We’re not always prepared for the unexpected. Here’s what to do after a car accident in Florida.
1. Find a safe place at the scene
Accident scenes are chaotic and dangerous. The last thing you need is another collision or injury. People at accident scenes are commonly hurt by passing cars.
Move yourself and others away from the roadway. Look for a barrier and put that barrier between you and the roadway. Cars are not adequate barriers because they can be pushed into pedestrians.
2. Call 911
Report the accident and ask for an officer. In Florida, the officer will write a full Crash Report or opt for an Exchange of Information. These documents are useful in our investigation of your case.
The Crash Report/Exchange of Information will identify the drivers and owners of the vehicles. In Florida, the owner of a vehicle can be liable for damages caused when someone else drives their automobile.
The police will also identify other drivers and witnesses. The officer should list their addresses and other contact info. The officer will obtain the insurance information for the vehicles involved. You’ll need to retain this report.
Failure to call 911 will not necessarily ruin your case, but it can have a negative effect. In our experience, insurance companies try to discount claims when no one called the police. Insurance companies can take the position that the accident did not occur, or was minimal since the police were not called to the scene.
Please note your rights may be affected if you do not obtain medical treatment within 14 days of the accident. There is a deadline to file a lawsuit if you do not resolve your matter outside of the court system.
3. Sit down, be patient, and be quiet
After a crash, many people experience an adrenaline rush – this is the body’s natural reaction to a traumatic event. We once depended on that adrenaline rush to get out of dangerous situations while injured. This, however, is not the time for fight or flight instincts.
Moving after an accident can exacerbate injuries. In Florida, you have a duty to mitigate your damages, so it is wise to take steps to protect yourself from furthering the damage to your body. More information regarding car accident injuries can be found here.
Being patient with the police and other drivers is also a wise decision. Allowing yourself to become upset will only make the situation worse. Florida law requires drivers in an accident to report the facts to an officer investigating the crash, so stay calm. If your Miranda rights are read, however, you have the right to request the assistance of counsel before answering law enforcement’s questions.
You should not, however, speak with the other people involved in the crash. We have seen many cases where one driver says, “I’m sorry” without intending to admit liability. We advise you to avoid this situation and talk about the weather, or sports, or anything other than the facts of the accident. Otherwise, such statements may be considered an admission under the Florida Evidence Code.
Don’t hesitate to contact our office if you have questions regarding a car accident in Florida. Reach us at 727-820-1688.