According to the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Department, there were more than 400,000 traffic crashes in Florida in 2017. 686,590 drivers were involved in these accidents. Many more passengers were involved. More than a quarter-million people suffered some type of injury. More than 20,000 people were incapacitated.
When a non-fatal car accident occurs, there are many things the drivers of the vehicles should do to address any physical harm, any property damage, and to maximize their chances of a substantial recovery – if someone else caused the crash.
Some of the priorities include the following steps:
- After a car accident, determine if you or anyone was injured
- Drivers should check to see if they’re bleeding or if they feel lightheaded. They should check if they’re in pain or if there are any physical symptoms. They should also speak with any passengers in their car to determine whether a passenger was hurt.
- If there is any reason to believe you or someone was hurt, the best course of action is to stay still. Wait for emergency personnel to arrive. Drivers should call 911 to ask for emergency help. Or they can ask a bystander to call 911 on their behalf.
- Even if you are not feeling hurt, you should know that some injuries such as whiplash show delayed symptoms. It is always wise to either go to a local emergency room or to see your local family doctor after any type of car accident.
Get to a Safe Place
If the car, after the car accident, is a danger to you or others – then try to drive the car off the roadway to a safe place. For example, pull into a lot or drive the car to the shoulder of the road. If the car isn’t moveable or if you are not physically able to move it, then walk to a safe location and immediately call 911
Make the Call to 911
Whatever the type of accident, if any person is hurt or if there is property damage, you should call the police. You may even be legally required to call. These days, drivers should carry their smartphone with them – provided they do not use them while they drive. The police officers should then send someone to the scene of the accident. When the police officer arrives, he/she will normally take the following steps:
First, the officer will determine if anyone is hurt. If so, the police officer will arrange for an ambulance or emergency medical services. Second, the officer will arrange to have the vehicles removed from the roadway if they are a danger to other drivers. The police officer will also arrange to stop traffic until the vehicles can be safely removed.
The Police Accident Report
Third, the police officer will normally request that the drivers provide their insurance information, driver licenses, and car registrations. The officer will question the drivers. He/she may then also question any passengers and any witnesses to the car accident.
Fourth, the police officer will prepare an accident report. The report will document the layout of the roads, traffic signals, and other traffic criteria. Reports generally include the information that was exchanged. A report will usually indicate how the accident appeared to happen.
Additionally, the police officer may investigate if any drivers were under the influence of alcohol or if there was any indication of speeding – such as long skid marks, and other matters.
Wait for Assistance
Until the police come, drivers should turn off their car engine. They should put on the car’s hazard lights if the car is on the road. Road flares may also be appropriate to warn other drivers
Until the police come, drivers should exchange the following information. This information can usually also be obtained by requesting the police report.
- Name, address, and phone numbers
- Insurance carrier and insurance policy number
- Driver’s license number and the license plate number
- Identify the make, model, and color of the cars other than your own
- Identify the site of the accident – typically the roadway and nearest intersections or turnoffs
Some of the things not to do after a car accident
Don’t discuss the accident with the other driver. You should especially avoid talking about who was responsible for the accident.
Documenting the accident
You should determine which police branch comes to the accident site. If possible, get the officer’s name and badge number. This way, you or your lawyer can request the police accident report when it is completed and filed by the police.
You should take pictures of the accident site. Drivers should take pictures of the cars and the damage to the cars involved in the car accident.
Get the names of any witnesses
Eyewitnesses can help your case. You should get their names, addresses, and phone numbers, or email addresses. Often, the eyewitnesses are other drivers who hopefully stopped
Arrange to speak with a lawyer
This step should be taken as soon as possible. The lawyer will explain what you should and should not do. An experienced Florida car accident lawyer will work with your insurance company to process your claims for PIP and Med Pay. If necessary, the attorney will send investigators to the scene of the accident. These investigators will also speak to witnesses. The lawyer will work with your doctors. He may recommend other doctors if needed. A skilled lawyer will negotiate a settlement with the liability insurance carrier – but only when you know the full extent of your injuries. And only when the case is properly prepared. If a settlement is not possible, the lawyer will arrange to try your case before a jury.