What To Do Immediately Following An Automobile Collision

WHAT TO DO IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING AN AUTOMOBILE COLLISION

Driving on Florida’s roads and highways can sometimes feel like navigating an obstacle course in a video game. Our Miami, Florida automobile accident lawyers know that many drivers are intent on multitasking - texting or responding to email while driving when they should be paying attention to the roads. Other drivers continue to operate motor vehicles while under the influence of strong prescription drugs or alcohol.  Many drivers ignore the traffic laws altogether and fail to yield the right of way to other vehicles.  All of these factors make Florida’s roads some of the most dangerous in the nation.  In fact, drivers are involved in over 230,000 car accidents each year within the state of Florida.  In 2009 there were 646 crashes per day.  With statistics like these, Florida drivers need to know what to do in the event that they are involved in a collision. 

Duty to Stop and Report Information

Florida law requires all drivers involved in an automobile accident to stop and exchange information.  Drivers must provide their name, address and vehicle registration number.  Florida law makes it a crime to leave the scene of an accident without exchanging information and law enforcement officers rightly take this offense very seriously.  When another person is injured or killed in an accident, fleeing the scene is a third degree felony, punishable by significant jail time and fines. 

Call an Ambulance or Seek Medical Assistance at the Scene

Because Florida law imposes a duty to render reasonable assistance to others hurt in an accident, it is important to check if anyone involved in the accident is injured.  If you think that you have been hurt, or if someone else has been injured in the accident, call for an ambulance.  Even if you think your own injuries are not that bad, it is a good idea to leave this determination to doctors in your local emergency room.   Some injuries may not become immediately apparent and may take hours or days to manifest themselves.

Call the Police and File a Car Accident Report

Any accident involving injuries or property damage over $500 must be reported to the police.  However, it is a good practice to call the police if they have been involved in any car accident regardless of how minor.  Make sure that the police officer files a legal police report and be sure to take down the police report number.  Try to stick to the facts when speaking to the responding officer.  Listen to what the other driver says, and do your best to avoid getting into an altercation with him or her.

Photograph Damage to Both Vehicles, Your Injuries and the Crash Scene

Use the camera on your mobile phone to take pictures of any damage to your own vehicle and any visible bodily injuries.  Make sure to also take pictures of the other vehicle and of the crash scene before the vehicles have been moved.  Obtaining photographs of the other vehicle and of the accident scene is important, because this will likely be your only chance to obtain this evidence.

Obtain Contact Information from Witnesses

Before leaving the accident scene, try to obtain the name, address and telephone number of as many witnesses as possible.

Contact Your Insurance Company

Contact your insurance company and report the accident, making a record of the claim number. 

Do not give a statement to the other driver’s insurance company.  Instead ask them to speak to your attorney.  Remember that you are under no obligation to speak to the other driver’s insurance company. 

Visit your Doctor As Soon As Possible After the Accident

Many serious injuries take hours or days to fully manifest.  Be sure to visit your doctor as soon as possible for a proper evaluation of your injuries.  Seeking treatment promptly will also allow you to begin the healing process. Additionally, obtaining documentation of your injuries and receiving prompt treatment can make a difference in the amount of recovery you may be able to receive.  Remember that the extent of your injuries may not be immediately apparent.  

Consult with a Florida Car Accident Attorney at Hannon Legal Group before Settling with the Insurance Company

Many accident victims fail to understand that the insurance company does not have their best interests at heart.  The Miami, Florida auto accident lawyers can help level the playing field. Insurance companies want to minimize the amount of compensation that victims collect under their policy because it saves them money.  For this reason they will try to minimize an accident victim’s injuries or, in some cases, deny that the victim has any injuries at all.  For victims whose injuries are severe or who have become disabled as a result of an accident, not receiving an adequate amount of compensation can lead to financial hardship down the road, especially for those who are unable to work or who will require life-long medical treatment. 

Do not let the insurance company rush you into signing a settlement agreement.  In most cases you may be entitled to more compensation than they offer you.  Contact the Miami, Florida car accident attorneys at Hannon Legal Group first for a free assessment of your case.  Our attorneys have many years of experience successfully litigating complex automobile accident cases throughout the state of Florida and dealing with the insurance companies.  Contact our office today, or call (866) 835-6872 to speak to an attorney.