Car crashes are on the rise. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the number of fatal motor vehicle collisions hit a 16-year high last year. Every community is affected by motor vehicle collisions. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) reports that there were more than 340,000 crashes in the state in 2020 alone.
With car accidents being a persistent and serious safety threat, it is imperative that every motorist is fully prepared for the risk. You need to know what to do to protect your health, well-being, and legal claim rights after a crash. In this article, a Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyer
explains the key steps that you should take after a traffic collision in Florida.
Five Key Things That You Must Do After a Car Crash in Florida
1. Stop Your Car, Exchange Information, and Report the Collision
Were you involved in a traffic accident in Florida? You need to stop your vehicle and remain at the scene of the crash. The failure to do so is a violation of state law—leaving the scene of an accident could even lead to a serious criminal charge. If the crash resulted in injury or death to any person, or if there was damage to any vehicle or property, you must:
● Stop: Stop your vehicle as soon as you are safely able to do so;
● Remain: Remain at the scene of the accident (with an exception for medical emergencies);
● Report: Report the accident to law enforcement (required if anyone was injured); and
● Exchange: Exchange information with other parties involved in the crash.
Along with other information, you should be sure to get the name of all drivers involved in the crash, the contact details for all drivers, the driver’s license number, the make and model of the car along with license plate number, and the insurance policy information for all motorists involved in the accident.
2. Seek Professional Medical Care for Any Injuries (Emergency Needs Come First)
All car accident injuries should be evaluated by a qualified doctor. There are many different reasons why it is important to see a physician as soon as possible after a serious crash. To start, you need to see a doctor for your own health, safety, and overall well-being. Many car crash injuries are more severe than victims initially realize. The chaos of an accident can (temporarily) mask your pain.
Additionally, you need to see a doctor to have injuries documented. Documentation from a medical professional will be an important part of any personal injury claim you file in the future. If you wait to get medical treatment, the insurance company may argue that your injuries were not as serious as you claim or that they were not caused by the car accident.
The Bottom Line: You cannot bring a personal injury claim for a car accident in Florida unless you have seen a doctor. Beyond protecting your health and safety, seeing a doctor is an important step to protect your legal rights.
3. Document the Crash (Take Photos, Get Witnesses Names, and Secure the Police Report)
Another key thing to do after a car accident is proactively document the crash. The more information you have about an accident—from who was involved to how it occurred—the better position that you will be in to protect your rights and maximize your financial compensation.
The first step in documenting the crash is to take photos. In many cases, these photos can serve as incredibly valuable evidence. If you have a camera or a smartphone, use it to take photos of the accident scene, the damage to the vehicles, and any visible injuries. If you do not have a camera, see if any bystanders did and ask if you can borrow it to take a few pictures.
Next, it is also important to get the names and contact information of any person who witnessed the crash. Beyond getting the names of those involved in the accident (other drivers, etc), you should also secure contact details for any third party witnesses.
Finally, you should obtain a copy of the police report. The accident report will generally contain important information about the crash, including the names of the drivers involved, insurance information, and a description of how the accident occurred. In many cases, the police report can play a pivotal role in helping you prove your case and secure the compensation you deserve.
4. Notify Your Insurance Provider—But Avoiding Giving a Recorded Statement
Florida is a no-fault insurance state. Under our state’s legal standard, the coverage for your initial medical bills and lost wages will usually come from your own Personal Injury Protection (PIP) policy. All motorists in Florida are required to purchase and maintain a minimum of $10,000 of no-fault PIP coverage. Make sure that you notify your insurance carrier that an accident occurred.
That being said, you should avoid providing an official recorded statement to any insurance company—even your own insurer. You have the right to take the time you need to physically and mentally recover from your crash. Insurance companies are not on your side. Consult with a Fort Lauderdale car accident attorney before you speak to an insurance adjuster.
5. Speak to an Experienced Florida Car Accident Attorney
Personal injury claims are complicated. You do not have to try to navigate the process alone. Insurance companies put a lot of resources into protecting their own financial interests. An experienced car accident lawyer can review your case, investigate your accident, and develop a strategy to help you secure justice and the full financial compensation that you rightfully deserve. The sooner you speak to an experienced car accident lawyer
, the better position you will be in to get the best outcome in your case. Car crash lawyers generally offer free initial consultations and represent injured victims on contingency. In other words, you only pay legal fees if and when your attorney helps you recover compensation for your damages.