WHAT DO YOU RECOMMEND THAT I KEEP IN MY CAR IN CASE I’M EVER IN A CAR ACCIDENT?
Answer: There are some things that you should always keep in your glove compartment or somewhere in your car to use in case you’re ever involved in an accident. These include:
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I HAVE JUST BEEN INVOLED IN AN ACCIDENT?
Answer: If possible call the attorney right away. If you cannot get a hold of the attorney right away, there are a number of things you need to do. The first thing you should do is to try to calm down and collect your thoughts. The most important immediate thing to do is to determine how serious your injuries are. If you have suffered serious head, neck, or back trauma or injuries, it is important for you not to move. (However, this is obviously not the case if your car is in danger of burning, falling down a hole or river, or some other emergency, or it is necessary to move you so you can receive first aid before the paramedics arrive.) If you suffer a broken neck or back in the accident, moving it incorrectly may exacerbate the injury and lead to permanent paralysis. Call or have someone dial 911 immediately and ask them to send the paramedics and the police right away.
If you are not seriously injured and you can move you should get information of the other vehicle(s). If they are uncooperative take down their license plate number and write down important information about the time and location, also take down the names, address, phone numbers, and emails of any eye witnesses. Take pictures with a camera, a phone that has a camera or ask someone to take photos for you (get their name, address, and phone number). Take photos of all vehicles involved in the accident, any apparent injuries, the damages, the license plates, inside the vehicles if any airbags deployed or if damage is apparent, as well as pictures of the scene of the accident.
SHOULD I MOVE MY CAR TO THE SIDE OF THE ROAD?
Answer: Usually it is not a good idea to move the car unless the car is blocking traffic and is drivable. However, before you move your car, take pictures of the scene of the accident and the vehicles before they are moved.
WHAT INFORMATION SHOULD I GET FROM THE OTHER DRIVER?
Answer: If you see that the other driver is cooperative, ask the other driver to see his or her license and registration. Ask if the address on it is current. If it is not, ask the driver for his or her current address. (But just to be safe, write down the address on the license as well.) Write down the other car’s license plate number. Ask for his or her home and work telephone numbers. Also ask for the name and address of his or her employer and the name of the company he works for. Get the name of the other driver’s insurance agent and telephone number, the name of his or her insurance company, and the policy number. Ask to see the driver’s insurance card. Florida law requires every driver to have insurance, and insurance companies issue each policyholder an insurance identification card. If the other driver allows you, then take a photo of their license, registration and Insurance ID card.
WHAT IF THE ACCIDENT I WAS IN WAS MINOR? SHOULD I STILL CALL THE POLICE?
Answer: Even in the most minor of cases where there is only minor property damage (scratches or small indentations) it is always a good idea to call the police to the scene. There is always a possibility that you will feel the impact and pain later on. Even if the police officer does not make an official report of the accident, he or she can get the information from the parties, identification and contact information for witnesses, usually referred to the Exchange of Information document.
IS THERE ANYTHING I SHOULD NOT DO AT THE SCENE OF THE ACCIDENT?
Answer: First and foremost, do not admit fault. Avoid saying things such as “I’m sorry” or “I didn’t see you”. Again, we are not telling you to lie in any way but, you may think you were at fault and admit liability when in fact you were not wholly or partially responsible for the accident. Don’t say you weren’t hurt. You probably are not aware of any injuries you may have at that moment. The adrenaline and shock may prevent you from feeling any pain at that moment. Injuries or pain from injuries from automobile accidents may not show up for a couple of days, or even weeks later.
I WAS A PASSENGER IN A FRIEND’S CAR AND WAS SERIOUSLY INJURED WHEN MY FRIEND CAUSED AN ACCIDENT. IF MY FRIEND WAS AT FAULT FOR THE ACCIDENT DO I HAVE ANY RIGHTS?
Answer: Yes. You have the right to seek compensation from your friend’s insurance company, so long as your friend carried Bodily Injury additional coverage on their Insurance Policy. In Florida this Bodily Injury (BI) protection is optional. You must find out if they have such insurance. If not then maybe you or your immediate relatives have Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage on their policy which may be applicable.
Your friend has an obligation to drive safely not only to prevent hitting other vehicles, but also to prevent injury to his or her passengers. Do not be embarrassed or ashamed, it was your friend’s responsibility to ensure your safety. Your friend’s Insurance will most likely settle the claim before a law suit has to be filed. In Florida, people purchase insurance to avoid having to be financially responsible to pay for an accident they may cause. Your friend is no exception. Let the insurance company cover your medical bills, pain and suffering, and loss of income if appropriate.
IT’S BEEN TWO WEEKS SINCE THE ACCIDENT AND THIS MORNING WHEN I GOT UP, I HAD A SEVERELY SORE AND STIFF NECK, BACK, AND SHOULDERS. COULD THIS BE DUE TO THE ACCIDENT?
Answer: Yes. It is not at all unusual for injuries from a traffic accident to show up several days, even weeks, after the accident. We encourage anyone injured to get checked by medical professionals prior to and/or within fourteen (14) days from the accident. Florida PIP Law will allow payments relating to the accident if a person gets examined or undergoes medical treatment within such time. You should make an appointment with your physician for evaluation. Your primary care physician may prescribe muscle relaxants and pain killers, and/or refer you for physical therapy. Alternatively, you may wish to call an experienced personal injury lawyer, who often may be able to guide you in choosing a physician who specializes in this type of injury.
HOW SOON AFTER I’VE BEEN INJURED IN A CAR ACCIDENT SHOULD I GET LEGAL REPRESENTATION?
Answer: You should retain a lawyer as soon as possible. The insurance company will assign an adjuster to the case as soon as it is reported to them; usually the adjuster will want to take your statement as soon as possible. Do not give the adjuster a statement until you have talked an experienced personal injury lawyer.