Auto, Truck & Motorcycle Accidents
In the wake of a car accident, life can seem very complicated. You’ll be bombarded with questions from the police, the other driver, not to mention your insurance company. While all these questions may seem innocent enough, it is imperative that you seek legal counsel as soon as possible.
Here are a few tips to assist you in negotiating the tricky road after being in a car crash:
After the Crash
Florida law requires that you must immediately stop your vehicle at the scene of the crash, or as close to the scene as possible, without obstructing traffic more than is necessary, and, if a damaged vehicle is obstructing traffic, the driver of the vehicle must make every reasonable effort to move the vehicle or have it moved so as not to obstruct the regular flow of traffic. You must remain at the scene of the crash until you provide the proper information to others involved and law enforcement.
Be Careful Who You Talk To
Florida law requires you to provide information and cooperate with law enforcement’s investigation of the accident. This information is privileged and under most circumstances cannot be used against you. However, anything you say to anyone else, including other parties involved, witnesses, medical personnel, etc. can. Do not admit fault for the accident to anyone or make any remarks that may be construed that you feel you are responsible. Simply state the facts of what happened to the investigating officer.
Rendering Aid to Others
Florida law requires you to render to any person injured in the crash reasonable assistance, including the carrying, or the making of arrangements for the carrying, of the person to a physician, surgeon, or hospital for medical or surgical treatment if it is apparent that treatment is necessary, or if such carrying is requested by the injured person.
Notifying Law Enforcement
The driver of a vehicle involved in a crash resulting in injury to or death of any persons or damage to any vehicle or other property in an apparent amount of at least $500 must immediately by the quickest means of communication give notice of the crash to the local police department, if the crash occurs within a municipality; otherwise, to the office of the county sheriff or the nearest office or station of the Florida Highway Patrol.
Driver’s Information Exchange
The law enforcement officer at the scene of a crash is required by law to instruct the driver of each vehicle involved in the crash to exchange the name and address of the owner and the driver of the vehicle; license number of the vehicle; and the name of the liability insurance carrier for the vehicle. If possible, you should try to obtain the names of any witnesses, vehicle passengers, or other parties that have knowledge of the crash.
Dealing with Insurance Companies
As soon as possible, report the accident to your insurance company. If you do not, you may be jeopardizing your coverage and give them a reason to deny covering you for the loss.
If you are not at fault, the damage to your vehicle can be repaired using the at-fault party’s property damage liability coverage. They may also be responsible for providing you a rental car while yours is being repaired. If you are at fault, or the other party has no (or not enough) property damage liability coverage, then you can use the collision coverage under your policy. Most policies with collision coverage have a deductible, or the amount of money you agreed to pay up-front, before your collision coverage starts paying.
If an accident happens:
- Help or get help for injured people.
- Warn motorists (use flares or hazard lights).
- Call 911 to contact the police, sheriff’s office or Florida Highway Patrol if an injury or death occurs.
- Write down information about the other driver and car, witnesses, passengers, accident location and more. Take photographs with your camera or phone if you can do so without endangering yourself or others.
- Cooperate fully with law enforcement officers, but speak with your insurance company or insurance agent and/or lawyer before accepting any blame.
An accident attorney at Lilly, O’Toole & Brown can talk to you about the circumstances of your accident and determine negligence, and what types of compensation to which you are entitled.