You’re driving home from work and stop for yet another red light when suddenly the car behind you slams right into your vehicle. You just want to get home, so you agree to exchange phone numbers and be on your way. You can deal with this later, right? NO. You must protect yourself after a car accident, starting immediately. The following steps explain what to do – and what not to do – after a car crash.
- At the scene of the crash.
Call the police! Yes, you should. Getting a police report helps you begin documenting what happened most accurately. It will also make sure you have all the necessary information about the driver who hit you, their vehicle, and the vehicle’s insurance. Most police agencies now require their officers to wear body cameras, which may capture valuable information about the scene as well.
Check for injuries! If you or your passengers need to go to the hospital, the officer can call for an ambulance if you haven’t already. Document your pain by telling officers and paramedics what you are feeling.
Take pictures! You can take an unlimited number of pictures on your phone, so take multiple pictures of your vehicle, the vehicle that hit you, and anything else on scene that may be helpful. Take pictures from far away to show the entire scene and closeups to show details of any damage. The police can help get your vehicle towed if necessary.
Stay calm! This is not the time to argue about what happened or apologize for anything you feel you could have done differently. Anything you say can later be used against you, so don’t put yourself in that position.
Locate witnesses! If anyone saw the crash happen, be sure to get their information. If a dispute arises, it will help you to have an independent witness explain what they saw.
- Hiring an attorney.
Don’t delay hiring an attorney! An experienced personal injury attorney will help you through the claims process, present the strongest demand to the insurance company, and fight for you to achieve the highest possible compensation. Even minor crashes are best handled with competent legal representation.
- Reporting the crash.
Report the crash to your insurance company either over the phone or online. They will give you a claim number and help start the process. If you have already hired your attorney, they will help you with this too.
The other driver’s insurance company may call you and ask for a statement. Do not agree to this until you have discussed it with your lawyer. Again, anything you say can later be used against you, so remember that less is more. This statement may not be necessary at all, but if it is your attorney will have the opportunity to advise you.
- Seeking medical treatment.
If you are injured, it is important to seek medical attention quickly. In Florida, your personal injury protection (PIP) will cover up to $10,000.00 of your medical bills as long as two conditions are met: (1) treatment begins within 14 days of the crash, and (2) you have a documented emergency medical condition (EMC). Tell your doctor everything you have been feeling since the crash to document your injuries. Your doctor will help you with a treatment plan to get you feeling better quickly!
Keep in mind that immediately after the crash you may not feel all of your injuries yet. Once the adrenaline wears off you may find that you are more hurt than you think. It is always a good idea to get checked out.
Being involved in a crash can be an uncomfortable experience. It can cause you physical pain and emotional stress. Having competent legal representation can help to ease the anxiety. Each case is unique and deserves a thorough investigation and plan of action. At Attorneys Jo Ann Hoffman & Associates, our attorneys have handled a wide range of car accident cases. We will make sure that you are prepared and informed throughout each step of your case. Let our attorneys help you achieve the best possible financial outcome while you focus on your health and getting better!