability to build up an actual case for you and to prove — and generally, in the civil realm it is by what we call a preponderance of the evidence, so it’s a slight tipping (of) the scale — that the other party is more likely to be at fault. If we’re able to do that, if we’re able to show that, then your case is not excluded. We’re able to move forward.

What Your Attorney Will Do

Clearly, there are a lot of variables that come into play when disputing fault and that’s something that we as your attorney have to flush out as we move forward with the case as to exactly what happened, how it happened, (and) what witnesses may or may not be available.

Again, sometimes drivers who are at fault will just make the claim even though it’s not accurate, not true, and cannot be validated. It doesn’t mean that it holds any water whatsoever and sometimes it just immediately gets dismissed by either an insurance company or a law enforcement officer or whoever (else) might be involved.

law

So long story short, it doesn’t mean that you have any sort of liability just because somebody makes an accusation that you’re at fault.

If you know you weren’t at fault, if you believe you weren’t at fault, it’s our job as your experienced car accident lawyer to help you.

If you have any questions regarding your car accident case and disputing fault, give us a call.

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Conclusion

Accidents happen all the time and are almost inevitable even among good drivers. The steps to take after a car accident are crucial. Remember to remain calm and considerate but also be cautious. Let your insurance company and your attorney handle the situation.

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Denmon Pearlman

Law

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St. Petersburg, Florida 33701

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New Port Richey, Florida 34652

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