When you are involved in a car accident, it is normal to feel shaken up, even if no one is seriously injured. But being prepared by knowing what you should and should not do beforehand will help keep you calm should you ever have the misfortune of being involved in a car accident.
Here’s a quick list of Do’s and Don’ts to keep in mind after a car accident.
Consider safety first. Check to be sure that you and everyone involved in the accident is okay. If there are any potentially serious injuries, call 911 immediately.
Florida law requires that you move vehicles to the side of the road so that they are not blocking traffic, if possible.
Stop at the scene. Florida law requires that everyone involved in the accident stop at the scene and render aid, if applicable.
If you leave the scene, then you could be criminally liable—and it definitely will not look good in any personal injury case later.
Stay calm. It may be difficult, but keeping calm will keep you from saying something you shouldn’t or getting unnecessarily angry or upset.
Keeping calm will also allow you to logically assess the situation and will help you remember key information later.
Call the police. Even if the other person tries to talk you out of it, you should always notify the police about any car accident.
Florida law requires that you report accidents to local police or the Florida Highway Patrol if the accident causes damages over $500 or if anyone suffered any personal injuries.
Exchange information with the other driver. Florida law requires that drivers exchange certain information with one another, including:
You and the other driver are also both required to display your valid driver’s license if requested.
If the other person involved in the accident is in no condition to receive the information, then you must provide it to law enforcement.
Take pictures of the scene and damage to your vehicle. Use your phone or a camera to take pictures of the accident scene, any surrounding road conditions, lights or signs, passengers, and damage to both vehicles (or stationary objects).
Err on the side of taking too many pictures!
Talk to potential witnesses. If there are people around who may have witnessed the accident, talk to them about what they saw and ask for their contact information (name, address, phone number). They will be helpful in any potential personal injury case.
Keep in mind that passengers may not be good witnesses because they are likely biased to your side of the case (because they are friends or relatives).
Getting a third-party witness is much more reliable in a personal injury case.
Write down specific information about the accident as soon as possible. Note things like the weather, location, and the date and time. It might also be helpful to draw a diagram of the accident as well.
Panic. Having a break down will not help the situation, and you may end up saying something that you will regret later. It is better to say too little than too much.
Leave the scene until you provide your information. Never leave the scene without providing the necessary information or speaking with police. It is best to ask the police whether you are allowed to go before leaving—just to be safe.
Apologize or admit fault. Never say that the accident was your fault or that you contributed in any way, even if you did.
But, do not lie about the accident either. It is best to say nothing about the cause of the accident at all.
Discuss the accident (in-depth) with others. Things that you say to others about the accident could be used against you later.
It is best to avoid talking about the accident, or speak in very general terms. NEVER post details about the accident to social media, like Facebook or Twitter.
Sign papers or settle without talking to an attorney. The insurance company may try to get you to settle the case for far less than it is worth.
Speak to an attorney as soon as you can after the accident. Your attorney can help you exercise the full extent of your rights.
The law team at Fetterman & Associates, PA can help you with your legal claim following a car accident. Don’t wait until it’s too late!
Call your experienced West Palm Beach personal injury attorneys at 561-845-2510 for a free case evaluation.
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