Being a personal injury lawyer, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten calls from friends and relatives who were just in a car accident and they have no idea what to do.
I’m hurt! What should I do? First, let common sense rule: If you’re hurt, call 911 and don’t worry about anything else. Stay in your car and let the paramedics assess your situation. Then maybe call a friend or family member and advise of the crash and injury. Nothing else is that important.
I think I’m okay. What now? If you’ve looked at yourself and you think you’re okay – there’s no blood, no obvious signs of internal injuries or broken bones and you’re able to move about freely, call 911. This time, though, you’re calling 911 to report the collision and for the police to come and document the crash.
Should I move my car off the road? Yes, Florida Statutes require that cars should be moved to avoid blocking traffic. F.S.§316.061(2). If you think the other driver caused the accident and he or she disagrees, keeping the cars in place will ease the police investigation and erase doubt regarding causation. Other drivers will make their way around you – we’ve all done this. If the investigating officer instructs you to move both cars, that’s okay, at least he would have already seen the collision scene and made liability assessments.
Do I always have to call the police in a crash? Well, not always, but it’s usually a good idea. Florida Statutes mandate that if you’re in a collision and there are any injuries or the property damage appears to be $500 or more, call the police. F.S.§316.065(1). Now, how do you assess what’s $400 worth of damage and what’s $600 of damage? You can’t. Call the police.
The other driver promises to admit that he’s at fault to your insurance company and please don’t call the police! Yeah, right. Call the police.
But this is a parking lot accident and police don’t respond to those. Nonsense. Call the police.
But we’ll end up waiting here for hours! Your car’s wrapped around my car, where you going? Call the police.
Now, if the cars just tapped each other and there’s zero property damage to both cars and both drivers feel just fine. Well, don’t call the police. Still exchange the basic information, just in case. But you can skip the 911 call.
Should we exchange information while we wait for the police? Definitely! Some drivers get nervous waiting for the police to arrive especially if they have some glitch on their driving record. The sooner you get their information, the better. Info to get: the other driver’s name, address, phone number, license tag number, driver’s license number and car insurance information.
What??!! The other driver just left! What should I do? There’s really not much you can do. It is not a good idea to start a high speed chase. You could endanger lives. Sometimes others drivers who witnessed this crash will follow the other car to at least get the car’s tag information. People do not like crooks and will often help out and identify a hit-and-run driver.
What’s my next call? Call your car insurance agent to report the crash if your car sustained damage and/or if you were hurt – however slightly – and in need of seeing a doctor. This call can sometimes take some time so be prepared to answer lots of questions.
I thought I was fine, but now my neck hurts! It’s been a few days and I haven’t seen a doctor yet. Can I still get some treatment? Ah, here’s where a good personal injury attorney can help. The answer is, yes. Just because you didn’t run to an emergency room directly after the crash doesn’t mean there’s not a latent (or hidden) injury that evolves after the adrenalin subsides.
However, this past January a new PIP (personal injury protection) law went into effect that basically says if you do not treat with any physician for fourteen days after a crash it is presumed that you have not been injured. Any treatment sought thereafter will not be paid by your car insurance and would have to be paid out of your pocket or health insurance. Beware of this law! If in doubt, get some form of treatment within two weeks to preserve your right for further treatment.
Most personal injury attorneys would agree that if you’ve been involved in a car crash and you’ve sustained personal injuries to some degree and you think you might need to make a claim, it is advisable to contact your personal injury attorney at this point. If you’re not feeling well, your lawyer is better able to navigate the insurances (yours and the at-fault party’s), the lost wage claim, getting your car fixed or totaled, scheduling doctor appointments, filling out PIP applications, etc.
We are genuinely here to serve you.