There are over 16 million licensed Floridians and that number is on the rise. So, it shouldn’t be a surprise that auto accidents are one of the most common types of personal injury claims in the state. Car accidents in Florida are so common, in fact, that the chances of being involved in an accident are greater than one in four. Having a plan in place for such an event can help you stay calm — and will make it easier to deal with your insurance company down the road.
1. Check the scene for injuries and danger. Safety should be top of mind after a crash. Take stock of yourself and any passengers quickly. Assess your situation. Also check your surroundings. Are you hurt? Do you smell smoke? Are you still in heavy traffic?
2. Move to safety and/or call 911. If you and your passengers are okay, move to a place of safety out of traffic, to the sidewalk or shoulder of the road. If anyone is injured, call 911, turn off your car, turn on your hazard lights and wait for emergency services.
3. Call the police. Even if the crash is minor and nobody is hurt, you should call highway patrol or the local police. In some states, you’re required by law to file an accident report with local law enforcement. The officer will ask for your license, registration, insurance and other information. In turn, request the responding officer’s name, badge number and contact info. Also ask for a final copy of the police accident report for your insurance.
4. Exchange information with the other parties involved in the crash. That includes each driver’s full name, home address, email address, phone number, driver’s license information, insurance provider and policy number, and license plate numbers. (You may want to photograph some or all of this information to avoid the chance of mistakes.) Also note the relationship of the driver to the owner of the car (if he/she is not the owner) and the car’s make, model and color. If there are witnesses, get their full names and contact info as well.
5. Keep the conversation constructive. Try to stay calm. It’s not up to you or the other party to figure out who is to blame. Just exchange all the necessary information and allow the insurance companies and their attorneys to sort everything out.
6. Use your smartphone to document the collision. Take pictures of all vehicles involved in the crash from every angle, showing any damage, as well as where the crash occurred and other relevant evidence at the crash scene, such as road hazards and skid marks. The more information, the better. Some insurance companies have an app you can use to submit photos, rather than wait for an adjuster to come out to assess the damage.
7. Record what happened. Write down everything you remember about the crash — time of day, the weather and road conditions, location, what the other cars were doing and any other pertinent details. If you don’t have a pen and paper, dictate it into your phone using a notes tool, or send a voice-to-text memo to yourself. That way you’ll be sure to have every detail that could be needed for insurance purposes. Do not sign any documents unless they’re for the police or your insurance agent.
8. Contact your insurance company. Call as soon as possible, even from the crash scene, to get the claims process underway.
9. Check yourself again for injuries. In all the confusion following an accident, it’s possible to be injured and not realize it. If you later think you’ve been hurt, see your doctor right away. Injuries from car crashes typically become part of your automobile insurance claim.
Proving a Florida Auto Accident Claim
If you or a loved one has suffered an accident due to someone else’s negligence, you may wish to pursue a personal injury case to recover your losses. Some common damages you may be entitled to recover include:
• Lost wages during the time you were unable to work due to your injury
• Medical bills incurred as a result of the accident
• Property damages, such as damage to your vehicle
When you’ve been in an automobile accident, the last thing you want to think about is dealing with someone else’s insurance company. You don’t want or need to worry about how you are going to make up for lost time at work and paying your medical bills. An experienced personal injury attorney can guide you through the process of protecting your rights, explaining what you can expect, interacting with the insurance company, building your case and negotiating on your behalf.
There is a Time Limit to File Your Tampa Bay Accident Claim
While Florida law allows for more time to file a claim than most other states, don’t assume that you have ample time to file. The longer you wait, the more unclear a witness’s memory of the incident can be. Furthermore, physical evidence might be lost or destroyed, weakening your ability to establish your claim. The sooner you get help, the better the chance your attorney will be able to secure clear-cut evidence from witnesses and preserve the physical evidence you need to build a strong case.
We Work Your Florida Auto Accident Case So You Can Focus on Recovery
When you’ve been a victim of an auto accident, stress over medical bills, insurance company red tape and financial worries can interfere with your recovery. That stressful time is also ripe with opportunities to make a mistake that could damage your case. Fortunately, our lawyers at Catania & Catania can help you take the first steps after your accident and continue to represent your interests as you seek fair compensation for your losses. Call 1-800-253-5523 or fill out the free consultation form here to get the help you deserve today!