Accidents are always unwelcome events; they are frightening and unexpected. Depending on the severity, the destruction and damage an accident leaves in its wake can range anywhere from a day ruined, to a life taken. An accident involving a car or motorcycle only take seconds to occur, but often require hours of time and effort to sort out. Even so, most drivers and riders are likely to be involved in a car accident at least once in their lives. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reports that of the 13,635 statewide crashes already reported for 2017, 42.5% resulted in injuries. Aside from property damage, injuries to parties involved in an accident can present time constraints and require fast and deliberate action. The moments following an event as jarring as an accident can be overwhelming– the uncertainty and threat of danger can leave you disoriented. However, if you already have a working knowledge of what to do after a crash, you will be more prepared in those immediate moments afterward to protect yourself and others when it matters most. If you are in an accident, you can keep these steps in mind to restore some order in the aftermath:
- Safeguard the Scene: mark off the scene using small flares or cones (it’s smart to keep these in your car for these kinds of circumstances). Move any cars or motorcycles as much as possible out of the flow of traffic.
- Do Your Due Diligence: Stay at the scene of an accident (no matter how small the damage) until you have fulfilled your responsibilities, including checking on all parties and collecting the information necessary to file a claim. If anyone has been injured, assist them to receive medical care by either transporting them or making arrangements.
- Call the police: It is a good idea to report the accident to law enforcement, regardless of the severity of the damage. You may need a formal police report on record as part of a claim to your insurance company.
- Create a(n Accurate) Record: Provide police with a thorough and upfront account of what happened. If there are any facts about the accident that you are not sure about, then state that; don’t misstate or even guess what occurred. If you are asked if you are injured and you aren’t sure; be frank about that as well.
- Document the Damage: Conduct a visual inspection of your car or motorcycle. If there is any apparent physical damage, take clear pictures of the areas, in case they are needed to file as part of your insurance claim. If you have sustained an injury that is visible, be sure to take clear photos of those affected areas as well.
- Exchange Information: Usually the officer investigating the accident collects all appropriate information from all parties involved. If for whatever reason, law enforcement does not respond to the scene, you should exchange information with the other drivers. This includes names, addresses, phone numbers, registration numbers, and insurance information. You should obtain contact information and insurance information from all passengers as well. If there are any witnesses, you should collect their contact information in case their statements may be needed later. If a police officer does arrive, and opens a formal report, be sure that you are provided with the report number.
- Tell your Insurance Company: Report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible. Your insurance provider should aid you in the process to open a claim. Throughout the claim process, be prepared to provide accurate information and documentation relating to the accident as well as the resulting damage and/or injuries. You may want to discuss with your provider any provisions as well as limitations of coverage in your policy to help you get an idea of what type of coverage your claim may draw from (personal injury protection for your injuries, property damage liability for damage to others’ vehicles, etc.).
- Seek Medical Attention (if necessary): Under Florida law, personal injury protection, or PIP, insurance holds car insurance companies responsible for compensating injuries that are documented within 14 days following an accident. After the 14 days have passed since the event, you are no longer entitled to any medical benefits for injuries associated with the accident. Unless you are absolutely positive that you have not sustained an injury, it is important that you get evaluated by a physician as soon as possible after the crash. You could make an appointment with your personal physician or go to a local emergency room. Remember that it is common for the pain and injuries from accidents to set in hours or even days after the event.
- Contact an Attorney: Getting in touch with an attorney as soon as possible after an accident can ensure that your rights and financial needs are protected. A lawyer can advise you throughout the claim and settlement process on what course of action will best serve your interests. Florin|Roebig has represented thousands of accident victims; we understand the hardship and sense of urgency after an accident to get your questions answered. Our lawyers believe that people deserve compensation for injuries caused by the negligence of others. We have extensive experience with tactics that insurance companies use to protect their financial interests and we are ready to fight to protect yours.