After an auto accident in Florida, there are some important steps you need to keep in mind. These will help make the aftermath of an accident easier, in terms of both health care, your attorney, and insurance. Take note of these tips below so you’ll be ready should you ever find yourself in an accident.
Be safe after an automobile accident
Immediately after a car, truck, motorcycle, semi/tractor trailer crash, move yourself and your passengers out of harm’s way. Safety is the first thing to worry about. If you can, safely leave your automobiles where they came to rest after the crash. It will give you the benefit of being able to take photographs which are valuable to a personal injury attorney you hire later.
Assist anyone who was injured in the collision. Call an ambulance if necessary. Remember, the cars aren’t going to move (usually) and delaying emergency treatment after a collision can actually increase injuries. Watch how the others behave after the crash. Motorist’s behavior after a crash sometimes gets into evidence, and it often angers or pleases jurors.
Call the police
Calling the police may be necessary to make an insurance claim. While this may not get into evidence, it will often help your attorney negotiate for you later. If someone requests that you do not call the police, respectfully let them know that your insurance probably requires it. The fact is that the people who ask you not to call police have negative motives, even if they seem honest.
Gather information and speak to witnesses
Get the name, address, phone number, and license number of the other driver(s), car(s) involved in any way in the crash. Get contact information for ALL WITNESSES who saw the crash, even if they came afterwards, to see how the cars came to rest or how people behaved after the collision. Do not rely on the police to do this. While most of our police are diligent in executing their jobs, I am commonly frustrated when police do not adequately review the information in front of them prior to giving tickets. I am also frustrated when police decide not to include all the witness names and information on their traffic reports. There is no explanation other than laziness.
Exchange insurance information, too. It will save your personal injury attorney (and therefore you) time later.
Take photographs of all vehicles and where they are in relation to surrounding areas. Make sure to include photos from different distances and directions including from the side of the road to close-ups showing damage to all the cars. Use your cell phone if necessary. If you do not have a cell phone or a camera, you may be able to get a Samaritan to take some and email them to you on the spot. Or you can call a friend nearby to have them bring one out to you. Digital photos are fantastic because your personal injury attorney will be more able to blow them up for exhibits later at trial or negotiations.
Make notes of the scene. At the time, you will not think you will ever forget what happened, but it is a fact; memories fade quickly. Write down any conversations or admissions made by the person who caused the crash, bystanders, and witnesses. Details about times, conversations, and who spoke with who are heavily contested in many insurance disputes.
Talk to a personal injury lawyer
Contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your legal options. Do not wait, because your attorney may need to contact witnesses immediately to obtain recorded statements. He may need to have an investigator time traffic signals, measure skid-marks and interview employees of local businesses. I have even been able to obtain security footage of a car crash from local businesses such as a gasoline station. This was only possible because the client contacted me immediately.
Begin your case
Choose an attorney. The good thing about hiring a contingency fee attorney is that there is little or no downside to signing one up right away (as long as they are good). A contingency fee attorney will not charge you anything unless they get a recovery for you. You know your attorney is good when you ask them what good it is to sign up right away and they recite the point above (number 8) to you. Keep in mind that all the items I’ve mentioned in the last point are not always necessary or even desirable, but if the attorney at least knows about them, you are not talking to a complete muppet. And there are PLENTY of real estate and criminal attorneys that advertise themselves as personal injury lawyers when they do not know what they are doing. Let there be no doubt; a non-personal injury attorney will mess your claim up and they won’t even know they are doing it. Even if they have the best of intentions.
For more in-depth information visit our Ultimate Guide to Dealing With a Car Accident >>
We handle personal injury lawsuits for the injured and their families in Tampa, St. Petersburg. We can provide a free case evaluation to help you decide whether you have a case worth pursuing. Contact us today to get started.