Citing “industry estimates,” CarInsurance.com reports that a person should expect to get into three or four accidents over the course of his or her lifetime – or roughly one car crash every 18 years.
In other words, all drivers face the possibility of being involved in a car accident, no matter how safe they drive. Unfortunately, not all drivers know what to do after an accident occurs.
Orlando car accident lawyer Frank M. Eidson, P.A. asks for you to consider taking the following steps if you are involved in a car accident in Orlando, Winter Park or elsewhere in Florida. These steps can help you to protect your health and safety as well as your legal rights.
At the Accident Scene
- Keep calm. While it may be difficult to keep a clear head in the aftermath of an auto accident, doing so is the best way to make sure you do everything necessary to protect your legal rights.
- Stay put. Florida law requires any driver involved in an auto accident to remain at the scene until all responsibilities related to the accident have been discharged. If the police respond to your accident, ask their permission before you leave.
- Help and call for help. The first priority at the scene of an auto accident is to care for the injured. If you can, check on the condition of others involved in the accident and call 911 immediately to get any necessary medical attention.
- Preserve the crash scene. No vehicles should be moved unless they are obstructing traffic. If a car must be moved, take photos first. Make sure to get shots of all four corners of the cars involved in the crash and their interiors. You should also get photos of skid marks, broken glass, damaged road signs, guardrails and the shoulder of the road.
- Exchange necessary information. You should exchange your contact and insurance information with the other driver or drivers involved in the crash. Do not admit or assign fault. See this Florida Highway Patrol Exchange of Information sheet for guidance on what you should exchange.
- Cooperate with police. You must provide the responding police officer with any information needed to determine the cause of the accident. Do not voluntarily provide information that you are not asked about. Again, do not admit or assign fault. Make sure you get a copy of the police report number.
- Get witness names and contact information. After witnesses to a crash see that police or an ambulance has arrived, they may leave. Make sure to get their names, phone numbers, e-mail address or other contact information before they go. You will likely need to contact them in the future.
After You Leave the Accident Scene
- Get medical help. If you are not taken away in an ambulance, you should go to the emergency room and get checked for injuries as soon as possible after the crash. The reality is that injuries from a car accident frequently do not manifest themselves until days later, including internal injuries, spinal cord damage and traumatic brain injury. So, you should follow up with a family doctor. If you have been hurt, seeing a doctor as soon as possible documents your injury and the medical treatment it requires from the very start.
- Report your crash. If police did not respond to the scene and prepare a report, you may have to do so. Motor vehicle accidents in Florida resulting in damage in excess of $500 or an injury must be reported to the Florida Division of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles within 10 days. You can easily submit this report by going online. You can also request a copy of the crash report later on.
- Contact your insurance company. Most auto insurance policies require you to report your crash. You should do so without delay (or else you may give the insurer grounds to deny your claim). You only need to provide basic facts.
- Get a copy of the police report. If a police officer responded to your crash and prepared a report, you should be able to get a copy of it within a few days after your crash. Simply call the law enforcement agency that responded.
- Keep all records of your accident and injuries. It is crucial to maintain records of any medical care you receive in connection with your accident. Start a file right away for storage of everything from doctor’s instructions to receipts for treatment and medications. Make notes of your pain and suffering and the progress you make or the setbacks you encounter during your recovery.
- See an auto accident lawyer. Do not speak with the other driver’s insurance company before you speak with an Orlando car accident lawyer first. A lawyer can thoroughly review your case, including photos from your crash, witness information, the police report, your medical records and any insurance coverage that applies. If you have received a settlement offer from an insurance company, the lawyer can help you to determine whether it is a fair and reasonable offer or whether you should take a different course of action.
An Orlando Car Accident Lawyer Who Is Here to Help You
At Frank M. Eidson, P.A., we realize auto accidents can be scary and overwhelming. However, knowing your legal rights are protected can help you to concentrate on your or your loved one’s recovery instead of legal and financial concerns. To learn how we can assist you, simply contact us today.