What to Do After a Vehicle Accident
– by Tampa Personal Injury Attorney, Martin J. Hernandez
Tampa Bay Area Auto Accident Injury Lawyer
After an accident, it is important to determine whether anyone witnessed the accident. In some accident situations it can take a while for police to arrive. During that time, a valuable eyewitness may leave the scene. Insurance companies often delay or otherwise deny valid claims by arguing that there is fault on the innocent, injured driver’s part. This is why the driver should try to obtain witness information.
A driver must stop the vehicle immediately after an accident and should position the vehicle in a manner that will not obstruct other motorists. It is not unusual for another vehicle to come crashing into the scene of a car accident. Many accidents are made worse when another driver slows to look at an accident and an inattentive driver crashes into them, sending both cars into the first accident scene. You can minimize the risk of harm to yourself and others by making sure neither you nor the other parties are exposed to the danger of a second accident. If the accident is minor and nobody was injured, move the vehicles off the road is possible to avoid obstructing traffic. However, if the accident led to injury, death or major property damage, the cars should remain in place until law enforcement arrives. Turn on the car’s hazard lights or place warning triangles on the road. Irrespective of whether the cars remain on the road or are moved, all persons should move out of the road.
If someone has been hurt, a driver should attempt to secure medical help right away, and a driver should remain at the scene until help arrives. Leaving the scene of a car accident prematurely is referred to as a hit-and-run and is a serious offense especially if injury or death occurred. Even when the car accident does not seem serious and there are no obvious injuries, it is best to play it safe by staying to make an accurate assessment of the damage. Make sure everyone else is alright and provide first aid where required and do not move seriously injured individuals.
Accidents involving an injury or death, a hit-and-run or intoxicated driver, or property damage that appears to be over $500, should be reported to law enforcement immediately. The investigating officer will make a written report on all accidents involving a death or injury.
If an officer completes a crash report you will not need to personally file a crash report. However, if a crash report has not been filed by law enforcement, you will need to do so within 10 days of the accident.
If you are in an accident involving an unoccupied vehicle or property other than a vehicle, you are required to notify the owner. If you cannot find the owner, then attach a note to the damaged vehicle or property which contains your name, address, and license plate number. Also, report the accident to law enforcement right away.
Take pictures of the accident scene. It can be very helpful to take a few photos of the accident scene and how the cars were positioned. Insurance companies will use any excuse to deny paying a claim. Having a picture of the cars showing how they were positioned immediately after the accident is often helpful in explaining how the accident occurred and who was at fault.
Get medical attention. In many cases, the injured individual does not realize they are hurt until hours or days later. Some people do not seek medical attention hoping their symptoms get better. Serious neck and back injuries can result, even from low impact car accidents, such as rear end car accidents. Getting prompt medical attention is important to document the injuries and establish that they were in fact, caused by the car accident.
Call 911 and the Police. The 911 call is an official notification that an accident has occurred and you can request medical assistance if there is an injury or fatality. Calling law enforcement will provide important support in a potential lawsuit in the future since law enforcement will write a report that records their assessment of who was at fault. The police record will detail all key elements of the collision including names, vehicle registration, road conditions and witness statements.
Under the Florida No-Fault Law, every driver who operates a motor vehicle registered in the State of Florida, must have a minimum of $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. A driver’s PIP coverage is meant to cover medical bills and lost wages the driver may suffer in an accident, no matter who caused the accident. This PIP will cover the first $10,000 of a person’s medical coverage, minus the deductible, and will come from the operators insurance, no matter who was at fault. Please note that while PIP is mandatory in Florida, it covers only medical bills and lost wages, not any damage that results from an accident whether that is damage to property or the car itself.
Once an accident occurs, the insurance companies of the drivers involved will usually establish who is financially liable. Many times, the matter is closed with mutual agreement. In other instances however, one party may want the issue decided by the courts.
Contact a personal injury attorney to discuss the specifics of your case and decide whether you need legal representation. A personal injury attorney could mean the difference between getting a settlement that barely covers your expenses or a settlement or verdict that pays all of your bills and allows you to get back to living your life.
At Fernandez & Hernandez, we understand that being seriously injured or suffering the sudden loss of a loved one is a traumatic and life changing event. If you or a loved one has been seriously injured by a drunk driver in the Tampa Bay area contact a personal injury lawyer at Fernandez & Hernandez to schedule a free consultation.
Fernandez & Hernandez is a well-known personal injury law firm located in Tampa, Florida which represents clients in all types of accident, injury, and wrongful death claims. We give each client the attention and guidance needed to obtain the compensation they deserve. Our Tampa Bay personal injury lawyers help clients in all phases of injury and wrongful death claims from initial investigation through trial and appellate proceedings.
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