After being involved in a car accident caused by another driver, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with what to do first. Because there are a lot of things that need to be taken care of right away, it can be difficult to distinguish which decisions are the right ones to make and which you should make first.
But rather than feeling overwhelmed, you should feel prepared that you have the right information needed to handle the situation correctly immediately following an accident—especially when you are not at fault. Here are the first three steps that you should prioritize after an accident:
Step 1: Keep calm and call the police.
Whether the victim of the accident is you or a loved one (or both), it’s important that the police are contacted right away to assess the situation and document the details. It’s best to contact them at the scene of the accident, as all evidence needs to be used for creating a police report. This report will also ensure that an unbiased third-party perspective was present and has assessed the situation following the accident. You’ll also want to make sure to get a copy of the report in order to prove that there is evidence of significant physical injuries, destruction of property or any other damages associated with the accident.
Without contacting the police, it will be very difficult to file an insurance claim or lawsuit, so this is an important step that should not be overlooked.
Step 2: Collect the facts and do not admit legal liability.
In addition to the information collected by the police, you’ll want to collect your own evidence, as well. Take photos of the accident scene. Write down any pain or discomfort you may be feeling right after the accident, as you may forget later how you were feeling in the middle of all the commotion. Get information about the other driver, including their name, driver’s license and tag number, insurance company, etc.
While you are collecting this information, refrain from accidentally saying something that may come across to others as admitting even the slightest bit of liability. Although this may seem like a given, it’s more common to admit fault by mistake without realizing it—even if you are not actually at fault.
For example, if a stranger accidentally bumps into someone while walking down the street, it would not be uncommon for both parties to apologize to each other, even if it was only one person at fault for not paying attention. This can happen very easily at the accident scene, too. “Are you OK? I’m sorry!” might be something that you as the victim might say to the other driver, not realizing it may be interpreted as you being partially or fully at fault.
Step 3: See a doctor and consider hiring an attorney.
There are many different types of injuries that can occur from being in a car accident, with some injuries being more noticeable than others. You could be suffering from visible injuries like scrapes and bruises, or you could be suffering from unnoticeable injuries like a concussion, injury to internal organs, neck pain, fractured bones, vision/hearing problems or something similar.
Regardless of what you think the severity of your injury is, it’s important to know that some injuries can take up to several months before showing themselves. That’s why it’s critical to see a doctor within the first 14 days following your accident in order to be eligible for Florida’s PIP coverage at a later time.
Once you visit your doctor, be sure to keep all medical records regarding the accident. These will prove helpful later if you choose to file a claim or lawsuit.
For more helpful information about what to do after a car accident in Florida, call our team at The Law Firm of Cohen & Cohen at 1-800-33-COHEN today for a complimentary consultation.