Former Florida Auto Insurance Defense Attorney's 7 Tips to Follow After an Automobile Accident
Call Law Enforcement to investigate the crash and prepare a crash reportDo not allow other driver in a crash convince you to not call the police, even if there is minor damage to your car or the other driver agrees that it was his or her fault. They may even offer to send you money. They may not have an intention of paying you the money. Or, the adverse driver may change his mind about fault and his insurance company may then refuse to pay for any damages.
Although accident crash reports are not admissible in court in Florida, the crash report is critical to your claim. The report will contain information on the other driver, including his or her address, telephone number, tag number, insurance information, road conditions, damage to the vehicles and most important in Florida, the name of the owner of the vehicle. Under Florida Law, not only is the driver of the car responsible, but also the owner of the car in most circumstances under the Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine.
Take pictures of the scene of the crash, the damage to all vehicles and your injuries.As the saying goes, "a picture is worth a thousand words". If you can, take photographs of the accident scene, skid marks, road conditions, damage to both cars and any outward signs of injuries you may have. Be as detailed as possible -- meaning, do not just take an overall picture of each car. Take close-up photographs of the damage to the vehicles. This may be done with a camera phone. If there is a dispute over who caused the accident, an expert accident reconstructionist may be able to form opinions as to the cause of the accident and will use your photographs when testifying in court.
Go to the ER, an urgent care center or your physician right away if you are hurtIf you think that you might be injured due to the crash, make sure to tell the police officer and either go to your family physician, a hospital emergency room or an urgent care center. All will surely use your PIP insurance through your car insurance, so bring your insurance card. Oftentimes, drivers do not feel like spending hours in an emergency room after a crash, and will fore-go seeking medical treatment after the crash. is why I recommend you visit an urgent care center, such as MD Now. These urgent care centers are usually staffed with physicians and will be able to treat you much quicker than a hospital ER. If the physicians recognize an injury that requires immediate medical care only available at an ER, they will call the ER and make arrangements for you. If you do choose to be treated at an urgent care center, I advise you to request that you be seen by a physician rather than a physician's assistant (PA) or a nurse practitioner (NP). T
Call your insurance companyNo law exists that you must call your insurance company immediately after a crash. If you need medical care, first do so by all means. Oftentimes, right after an auto accident you are excited and overwhelmed. Call your insurance company after you have calmed down.
When you are relaxed, sought medical care if needed, and are in the comfort of your home, call your insurance company at the 800 number usually written on the back of your insurance card. Advise them that you have been involved in an automobile accident and be truthful with your claims representative. However, do not guess when speaking with them. If they ask you how fast you were going, do not guess. Don't say it was your fault or apologize in any way. If they ask for a recorded or sworn statement, and you are injured or feel hurt in any way, you should tell them that you would like to speak with your attorney first. If you do not have a copy of your policy, ask them for a copy during this first telephone call.
Read your car insurance policyIf you do not have a copy of your insurance policy, request a copy from your agent right away. Read it and become familiar with the terms and what you are entitled to under the law. Do this before calling your insurance company if possible.
Be open and honest with your physicians and other medical providersIf you were injured after the crash, you will likely need follow-up medical care after a visit with an urgent care center or ER. For example, back or neck injuries are usually treated by orthopedic specialists. In Florida, your physician will be paid from the PIP portion of your insurance policy. Do not exaggerate any injuries with your doctor. Be truthful. Medical providers are trained at detecting exaggeration of injuries, and will often comment on such beliefs in medical reports. At the same time, do not downplay your injuries. If you feel pain or discomfort, by all means, tell your doctor so he or she may treat the injury and document it in your medical records.
Consult with your attorneyMost attorneys offer free consultations. Even if you are not injured in the accident, a thoughtful attorney will speak with you and offer advice on the claim process, which may bring you peace of mind and may assist you in obtaining maximum compensation for the damage to your vehicle.
By Tim Nies
Additional resources provided by the author
- Florida Justice Association
- Amerian Association for Justice
- Van Riper and Nies Attorneys' Facebook Page
- Van Riper and Nies Attorneys, P.A.'s Auto Crash Website
- Tim Nies Google+
- Van Riper and Nies Attorneys' Longshore Website
- Van Riper and Nies' Defense Base Act Claim Website
- Van Riper and Nies Attorneys' Criminal Law Site
- Van Riper and Nies Attorneys' Website on Port St. Lucie Auto Accident Claims