Car Accident in South Florida: First Thing You Should Do
What's the first thing you need to do after a Florida car accident?
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, it's not always easy to figure out what you're supposed to do next. You're at the scene. Your car has been damaged. You may be in pain. Your adrenaline's pumping. Maybe someone was even in the car with you. This can be an extremely unsettling experience, but it’s important to think about the different things that might help you later on if you, in fact, are forced to file a lawsuit in your Florida car accident.
Stay Calm and Stay Put
Despite the fact that these crashes can be scary and disorienting, you need to remember to stay calm and, above all, stay put. Don't leave or go anywhere. Instead, wait for the police to arrive. Staying put is also important because you don't want to aggravate any injuries you may have suffered. And, as anybody who's been in a car accident before (in Florida or elsewhere) can tell you, your auto accident injuries may not be immediately apparent. The last thing you want is to make any injuries worse by moving. Try to take deep breaths, and accept help from bystanders if any are around.
Most importantly, you need to call 911 after an accident. You want a police officer out there to see if any emergency aid is necessary and to create a police report. A police report is a record of what happened during the accident. It'll give the officer's opinion as to how the accident happened. It may even say whether or not the investigating officer issued a citation. All of this will be important support later on for your Florida car accident case. You’ll want to make sure that you have a way to get a copy of that report later.
Typically, in Florida, you'll get a card that has a report number on it. Your lawyer can easily obtain that police report for you later. If you don't get that report done, however, you’ll likely find yourself having to argue over liability with the other party in the accident. This isn’t a great place to be in, especially if you've been hurt.
Seek Medical Treatment
If an ambulance comes to the scene, even if you don't get into the ambulance to go to the hospital, at least let the paramedics take a look at you. Again, all of this will be documented. If you're unsure whether or not you need to get in the ambulance and go to the doctor, go. Not just because of the case, but because you need to get your injuries looked at. When in doubt, take the ride.
Above all, don't say, "No, I don't need anyone to look at me." If medical help is being offered, take them up on it and let them get a look at you. This will help your case later because healthcare providers will document what happened to your body during the accident. Ultimately, you should never refuse assistance from a paramedic or an EMT.
Take Pictures of the Accident
If you are hit on a bicycle, motorcycle, or car make sure you take pictures of the vehicle. It’s also important to take pictures of the other car or any other cars that were involved. This will help to recreate the scene of the accident later on, when you’ll need to prove the other party was at fault.
Don’t Speak to an Insurance Company Alone
Shortly after a car accident, you're going to get a call from an insurance company. Not just your insurance company—you may get a call from the other party's insurance company. They may want you to give a recorded statement.
It’s important to know that you don't have to talk to the other side's insurance. If they contact you, let them know that you'll be retaining legal counsel. If they want to record a statement from you, tell them no. You are not required to do it, and you should absolutely speak to your Florida auto accident lawyer before you agree to go on the record about anything that happened in the accident. Make sure that you seek legal advice before speaking to that insurance company.
This may seem obvious, but that doesn't mean it's not important: you should try to gather as much information as possible. See if you can obtain driver's license information from the other party. Consider taking a picture of their license and insurance policy information.
If there's a police report created, that information will be provided. But it can still help if you also participate in gathering this information. Write down the other party's license plate number. If more than one car was involved, write down all their license plate numbers. What kind of a car was it? What make? All of these details will be important when it comes time to build your personal injury case.
You should also get the names and contact info of any witnesses that are in the area who may have seen exactly what happened. This is the type of support you’ll need to really strengthen your Florida auto accident case. If there's a dispute, an independent, objective witness (a person who doesn't know you, doesn't know the other parties in the accident, their opinion, what they saw, etc.) is that much more valuable.
Don’t Wait—Speak with a Florida Car Accident Lawyer Today
If you've been in a Florida car accident and you need to talk to a lawyer, call us immediately. The lawyers at the Law Offices of Joseph Bosco are here to help people who've been injured in car accidents, and we're happy to take your call and discuss your case day or night.