We are midway through the year and there have been 160,142 auto accidents in Florida so far in 2016. 103,581 of those accidents have resulted in injuries to the driver or other occupants. It is important to have a plan if you are involved in an auto accident. Review the following tips and consider making them part of your accident plan:
Stop and Pull Over
Never flee or drive away from the scene of an accident.
Call the Police
Even if there are no serious injuries, you should still call the police. You may need a police report to file a claim with your insurance company, even if it is just to make a claim for damage to your vehicle. The vehicles involved in the accident should stay where they are unless they cause problems with traffic. When the police arrive, make sure you tell the investigating officer exactly what happened, to the best of your ability. Do not speculate, guess or misstate any of the facts. If you are asked if you are injured at the scene of the accident and you are unsure, say you are not sure, rather than no. Often clients find that the pain and injuries from motor vehicle accidents become apparent hours after the actual collision.
Take pictures with a camera or a cell phone camera of your vehicle and any other vehicles involved in the accident. If you have visible injuries, you should take pictures of them too. If you are unable to take pictures at the scene of the accident, take them as soon as possible after the accident.
An investigating police officer should obtain information related to the accident. If the police do not respond to the accident, make sure you obtain the name, address and telephone number of everyone involved in the accident, including all drivers and passengers. You should also obtain information about insurance by asking to see the insurance card for all vehicles involved in the accident. Make sure you secure the names and contact information for any witnesses at the scene, so that you or your attorney can contact them in the future. Ask the police officer responding to the accident for the traffic accident report number so you can use it later to obtain the police report.
Report the Accident
It is important that you notify your insurance company as soon as possible. You may be required to give a recorded statement to your insurance company. We would suggest you have an attorney present when you do so. At the very least, notify your own insurance company and tell them that you have been injured. Other than that, wait until you have an attorney before you answer any questions.
Seek Medical Attention
Injuries caused by motor vehicle accidents are not always immediately apparent. Unless you are absolutely certain you were not injured, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible following an accident at your local emergency room or by seeing your family physician. Even in accidents involving minor impact can cause serious and permanent injury to your spinal cord. Pursuant to Florida law, you must seek medical treatment within 14 days after a motor vehicle accident, or no PIP benefits will be paid.
Keep a Record
Keep all your accident-related documents and information together. This record should include a claim number, the claim’s adjuster who is handling the claim, all medical records related to the accident, and receipts of all expenses incurred as a result of the accident.
Protect Your Rights
One of the most important thing you should do after an accident is to consult with an experienced attorney. A personal injury attorney can help protect your rights and assist you in seeking full and fair compensation for your injuries.