Even if you've been in a car accident before, you may be unsure what you should do immediately after an accident. You, your passengers, and the other drivers may be injured and require medical attention. In a non-injury accident or single-vehicle accident, you may not be sure if you should report the accident to the police and your insurance company. After any automobile accident, you may want to consult an experienced attorney to make sure the insurance company does not take advantage of you and you receive full compensation for your damages.
Do I need to stop after a car accident?
Do not leave the scene of an accident or you may risk criminal hit and run charges. Under Florida law, the driver of a vehicle involved in a crash occurring on public or private property which results in injury, death, or property damage shall immediately stop their vehicle at the scene or as close thereto as possible. Some drivers may be tempted to leave the scene of an accident if they do not have a valid license, have had a few drinks, or do not have insurance. However, getting caught leaving the scene of an accident can result in fines, fees, and possible jail time.
After stopping, the drivers involved should offer their name, address, vehicle registration, and upon request, their driver's license. If the accident involved damage to property or an unoccupied vehicle and the owner is unknown or unavailable, the driver should leave a note with their contact information and may have to report the accident to the nearest police authority.
What happens if someone is injured in an accident?
The health and safety of everyone involved should be the first priority after an accident. If anyone suffers an injury after an accident, including the driver, passengers, or bystanders, they should seek emergency medical help immediately. Even if the injuries do not seem serious, it is a good idea to get medical attention. Motor vehicle accident injuries, including head, neck, or back injuries, can be difficult to diagnose. An individual may feel fine after an accident only to wake up the next day with serious pain. Last, Florida law requires medical attention be sought within 14 days of the accident or certain benefits and rights of the injured person are waived.
Do I have to call the police after an accident?
You may be required to report an auto accident to the local police department or Florida Highway Patrol. This includes accidents with major property damage, serious injury, death, hit and run accidents, or if a driver involved may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The investigating officers will gather information about the accident, including the individuals involved and their contact information. The officer should prepare a crash report with information gathered from the scene of the accident.
Some individuals may prefer to avoid calling the police after an accident. They may suggest that by dealing with the damage privately, the drivers involved can save money by avoiding dealing with the insurance company. However, there are dangers associated with failing to contact the police after an accident.
There may be a number of reasons why a driver wants to avoid contacting the police. They may have been drinking, are wanted by police for some other reason, do not have insurance, are driving on a suspended license, or they do not have the money to pay for the accident. Even if they say they will pay for the damages, you may never hear from them again. After the accident, your injuries may be worse than initially thought, and the driver refuses to pay for your damages. In some cases, the other driver may later file a claim against you for injuries and property damage after the accident.
When should I call the insurance company?
Your insurance provider likely requires you to notify them in a timely manner after an auto accident. This generally includes giving your insurance company the contact information of everyone involved, insurance information, license and registration information, vehicles involved, nature of the accident, and police report information.
Where can I get a copy of the accident report?
You should request a copy of the Traffic Crash Report from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. You can contact the nearest FHP station to where the accident occurred, or purchase a copy online. It is important to review the crash report to ensure that it is accurate. The investigating officer could have made an error or omission that could affect your liability after an accident. If there is a mistake in the crash report, you should contact the FHP or notify your personal injury attorney know.
What records should I keep after an accident?
You should keep all your medical bills, prescription bills, medical records, auto repair estimates and invoices, and records related to time away from work caused by the accident. These records can help to establish the damages involved in your automobile accident. Without accurate records, it may be more difficult to seek full compensation for your injuries. Contact your attorney about what damages may be available after a car accident.
Should I sign the insurance company's settlement offer?
Your insurance company or the at-fault driver's insurance company may offer you a settlement after an accident. A settlement generally requires you to sign away your rights to sue the insurance company by accepting the offer. Before you accept any settlement offer, it is important to understand what you may be giving up. A settlement offer may not fully compensate you for your injuries. The offer may be too low or not account for the seriousness of your injuries.
Many people just accept the settlement offer to avoid dealing with the insurance company or because they think that is all they can get from the insurance company. However, by contacting a personal injury attorney, your lawyer will deal with the insurance company so you can focus on getting your life back to normal. Koberlein Law Offices will fight for you, to make sure you are not taken advantage of and work to get you full compensation for your injuries. We will sit down with you and explain the advantages and disadvantages of accepting a settlement offer.
When should I contact an attorney?
Your Florida personal injury attorney is an advocate for you. They will negotiate with the insurance company to ensure that you receive full and fair compensation. Koberlein Law Offices regularly appears before trial courts and represents accident victims in Columbia County, Alachua County, Suwannee County, Hamilton County, Lafayette County, Madison County, and Gilchrist County. To schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney, contact KLO online or call 386-269-9802 for Lake City or 352-519-4357 for Gainesville.