After a car accident, you should take the following steps to protect yourself from any potential claims you may have:
1. DO A SAFETY CHECK
Call 911 or ask someone else to do so. If you’re seriously injured, try not to move, and wait for emergency personnel. If you’re not too hurt to move, check on the other passengers in your car. If anyone’s injured, get on the phone with emergency services or ask a bystander to call for help. If you’re able to, move to the side of the road or a sidewalk. If your car is safe to drive and is causing a hazard where it is, pull it to the side of the road. Otherwise, leave it where it is and get yourself to safety.
2. CALL 911
Whether an accident is considered a minor fender-bender or a major collision, calling the police is important — and in Florida, it’s legally required. The responding officers will fill out an accident report and document the scene. If the police can’t come to the scene of the accident, you can go to the nearest police station and complete a report yourself. When you file a claim with your insurance company, they may ask for a copy of the police report.
3. EXCHANGE INFORMATION WITH OTHER DRIVER’S
After making sure you and any passengers are uninjured, exchange contact and insurance information with the other drivers. Information should include:
- Full name and contact information of all drivers and passengers involved
- Insurance company names and policy numbers
- Driver’s license and license plate number
- Type, color and model of vehicles
- Location of accident
Avoid discussing who was at fault when you exchange information. When you file an insurance claim, the adjuster reviewing your claim will determine that based on an inspection of the vehicles/property damaged, information provided by you and the other parties involved in the accident, and any supporting documentation, like the police report, witness statements, or photographs from the scene.
4. PHOTOGRAPH & DOCUMENT THE ACCIDENT:
In order to help protect yourself, take the following steps:
Identify the officers.
Once the police arrive, get the name and badge number and department of all responding officers.
Get a copy.
Ask the police officers present where you can obtain a copy of the accident report. You also should receive a drivers exchange form and police report number.
Document the accident thoroughly by taking pictures of all vehicles involved in the accident from different angles, showing the damage done to both cars. It might also be a good idea to take pictures of the other car’s license plate. You should also take photos of the accident scene before the vehicles are moved, if you are able to do so safely.
Write down the names and addresses of all parties involved, including any passengers in the other vehicle.
Talk to witnesses.
If there were any witnesses to the accident, take down their names and their contact information, as well.
5. FILE A CLAIM WITH YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY
Call your insurance agent while you’re at the scene if you can. They can tell you exactly what they will need to process your claim and what to expect during the claims process.
These steps may help protect you from unnecessary worries, and help your insurance company to get your vehicle repaired as smoothly and as quickly as possible.
6. CONTACT HUGHES LAW FIRM, P.A.
No matter how minor your accident, it’s always a good idea to consult with a personal injury attorney before discussing the accident with an insurance company or accepting any settlement offers. Insurance companies will often make a quick settlement offer that is far lower than you are entitled to. You may begin to experience additional and worsening injuries days and weeks after the accident. If you accept this offer, the claim is completed, even if you realize later that it didn’t cover all of your damages.
An experienced attorney at Hughes Law Firm, P.A. can help you negotiate settlement offers and know when you are getting a fair amount. If negotiations are unsuccessful, we will aggressively defend your right to fair compensation in court.
Call Hughes Law Firm at (561)296-9400 to schedule a free consultation.