Earlier this year, a study ranked Florida as the worst state to get into a car crash due to the number of uninsured drivers and minimal state insurance requirements. Florida has close to 250,000 auto accidents every year, with many of them being hit and run crashes. Getting in an accident can be scary and unnerving, and often people forget to take some very basic steps to ensure that they are protected.
Stay Where You Are. Ensure That Everyone Is Safe.
Contact an ambulance if anyone is injured. Do not attempt to move anyone yourself. Ensure that you, anyone else, and any vehicles are out of the way of oncoming traffic, and put your hazard lights on, if needed.
Report the Accident to Law Enforcement (911).
In Florida, accidents involving an injury or death, a hit-and-run or intoxicated driver, or property damage that appears to be over $500 need to be reported immediately to law enforcement. The investigating officer will make a written report on all accidents involving a death or injury.
Make sure that you do not skip obtaining an official police report of what happened and who is at fault (if possible). Make sure that the officer(s) take down relevant insurance information for all parties involved, and obtain their name and badge numbers as well. Do not attempt to negotiate a payment agreement with the other parties. You risk other driver(s) potentially being dishonest if you do not involve the police and obtain an official report. If the officer somehow fails to file a crash report, you will need to do so within ten days of the accident.
Write Down Information for All Relevant Parties. Take Pictures Documenting the Accident Evidence.
Not only should you obtain insurance information for all drivers involved, but names, contact information, drivers’ license numbers, license plate, car, make and model as well. Meanwhile, do not make any public statements that could be construed as admitting liability (such as making an apology). Even if you think you were at fault, it is entirely possible that the other driver was negligent in some way, so it is best to speak at a minimum and stick to the facts/what you know. To do so, avoid giving opinionated oral or written statements. Similarly, do not post about the accident on social media.
You also need to document any damage done to vehicles, as well as pictures of any other relevant evidence (the intersection, the light, etc).
Take Down Contact Information for Any Witnesses.
Talk to people about what they saw and obtain their contact information.
Contact Your Insurance Company.
Florida abides by a no-fault system when it comes to insurance policies, which means that your insurance company will cover medical expenses and lost income, regardless of fault. In Florida, all drivers are required to carry at least $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance that will cover up to 80 percent of their injuries and 60 percent of lost wages, regardless of fault. However, many drivers in Florida are driving without any insurance, regardless of legal requirements. In addition, this coverage may not be enough to cover damage related to an accident.
Be honest and forthright with your insurance company. We do not recommend that you speak with the other parties’ insurance companies – that is the job of your own insurance company – but if you do, be careful of any settlement offers. And before you sign any agreement with any insurance company, we recommend that you seek experienced counsel.
Visit a Doctor immediately if you are injured. Keep Track of Costs.
Ensure that you are thorough in having the doctor address any potential injuries that could have resulted from the accident.
Keep track of any medical costs and any other relevant records to how the accident may have affected your daily life, including any sick time taken from work as a result of the accident.
Contact an Auto Accident Attorney If Needed.
Florida has a statute of limitations, or time limit, on when you can file a lawsuit against a private party that is at fault for your injury (note: the procedure and time limit is different if you are filing against a local, city, county, or state government). In Florida, you have four years from the date of the accident to file.
If you have suffered serious injuries as a result of the accident (such as disfigurement, significant/permanent scarring, permanent injuries, etc.), you may be able to file a liability claim against the at-fault driver. You may also be able to obtain damages related to your injuries. Contact an experienced attorney who is familiar with handling automobile accidents for assistance: The attorneys at Brill & Rinaldi are highly experienced in auto accident and personal injury cases. We can also be helpful to you in dealing with your own insurance company on the details associated with your accident. Contact us today for a free consultation.