Unfortunately, many people will be involved in a car accident at some point in their lives. The steps you take after an accident can mean the difference between winning and losing a Florida personal injury lawsuit. By following the guidelines below, you can help strengthen your Florida injury claim.
You should always speak to an experienced car accident attorney soon after your collision. A skilled attorney can help gather important evidence for your case and may work with an accident reconstruction expert in order to prove that the other driver was liable for the accident and your injuries.
Step #1 – Contact the Police
The first thing you should do after an accident is contact the police and emergency medical personnel. While waiting for help to arrive, refrain from moving your vehicle unless leaving it poses a greater safety risk. You should move to a safe area and stay out of traffic.
Step #2 – Seek Medical Care
If you feel even the slightest bit injured, accept medical care. You may not even realize you are injured until the next day or later. A doctor or medical staff may catch injuries, such as a concussion, early on. If you don’t want to ride to the hospital in an ambulance, have a friend drive you to the hospital for a complete examination.
Step #3 – Collect Contact Information
Collect the names, phone numbers, addresses, license plate numbers, and insurance information from all people involved in the collision. You should also collect information from all potential witnesses who may testify on your behalf in your Florida injury claim.
Step #4 – Photograph the Accident Scene
If you have a camera, take photographs of the accident scene from all angles. If you or your passengers sustained injuries, these should be photo documented as well. Your attorney, as part of your Florida injury claim, may use the accident photographs as evidence.
Step #5 – Take Notes About Your Car Accident
Write down the details regarding your car accident, such as the events that lead up to it as well as the weather and road conditions. Memories can often fade over time, so these notes will play an important role in your injury claim.
If you are injured, document the extent of your injuries, any pain you experience, and the medical treatments you have received. If you have to miss work as a result of your injuries or doctor’s appointment, this should also be noted.
Step #6 – Hire a Car Accident Attorney
If you have been seriously injured, hire an experienced car accident attorney to help you with your Florida injury claim. Your attorney can gather evidence and negotiate with the insurance company to help you recover a fair settlement. If a compromise cannot be reached, your attorney will prepare your injury case for trial.
Step #7 – Request Your Police Report
Request the police report from your car accident. The report will contain notes regarding the accident, including when it occurred, the weather conditions, and the location of the accident scene. It may also contain the officer’s opinion on who was at fault for the accident. If the officer believed that the other party caused the accident, this can help when negotiating with the insurance company or if your Florida injury claim goes to trial.
What NOT to Do After a Car Accident
Now that you know the steps to follow after an accident, here are a few things that you should not do in order to help your Florida injury claim:
- Do NOT apologize or say that the accident was your fault. Your words can come back to be used as evidence against you in a Florida personal injury lawsuit.
- Do NOT sign any paperwork from the insurance company without first having a lawyer look it over. The insurance company wants to get the case settled as soon as possible, and if you accept their compensation, you will likely be unable to later file a Florida injury claim. An attorney can help you to determine a fair settlement that will cover all of your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
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