What to Do in the Event of a Car Accident
In the immediate aftermath of a car accident, things can be chaotic. It can be scary, and staying calm can be tough. But getting upset is only likely to make things worse.
At The Ansara Law Firm, our experienced Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyers know your very first priority is your own safety and the safety of others involved.
It’s a scenario that happens thousands of times every day across the country. It’s estimated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that approximately 6 million auto accidents occur in the U.S. each year.
Fortunately, most of these only involve property damage. However, 1 in every 3 crashes will result in injury to a driver or passenger. Further, 2 out of every 10 of those accidents will result in a fatality.
If you’re involved in a crash, there are certain things you can do to protect yourself, your loved ones and your best interests. The following are some important guidelines to follow after a traffic accident in Fort Lauderdale.Be Prepared
If you are well prepared for the possibility of a crash before it happens, there is likely to be less stress and you will handle the situation more appropriately.
It’s a good idea to keep copies of your insurance information, as well as a pen and paper, in your vehicle. That makes the post-accident process much easier.
Having a camera is also smart. In today’s digital era, this is less of a problem as almost everyone has a smartphone and all of those are equipped with some type of camera and video feature. This will allow you to take a shot of the scene and any injuries, once you are out of danger.
You may also want to keep a card with any relevant medical information on it. In the event you are incapacitated, it will be useful for emergency medical services to know whether you have any allergies or particular medical issues that could impact the type of care you receive.
Additionally advisable is to have a set of cones, emergency flares or warning triangles in your trunk. This will help to alert upcoming traffic of the crash, which will protect them and you as you sort through the aftermath, before police arrive.Stop. Do Not Drive Away.
This is important, and it is required by Florida law. Even if the crash was relatively minor and even if you were not at-fault or it occurred on private property, you could potentially be charged with hit-and-run (leaving the scene of an accident without rendering aid) if you unlawfully leave the scene of a crash.
If the crash results in personal injury and you do not stop, you could be charged under F.S. 316.027 , which is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison. If there is a death and you do not stop, it is considered a first-degree felony, punishable by a minimum mandatory sentence of 4 years in prison and a maximum 30 years.
Always stop after an accident.Call 911
This is an important first step in cases where there may be injuries or vehicles are disabled and blocking the roadway, presenting a hazard to those involved as well as other motorists. In talking to the operator, do not admit fault or downplay any injuries or damages. Simply say you have been involved in an accident and medical assistance is required.Protect the Scene
This means using those flashers, cones or other warning signals. This is important after every crash, but especially those that occur on the highway because of the fast-pace of oncoming traffic. Secondary crashes can be fatal, so this is not a step to take lightly.
Generally, all vehicles involved should stay where they are, unless they interfere with traffic. In those cases, get as far out of the way of traffic as possible. If that is not possible, you and your passengers should get out of the vehicle and into the median or other nearby safe location.Notify Insurance
This is a necessity in cases of serious injury, but it’s a good idea even when injuries don’t seem readily apparent. In some cases, your insurance company may require you to produce a police report in order to file a claim, even just for property damage.
Officers also help to provide an unbiased, third-party record of the scene and those involved.Make an Accurate Record
When police arrive on scene, those involved need to tell the investigator exactly what occurred, to the best of their knowledge.
Some people make the mistake of speculating or misstating or guessing when there are facts they do not know. It is best to simply say, “I don’t know.”
When asked if you are injured, don’t automatically say, “No.” Instead, you may indicate you are not sure, because pain and injuries arising from traffic collisions could manifest themselves hours or days after the crash.Report the Accident – Keep Records
Contact your insurance company as soon as possible. Most policies require insureds to report the accident immediately and to fully cooperate with the insurance company’s investigation. This does NOT mean accepting a settlement offer before you have spoken with an attorney, as is your right to do.Seek Medical Attention
Obviously if you were transported to the hospital from the scene, this is already covered. But injuries from crashes aren’t always apparent. Most notably, soft tissue injuries, whiplash or closed head injuries may not become apparent for days.
That’s why it’s a good idea to get in to see a doctor as soon as possible after the crash.Keep a File and Call a Lawyer
Get a folder and keep all your accident-related documents and information together in one place. This will include things like the accident report, the insurance claim number, the name of the adjuster handling the claim, all relevant names and phone numbers for those involved or witnesses, receipts of expenses incurred and medical documents.
Having this information when you contact your Fort Lauderdale auto accident lawyer will make the process easier. We will help to ensure your rights are protected, and that you receive the compensation you deserve.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a South Florida auto accident, contact the personal injury attorneys at The Ansara Law Firm by calling (954) 761-4011 or toll-free at (888) ANSARA-8.