What Do I Do After a Car Accident?

What Do I Do After a Car Accident?

What Do I Do After a Car Accident? 1280 850 Panter, Panter & Sampedro

The average driver will file a car accident claim once every 17.9 years, according to car insurance industry estimates. Meaning, the chance of experiencing a collision during your lifetime is quite high, so it is best to be prepared.

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Steps to Take at the Scene of a Car Accident

Reactions vary from person to person immediately following a car accident. Although feelings can range from shock to numbness, it is important to keep calm and focus on the following steps.

Take Photographs of all Vehicles and Accident Scene

Most, if not all of us, carry a cell phone in the car while driving. Make sure to use your mobile device to take pictures and videos of the accident scene, vehicle damage, and any injuries you may have sustained.  Before moving your vehicle or having any other involved vehicles moved, photograph the scene and all vehicles involved.  Take pictures of the intersection, your car from all sides and the other vehicle from all sides.  Take photographs of any injuries that you have sustained.

Determine if Anyone Was Injured

If there are any injuries, fatalities, or the roadway is blocked someone should call 911 immediately before calling the police. Take a look at your body and your passengers to make sure there are no injuries.  Often times, shock takes over and pain is not felt immediately, but after a brief period of time it grows.  Seek immediate treatment with Fire Rescue if necessary or go to a hospital or urgent care center as soon as possible if you are not transported.

Contact the Police

If no one was injured, you should still call 911 to file a police report. It is very important to have a record of the incident on file to assist when filing your claim.  Keep in mind that accidents involving an injury, death, a hit-and-run, an intoxicated driver, or property damage of more than $500 must be reported immediately to law enforcement. In the State of Florida, you are required to report a car accident within ten days of the collision. The police report resulting from law enforcement’s initial investigation is also needed to file an insurance claim. Additionally, this report may also be used to determine which party is at fault during insurance company investigations and court cases that could result from the accident.

Use caution in communicating with the Other Party

Anything you say at the scene of a car accident may be used against you. After a collision, you may be feeling angry, shaken, or scared. This is not the time to try to communicate with the other driver. Do not take responsibility for the accident at the scene either to the other driver or to the police. Your car insurance company and attorney will communicate on your behalf.

Recall / Note the Facts of Your Car Accident

Always keep a notebook and pen in your glove compartment, or have a notes application accessible on your phone, in case of an accident. The information you document at the scene of a collision should include the following:

  • Car license numbers, make and model of each vehicle involved in the accident.
  • Names and addresses of as many witnesses as possible.
  • Names and badge numbers of police officers.

After a collision, it may be difficult to remember what kind of information should be included. We have made it easy for you by providing the following checklist.

Car Accident Information Checklist

  • Car Accident Form: The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) provides a downloadable form on their website. You may access it here: flhsmv.gov/pdf/forms/90011s.pdf. Print the form and keep a copy in your glove compartment.
  • Collect Information from Other Driver(s): Although we have recommended limiting contact with the other driver, you will have to exchange information. The police officer can help facilitate this. To protect yourself, stick only to the necessary information, which includes name, address, insurance, and vehicle registration.
  • Facts About the Car Accident: Jot down information about the car accident as you experienced it. Be sure to include the license plate number as well as the make and model of each vehicle involved in the accident.

What’s In a Car Accident Police Report?

Once officers have arrived at the scene, the investigating officer will begin to take notes about the accident, inspect the vehicles, talk to potential witnesses, and take pictures. These are often the first steps the officer must take in order to draft a police report.

The police report will contain some or all of the following:

  • Approximate date, time, and location of the collision.
  • Identifying information for parties involved in the car accident, including names, addresses, phone numbers, and insurance information.
  • Identifying information for witnesses.
  • Location of damage to the vehicles involved in the accident.
  • Evidence of any physical injuries sustained by the drivers.
  • Weather, roadway, and visibility conditions at the scene.
  • Diagram of the accident.
  • Statements from the parties and witnesses.
  • Citations and/or violations of law, and
  • The officer’s opinion as to what caused the collision and whom they believe to be at fault.

What Should I Avoid Including in an Accident Report?

Do not admit fault. Anything you say at the scene of an accident may be used against you. Something as simple as “I’m sorry” may be used as an admission of guilt. Answer the police officer’s questions about the accident as required, but do not offer any additional statements.

Get a Copy of the Police Report

Once the officer has completed the police report, ask him or her where you can obtain a copy of the accident report. Your insurer may ask for a copy of the report when you file a car insurance claim.

Contact Your Insurance Company

It is important to contact your insurance company and report any accident that involves injuries or property damage regardless of who is at fault. You may call your insurer from the scene of an accident. They can tell you exactly what they will need to in order to process your claim and what to expect during the claims process. Once you contact your vehicle insurance provider, they will communicate with the other driver on your behalf.

Speak with Panter, Panter, and Sampedro After a Car Accident

As a driver in a car accident, you will need an experienced car accident attorney at your side. We are here to handle your personal injury case arising as a result of a collision. Contact us with your questions and speak to one of our attorneys directly about your situation. We offer free consultations. We can be reached at (305) 662-6178.

  1. References: https://forbes.com/sites/moneybuilder/2011/07/27/how-many-times-will-you-crash-your-car/?sh=31652864e621
  2. https://nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/car-accidents-police-reports.html

 

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