What Should I Do After a Car Accident?

July 3, 2023
What Should I Do After a Car Accident?

Car collisions can lead to severe or even life-altering injuries. If you or a loved one suffered harm due to another driver's negligence, you may seek compensation for medical costs, lost wages, and the physical and emotional distress endured. Even if the cause of the accident remains unknown, you can greatly enhance your likelihood of obtaining compensation for your damages by promptly taking specific actions after the incident. contact a car accident lawyer for legal guidance.

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Get to a Place of Safety

If you can, move your vehicle to a safe place immediately after a car accident. A car accident scene can contain hazardous traffic, debris, or damaged vehicles. Moving to a safe location protects you from further harm, such as from passing vehicles hitting you.

Remaining at the accident site also increases the risk of subsequent collisions. Oncoming drivers may not see the wreckage in time to avoid it, leading to further accidents and potential injuries. Moving to a safe area minimizes this risk and ensures your well-being.

Furthermore, clearing the roadway allows emergency responders, such as paramedics, firefighters, or police officers, to reach the scene easily and provide prompt assistance. They can attend to any injuries, secure the area, and gather essential information more effectively when no obstacles block their access.

Call the Police

When you call police to an accident scene, they will create an official report. This report serves as an objective record of the incident, including information about the parties involved, the location, the time, and any witness statements. You need this documentation for insurance claims, legal proceedings, and resolving disputes regarding fault or liability.

Florida law requires motorists to report car accidents to the police, especially after injuries, significant property damage, or hit-and-run or impaired driving. Failing to report an accident when required can result in legal consequences.

Insurance companies often require a police report to process a claim effectively. The report provides an official account of the accident, which establishes the facts and determines fault. It can streamline the claims process and ensure you receive the appropriate compensation for your damages.

Police officers receive training to handle accident scenes and conduct investigations. They can assess the scene, gather evidence, interview witnesses, and determine who caused the crash based on their findings. Their presence can contribute to a fair and impartial investigation of the accident. They can also ensure the safety of those involved in the accident by directing traffic, securing the scene, and calling for any necessary medical assistance. Finally, they can facilitate your next steps, including exchanging information with the other parties.

Exchange Information With the Other Driver

The police will gather insurance information from all drivers, but you should, too. It could take a week or more to get a copy of the police report, and you’ll want to begin the claims process right away. The information exchanged between drivers enables you to contact the other driver's insurance company and initiate your claim. This allows both parties to report the accident to their respective insurance providers, facilitating the investigation and settlement of claims for property damage or injuries.

Most people have a smartphone they can use to take photos of insurance cards and driver's licenses. And share your information with other drivers as well. If another driver doesn't have their insurance card, ask if you can photograph their vehicle registration card.

Preserve Evidence at the Accident Scene

Evidence at the accident scene can establish fault for the accident and if any other factors played a role. Here’s some evidence you want to collect and preserve:

Photos and Videos

Use your smartphone to take photos and videos of the accident scene.

You may want to shoot:

  • Damage to all vehicles involved
  • Injuries sustained by anyone involved
  • Any debris from the accident
  • Skid marks or damage on the road
  • Road hazards or obstructions
  • Property damage
  • People at the scene

Witness Testimony

Ask anyone who may have witnessed the accident to provide a statement. Ask any passengers in your car to do so, too. Do this as soon as possible after the accident because memories fade in time. You can write down what they say or, better yet, ask if you can record them with your phone. Get their names and contact information as well.

Your Account of What Happened

You'll also want to record your own recollection of what happened before, during, and after the accident and your thoughts about what may have caused it. Remember, this information is for your attorney, not the insurance company, so do not to show it to anyone but your car accident lawyer. Do this as soon as possible after the accident, as your memory will fade with time as well.

Seek Medical Treatment

See a doctor after any car accident, even if your injuries seem minor. Some injuries sustained in car accidents may not manifest immediate symptoms. Internal injuries, soft tissue damage, or whiplash, for example, might not show obvious signs right away. A prompt medical evaluation can identify these hidden injuries and ensure early treatment, preventing complications or long-term health issues.

And, if you decide to pursue legal action related to the car accident, prompt medical attention creates a documented link between the accident and your injuries. Medical records and reports serve as crucial evidence in establishing causation and the impact of the accident on your health. They support your claim for compensation and determine the appropriate damages you may recover.

