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What To Do After A Car Accident
Suggestions From A Car Accident Lawyer with 37 Years of Experience
Being in a car accident can be traumatizing and overwhelming, but it’s vital that you try to remain as calm as possible in the aftermath. Here are the steps you should take.
- At the time of the accident, tell the police, paramedics, and emergency room doctors about anything that may be hurting you. Be specific and honest about your injuries since anything you say can be used against you. Don’t overstate or understate your injuries.
- Insist that an accident report be filed with the police.
- Document as much as you can about the accident and any injuries that may have occurred. Every detail is important. Your accident attorney will need to know everything about your injuries, any losses, such as wages, you have suffered as a result of the accident, and any conversations you had with anyone involved in the accident.
- Talk to no one about the accident or your injuries other than your attorney or physician. You especially do not want to speak with an insurance adjuster.
- It is essential that evidence is preserved. If you think something is wrong with your car that caused the accident, make sure to tell your insurance company not to destroy the car. Try to preserve the car and gather as many of the damaged parts as possible. The condition and the damage to the car can tell a lot about the accident, including the cause and extent of your injuries.
- Be sure to take photos of the car, motorcycle, or auto accident scene, including any visible injuries and the vehicles involved. Preserve all photos and evidence.
- Get the contact information of anyone who witnessed the accident who may be able to help prove your case.
- If necessary, immediately seek medical attention following a car, motorcycle, or auto accident. Be sure to explain how the injuries occurred to your doctor, and mention any sensations of disorientation, confusion, memory lapses, or other conditions you have sustained. Again, don’t overstate or understate your injuries.
Note: There is a 14 day time limit to seek medical treatment in order to collect medical benefits under your PIP policy. For more information, read our articles on our blog:
What Should You Tell Your Doctor About Your Car Accident?
When a doctor evaluates you after a car accident, you should give him or her specific details about both cars at the time of the impact. Specifically, you should tell the doctor if your car was:
- Slowing down
- Gaining speed
- Moving at a constant speed
- Making a turn
- Proceeding straight ahead
- Changing lanes
- Making a U turn
This information allows your doctor, as well as other car accident experts, to determine the cause and extent of your injuries. It may also assist your doctor in prescribing a treatment strategy.
You should also tell the doctor about your car after the crash, including if your car:
- Kept going straight and didn’t hit anything
- Kept going straight and did hit a vehicle in front of it
- Was hit by another vehicle
- Was spun around and did not hit anything
- Was spun around and did hit something
- Hit a curb or other object
What Do Accident Experts Suggest You Do After a Car Accident?
We searched the web to find out what insurance companies said to do in the aftermath of a car accident. This information is helpful for when a victim finds themselves dealing with an adjuster who’s looking for a reason to deny or low ball a claim.
“Call 9-1-1. Whether an accident is considered a minor fender-bender or a major collision, calling the police is important — and in some states, 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, according to the III. When you file a claim with your insurer, they may ask for a copy of the police report to help with the claims process.”
“Call local police: Always call the local police to document the accident, so you have an official record of the event and driver statements. Visit policelocator.com to find your local department’s telephone number.”
“Gather information from others involved in the accident. This includes, driver and passenger names and contact information, vehicle descriptions, driver’s license numbers, license plate numbers, insurance companies and policy numbers, eyewitnesses’ names and contact information, accident scene location and/or address, police officer’s name and badge number.”
“Follow the law about moving your car – or not. If local or state laws require you move your car and you can do it safely, you should move it immediately, according to James Aubrey Solomon, a defensive driving expert at the National Safety Council. Not only is it the right thing to do, it’s just good manners. It’s not polite to stay in someone’s way, even if that someone is another driver. If you can’t move your car, you should use your hazard lights to alert other drivers.”
“Although you may feel that you have not caused the accident, you should contact your insurance company anyway. This establishes your good-faith accident-reporting effort and can aid you if the other party’s insurer denies responsibility for the accident and you need to make a collision claim.”
“Call your agent or insurance company immediately. Police reports take time to file, and speedy claims are expedited by your ability to provide information as quickly and accurately as possible.
Remember that you may not be thinking clearly. If the police officer is still at the scene, don’t hesitate to put him or her on the phone to your insurance company, in order to better describe the accident that just occurred.”
“After leaving the scene, put down the pen. Don’t sign paperwork from the other driver’s attorney or insurance company just yet. Your insurance company will handle this for you. Decide if you need an attorney. Contact one if you believe it’s needed.”
