This guide gives a brief summary of five important things you need to know to protect your rights following a car crash
Call police to take a report
Even if the crash is relatively minor, people can still be hurt and vehicle repairs can end up being more expensive than you initially think. To make sure there is a formal record of the people involved, their insurance companies, and what happened, it is important to take the time to call police, and have a formal report drafted.
Take photographs of all vehicles involved
It is important to take photographs or a walk-around video of all of the vehicles involved in the crash so that you can document the position of the vehicles and the damages caused. This way, you will be able to prove exactly what damages were caused by the crash, and make sure that all of the damage caused is properly repaired. Additionally, the extent of damage to other vehicles is often important when trying to prove how a particular crash caused injuries to the vehicle occupants. This is required whenever anyone seeks a recovery for injuries from a crash. Taking photographs of evidence regarding how the crash happened, such as the vehicles involved, location in the roadway, skid marks and any damage to property like signs, mailboxes and trees, can be crucial evidence later on. These damages typically fade away or are repaired quickly, and can be lost forever if they are not immediately preserved.
Gather names and contact information from all witnesses
Often times, police do not fully document the names of all witnesses, either because the officer believes the crash to be very straightforward or because witnesses might leave before police are able to respond. Gathering the names of witnesses, and contact information, can protect you later on if the other party changes their story about how the crash happened. Under Florida Law, the crash report (and the officer's findings regarding who was at fault) is typically not admissible. As a result, the testimony of an independent witness to the crash can be crucial to prevent a he-said she-said situation, which can significant harm your ability to recovery for any injuries.
Get yourself checked out at an Emergency Room or Walk-In Clinic as soon as possible
Following any crash, you are entitled to Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits of up to $10,000.00 from your own automobile insurance (or other's insurance under certain situations), as long as you obtain treatment within 14 days after the crash. Although you are entitled to the benefits so long as you treat within that time frame, the reality is that any delay in treatment can hurt your case and the best practice is to get examined and checked out immediately. It is important to relay all injuries and symptoms to the doctors as soon as possible to prove the causation of your injuries and protect your right to recover for you injuries, medical bills, and pain and suffering.
Seek legal advice before giving any formal statements to insurance companies
If you are hurt as a result of the crash, it is best to speak with a qualified local personal injury attorney before having any discussions with insurance companies about how the crash happened, and what your injuries are. Only a qualified lawyer can fully and properly explain your rights.
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