Car accidents in Florida can be challenging to sort out, especially if one of the drivers involved fails to stop at the scene. Regardless of the severity of the crash, you should always take the steps outlined in this post when involved in a car accident. Every move that you make following a car accident will be scrutinized by the opposing attorney if the case reaches trial so be sure to handle each action with care. Following these steps will ensure that you protect your rights and interests and put yourself in the best position to later make a claim for compensation for any injuries or damages that you have suffered.
Related blog: The Common Causes of Florida Car Accidents
Remain at the Scene and Call 911
The most important step you can take is to remain at the scene of the accident. Even though you are the victim, you are still required to stay at the crash scene. Do not chase the driver who hit you if they decide not to stop. Stay at the scene and call 911 if anyone at the scene has been injured or appears to be in distress. If no one has been hurt or wants medical attention, you can contact the police department directly to have an officer come to the scene of the accident to prepare a police accident report. Wait for the police and medical personnel to arrive so that you can provide a statement and be properly evaluated.
Protect the Evidence
Do not let anyone mess with the crash scene. Specifically, do not move any of the evidence from where it landed following the crash (unless you need to move your vehicle for other motorists’ safety and are able to do so on your own). Moving or destroying evidence can cause your case to fail before you are able to file a claim. If you or the person you were driving with are physically able, be sure to take pictures or video of the vehicles involved, including their positions after the accident and any visible damage, along with any skid marks on the road, the road lines and traffic controls at the scene, and the lighting, weather, road, and traffic conditions at the time of the accident. These pictures will be able to tell a bigger story about the accident. In particular, accident scene photos or video can help your attorney work with experts to develop an accident reconstruction report that will show how the accident occurred and who may have been at fault for causing the accident.
Florida is a No-Fault State
When it comes to auto insurance, Florida is a no-fault state. This means that every driver must carry personal injury protection (PIP) on their auto policy. You will need to file a claim with your own insurance company if you are injured in an accident in Florida. PIP coverage will provide compensation for lost wages, medical expenses, and any other expenses that come from your own pocket. The no-fault system in Florida prevents drivers injured in accidents from recovering compensation for pain and suffering unless you can prove that you have suffered permanent injury, loss of bodily function, or significant and permanent disfigurement or scarring.
Related blog: What Is the Purpose of Personal Injury Protection?
Seek Medical Treatment
You should allow yourself to be examined by any emergency medical personnel who arrive on scene, and allow yourself to be transported to the hospital or go to the hospital on your own if the EMTs recommend it.
Even if you don’t feel like you were injured in your accident, you should still follow up with your doctor or another medical provider. The shock and excitement of being involved in a car accident can provide you with an adrenaline rush that can mask the pain and symptoms of injuries suffered in the accident. Once you calm down in the hours and days following your accident, only then may you realize that you suffered an injury. However, your physician may be able to identify injuries in an examination. Promptly identifying your injuries will allow you to persuasively claim that they were caused by your accident, especially if the other side tries to argue that your injuries were pre-existing or were caused by something else.
Related blog: Accident-Related Neck Injuries
File a Claim
Your next step is to file a claim with your insurance company. You must report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible. This must be done even if you were not the one who caused the accident. You must also cooperate with the insurance company as it investigates the accident. This is required because of the cooperation clause. If you wait too long to report your accident to the insurance company, they may be entitled under your policy to outright deny your claim for compensation, even if you were not at fault for the accident.
Talk to an Attorney
It is always a good idea to talk to an attorney about the accident that left you injured. It’s possible that you might not appear injured immediately after the crash, but injuries might take days or weeks to present themselves. This is what’s known as delayed onset of pain. An attorney will be able to examine the crash, review evidence, speak to your doctor, and build a case for you against the at-fault driver. At the very least, an attorney will be able to help you understand your legal rights and options following your accident.
Have questions about our attorneys? Learn more about the attorneys at Gonzalez & Cartwright, P.A. here.
The Statute of Limitations
Under Florida law, you have four years from the date of the accident that left you injured to file a lawsuit. Even though four years seems like a long time, it will get here before you know it. Be sure to begin the claims process as soon as possible after the crash so you do not miss the chance to file a lawsuit for compensation. In particular, if you were involved in an accident caused by a government vehicle, you are required to provide the government with notice of your claim, sometimes in as little as two years following your accident depending on the particular level of government that you are bringing your claim against.
Contact a Fort Lauderdale Personal Injury Lawyer to Discuss Your Car Accident Case in Florida
Did you or a loved one sustain serious injuries due to a car accident in Florida? Don’t let the medical bills pile up while you wait for the negligent party or their insurance company to do the right thing. Right now, you need an aggressive personal injury attorney on your side, fighting to get you the compensation you need, want, and deserve. The skilled attorneys at Gonzalez & Cartwright, P.A. represent clients injured because of car accidents in Davie, Boca Raton, Sunrise, Plantation, and throughout Florida. Call (561) 533-0345 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation about your case. We have an office conveniently located at 813 Lucerne Ave., Lake Worth, FL 33460, as well as offices in Pompano Beach.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.