What to Do after a Car Accident
Whether they’re running errands or driving to work, most people get behind the wheel every single day. Unfortunately, car accidents are common, and you’re likely to be involved in at least one at some point in your life. Even a relatively minor accident or low-speed crash can leave you with property damage and personal injuries.
5 Steps to Take after a Collision
Immediately after an accident, it’s easy to become overwhelmed, confused, and anxious. Knowing what steps to take after a motor vehicle collision can help you protect your legal rights.
1. Seek Medical Treatment
Your health is your first priority. If you have sustained serious or debilitating injuries, seek medical help before doing anything else. You should also follow up with an emergency room physician or your own doctor to determine the extent and nature of your injuries.
2. Stay at the Scene
Drivers involved in a minor accident, such as a low-speed fender bender, often simply exchange contact information and insurance details and go their separate ways. Although this might be common practice, it can expose you to liability and even possible criminal charges. Florida law requires drivers involved in collisions to report crashes that result in property damage or personal injuries. The law also requires motorists to render reasonable assistance to injury victims who need help or request it. Depending on the seriousness of the injuries involved, failing to comply with the law can result in a felony conviction.
3. Report the Accident to the Police
Regardless of the seriousness of the accident, you should always report it to the police. This creates an official record of the incident, which is important if the other driver later claims that the accident didn’t occur. Additionally, insurance companies require proof of the accident before they will process a claim.
4. Submit an Accident Report
Law enforcement accident reports generally feature prominently in personal injury lawsuits. Police officers are trained to document evidence, including the location of vehicles, eyewitness statements, and indications of which driver was at fault. If the officer asks if you are injured, answer generally. More importantly, don’t speculate about the severity of your injuries. Because most people involved in car accidents experience a surge of adrenaline and other hormones that mask pain, it’s common for many accident victims to go hours, days, and even longer before developing injury symptoms.
5. Collect Evidence
Few people today leave home without a mobile phone or smartphone. If you are physically capable of gathering evidence, you can use your phone to take pictures of the scene, the vehicles, and any injuries.
Speak to an Attorney to Protect Your Rights
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident due to another driver’s negligence, it’s important to speak to an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Your lawyer can inform you of your options and help you determine the next steps in your case. Call Emerson Straw, PL at (727) 821-1500 to speak to an attorney about your case.