What to Do After a Car Accident
A car accident is a traumatic experience. It is easy to feel overwhelmed, especially if you or a passenger in your vehicle is hurt.
When you are in a car accident caused by the negligence of another, there are important steps you should follow to protect yourself and to begin building your claim. Our car accident lawyers can help if you have been seriously injured in the crash.
Please call (407) 712-7300 today for a free consultation with Colling Gilbert Wright & Carter. Our lawyers serve clients in Orlando, Tampa, Miami, and throughout Florida.
1. Always Be Prepared
The first step is one you should take well in advance of a potential wreck. Preparing an emergency kit will enable you to take action in the event of a car accident.
Your emergency kit should include:
- A cell phone to call 911
- Paper and a pen or pencil to take notes
- A camera to photograph the scene (or you can use the camera on your smartphone)
- A card listing health issues, medications you take, and drug allergies
- Emergency contact information
- A flashlight
- Emergency flares, traffic cones, and/or safety triangles
With the right tools at your disposal, you will be well-equipped to handle the challenges at the scene of a car accident. The following steps can help you stay safe and protect your legal rights.
2. Check Yourself and Your Passengers for Injuries
Car accidents can result in both highly visible injuries as well as internal injuries. Before you do anything, it is important to inspect your body for any obvious trauma and take a moment to assess how you feel. If you notice bleeding, signs of a broken bone, or feel intense pain anywhere on your body, stay still and wait for help to arrive.
The same principle applies to any passengers in your vehicle. If you are not driving alone, you and the other occupants should look each other over for injuries you may not be able to see on your own.
3. Call 911
After a car accident, you likely won’t know how serious your injuries may be. It is in your best interest to call for paramedics and the fire department to report to the scene. Emergency workers will be able to get you out of the car safely and assess your injuries.
In Florida, the police must be called to the scene of any accident involving injury or death, $500 or more in property damage, drunk driving, or a hit-and-run crash. If any of these factors apply in your accident (or even if you’re not sure), it is best to ask for a police officer to come to the scene.
4. Move Vehicles to Safety
If your vehicle is still operational and you can safely move it, it is best to get out of the road. The other driver(s) in the accident should do the same.
Staying in the road after an accident increases the risk of a secondary collision, which could result in additional injuries. If, however, you can’t move your car, turn on your hazard lights and place road flares or safety markers to alert other drivers of the accident.
5. Exchange Information
After any motor vehicle accident, you need to gather information from the other driver(s) involved. Make note of the following:
- The name and contact information for everyone involved (drivers and passengers)
- The driver license number for each driver
- Insurance information and policy number
- The vehicle identification number (VIN) for each vehicle
- The license plate number for each vehicle
Under Florida’s no-fault law, you will need to turn to your own insurance provider for compensation through your personal injury protection (PIP) policy. If you are seriously injured, however, you may be able to file a claim against the at-fault driver.
6. Document the Scene of the Car Accident
The accident site often holds a number of crucial details that will disappear in a short amount of time. While you are at the scene of the accident, take pictures and notes of the following:
- Your injuries
- The damage to the vehicles
- The environment around the scene, including the weather, time of day, traffic lights and road signs, etc.
- Road conditions
When you consult with a car accident lawyer, share your photos and notes. Your documentation of the scene may be a key starting point for building your claim.
7. Give a Statement to the Police
In order to create a report of the car accident, the police officer will ask you to make a statement. Simply give the officer an account of what you saw, heard, and experienced just before and during the accident. Mention anything you may have noticed regarding the other driver’s negligence, such as if you saw him or her texting while driving, going too fast, etc.
The police report will document a wide range of details about the car accident. Your lawyer will obtain a copy of the report on your behalf and thoroughly review it for information that may help your case.
8. Speak to Witnesses
Anyone who saw the accident took place may hold valuable information. However, they may not stay at the scene for long, and their memories of the event will fade with time.
Therefore, it is important to interview witnesses when they are at the scene and when the details of the accident will be the most vivid. In addition to taking notes on what they saw, ask each witness for contact information so your lawyer can follow up with them as needed.
9. Get Medical Attention
Although it is important to gather what information you can from the scene of a car accident, your health and safety comes first. The paramedics will assess your injuries, and they may treat you and release you at the scene. However, do not assume that this is a “clean bill of health.”
Injuries after an accident aren’t always immediately apparent. If left untreated, they may become a medical emergency. To avoid serious complications, you should go to the emergency room once you leave the scene of the accident.
10. Contact a Car Accident Lawyer
You may be unsure what to do once you leave the accident scene and receive treatment for your injuries. You may be in pain, facing significant medical expenses, and unable to work. In addition, you are probably unaware of your legal rights and options.
For all of these reasons and more, it is important to contact a car accident lawyer as soon as possible. An experienced attorney can review your case and advise you whether or not you can recover compensation through a fault-based claim against the other driver.
How Colling Gilbert Wright & Carter Can Help
Our lawyers have extensive experience representing clients who have been seriously injured or lost loved ones in car accidents. We are widely respected both for the results we achieve and the ethical, professional service provided by each member of our team.
For a free case review, please call Colling Gilbert Wright & Carter at (407) 712-7300 today. Our car accident lawyers serve clients in Orlando, Tampa, Miami, and other areas of Florida.