Below are the most important steps driver’s should take after being involved in a crash.
1 - Get To Safety
A busy roadway is not a safe place to stop or exit your vehicle. Other drivers could collide with your disabled vehicle or you could be struck while attempting to open your car door. If your vehicle is still in a dangerous place and a safer location such as the shoulder is close by, move to a safer location as close to the scene of the crash as possible. Do not leave or flee the crash location. Turn on your hazard flasher lights, stay calm and keep cool before attempting to exit your vehicle be sure to check for oncoming traffic before you open the door. If your vehicle has flares and emergency markers set them up so other drivers can see you.
2 - Check Everyone For Injuries
Even a seemingly minor accident can result in serious injuries depending on circumstances. Injuries to the neck, brain and soft tissues are not always immediately apparent. Once you have moved to a safer location at the scene of the accident check yourself and all passengers for injuries.
If the accident was a serious crash or if anyone is noticeably injured, call 911 to get emergency help from an ambulance and the police as fast as possible.
If the accident was minor you may contact the police through the non-emergency phone number, however you should call the police even if it is a minor crash to get an office account of events.
The health and safety of all involved is the single most important factor after a crash and should be the top priority above financial issues
3 - Document The Crash
After everyone involved has had their safety ensured documenting the events of the crash and damage to vehicles is the next step. It’s important to have an accurate account to protect your interests after the crash.
- Take photos of the vehicles and any debris or damaged infrastructure.
- Take photos of any injuries
- Take photos of the location
- If police are at the scene cooperate fully and give an accurate account of what happened. If you are not sure of a specific event say so - it’s important to be truthful however - DO NOT ADMIT FAULT - DO NOT APOLOGIZE.
- Either admitting fault or apologizing may be later used against you.
4 - Exchange Information
It is essential to exchange insurance and contact information with all parties involved in the crash. Whether or not the other drivers have insurance you will at least need to get their address and contact information.
If police have arrived at the scene, you will also want to get the police report number - your insurance may require a police report.
Below is a list of the information you should collect after a car accident:
- The address, phone number and full name of the drivers
- The insurance information of the other drivers
- Get the drivers license number of the other drivers
- The license plate number of the other drivers vehicle
- The make and model of the other vehicles
- The police report number
- The names and phone numbers of the police at the scene
Once again we will mention to protect your interests never apologize or admit fault. Admitting fault can harm the outcome of your case.
5 - Contact Your Insurance Company
After you have obtained the important documents from the crash scene, you will need to contact your insurance company. Even if the accident was minor and no major damage or injuries are immediately obvious, you will need to contact them. You have certain protections, and it can be helpful to be the first party to report the accident, rather than the other driver’s insurance company. In some policies failing to contact them may void the contract and put your right to compensation in jeopardy. And damage to your vehicle such as a bent frame or leaking system may not be immediately apparent. Additionally the other driver may pursue a legal case against you and your insurance policy is the first line of defense.
6 - Contact A Qualified Accident Lawyer
After contacting your insurance company we recommend immediately contacting an attorney. There are several important reasons for consulting an auto accident attorney after a crash even if you are not seriously injured.
• Never forget insurance companies are for profit, and have their own interests in mind when you file a claim not yours. The insurance company will attempt to settle your claim with as low an amount as possible, often offering the settlement amount quickly to prevent the policyholder time to think about calling an attorney.
• Many times the full extent of an accident injury is not known until medical professionals have had the time they need to assess your health. Common car injuries such as concussion, whiplash and traumatic brain injury can have long-term effects and may require long-term therapy to recover.
• A law firm will pursue every avenue available to get your fully compensated. In some cases heath insurance, workers comp or other kinds of insurance may also have coverages you qualify for, that may not be obvious. Your attorney will review your case and locate all possibilities to compensate you for your damages, while protecting your interests.
• Your law firm will help reduce your stress by taking over communicating with the insurance company and making sure your medical bills are processed correctly.
• Personal Injury Lawyers do not charge out of pocket, but rather take a percentage of the winnings so they have a strong financial incentive to win your case for as much as possible, at no direct cost to you.
7 - Get Medical Attention Within 72 Hours
This may seem obvious, however it’s not uncommon for people who were in a crash and have bruises and are sore decide to “tough it out’. You can have traumatic brain injury even without hitting your head. A rapid deceleration can be enough to cause internal damage which may not be obvious until hours or days after the crash. Only a qualified medical professional can fully determine your injuries. Additionally, states like Florida have laws about how long you can go without seeking medical attention and still be able to file a case so as soon as you are able to see a doctor about your crash. It’s essential to understand any injuries and the recovery from them to know the full cost of your accident. You may need other services such as a Chiropractor or therapist when recovering after a crash and all of this may not be apparent immediately after the accident.
72 Hours - If you take longer than 72 hours to get an appointment with a doctor, your insurance company will take note, and will likely use this against your interests when determining a settlement amount.
8 - Continue To Document & Record
Even if you hire an attorney it will be in your interests to understand the full cost of your accident. We recommend continuing to document any related expenses such as:
- All medical records and bills, therapy sessions, Emergency Room visits, chiropractor visits etc…
- Police reports related to your traffic accident
- Lost income from missing work or disability, or as a result of family members providing care or being injured
- Record a journal daily of any pain or ill effects you are suffering after the crash.
- Your attorney should help guide you through this process as well. Oftentimes the full cost of a crash is not known until the long-term effects on your health and income are obvious.
- Your attorney may use a long-term care provider’s assessment in determining the cost of the accident.
9 - Learn About Dangers To Your Case
Whether or not you retain a lawyer after a crash, the steps will be the same. However it’s important to learn the rules of your state and understand the games that the insurance companies will play to pay you as little as possible.
Uninsured drivers - Being injured by an uninsured driver can have a big effect on your case. The options for recovering money will be more limited and we highly recommend hiring a good accident lawyer in uninsured driver cases.
Statute Of limitations - Florida has limitations on both the time allowed after a crash to seek medical attention, and the time allowed after a crash to file a lawsuit to seek compensation. The insurance company will also be waiting to see how long you take to seek medical attention. Understanding the time limits is essential, however the sooner you act the better.
Fast Settlements - To reduce the amount of money they pay out, your insurance company will try to offer a low amount fairly quickly. The goal will be to pay you as little as possible by offering money before the full extent of your crash has been determined. Work with your attorney to make sure you are fully compensated for your crash.
Unexpected Expenses - Unexpected costs such as extended therapy, items that are not covered by insurance or injuries sustained that were unknown at the time are all a real possibility. It’s important to keep your attorney informed with any new developments related to your accident.
Social Media - Never post photos to your social media after your accident. The insurance company's legal team will be monitoring your social media accounts to find evidence that you are not really injured.
10 - Getting Help Now
If you have been in a traffic accident and have questions, contact All Injuries Law Firm today at 941 625 4878. We specialize in helping injured drivers get the compensation you deserve.