Being a party to a car accident is an unsettling experience that can have stressful and lasting impacts. With this stress, outside of seeking medical attention, many people are not sure what to do in the immediate aftermath of a car accident. Even after a minor fender-bender, motorists are not always clear on the appropriate steps to take to protect themselves. In these situations, the stakes can be high. This is why we want to share with you six important facts you should know to help prepare you for any legal actions that might follow an accident.
1. Call the Proper Authorities
The first step we encourage you to take after you have been in an accident is to call the authorities and seek medical treatment. Hopefully, you will never be involved in an accident, but if you are, it is crucial that you call 911 as soon as it is safe to do so. Even if you do not think you are hurt, it is still a good idea to get checked out by a medical professional, just to be safe. The effects of a back injury or concussion, for example, may not be immediate and it is important to have any health issues related to the accident thoroughly documented. Having a police report, for example, is a beneficial piece of evidence to have if any legal action is taken.
2. Do Not Leave the Scene
It is extremely important that you do not leave the scene of an accident until it is appropriate to do so. Leaving the scene could lead to serious criminal penalties, especially if someone is injured. We encourage you to wait until law enforcement officials instruct you that you may leave and they do not need any further information from you.
3. Gather Information
Once you are out of your vehicle and in a safe location, try to exchange information with other drivers and witnesses. Get the names, addresses, license plate numbers, and insurance information of other drivers involved, and the contact information of any passengers, if possible. Ask witnesses what they saw, and attempt to get their contact information as well. It is also important that you take pictures of your vehicle, and any other vehicles involved, to document damage for both insurance purposes and any potential future legal proceedings.
4. Do Not Admit Fault
It is not always clear who or what exactly causes an accident, but admitting fault could make you legally liable. Even a simple apology could be construed as an admission of wrongdoing. It is also a good idea not to speak with anyone about the accident other than the police, your insurance company and, if necessary, your attorney.
5. Contact Your Insurance Company
Do not wait to contact your insurance company promptly. Let them know you have been involved in an accident and be honest and forthcoming about your recollection of the event. It is important that you do not speak with another driver’s insurance agent if they contact you without consulting an attorney first.
6. Hire an Attorney
Finally, you may consider hiring an attorney if you or anyone else was injured in the accident. A qualified attorney may point out valid claims you may not know you are entitled to and can help you get the most out of a liability claim, or expertly defend you against one.
The law surrounding insurance claims can be complex and confusing. It can be challenging to navigate those waters if you have been hurt or otherwise impacted by an accident. If you were involved in an accident that caused injury to your or another party, we encourage you to seek the advice of a local, experienced attorney. Our legal team is available to provide you with a free case evaluation and help you obtain any benefits you may be entitled to under Florida law.