The I-4 or Interstate-4 highway in Florida is considered one of the deadliest highways in the United States, according to Teletrac Navman, a telematics platform. The likely reason for this is due to the fact that the highway spans across Central Florida, intersecting with several major expressways and interchanges, causing high-traffic volumes and congestion. The 132-mile stretch that connects Tampa to Daytona Beach is especially dangerous, so if you’re headed out on the I-4, here is what you need to do if you get into an accident.
- Do Not Leave the Scene! Never leave the scene of a car accident, even if you consider it to be a minor one. In the sunshine state, you are required by law 316.062 to give your information to either the other party involved in the accident or to an officer that responds to the scene. If an officer does not respond, and the other party is not in a condition to take your information down, then you must self-report the incident to the nearest police department.
- Determine If You Or Your Passengers Are Injured. If you are seriously injured, do not reach for your phone or try to move yourself around. Instead, ask someone else to dial 9-1-1 for you, and wait for emergency services to arrive. If you are not seriously injured, check on the well-being of your passengers to see if they are injured, and ask any bystanders for help.
- Move Your Vehicle Off the Road if Able. If your car is safe to drive, and it can be moved without causing further damage to other vehicles, then pull it off to the side of the road. Make sure that when doing this, it does not become a hazard. If it is totaled, or if it could cause further damage to the scene, leave it where it is and move yourself and your passengers (if able) to the side of the road/sidewalk where it is safe. Make sure to turn on your hazard lights, use road flares if you have them, and turn your engine off.
- Dial 9-1-1 and Report the Accident to Emergency Services. Regardless of the severity of the accident, you are legally required to contact emergency services and the police to report it. If an officer responds to the scene, make sure to get their contact information, their name, and their badge number. See step one for more information on what to do if the police do not respond/cannot respond to the accident.
- Collect Contact Information From All Involved & Witnesses. Exchange the contact and insurance information with the other driver(s) involved in the accident. Make sure to get their:
- Full name and contact information
- Who their insurance company is and their policy number
- Their driver’s license and license plate number
- The model, color, and type of vehicle they were driving
- The exact location of the accident.
- Do Not Admit Fault or Discuss Responsibility. When you are gathering the contact information of the other driver(s), do not admit fault. Accidents occur quickly, and even if you are sure of what happened, you may not have all the facts straight. Do not apologize for the accident, or discuss responsibility, as this can be used against you in a personal injury lawsuit.
- Document the Scene. You’ll want to record as much information about the accident as possible. We recommend that you use your smartphone’s camera, and include video and voice memos. You will want to do the following:
- Take photographs of any and all impact to both your car and the other party’s car. You should do this with a photograph of the entire car, close-ups of all damaged spots, and get video evidence.
- If you can take a snap before you move your car, it’s good to get one of the position of your vehicle relative to that of the street. This allows adjusters to recreate the accident more easily.
- Make sure to identify any officers that respond to the scene, and take down the names and contact information of all witnesses as well.
- Also ask the police officers present if and where you can obtain a copy of the accident report, as your insurance company may ask for a copy of this when you file a claim with them.
- Write down every single little detail you can remember about the accident. You want to do this as soon as possible while your memory is still fresh. We recommend using a voice memo for this, as you’ll be able to take down the information quicker, than if you type it out.
- Receive Medical Treatment. If you do not receive any medical treatment on-scene, then it is important to head to the local hospital to get checked out. Make sure to ask for copies of all tests taken, and receive all receipts from any medical bills you pay for on the spot.
- Have Your Vehicle Towed [Optional]. If you have a motor club membership, you may want to call them for a tow truck if your vehicle has sustained a lot of damage and cannot be driven safely. If a tow truck is present at the scene, verify their credentials and take their information before agreeing to use them.
- Contact Your Insurance Company to Report the Accident. You should report the car accident to your insurance company as soon as possible, but remember to never sign anything without talking to a lawyer first. Insurance companies may be quick to send an adjuster, attempting to provide a quick settlement in order to minimize the claim payout. If the damages exceed the maximum limit of your insurance policy, additional remedies may be taken to make you whole.
- Monitor For On-going Injuries. Even if you feel perfectly fine after the car accident, it is important to monitor for on-going injuries, as not all injuries will show right away. Make sure that you maintain a detailed record of all and any symptoms you experience, even if they seem insignificant, as the smallest of impacts can cause spinal or head injuries.
- Talk With a Car Accident Attorney About the Accident. It is worth discussing the car accident with a car accident attorney, as they will be able to help you with what you should and shouldn’t say when negotiating with your insurance company or dealing with medical bills.
Wrapping It Up
If you are injured in a car accident on the I-4 that is caused by a negligent driver, it is critical that you discuss what your rights are with an experienced Florida car accident attorney. Here at Frank Eidson, our personal injury team will help you obtain fair compensation, protect your rights, and allow you to focus on your recovery rather than the legal case ahead of you. Contact us for a free, no obligation case review via our contact form, or give us a call at 407-245-2887.