What Should I do After I’ve Been Involved in a Car Accident?
Cars – As a society we are dependent on them not only for work and transportation, but also recreation. We learn to drive at a young age and most of us are licensed before we can vote.
Be Prepared Before It Happens
You never know when an accident might occur, so it’s important to be ready. Obviously, you need to have your insurance information, vehicle registration, and license with you, but it’s also a good idea to have an emergency kit in your car.
Make Sure Everyone Is Okay and Move to Safety
Safety should be your number one priority when an accident happens, so before you do anything else, make sure that everyone involved is okay.
Keep Your Cool
If the accident wasn’t your fault, you might feel the urge to get angry and yell at the other driver. This won’t go well. First, blaming the other person might make it harder to deal with them, and you still need to get their information. Second, getting angry will give you tunnel vision and make it harder to think at a time when you need to be as aware as possible.
Call the Police and File a Report
Once everyone is safe it’s time to get the police involved, even if it’s only a minor accident. Make sure you contact the local police for the area you’re in or the highway patrol if you’re in an unincorporated area. When they arrive, you’ll need to provide:
- Your driver’s license
- Your vehicle’s registration card
- Evidence that you are financially responsible for the vehicle
- Your current address
- You’ll then need to fill out an accident report and provide information on the place and time of the accident, the other driver’s information, and an explanation of injuries and property damage.
Get the Other Driver’s Information
While you’re waiting for the police to arrive, it’s imperative that you get the other driver’s insurance and personal information. At minimum, make sure you write down these things:
- Their name
- Their address
- Their phone number
- The make and model of their car
- Their license plate number
- Their insurance carrier and insurance policy number
Never Admit Guilt or Apologize
To protect yourself, it’s important you never admit that the accident was your fault. Even if the accident was your fault, and no matter how emotional you feel, admitting guilt or apologizing can make things a lot more difficult for you down the line. When you talk to the other driver, keep it down to business. Only state facts and limit your discussion about the accident as much as possible. Let the police and insurance companies determine fault. You might feel bad now, but you’ll feel even worse if your insurance premiums go up or if you get sued.
Take Photos and Write Notes for Your Insurance Claim
In the moment, you might think that there’s no way you’ll forget what just happened, but you don’t want to run the risk. Take photos of the accident scene, the damage to your vehicle, the damage to their vehicle, any injuries that might have occurred, and the surrounding area. You can easily do all of this with your smartphone, but it’s not a bad idea to have a backup camera in your glove box.
Consider Going to the Doctor (or at Least Talk to One)
Even if you feel okay after the accident, you should take the risk of injury seriously. You might feel fine, but there are several injuries commonly associated with car accidents that don’t show symptoms immediately. Your adrenaline can easily hide the fact that you’re hurt, so be sure to keep an eye out for any pain or stiffness as time passes.
Consult with an attorney
Speak with an attorney, especially if anyone was injured in the accident. A qualified Florida attorney can help maximize a settlement value if you are injured as well as help you create a viable defense if you are at fault.
The personal injury attorneys at The Law Office of Luis Cartaya, PA are experienced in dealing with accident claims and can help you understand your rights and get the highest amount possible for your claim. Contact us anytime to discuss your options. An actual lawyer will answer the phone when you call today!