What Steps Should You Take if You’ve Been Involved in a Florida Car Crash That Was Not Your Fault?
It’s an unfortunate reality that even the most careful, conscientious drivers can be involved in a car accident. While it can be a scary and frustrating experience when someone else causes a collision, it’s vital to maintain your composure and take whatever steps you can to manage the situation. Taking the following six actions can help safeguard your well-being and your right to recover damages resulting from your Florida car accident.
Stay at the Crash Site
A crash can be frightening and disorienting. Some accident victims panic and consider leaving the scene if they don’t appear to have significant vehicle damage or injuries. However, leaving the accident site will make it much more difficult to seek compensation for your damages and could even result in legal consequences. Under Florida statutes § 316.065, you must immediately contact local law enforcement following a crash that results in death, injury, or property damage of $500 or more. This law applies whether you were at fault for the accident or not.
You are also obligated to render reasonable assistance to anyone injured in the collision, including calling for emergency medical services or providing transportation to a hospital if the person requests it and you are physically able to do so. After an accident, you should take the following actions to protect your legal rights and health :
- Move your vehicle out of traffic if you can safely do so.
- Evaluate the health of yourself, your passengers, and any other crash victims.
- Call 911 if anyone has injuries that require prompt treatment.
- Contact law enforcement to report the crash and stay at the scene until a police officer arrives.
- Cooperate with all official investigations and provide contact information if requested.
Florida is a no-fault car insurance state. Under a no-fault system, drivers must seek compensation for their injuries and losses from their own insurance policies, regardless of who was responsible for the crash. To ensure all drivers have adequate insurance, Florida requires every motorist to have at least $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) coverage.
So why do you still need to collect contact information, driver’s license number, and insurance policy information from the other driver(s) involved in the crash if you are filing a claim with your own car insurance? Unfortunately, vehicle accidents can result in significant damage to the body, and the costs for medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses can rapidly outstrip your PIP coverage limits. If you have suffered severe injuries and have outstanding healthcare bills or other damages, you should consult a knowledgeable Miami car accident attorney to discuss whether you may be able to file a lawsuit against the at-fault parties.
Document the Accident
Collecting strong evidence to support your car accident claim is crucial. Photos or videos of vehicle damage, the crash site, and your injuries may be vital to reconstructing the accident and determining who was at fault. You should also gather the contact information of all witnesses. The crash report compiled by law enforcement will contain important details about the investigation and their opinion of who was responsible for the collision. Be sure you know how to get a copy of the report once it is completed.
Writing down or making a voice recording of your recollection of the crash as soon as possible can also help preserve essential details of the incident you might otherwise forget. You can also refer to this record to refresh your memory before speaking to insurance adjusters or others. This action reduces the chances of accidentally providing a contradictory or incomplete version of the events that could potentially harm your claim.
Get a Medical Evaluation
The forces involved in even a minor car crash can be exceedingly harmful to the body. Unfortunately, the extent of some severe injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), whiplash, and internal bleeding, may not be immediately apparent. To protect your health and claim, you should seek prompt medical treatment even if you appear uninjured after the accident. By seeing a doctor as soon as possible following the crash, you are creating an official record of your injuries and making a clear connection between the accident and your physical issues.
Inform Your Insurance Company
Most insurers require you to inform them of your accident in a timely manner and cooperate fully with their investigation. Due to Florida’s no-fault system, anyone involved in an automobile accident will be seeking compensation from their own insurance provider, at least initially. Your PIP coverage pays for medical expenses and lost wages up to your policy limits. However, if you have damages that exceed this amount or experienced other losses, such as pain and suffering or property damage, you should contact a skilled car accident attorney who can help you explore your legal options.
Consult an Experienced Florida Car Accident Attorney
A car accident can change your life in a matter of moments. Attempting to navigate the complexities of insurance coverages and state laws in the aftermath of a crash can be confusing and overwhelming. It’s critical to have a strong advocate on your side who will uphold your rights and help you recover the damages you are entitled to. If you’ve been injured in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, contact Galimidi Law today at 305-692-0125 to schedule a free case evaluation.