after a car accident

With 210 million drivers on U.S. roads, it’s inevitable that occasional accidents will happen. In Florida alone there are more than 200,000 confirmed auto accidents each year. After a car accident, remain calm and follow these steps.

Safety should be your first priority

Stay calm, turn on your emergency flashers and check yourself for injuries. Check with any passengers to see if they are okay and when in doubt, call 911 to get an ambulance to the scene. If you are seriously injured, try not to move. And don’t attempt to move someone who is seriously injured unless they are in imminent danger if they stay where they are. It’s best to wait for first responders, but if the car accident was serious and you are worried about fire or explosion, carefully move the person to safety.

If the accident wasn’t very serious and you are able to move your vehicle out of the way of traffic, do so. This is especially important if the accident happened on a highway or interstate. Unsuspecting drivers may not be able to slow down fast enough to avoid the wreck if your vehicles are still in the middle of the road. It’s important to keep a well-stocked emergency kit in your car in case the accident happens in a remote location.

Call the police

If you live in a busy city, the police may put a low-priority on coming to the scene of a fender-bender, however it is important to get a police report after a car accident. When it’s hard to tell who was at fault, a police report is very helpful and it could mean the difference between losing your case and winning. If the damage looks pretty severe or if there are injuries, you need to wait for a police officer to arrive, even if it takes a while.

If for some reason an officer can’t be dispatched to the scene, here is the information you will need to exchange with the other driver:

  • Name (and name of person who the car is registered to if it isn’t the driver)
  • Address
  • Telephone numbers
  • Name of car insurance company
  • Policy number
  • Name, address and telephone number of insurance representative that you should contact. This information should be on the insurance card.
  • License plate number (and state in which the car is registered)

If a police officer is dispatched, take pictures of the damage to your vehicle and the other vehicle, get the names and contact information of any witnesses, and make notes about what happened while you are waiting.

Once the officer arrives, answer his or her questions, but be careful about admitting any guilt. Only state the facts. After a car accident you might be feeling disoriented and it can be easy to blurt something out that you don’t really mean. For example, don’t apologize and say something like “I didn’t see the other driver,” or “I must have been going too fast.”

Just because you didn’t see the other driver, it doesn’t mean the accident was your fault. Perhaps you didn’t see their car because they ran a red light or made an illegal turn.

Stay at the scene

Even if you and the other party aren’t injured and the accident seems to be minor, don’t leave the scene after a car accident until you have exchanged information and a police officer has given you the go ahead to do so.

If you think that you have an agreement with the other driver and leave the scene, for all you know, the other driver could get your license plate number and call it in as a hit and run. If you leave the scene and haven’t attempted to call the police or gather the proper information from the other driver, it may be your word against his or hers.

Also, don’t attempt to make any type of settlement with the other party. They may try to offer you money on the spot to cover your damage or injuries, but do not accept it. If you are injured, you should contact an attorney right after you see a doctor to find out if you might be entitled to compensation.

Talk to witnesses

If people saw the accident happen, talk to them. Get their full name and contact information in case their testimony is needed later on. If there aren’t any witnesses, it is especially important to write down all the details of what happened while it is still fresh in your memory.

After you’ve left the scene:

  • See a doctor if you were injured and keep track of all medical bills that accrue because of injuries sustained in the accident.
  • If you were injured, contact an experienced attorney before talking to your insurance company. Oftentimes accident victims downplay their injuries or simply don’t know the extent of their injuries. If you call your insurance company right away before talking with an attorney, you might say the wrong thing and jeopardize your chance at receiving PIP and/or Med-Pay benefits.
  • Don’t talk to the other party’s insurance company either. They will most likely contact you to get your account of the incident. You don’t have to talk to the other party’s insurance company, and you shouldn’t, without first consulting an attorney. If they do call you, be polite, but tell them to call your lawyer and be sure to tell your lawyer about the call.

Consider hiring an attorney after a car accident

Medical bills can really pile up after a car accident. If you were injured, then it is imperative that you see a doctor and get properly diagnosed and then call an attorney. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.

Your health, well-being and ability to earn a living could be compromised in an accident and acting quickly could make the difference in obtaining the maximum settlement for your injuries. The experienced attorneys at Roy & Associates, P.A. can help. Call us today at 561-729-0095 or schedule a consultation online.

The article above is intended for educational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. If you need legal advice, contact an attorney.