Most Floridians who have been the victim of a car accident have many questions following the crash. These questions can include issues related to insurance policies, medical care and expenses, property damage, and legal rights. Below, is a short guide to assist Florida car accident victims following a motor vehicle accident:
1. Once your vehicle comes to rest, check to see if you or your passengers are injured. Call 911 or the non-emergency police number (if no one is severely injured) and do not hang up until the dispatcher tells you to do so. To avoid causing further injuries, be sure not to move an injured person unless he/she is in danger of fire or other emergency circumstances.
2. Try to keep calm and do not yell at other drivers involved in the accident. You should not accept any blame for the accident or suggest that you in anyway contributed to the accident.
3. If you have not called 911 already, call the local police or sheriff’s office to report the car accident. No matter how persuasive the at fault driver may be, DO NOT AGREE TO LEAVE PRIOR TO THE OFFICER ARRIVING.
4. If time, safety factors and traffic allow, take a picture of the vehicles and the accident location before the vehicles are moved.
5. Wait for the police to arrive to the scene. Provide a factual report of what occurred. Do not assume or speculate as to what you think occurred. Simply state the facts that you know from your own personal knowledge. Obtain a driver exchange, short form accident report, or a business card from the responding officer with the crash report number so that the long form accident report may be obtained once it is completed by the responding officer.
6. If there are any witnesses to the car accident, be sure to kindly ask them not to leave and obtain their full name, address, home/work telephone number and email address. You should provide this information to the responding officer so that they are also included on the accident report.
7. Before leaving the scene, take a moment to write down exactly how the accident happened and include information such as: approximate speeds of all vehicles, weather conditions, erratic behavior of the other driver, statements made by the other driver (such as: “I am so sorry, I was texting” or “I just looked down for a minute”, etc), the condition of the roadway, whether a traffic light was out, whether the other driver was wearing glasses, whether the other driver had noticeably loud music, and anything else regarding the cause of the accident or any injuries.
8. If you have significant injuries, consider having EMS take you immediately to the hospital for examination. Whether you go to an emergency room or not, you should seek medical attention immediately after the accident as possible to obtain a medical evaluation. If you do go to the hospital, follow your discharge instructions until you follow-up with a healthcare provider.
9. As soon as possible, report the accident to your insurance company. DO NOT GIVE A RECORDED STATEMENT. Simply report the accident, obtain a claim number and, if available, the name and telephone number for the assigned insurance adjuster.
10. As soon as possible, call a local experienced Florida personal injury attorney. DO NOT WAIT. Florida has very short time periods (for example, Florida PIP law requires you see medical attention within 14 days from the date of the accident or your insurance benefits could be reduced by 75%) before your legal rights can be harmed. The prospective attorney for a motor vehicle accident should offer a Free Consultation and you should be able to meet directly with the attorney that will be handling your claim (not a “legal assistant”, “investigator”, “case manager”, “paralegal”, etc). Follow your attorney’s advice as well as your healthcare providers. The most important thing for your health, as well as your claim, is for you to obtain proper medical care and to comply with your healthcare provider’s and attorney’s instructions. Your attorney should obtain and explain to you all of insurance matters, medical bills and property damage, obtain all necessary information to prepare an insurance demand package, negotiate a presuit resolution and/or advise you as to the potential benefits and risks of filing a lawsuit.
Legal Disclaimer: The above guidelines are educational in nature and do not create an attorney/client relationship. It is highly recommended that all Florida accident victims contact an experienced local Florida personal injury attorney to assist them with specific facts and circumstances regarding their motor vehicle accident. If you have been the victim of a motor vehicle accident in Florida, then feel free to contact Attorney Weldon toll free at (877) 730-5180 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Richard Weldon, II is an experienced Florida personal injury attorney who has obtained the AV Preeminent Rating by Martindale-Hubbell. He is the managing attorney of Weldon & Rothman, PL – a Southwest Florida law firm with offices in Naples, Fort Myers, and Sarasota.