A car accident is a very traumatic experience from every angle. No one is ever prepared for a car accident; in most cases, people don’t even know how to react or what to do after a car accident. However, the steps you take after a car accident are the key to the legal actions you may be able to take to fight back for your rights and reclaim the compensation you deserve. After a crash, it is essential to know that besides calling 911, there are other steps to take after a car accident.
At LJW Legal, our car accident attorneys are always looking out for your best interests, and when those are at risk of being violated, we will aggressively fight back to make sure insurance companies and everyone responsible is held accountable for their actions.
What to Do Immediately After a Car Accident
A car accident can undoubtedly leave you feeling scattered. However, it is imperative to follow post-accident procedures to make sure you take the proper steps after a car accident to protect your rights as a car accident victim.
Step 1: Move to Safety
Make sure everyone involved is safe. It is not safe to stay near your car, if possible, move your car out of the way. If this is not possible, flip on your hazards to warn other drivers that your vehicle has been in an accident. Turn off the engine and move off to the side. Take a moment here to catch your breath and compose yourself. Make sure everyone has been moved to safety and that no one is seriously harmed.
Step 2: Check Others
Check everyone involved in the crash, including other drivers, the passengers, and even pedestrians. If anyone may be injured, please call 911, even a seemingly minor injury should be checked out by a health care professional. Car crash injuries are often not apparent at the scene.
Step 3: Call the Police
Even for minor accidents, a police accident report will come in handy when dealing with insurance companies and other drivers. Avoid blaming others while at the scene, let the police objectively write the report. Remember, Florida is a no-fault state, which means every motorist is required to have personal injury protection coverage, and this insurance goes into effect immediately after a claim has been filed, regardless who caused the accident.
Step 4: Gather Information
While at the car crash scene, you want to make sure – if you are able – to gather as much information about everyone involved in the crash as possible. We will discuss the exact documents you want to make sure you document in the following section.
Step 5: Document the Accident
In today’s world, everyone has a smartphone with a camera. After you are sure you’re fine, and you haven’t sustained any serious injuries, make sure to take some photos of the accident scene. Take pictures of your vehicle, the scene, the other driver’s vehicle, and so on.
Step 6: Decide What Type of Claim to File
Since Florida is a no-fault state, immediately after a car accident you can use your PIP coverage for your injuries and the injuries of anyone in the car with you. However, you still have the right to sue the other driver for serious injuries, or if your injuries exceed your PIP coverage.
Also, you can also choose to file a collision coverage claim, in which case you will work directly with the insurance company for reimbursement. This process can be lengthy and extremely complicated as insurance companies will always be looking out for their benefits, not yours.
What Documents Do You Need If You Are In A Car Accident?
While at the scene, you want to make sure you gather specific documents that will help you process your claim. It is crucial you collect as much information as possible since all parties, from the insurance company to the car accident attorney, are going to refer back to this information throughout your case.
From the Other Driver/Passengers Involved
First of all, you need a list of everyone involved in the accident. You want to make sure you have the following information:
- Name of the other driver
- Address of the other driver and contact information
- Other drivers’ insurance company name and policy number
- Other drivers’ vehicle description – making, model, and year
- Vehicle registration information (VRI)
- License plate number
From the Scene
While you are not a police officer or detective, the most information you can gather about the crash scene the better your claim process will be. Make sure to collect the following information:
- Date and time of the accident
- Detailed address of the crash
- Nearest cross street
- The direction you were traveling in
- The direction the other car was traveling in
- A detailed explanation of what happened
- Notes regarding driving conditions (visibility, weather, etc.)
- Pedestrians or witnesses names and contact information
From the Police
Once the police arrive at the scene, they will also be demanding information from both parties and a short explanation of what happened at the scene. However, the car accident victims also need information from the police, including:
- Official car accident report copy
- Officers name and badge number
- Contact information for each officer
From the Paramedics
Regardless of the type of injuries car accident victims may sustain during a crash, contacting the paramedics or medical care attention immediately after a car accident is imperative. In occasions, car accident injuries don’t appear noticeable until a few days after the crash. From the medical attendees, you need to gather:
- Official medical assessment
- The complete post-accident medical report
- Medical bills and expenses
- Treatment plans, if applicable
How to Know What Insurance Coverage Applies
Under Florida law, every motorist is required to carry a minimum $10,000 personal injury protection (PIP) coverage for medical bills and lost wages, no matter who caused the accident. So, immediately after a car crash, each driver can turn to his or her insurance company to help pay for their medical care expenses and other losses.
However, PIP coverage by law only covers 80% of medical bills and 60% of lost wages. Also, PIP coverage is subject to a deductible, which means the car crash victim can be personally responsible for the first portion of their medical bills.
Likewise, there are some exceptions to Florida’s no-fault insurance requirement. The first exception implies that if a person suffers permanent injury as a result of a car accident, the driver is not subject to the no-fault limitations and may be able to file a claim for medical bills, lost wages, intangible damages, and even pain and suffering as a result of the accident. Another occasion to an exception would be if the injuries involved total more than the PIP coverage ($10,000), in this instance a claim can be filed to recover the medical bills not covered by the PIP insurance.
Bearing in mind these reasons, one can see that filing a claim after a car accident can be somewhat complicated. The assistance of a car accident lawyer can alleviate this stress and streamline the process.
How to Know If You Need a Car Accident Lawyer?
While you can choose to instantly file a claim with your insurance company to tap into your PIP coverage, car accident injuries often go beyond its coverage limit. Working with a car accident lawyer can help you make sure you are adequately compensated for your damages, lost wages, and other expenses related to the crash.
Also, car accidents, unfortunately, can result in criminal charges including negligence, manslaughter, driving under the influence, and so on. In these cases, working with a criminal defense attorney is necessary.
What to Do Next?
If you or someone you know has been injured in a car accident or has been involved in a serious car crash, contact the office of LJW Legal for a free consultation. Our attorneys will aggressively fight for the compensation you deserve by meticulously looking at every detail of your case and making sure your rights are respected.