“Do not admit to guilt, do not accept money from another driver and do not agree to forget about a minor accident.”
“Do not admit fault. Only give out information required by the authorities, and do not sign any statement except from an authorized Central representative.”
“When filing a claim or reporting an accident, it is important to provide as many details as possible. Keep a notebook in the glove compartment to write down details such as the other driver’s name, car and insurance information. Taking pictures of the damage will also be helpful. Draw a diagram of what happened in the accident as well.”
“Write down or take a photo of the name, address, phone number and/or email address, insurance information and vehicle information of the vehicle owner. If the driver is different from the vehicle owner, write down their name, address, license number and state, date of birth, phone number and/or email address. You can also get contact information from passengers and/or witnesses.”
“One critical mistake many people make is thinking they can get away with not reporting minor accidents to their insurance companies, especially if the minor accident was clearly their fault. Failure to report an accident is considered a breach of contract by most insurers and they may refuse to represent you. Staying in good faith with your insurer is vital to avoid paying out of pocket.”
“Report your claim to your insurance company. You can often report a claim online or over the phone at any time. You can call from the scene of the accident if it is safe to do so. Make sure you share the information that you have captured, as it can help limit your liability and help you get a fair resolution to your case. If you receive any communications about the accident, promptly forward it to your claim representative.
Ameriprise Auto & Home Insurance
“Stay calm and don’t admit fault. Remember to stay calm and to cooperate with other drivers, pedestrians and police post car accident. Don’t panic and try to be as courteous and polite as possible. A car accident isn’t fun for anyone and can cause immediate shock or stress that can be exacerbated by aggressive or unfriendly attitudes. Be sure not to admit fault. Even if you believe that to be the case, there may be factors that could indicate otherwise upon further investigation.”
“Even in minor accidents, a police accident report can prove invaluable when dealing with your car insurance company and other drivers. Cooperate fully but avoid admitting fault or blaming others while at the scene. Let the police objectively judge events and determine who, if anyone, is at fault in the crash.
If the police can’t make it to the scene (which is more likely if there are no injuries), you can file an accident report through your state’s DMV.”
What Does the State of Florida Say to Do After a Car Accident?
Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles
Aside from insurance agencies, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles also has some advice for drivers:
“Always insist that the crash be reported to law enforcement so that a law enforcement officer can complete the appropriate forms. We advise you not to negotiate a payment agreement with the other parties to settle damages. Doing it on your own without a crash report from a law enforcement officer could result in your not being fully compensated for damages and can expose you to personal liability since no official report of the crash exists and circumstances become your word against theirs.”
What Do Other Car Accident Lawyers Say to Do After a Car Accident?
We also collected responses from other car accident lawyer websites on what they say to do after an accident. Here’s what they had to say.
“Be safe. Ultimately, this is the most important thing to do. Stop your car after the auto accident and turn off your engine. Make sure that it is safe to exit your car. You would be amazed at the number of personal injury cases our lawyers are currently handling involving injuries suffered after an accident occurred. When you are a pedestrian, you are that much more at risk. You are usually best off not moving the vehicles until the police have arrived.”
The Law Offices of Randolph Rice
“When and if police arrive at the scene of the accident, they have the right to ask for valid proof of insurance. If you do not have liability insurance, your license can again be suspended. Even worse, if you are not in compliance with insurance regulations, you can eventually lose your license for driving an uninsured vehicle.”
“Call 911 to ask for medical assistance and obtain a car accident police report. The 911 dispatcher will send a police officer to the scene who will generate an accident report and usually issue a citation to the at-fault driver. The accident report is critical to your case because it will contain all of the drivers’ and passengers’ names and information as well as the drivers’ insurance information. Plus, it will include a diagram of how the accident occurred and document important factors such as time, date, lighting, weather, and traffic conditions at the time of the accident. It is very difficult to pursue a car accident insurance claim if the crash was not reported to the police and for which no accident report exists.
“Even if you think the accident was your fault, don’t say so at the scene. Wait until all the facts are in. In many accidents, a driver may think he or she was at fault, when other unknown factors – such as a hidden defect in the vehicle – were the true cause of the crash.”
“Discuss the best course of action with a recognized personal injury law firm. Many people think they will save time and money by handling a car insurance claim against the negligent driver on their own. In reality, this can COST you more time and money. The insurance company’s adjusters want you to believe you don’t need a lawyer—but you should NEVER believe them. They don’t have your best interests in mind—they actually want to limit YOUR payout so the company can keep more money, AND the adjuster gets a bigger bonus!”
