What do I do if I’m involved in an auto accident?
The Fort Lauderdale Personal Injury Attorneys at the Florida Injury Law Group care about you and your well-being. Our personal injury lawyers know that being involved in an auto accident can be very trying and difficult you and your family — so it is important to know what to do after an injury has been sustained.
1. Stop and Do Not Leave the Scene
Call the Police to report the accident. Notify oncoming traffic to proceed with caution by turning on hazard lights, raising your hood and/or setting out flares.
2. Determine the Extent of Injuries
Try to stay calm. Do not refuse medical attention at the scene of the accident. It is always best to be examined by a medical professional to determine the extent of your injuries, even if you think they are minor. Auto accident victims are often in some level of shock after an accident. The shock can often mask serious injuries, and the injured may not feel any pain. Most people even deny being hurt because they don’t want to make a ‘big deal’ out of the accident. This is a trick the insurance companies use against them when settlement time comes. The insurance companies claim “If your client was hurt in the accident, why didn’t he or she go to the doctor right away?” Don’t let them win this argument; get the medical attention you need as quickly as possible.
3. File an Accident Report with the Police
Make sure to file a Police Accident Report even if you think the accident is minor. Symptoms may arise days or months after the accident, so it is vital to fully complete the report. You should not try to negotiate a payment agreement with the other parties to try to settle damages. Doing it on your own without a crash report from a law enforcement officer could result in your not being fully compensated for damages. You may also expose yourself to personal liability since no official report of the crash exists and circumstances become your word against theirs.
4. Only Discuss the Accident with the Police
It is important to try to stay focused when talking about the accident. Please limit your conversation of the accident and do not discuss fault or liability with anyone other than the Police officer. You should confer only with the Police at the scene. Never personally confront an ‘at fault party’ as you may be dealing with a violent individual.
5. Get the Facts
Remain calm and get the names, addresses and phone numbers of everyone involved in the accident. It is extremely important to write down the description of the car, license plate number, vehicle identification number and auto insurance company information from the car that hit your vehicle. It is also important to write down the names, addresses and phone numbers of any witnesses who may be present. Please also note the driving conditions, speed limits, traffic, weather and what the vehicles were doing at the time of the accident. Take your time and write down all of the facts that you can acquire.
6. Call Your Insurance Agent
Call your agent or insurance company’s 800 number immediately. (The telephone number is usually located on your insurance card.) Sometimes the Police officer can assist in giving your insurance company more accurate information under the circumstances. This can save valuable time with processing your claim. Do take and keep detailed notes of all conversations with your insurance company representative. Get the names, phone numbers, and job titles of people you speak with, including their supervisor’s name. Be honest with your insurance company. Failing to be candid with your insurance company might invalidate your policy or cause a denial of coverage.
7. Schedule an Appointment with the Florida Injury Law Group
As soon as possible after the accident, talk with one of our Fort Lauderdale Personal Injury Attorneys about protecting your legal rights. It is very important to be informed of your rights before giving any statements to insurance adjusters. In personal injury cases, you are often entitled to much more than just having your car repaired and your medical bills paid. We are familiar with the tactics that the insurance companies use and our experienced personal injury lawyers will work through the maze of paperwork necessary to resolve your claim so that you can get on with your life.
Our Ft Lauderdale auto accident attorneys have significant experience with cases like yours. Our car accident attorneys work hard to reach the best settlements for our clients, as early in the litigation process as possible. We can be more objective about your case than you can and will not make a rash decision. Whereas you may be tempted, for instance, to go for a quick payout, we may counsel you that it is in your best interests to wait for a more appropriate offer. Our personal injury lawyers are used to working with insurance companies and will not feel pressured to settle for an unsatisfactory amount. If the insurance company refuses to make a fair settlement offer, the Florida Injury Law Group will file suit on your behalf and zealously represent you in court — working diligently toward achieving the best possible jury verdict in your favor.
8. Make an Appointment with a Physician
Even with being examined at the scene of the accident or nearby hospital, it is important to see a physician who specializes in treating injuries following your accident for your own piece of mind. Any auto accident attorney at the Florida Injury Law Group can refer you to a physician in your area who specializes in treating accident victims. Waiting to see a doctor can delay treatment and aggravate your injury. The longer you wait for medical treatment, the more difficult it will be to connect the injuries to the accident. Do not give any incorrect statements to any doctor who may treat you with respect to any prior injuries or accidents, if you don’t remember, say so.
9. Follow Your Doctors Instructions
Make sure that you follow your doctor’s instructions. Money cannot ever replace good health, so you want to follow your doctor’s advice and treatment plan. You want to recover from your injuries as quickly as possible. Your doctor will keep track of your missed appointments and any deviations from your treatment plan. When we provide the medical records to the insurance adjuster, they will be able to see these inconsistencies. There is never a reason or excuse to miss a doctor’s appointment. By missing a doctors appointment, you are saying to the insurance company that you don’t hurt and that it doesn’t matter that much. Our job is to make a recovery for you for the pain and suffering that can be proven. Not going to the doctor is one way to prove that you are not hurting and that you don’t care. If you don’t care, the doctor might not care. It is very important for you to work hard to get well and to go to all of your appointments.
10. Take Photographs
Take photographs of all your injuries, scars and bruises. If your car was damaged, take pictures of your vehicle prior to getting it repaired. It is also a good idea to take pictures of the accident scene immediately following your accident. Good photographs can make a case by showing the insurance company the extent of your damages.
11. Document Everything
Document all of your losses including medical bills, lost wages, future medical treatment, transportation costs and the effect of the accident on your family and on your life. Documentation is a major key in obtaining full compensation for your damages. If you want to get paid for expenses and other items that you are legally entitled to recover, you have to show proof. Be sure to obtain and save all receipts itemizing any and all expenses you incurred as a result of your accident. Receipts must be dated and contain legible and compete vender identification. Please also save pill bottles, casts, braces, and any other items from your doctors. Proper documentation can give the insurance adjuster a better idea of what happened and show them how seriously you were injured.
If you have any further questions or if you have been injured in an accident and would like to speak to one of our Fort Lauderdale Personal Injury Attorneys, please call us or contact us here.