What Should You Do Immediately After a Car Accident
First and foremost, make sure that you and your passengers are okay. If there are any injuries, immediately seek medical attention and get evaluated by doctors. Often times, people are shaken up after an accident and do not even realize they have been injured until hours or even days later. If you have any concerns at all, you should see a doctor as soon as possible. If you bring an injury claim but you wait days or weeks to see a doctor, the insurance company will defend the claim by arguing that you are not injured (or that your injury is not serious) because you did not seek immediate medical attention. Protect yourself and your claim by getting a medical evaluation.
Second, do not leave the scene. If you are able, call 911 so the police can come to the scene and investigate the accident. They can also send an ambulance to take care of any injuries. The police will speak to the drivers, passengers, and witnesses to make a determination as to who is at fault for the accident. Usually, they will prepare an accident report that has the important information about the parties and the accident.
Keep in mind that the police report might be helpful, but it is not determinative of who is responsible for the accident. The police most likely did not witness the accident, so they do not actually know what happened because they did not see it. The best they can do is interview witnesses, look at the vehicles, and try to figure out what happened. A good personal injury attorney will be very experienced in speaking with witnesses and determining what actually happened and who is responsible. You should contact an attorney as soon as possible to discuss the facts and preserve your claim.
Third, you will want to exchange insurance information with the other driver. The police usually get this information, but not always. It is also helpful to take pictures of the damage to the vehicles that were involved and identify any witnesses to the accident. Sometimes these people are listed on the accident report, but not always. If you are able to speak with any witnesses, get their names and phone numbers so your attorney can follow up with them later.
Fourth, you need to report the accident to your insurance company. You have a duty to cooperate with your own insurer and provide them with the details of the accident. This will ensure that you will be entitled to all benefits available under your policy.
You do not have a duty to speak to the other driver’s insurance company. Do not give them a recorded statement. Make sure you speak to an attorney before speaking with the other company.
Lastly, once you have time, call an experienced car accident lawyer in Tampa, FL who will begin investigating the accident, determine who was at fault, find all available insurance coverage, and help you get the medical treatment you need. Call a law firm today for a free consultation.
Thanks to Jeff Murphy Law for their insight into personal injury claims and what to do immediately following a car accident.