According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, there are just over 400,000 car accidents per year—with about 167,000 of those causing injuries. Whether you've been in an injury accident in Florida or you're not sure how to react if you're in one in the future, you'll need to know what to do and what not to do right after the collision. Take a look at these tips on how to react to a car accident in Florida.
Call the Police
Your first step should always be to call the police to report the accident. In fact, in Florida, you're required to report to the police if the accident caused any injuries or deaths or resulted in property damage of $500 or more. If you suspect you or other people are injured, be sure to mention this when you call police so they can dispatch an ambulance.
Check for Injuries
While you wait for the police to arrive, check yourself over to determine if you're injured. Do the same for any passengers in your car. If you feel well enough to do so and are worried about the people in the other car that was involved, find out if they're injured. As you do this, be sure not to apologize or admit any guilt, even if you think the accident may have been your fault. It's often hard to determine fault accurately at the scene of the accident, and you could needlessly jeopardize your claim if you admit fault right away.
Get Contact Information
Once you've assessed yourself and others for injuries, exchange contact information with the other driver. This means collecting their name, home address, phone number, license plate number, and insurance information. In addition, if there were any witnesses who saw the car accident, you should get their contact information so your insurance company or lawyer can contact them later if necessary.
Be Careful What You Say
As mentioned above, while you're interacting with other people on the scene, be careful what you say. Do not admit guilt or even say sorry. And try not to discuss how the accident may have occurred in case the other driver decides from your description that it was your fault. This is why it's best to keep your conversation to a minimum—aside from discussing injuries and contact information—while you wait for police to arrive. Additionally, refrain from posting any details about the car accident on social media, both immediately afterward and for months afterward. You don't want to give any insurance companies or attorneys evidence that could minimize or refute your claims.
Before you go home, be sure to take photographs of the accident scene. If there was damage to your car, take close-up pictures of it. Do the same for any other cars involved. You should also photograph the scene as a whole, getting it from numerous angles if possible. And if there were any injuries for you or your passengers, you should take pictures. You never know if the other people involved in the crash might try to downplay those injuries. If you end up hiring a Florida car accident attorney, he or she will appreciate having those pictures as part of the evidence for your case, as they can prove your claims or help disprove the other driver's statements.
Report the Car Accident to Insurance
You can wait until you get home from the car accident scene or the hospital to report the collision to insurance, so it doesn't have to be immediate. But you should call your insurance as soon as you can so you can give a brief description of what happened. Granted, you should avoid giving a formal statement until you've talked to a car accident attorney. And again, do not admit fault to your insurance company. Also, keep in mind you should not provide a statement to the other person's insurance company if a representative contacts you.
Hire a Florida Car Accident Lawyer
Finally, you should contact a Florida car accident lawyer to discuss your options. This is especially important if you or your passengers were seriously injured in the collision. Having an experienced attorney on your side is invaluable when it's time to do the following:
- Collect evidence
- Talk to witnesses
- Negotiate with insurance companies
- Go to court when necessary
- Understand legal terms
- Adhere to deadlines
If you're at all concerned about the compensation you will get after a car accident in Florida, you should seek the opinion of a legal representative you can trust. Contact Riley Legal, P.A. today to schedule an initial consultation where we can discuss your next steps!