If I Get into an Automobile Accident, What Should I Do?

Tue, Jan 26, 2016

Personal Injury

361088500_dfd9152783_b (1)First, try to remain calm. No matter how small the accident, you’re bound to be freaked out. Car accidents are scary. However, you don’t want to overreact and scare yourself and others if it is not necessary…

Once you’ve taken a deep breath, make sure you and your passengers are safe. Are you in the middle of the road? At least get your passengers to safety if necessary. Sometimes you need to move your car too so you aren’t endangering others, if it is possible.

If the accident involved others, are they ok? Don’t take chances with injuries. Make sure an ambulance is called if there is any indication someone may be injured. You don’t want to leave it to chance if there is a concern injuries may have or should have occurred given the circumstances of the accident. Call 911 if you need it.

Once everyone has gotten to safety and evaluated their health, decide if you should move the car(s) if they can be moved. This will all depend on the location of the accident, of course. Some people are afraid to move their car because they want the details of the accident to be clear. Thus, smartphone to the rescue! Take as many pictures as you can safely take in a reasonable timeframe and then move the car(s). While you are taking pictures, snap a picture of the other person’s license plate just in case.

Why? You want to be able to find the other person if they pull off while moving their car. It happens, unfortunately. If you have at least some identifying info then you can hopefully find them later.

Once you feel comfortable with the accident scene being made as safe as possible, exchange information with the other parties involved. Florida law requires you to provide certain information in order to avoid being charged with a hit and run—make sure you don’t drive off with the other person not having enough information about you. This link is the suggested form straight from Florida’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

Sometimes the police aren’t able to come at all or in a timely fashion, it all depends on the circumstances of the accident and what is reasonable to expect. Make sure you have as much information as possible about the other party. If you aren’t able to file a report with the police, you are able to fill out an online form for you and your insurance company’s records. Sometimes a report is required, depending on the accident. Florida’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles has some suggestions about how to handle a car accident and how insurance will become involved depending on the circumstances of the accident.

Once you exchange driver information, it never hurts to get witness information. Get a quick description of the accident from a witness and their contact info.

The next step is determining if your car can be safely driven away. If so, leave the scene when you feel ready, and have gathered all the information you need. If you aren’t able to move the car safely, then contact your roadside assistance provider or another towing company if the police have not done it for you.

Next is contacting the insurance companies. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, you can report the accident to the other person’s insurance company first, if you feel they are at fault. You should also report it to your insurer. Your insurance agent will advise you on the next steps if you have any questions.

Other concerns to think about are if you feel okay spending much time with the other driver involved in the accident. If you don’t, make sure you exchange information if you can reasonably do so. Then contact the authorities if you feel safer, so the accident is reported.

Your insurance company’s website has lots of information on accident procedures. It’s a good idea to check those out before you need the information, so you are prepared. Also, keep in mind, that if at any point you feel uncomfortable with your insurance company’s handling of the claim, you should seek outside counsel in the form of an attorney.

Attorney Christopher D. Smith, Sr. is designated a Board Certified Consumer Bankruptcy Lawyer by the American Board of Certification.  SmithLaw is located in Lakewood Ranch, Florida.  Attorney Smith concentrates on bankruptcy, civil litigation, probate, family law, estate planning, real estate, and elder exploitation cases in the Sarasota and Bradenton area.  Call 941-202-2222 to learn more.  SmithLaw offers free consultations in certain areas, including consumer bankruptcy, probate, and personal injury matters.

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