Report the Accident to Your Insurance Company

Most insurance companies require you to report your accident to them as soon as possible. Most insurance providers allow you to report your accident by phone, via a mobile app, or online. You’ll want to provide details such as the time, date, and location of the accident, the types of vehicles involved, and the other drivers’ insurance information.

The insurance company may get in touch with you to gather more information. Don’t give any statements or admit fault. Insurance companies will use anything you say against you. Retain a car accident lawyer and let them handle all correspondence with the insurance company.

Insurers like to make quick offers to settle claims, and you may not have had time to retain a lawyer before they offer a settlement. Never accept a settlement from the insurance company without first talking with a lawyer. Insurance companies don’t have your best interests in mind and will try to shortchange you. Consult a personal injury lawyer for your free claim evaluation. They can give you a better idea of what your claim is worth.

Contact a Car Accident Lawyer

Contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after your car accident.

A lawyer can:

  • Provide legal guidance: A lawyer can provide you with expert advice and guidance throughout the entire claims process. They have a deep understanding of the legal system and can help you navigate complex laws, regulations, and insurance procedures related to car accidents.
  • Protect your rights: A lawyer can advocate on your behalf when dealing with insurance companies, ensuring they treat you fairly and do not take advantage of you. They will maximize your compensation and prevent any potential tactics used by insurance adjusters to undervalue or deny your claim.
  • Investigate and gather evidence; A lawyer can thoroughly investigate the accident, gathering evidence such as police reports, witness statements, accident reconstruction analysis, and medical records. They have the resources and expertise to assess liability, establish negligence, and build a strong case in your favor.
  • Determine liability: A lawyer can assess the complex circumstances surrounding the accident, gather evidence, and identify all potentially responsible parties. They will work to hold the negligent parties accountable, whether it's another driver, a government entity responsible for road maintenance, or a manufacturer of a defective vehicle component.
  • Negotiate settlements: If the insurance company offers a settlement, a lawyer can review the offer and negotiate on your behalf to ensure you receive fair compensation. They will consider all aspects of your damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and future costs. If the insurance company fails to offer a fair settlement, your lawyer can represent you in court and pursue a lawsuit if necessary.
  • Peace of mind: Dealing with a car accident claim can overwhelm you, especially when you are trying to recover from injuries. Having a lawyer by your side lets you focus on your recovery while knowing that a legal professional will handle the legal aspects of your case.

Journal Your Recovery

Keeping a journal allows you to document your recovery journey, including the physical, emotional, and psychological aspects. It serves as a personal record of your experiences, progress, setbacks, and challenges throughout the recovery process.

Your journal can record evidence of the impact of the accident on your daily life, activities, and overall well-being. It can support your claims for pain and suffering, emotional distress, or loss of enjoyment of life, strengthening your case for appropriate compensation.

Keep a Copy of Your Records and Receipts

Have a box or file handy to store all accident-related records and receipts, such as:

  • Medical invoices
  • Accident report
  • Receipts for medications, medical equipment, etc.
  • Vehicle repair bills or estimates
  • Rental car receipts
  • Pay stubs
  • Income tax returns
  • Communications with your employer about missed days from work

Deadline for Filing a Car Accident Case

In Florida, personal injury claims, including those resulting from car accidents, typically have a statute of limitations of two years from the injury. Failing to file a lawsuit within this timeframe can result in losing your right to pursue compensation through the court system.

Considering the intricacies involved in personal injury claims and the significance of meeting legal deadlines, consult a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after an accident. An attorney can provide valuable assistance throughout the legal proceedings, ensuring that you adhere to the statute of limitations, and safeguarding your entitlement to pursue just compensation for your injuries and losses.

Contact a Car Accident Lawyer Today

Your actions after a car accident can greatly improve your chances of recovering maximum compensation after a car accident. One of the most important steps is to retain a lawyer before accepting a settlement offer from the insurance company.

A personal injury attorney in Tempa, Florida can guide you through the claims process, investigate your accident, identify all liable parties, determine the full value of your damages, negotiate with the insurance company, and fight for full compensation on your behalf. Contact a car accident attorney today for your free case evaluation.

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