According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, there are over 300,000 car crashes in Florida every year. Over two thirds of these crashes result in injuries and over ten percent result in fatalities.
There are things which you can do to protect yourself, your loved ones and your interests after an accident. The following is a list of the Top 10 Things you should consider doing if you are in an automobile accident:
STOP – REMAIN AT THE SCENE OF THE ACCIDENT UNTIL POLICE ARRIVE.
Do not leave the scene of an accident even a minor accident.
PROTECT THE ACCIDENT SCENE, YOURSELF AND OTHERS.
You can prevent further accidents or injuries from occurring by keeping your flashers on until law enforcement and/or emergency responders arrive.
Sometimes the adrenaline rush (which is experienced during the immediate aftermath of an accident) can mean that the pain and symptoms you will experience as a result of an accident will be delayed. Sometimes witnesses to an accident cannot be located at a later point in time and/or the parties involved in the accident will dispute who was at fault in causing the accident so it is a good idea to call the police and document the accident. You may also need a police report to file a claim with your insurance company, even if it is just to make a claim for damages to your vehicle. It is a good idea to keep the vehicles involved in the accident where they are until police arrive and/or unless they interfere with traffic or doing so would put yourself or others at risk.
THE IMPORTANCE OF PROVIDING ACCURATE INFORMATION TO POLICE AND MEDICAL RESPONDERS.
Do not speculate, guess or misstate any of the facts. If you do not know certain facts, tell the police or medical personnel that you are not certain. If you are asked if you are injured and you are not sure, say you are not sure, rather than “No” because the adrenaline rush following an accident often delays the physical sensation of pain and/or accident related problems including but not limited to cognitive problems which can result from a concussion. It is very common for accident related pain and problems to become more pronounced in the hours or days following a car crash. You should also let police or first responders know if statements made by other persons involved in the accident are accurate as well.
TAKE PHOTOS OF THE ACCIDENT SCENE, THE VEHICLES AND ANY INJURIES.
Unless it is too dangerous to take pictures of the scene of the accident and any vehicles involved, you should take a few pictures of both but you should be careful not to interfere with the on-going police investigation or medical responders. If you cannot take pictures at the scene of the accident at the time of the accident then take or have someone else take them as soon as possible after the accident. You should also photograph any bruises, scratches or other accident related injuries. You may also want to photograph the other driver’s license plate and/or insurance card.
EXCHANGE OF DRIVER INFORMATION.
The investigating police officer will usually obtain and provide you with a copy of the other driver’s name, contact and insurance information as well as a police report number. In the unlikely event that other driver does not wait for the police to arrive and/or the police do not respond to the accident, it can also be a good idea to obtain the name, address and telephone number of all drivers, passengers and witnesses as well as the insurance card and license plate(s) of all vehicles involved in the accident. You will need this information in order to better report the accident to your insurance company and/or to enable your attorney to contact them in the future.
REPORT THE ACCIDENT TO YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
Many insurance policies contain language which requires immediate reporting and full cooperation. You should specifically ask about the medical benefits which are part of your insurance coverage (called “personal injury protection benefits” or “Medpay”). This automobile insurance is primary for accident-related medical bills but once this “personal injury protection” / “Medpay” coverage is exhausted, private health insurance and/or Medicaid or Medicare will often become your primary insurer. Your insurance rates should not increase as a result of submitting claims for these “personal injury protection benefits” and/or “Medpay” coverage and you should use it because you pay for it.
SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION IMMEDAITELY.
Many clients report that they felt o.k. and/or felt only minor pain immediately after the accident but that the pain became increasing worse in the hours and/or days following the accident. Unless you are 100% certain you have no injuries then you should seek medical attention at your local emergency room or by seeing your family doctor as soon as possible. In some instances, injury to the spinal cord or from even a minor concussion is not readily apparent after an accident but can cause serious pain and problems if left undiagnosed or untreated.
KEEP A FILE AND KEEP CONTACT INFORMATION.
All of the accident-related documents, insurance and medical information should be kept together in one place. This information should include the claim numbers, names and phone numbers of all insurance adjusters and medical providers as well as receipts for a rental car or other expenses incurred as a result of the accident.
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS AND PROTECT YOUR RIGHTS.
The most important thing you can do after an accident is to consult your attorney. Your attorney can speak with your insurance company and the insurance company for the other driver and protect your rights! Many insurance companies want to take statements immediately after an accident. It is important that you have received legal advice before providing such a statement. Your attorney can advise you on a range of accident related issues including but not limited to vehicle repairs and medical treatment options. The personal injury attorneys at Lawson & Associates, P.A. are only paid on a contingency fee basis, which means there is no legal fee unless the attorney(s) recover compensation for your injuries.