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Do’s and Don’ts After You’ve Been Involved in a Car Accident in Florida

Regardless of severity, being involved in a car accident is a traumatic experience that can have lasting physical, psychological, financial, and legal ramifications. In the moments after the accident, shock can render it difficult for drivers and passengers alike to think clearly and take the right steps to minimize harm. With over 400,000 car crashes occurring in Florida each year, it’s important for residents and visitors of the state to familiarize themselves with what to do in the event that they are involved in an accident. Here are some helpful do’s and don’ts:

Do think about safety first. If you’re not too badly injured, exit the vehicle and try to get yourself and other passengers out of the way of other cars on the road. Call 911 as soon as possible, even if the accident doesn’t initially appear to be severe.

Don’t leave the scene. Under Florida law, it’s a felony to leave the scene of an accident that results in injury or death, and a misdemeanor if the accident only caused property damage. Therefore, regardless of how bad the damage appears and whether or not you believe you were at fault, always stop immediately.

Do document the scene. When the police arrive, be sure to get a police report, which will probably be requested by your insurance company and may be instrumental in supporting your case if you opt to pursue a lawsuit. In addition to the police report, take your own pictures and videos of the scene, recording as much data as possible. For example, try to capture images of any injuries or vehicle damage, debris on the road, the vehicles’ final resting spots, and the other driver(s) and their identifying information (such as their license plates, drivers’ licenses, and passengers).

Don’t admit fault. While “I’m sorry” might seem like a natural thing to say to the other drivers involved in a car accident, a seemingly harmless phrase like that could be used in court as an admission of fault or liability. It’s best to say as little as possible and try to remain calm while waiting for the authorities to arrive.

Do talk to witnesses and ask if they’d be willing to share their contact information.

Don’t give recorded statements to anyone—particularly not the other driver’s insurance company. Even if they seem sympathetic, insurance company representatives are trained to extract information that could later be used against you.

Do seek medical attention as soon as possible. Aside from the fact that some injuries, if left untreated, may not cause symptoms for days or even weeks, promptly seeking medical attention after a car accident is important due to a particular aspect of Florida law. Anyone who owns a car in Florida (as well as those who will be staying and driving their vehicles within the state for more than 90 consecutive days) is required to carry at least $10,000 of personal injury protection (PIP) insurance, which will cover a portion of medical expenses and other costs—regardless of who was at fault in the accident. However, car crash victims who do not seek medical attention within 14 days may lose their right to PIP coverage. Therefore, visiting the emergency room or another healthcare provider as soon as possible is essential to protecting your rights after a car accident.

Do contact a personal injury attorney who is experienced in assisting car accident victims. Under Florida law, you can still recover damages if you were partially at fault in an accident. These damages may include medical expenses, vehicle repair, pain and suffering, and lost wages. Working with a skilled car accident attorney can help you navigate Florida law, protect your rights when dealing with insurance companies and the other parties involved, and maximize the damages you are able to recover.

At Leighton Law, we have extensive experience with litigating and settling cases involving car, truck, motorcycle, bicycle, and other vehicle accidents. With a long history of securing some of Florida’s highest personal injury verdicts, we will guide you through each step of your case while aggressively advocating on your behalf. Call us at 888.988.1774 to schedule a consultation!

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