What to do after a car accident

Car accidents happen every day. The Florida Department of Highway and Motor Vehicle Safety (FLHSMV) reports that there were 341,399 reported automobile accidents in the state in 2020 alone.

Even safe, careful and attentive drivers can still end up in serious collisions. Motor vehicle accident injury claims are complicated. You don’t have to navigate the claims process alone. An experienced Fort Lauderdale car accident attorney will protect your rights and help you find the best course of action. In this article, you will find a comprehensive overview of the things you should do after a car accident in Florida.

Stop your vehicle, exchange information and stay at the scene of the accident

If you are involved in an automobile collision, you must stop your vehicle, exchange information and stay at the scene of the accident*. All jurisdictions in the United States require drivers to stop their vehicle and exchange information after a collision. Failure to do so could be a serious violation, or even a hit-and-run felony in the event of a serious accident. Information you need to share with other drivers involved in an accident includes:

  • Last name;
  • Contact information;
  • Driving license;
  • Make and model of the vehicle; and
  • Insurance policy information.

*To note: There is an exception for medical emergencies. Nothing comes before emergency medical needs. If you or your loved one has suffered a serious injury, immediate medical attention is needed. You don’t have to wait at the scene of an accident if you need emergency medical attention.

Call the police and report your accident

Most motor vehicle collisions must be reported to law enforcement. Specific regulations for reporting accidents vary from state to state. In Florida, a car accident must be reported to the authorities if it results in:

  • Any physical injury; Where
  • $500 or more in total property damage.

Considering the cost of vehicle repairs, it doesn’t take much damage to trigger Florida’s car accident reporting requirement. Virtually all travel accidents involving multiple vehicles must be reported to Florida authorities.

It is important to stress that it is generally in your best interests to call the police to attend the scene of the accident. Response officers will write an accident report. The accident report is an important form of documentation about your collision.

Seek immediate medical attention for any injury

Have you been injured in an automobile collision? It is imperative that you consult a professional doctor immediately. Getting to a doctor after a car accident is a very important step for several different reasons. To begin with, you need to have your car accident injuries reviewed for your own health, safety, and general well-being. Many of the most common car accidents occur with a delayed onset. Your injuries may be more serious than you initially think. For example, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), back injuries and muscle strains often worsen 24, 48 or 72 hours after an accident. Be sure to get evaluated by a doctor as soon as possible.

Another key reason car accident victims need prompt medical attention – and proper follow-up care – is that you cannot recover financial compensation for car accident injuries without medical documentation. Whether you file a no-fault auto accident claim or a fault-based auto accident claim, your personal injury compensation will be based on the actual nature and severity of your injuries. If you don’t see a doctor after an accident, you won’t have the medical records you need to get a full and fair financial settlement.

Document the scene: take photos, get information about witnesses, etc.

To protect your legal rights and financial interests, you must carefully document the scene of your accident. In Florida, many car accident claims fall under the state’s no-fault insurance law. However, claims for property damage only can be legal matters based on fault. Additionally, an injured victim can also file a fault claim if they suffered serious harm in an accident in Florida. Either way, the more documentation you have about your accident, the better you will be able to navigate the legal claims process efficiently. Here are some key things to know about documenting a crash:

  • Get information from the other driver: Make sure you have complete information (name, driver’s license number, license plate, make/model and insurance policy details) for each motorist involved in the accident.
  • Take photos: You should always take complete photos of the damage to your vehicle, the scene of the accident, and anything else relevant to knowing how and why the collision happened.
  • Obtain eyewitness contact information: If a third party witnessed your accident, it’s a good idea to get their name and contact information.

Notify your insurance company of the accident

In Florida, all drivers are required to have no-fault Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage as well as mandatory minimum liability coverage. Most insurance coverage requires policyholders to promptly notify the company in the event of a collision. You don’t need to have all the details just yet. Just make sure your insurance company is aware that an accident has occurred. If you are a Florida driver who needs medical attention after an accident, your initial coverage will likely be provided by your own no-fault PIP policy.

Consult an auto accident attorney before reporting to the insurance company

The vast majority of auto accident claims, from property damage claims to personal injury claims, are handled by insurance companies. This may be the driver’s no-fault insurance policy or another party’s liability insurance policy. In any case, victims of road accidents cannot rely on a large insurance company to look after the best interests of their family. The simple reality is that insurance companies are primarily motivated by protecting their own bottom line.

Protect your rights by consulting an auto accident attorney like BKBB Law before making a recorded statement to an insurance company. Claims adjusters are highly qualified. It is their job to represent the insurance company. Adjusters use a wide range of tactics and strategies to attempt to resolve car accident claims at a lower cost. You should always work with insurers through an auto accident attorney.

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