Help! I’ve been in an accident. Now what?
Car accidents are a jarring event. They can range from a mild irritation to a life-altering experience, depending on the severity of the crash. If you’ve been in a car accident in Florida, the next few seconds, minutes and hours are critically important to ensure you and your rights are fully protected.
Follow these 8 steps immediately following a car crash:
1. Stay put.
Your anxiety levels have skyrocketed due to the crash. If you’re unhurt, you may be tempted to leave quickly and escape the stress of what just happened. However, this is a mistake. If someone else is injured, your departure may result in criminal charges.
2. Report the accident.
In Florida, if the vehicle crash results in property damage or injuries that amount to more than $500, you must report the crash. To do so, contact the local sheriff, police department or the Florida Highway Patrol. If someone is seriously injured, dial 9-1-1.
3. Gather information.
Make sure you gather the name, address, phone number, license plate number, vehicle make and model, and insurance information (policy number and carrier) from anyone else involved in the car accident. At the same time, gather names, addresses and phone numbers of passengers and witnesses. This information is crucial if the car accident results in a lawsuit or when liability is disputed.
4. File an insurance claim.
Don’t delay in notifying your insurance company. You need to do this even if you weren’t at fault for the accident. Your insurance company will investigate the accident to determine damage and fault. Be confident in asking your insurance company any questions regarding your insurance benefits and coverage.
5. Seek medical treatment.
The state of Florida has Personal Injury Protection (PIP) auto insurance. This is also known as no-fault insurance. Under PIP law, you must carry insurance to cover your own lost wages and injuries. This is regardless of who is at fault.
In addition, the PIP law requires an injured driver to seek out medical treatment within 14 days to be eligible for PIP benefits. You should see your own doctor or visit the emergency room. Do this quickly even if you think your injuries are minor. Some injuries manifest themselves days or weeks after an accident. If you fail to consult a doctor within 14 days of the event, you may be prevented from receiving PIP benefits due to this legal technicality.
If you were a passenger in the crash, you should also see medical treatment immediately. You can be entitled to PIP benefits as well. As long as the driver carried PIP auto insurance at the time of the vehicle accident, you should be able to receive coverage for expenses due to your injury.
6. Don’t post on social media.
It may be tempting to share your experience with friends and family on social media, but keep in mind that investigators also check your social media accounts. If you claim to be injured one day, but you post a video of you surfing the next day, that can be used against you. Avoid sharing details and pictures of the accident or your activities afterward until the case is resolved.
7. Monitor for additional injuries.
Not all car accident injuries show up immediately after the crash itself. Symptoms may appear days or weeks later. Keep a journal and record detailed descriptions of your symptoms, even those that seem minor.
8. Meet with an attorney.
Dealing with insurance carriers can be confusing and time consuming. If you hire a lawyer, the odds of your chances for winning the claim increase substantially. You’ll have the advantage of experience, knowledge, and professionalism on your side. While this accident attorney handles the business side of things, you can focus on what really matters: healing and moving on with your life.
Contact Tragos, Sartes & Tragos for a free consultation to determine your next steps.