The Law Office of William W. Hurst
“Following an accident, it is important for you to not discuss in detail the accident with the other driver’s insurance company, especially if they are suggesting you are at fault for the accident. In that situation, it is best to hire an attorney … to fully represent your rights and to deal with the other driver’s insurance carrier.”
“After you have received medical attention, chances are that you will face medical bills. It can take time for an insurance company to pay out on any medical bills that you face. It is essential that you carefully document every expense that you face due to injuries from your accident. Keep track of bills for hospital visits, surgeries, doctor visits, prescription drugs, medical equipment and any other expenses that you have incurred. You should also track the number of days that you have missed work, as well as the current pay rate for any time missed.
“If you were forced to purchase a new car or rent a different vehicle, then you should also record these expenses. When you keep detailed records of your expenses, you improve the likelihood that you can recover compensation for these expenses.”
“Protect the scene. You can prevent further accidents by setting up flares or keeping your flashers on. If it is dark and your lights don’t work, you should have a flashlight to keep you safe while you wait in your disabled car or by the side of the road.”
“People apologize at the accident scene when it’s not their fault because they are either embarrassed or they are trying to be courteous to the other person involved. No one realizes that there are repercussions for these courteous statements. Likewise, people provide a recorded statement to the insurance company because they mistakenly believe that if they cooperate with the insurance company then the insurance company will process their claim faster and they will receive their compensation faster.”
“There are time limitations for filing lawsuits and certain types of claims. It is very important that you speak to an injury lawyer soon after the accident so they can protect you from waiving any rights or claims.
“The nature of the collision and the parties involved can have substantial influence on the length of time you have to file a claim. Statutes of limitation can be longer or shorter depending on the facts so victims should never assume that their claim will be viable if they fail to act.
“Rather, victims should contact a lawyer as soon as practicable following an incident to learn about their legal rights and options.”
“Pay attention to what others say and your surroundings. While on the scene of the accident, do what you can to pay close attention to what others say about their involvement in the accident. If you hear anyone apologizing or saying, “It is my fault,” write it down immediately. You can use your cell phone to record audio or video at your accident scene, so doing this may help your case.”
“It’s helpful to have a phone recorder when you take witness statements and contact info, including exchanging insurance and contact information with the other driver. If you are able, take pictures of the scene, the other vehicle, the license plate of the vehicle(s) involved, and any witness license plates. Take pictures of any damage to your vehicle.”
“Don’t lose your cool. A car accident can be a very upsetting experience. After a car accident, your emotions are likely running high. Do not lose your cool and become angry or upset with the other parties involved, even if the accident was their fault. Try to remain calm and see to it that everyone who was involved in the car accident gets the help they need.”
“Even if you are uninsured, don’t refuse an ambulance ride to the hospital if you believe you need medical attention. Your health is the most important thing at this moment. If another party was involved and proven at fault, their insurance company may cover your bills.”
What Does AAA Say to Do After a Car Accident?
We also checked to see what AAA, a leader in automotive membership and services with over 58 million members, had to say about what to do after a car accident.
“Be prepared to assume legal and financial responsibility after a car crash. Resist letting your emotions get in the way of deciding who is at fault and never let yourself be pressured into admitting fault. If you feel it’s necessary, you can consult with an attorney before giving a statement.”
Alan’s Recommendation: Do not settle your case immediately after a car accident. You need to give your body time for any swelling to go down and the adrenaline to work its way through your system. Only then, will you know if you are hurt, how bad and what type of treatment you need and how long that treatment will take to complete. Once complete, then you will know your damages, including your lost wages, pain and suffering (long and short term), medical expenses and other economic and non-economic damages.
Hiring a Car Accident Attorney After A Car Accident
Since 1982, Alan Sackrin has represented victims throughout Florida in recovering compensation for car accident injuries. Alan is a Board-Certified Civil Trial Expert and an expert car accident lawyer. If you have any questions, including learning your options, feel free to give Alan a call. He offers a free initial consultation.
Learn more about Alan, by clicking here.
See A Sample of Alan’s Verdicts and Settlements
Related Car Accident Topics and Resources:
- Car Accident FAQ
- Car Accident Insurance Claims and Coverage (PIP and Bodily Injury Coverage)
- Car Accident Damages
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