Steps to Take After a Car Accident
After you’ve been involved in an accident, it may be unclear what you need to do next. Accidents affect your ability to think clearly, and it’s all too common for accident victims to be shaken up at the scene. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that more than 6 million car accidents happen in the United States each year.
It’s important to seek medical assistance immediately after an accident to protect your health. Personal injury law professionals also feel it’s important to contact a Tallahassee car accident attorney to protect yourself after you’re involved in an accident.
If you get into a car accident, there are steps that you can take to help everyone practice safety, follow the law, and work towards favorable outcomes in your insurance claim process.
If you’re experiencing any pain or discomfort or feel that you’ve been injured, call 911 or ask someone else to help you do so. If you’re seriously injured, stay still, and wait for emergency personnel.
If your injuries don’t prevent you from moving, check on the well-being of the other passengers in your car. If anyone’s experiencing pain or is injured, speak with emergency services or pinpoint someone standing by to call for help.
If your injuries allow you to move, move to the shoulder of the road or a sidewalk. If your car is safe to drive and is creating a traffic hazard where it is, pull it to the side of the road. If time allows, snap a few pictures or videos of the accident scene. If your car is not causing a hazard in traffic, leave it where it is and continue in a safe location.
Certain states, like Florida, for example, require you to call the police after an accident resulting in an injury. Not doing so could lead to criminal charges and fines. When you contact law enforcement, the responding officers can make an accident report and document the scene.
If the police are unavailable, you can go to the nearest police station and complete a report yourself. Insurance companies will ask for a copy of the police report to help with the claims process. Your car accident attorney can also use this accident report to defend your claim.
Each state requires certain information to be exchanged. In Florida, those involved in an accident are asked to fill out an exchange of information form when the police arrive at the accident scene with another driver after an accident. Generally, you need to exchange names and insurance information.
The other driver’s phone number, make, and model of the vehicles involved, contact information for any witnesses, and the name, badge number, and phone number of any law enforcement officers who respond to the accident scene will prove useful.
Many states require bodily injury and property damage liability insurance coverage. Liability coverages reimburse other drivers or passengers when you are at fault in an accident.
Your collision coverage can cover damage to your car. Personal injury protection coverage could help cover the cost of any injuries that you sustain.
Consider the following before deciding on whether or not to file an insurance claim:
- Who was at fault
- The extent of the damages to each driver’s vehicle
- Whether any injuries, minor or serious, occurred
- What type of insurance coverage do you have
- What type of insurance coverage does the other driver have
- The amounts allowed under your coverage and the other driver’s coverage
An experienced attorney will help you understand what you should say, what you shouldn’t, how to negotiate with your insurance company, offer information on how to handle your doctors’ bills, and more. After an accident, an experienced car accident attorney can handle all of the details of your case so you can focus on healing.
It’s equally important to know what you shouldn’t do after a car accident. When you’re involved in an accident, avoid these common pitfalls:
- Don’t flee. Leaving the scene of an accident could result in a hit-and-run criminal charge.
- Don’t incriminate yourself. When exchanging information with the other driver, avoid making statements that could be construed as an admission of guilt or fault in the accident.
- Don’t speak with an adjuster until you’re prepared. An insurance adjuster may reach out to you for a statement right after the accident. Don’t talk to the adjuster without first speaking with your attorney. At least consider how what you say could affect future personal injury claims resulting from the accident.
- Don’t sign anything without your lawyer present. Claims adjusters often make a quick and lowball offer. Accident law professionals feel you should never sign any release with the insurance company before speaking to an attorney. If you sign, you may be giving up your right to additional compensation