There are several different things you should and shouldn’t do after a car accident. Some of these actions are obvious, while others may go against your post-accident instincts. Even if you’ve already left the scene of the accident and you’re now trying to figure out what to do next, it’s not too late to take some steps to protect yourself.
The first thing you should do is check on the passengers in your car and the driver and passengers in the other vehicle. Florida has two laws that require people involved in car crashes to provide aid and information after an accident:
Statute 316.062 – Duty to give information and render aid
Statute 768.13 – The Good Samaritan Act; immunity from civil liability
If you’re involved in a car or truck accident you are required by law to exchange information (drivers’ license, insurance information) with the other driver and provide aid if it is necessary. The other person may have been at fault for your accident, but it is illegal to ignore their injuries if they require assistance.
The Good Samaritan Act protects you from liability if your life-saving efforts fail. As long as you try to help and aren’t intentionally inflicting harm, you can’t be held liable for what happens.
Once you’ve rendered aid – if necessary – and exchanged insurance information, it’s usually time to stop talking.
Being rude to the other driver or law enforcement isn’t good but admitting fault or saying something that could suggest you were at fault is even worse. It is important you say nothing to anyone involved in the accident that could implicate you as responsible for the accident.
Also refrain from posting about your accident on social media. You would be surprised at how many personal injury cases have been derailed by the injured person posting pictures of themselves on Facebook looking healthy and happy when they claim to be experiencing pain and suffering from their injury.
Once you’ve taken all the legally required steps you should immediately start gathering evidence.
Take video and photos of the accident scene on your phone. Make sure you’re documenting skid marks and debris from your vehicle or damage to surrounding property.
In some circumstances you’ll be under a lot of pressure to move your wreck out of traffic, but you should always attempt to get visual evidence of the crash scene before you move the vehicles. Safety is still more important than evidence gathering, so don’t walk into traffic just to get a better picture of the accident scene.
Getting the contact information of a witness who can corroborate your side of events is also beneficial when possible.
You’ll need to tell your insurance company about your accident. Whether you do that before or after speaking to an attorney is up to you. If you weren’t injured and your claim is purely about property damage, you probably don’t need an attorney. If you suffered a serious injury, it may be in your best interest to speak with an auto accident lawyer.
There are scenarios, especially in a no-fault state like Florida, where your own insurance company may make your claim process difficult. Due to our state’s car insurance laws, your own insurer should pay for your vehicle damage and injuries. Depending on the facts of your accident your insurer may try to argue that the cause of your injures wasn’t covered by your policy. If that happens, a personal injury lawyer may be able to help.
Oversharing with your insurance company generally won’t help your claim.
If you are concerned your insurance company will attempt to dodge your injury claim, it may be worth it to talk to a Florida car crash lawyer first.
Yes, if you were injured in an accident it is vitally important you seek medical attention. Your doctor’s report and your medical bills are vital evidence – sometimes the most important evidence – in a personal injury car crash case.
If you don’t get treatment as soon as possible the insurance company may try to argue that your injuries weren’t as serious as you are claiming they were. Even if you go and get medical care weeks or months after the accident it may already be too late to get the full extent of your accident injuries documented.
It’s never too late to try though. If you were in an accident months ago and you’ve had severe back pain ever since, you should still go to a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.