What would you do if you were in a car accident. At the time it happens, there are often more important things to think about than protecting your legal rights. Things such as getting medical treatment for you injuries, what to do facing the possibility of not having a car, and what will happen in case you have to miss work for several days are the most important considerations in the moments and days following an accident. However, below is a list of things you must consider in order to protect your legal rights after an accident.
STAY AT THE SCENE AND CHECK ON ALL DRIVERS AND PASSENGERS.
It is against the law to leave the scene of an accident appropriate to do so. While at the scene, make sure to notify the appropriate emergency response personnel if you or any passengers require medical attention.
CALL THE POLICE
If there is property damage, physical injury, or death, you must call the police. Make sure that you receive documentation from the police that includes the other driver’s insurance information as well as an ability to order a full police report directly from the officer.
EXCHANGE INFORMATION WITH ALL INVOLVED.
Get the names, numbers, addresses, drivers’ license numbers, license plate numbers, and basic insurance information from all drivers involved. If there are passengers, also obtain their names, numbers, and addresses.
DO NOT DISCUSS THE ACCIDENT WITH OTHERS AT THE SCENE.
Do not offer any discussion to other people involved in the accident. Any statement you make to another person at the scene could be used or misconstrued as an admission of wrongdoing if the question of who caused the accident becomes on issue. If another party asks to explain what happened, politely decline and wait for the police to arrive. Once the police arrive, speak to the officer about what happened, but only in the presence of the officer and while he or she is conducting his investigation. If there is physical evidence at the scene such as debris on the road from the vehicles or skid marks in the road, point those things out to the investigating officer so it can be noted in the police report.
TAKE PICTURES OF THE ACCIDENT SCENE.
Take photographs of any damage to your vehicle as soon as possible after the accident. You should also take photographs of the roadway where the accident happened to show perspective about the accident scene. It may also be a good idea to have pictures of your car before the accident to show a “compare and contrast” perspective of the damage from the accident.
REPORT THE ACCIDENT TO YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY.
Call your automobile insurance company and tell them you have been in an accident right away. The insurance company will give you a claim number. You should write the claim number down and use it for your medical treatment. The insurance company may ask you about the accident or ask you to give a recorded statement. Politely decline and let them know that any recorded statement may be coordinated through your lawyer. If the insurance company asks you about any injuries you may have, let them know if you are injured but decline to discuss the specifics until you are fully checked out by a physician.
KEEP TRACK OF YOUR MEDICAL TREATMENT.
If you are injuries, seek medical treatment immediately. In Florida, if you do not seek medical treatment within 14 days of the accident, you may lose your right to have the insurance company pay for your medical treatment. Keep track of any doctors or medical facilities that you seek treatment from. Make sure to follow any treatment recommendations to assure you recover from your injuries. Keep a journal documenting how your injuries have impacted your daily life.
BE SUSPICIOUS OF EARLY SETTLEMENT OFFERS.
Many times, insurance companies make offers to settle claims before you have been fully evaluated by a medical provider. These early settlement offers may seem like a good thing, but if you agree to settle your claim and then discover you have unresolved injuries that require additional medical treatment, you will not be able to make a claim against the insurance company if you have already settled. It is important to fully know the extent of your injuries, the total time of lost work, and any other damages that accompany being involved in an accident before you settle your claim with the insurance company.
THINK ABOUT HIRING AN ATTORNEY.
If anyone was injured in the accident, it’s best to consult an experienced personal injury attorney, such as the attorney at Jiles Law, P.A. An attorney can help you maximize your recovery if you’re injured or better defend yourself if you’re at fault. Most accident attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, which means the lawyer only receives payment for his or her work, if they help you recover money damages for your injuries. Contact Jiles. Law, P.A., to receive a free consultation about your car accident.