Florida is a destination state year-round. Visitors from around the country and the world flock to Florida because of our state’s natural beauty, many attractions, amusement parks, and resorts. The presence of a large number of tourists creates unique traffic conditions in the Sunshine State because so many drivers are unfamiliar with the region. This almost guarantees a lot of distracted drivers or erratic driving, which translates into car accidents.
If you are in a car accident in Florida, whether you’re a native or a visitor, there are several things you should NEVER do in the aftermath of the accident.
- Never skip calling 911. Even if the accident seems minor and no one is hurt, it’s important to have police or medical personnel come to document the event and provide immediate medical attention.
- Never leave the scene of a car accident too soon. Wait until the police arrive. This way you can make your statement and confirm the officer receives the correct information.
- Never apologize or take blame. If you’re able to walk and get out of your car, first check that your own passengers are okay, then check with the other car. Ask if they are all right. Do NOT say anything like “I’m so sorry” or “I didn’t see you” or “I just looked away for a second.” Conversely, don’t scream at the other person or place blame. This is no time for that. You’re both rattled. If the other driver screams at you, walk away and keep your cool.
- Never neglect to gather evidence and exchange insurance information. If you are able, take pictures of the scene, and if necessary, move your car to a safe location. Do not remain on a dangerous highway or block traffic, but only move AFTER taking pictures. Exchange insurance information with the other driver. If there are any witnesses, get their names and contact information. Afterward, get a copy of the accident report from the police.
- Never underestimate your potential injuries. When we are in a dangerous situation, our bodies go into “fight or flight” mode – the brain pumps hormones into the bloodstream to give us the strength and energy to get out of danger. People have been known to run away from charging hippos or elephants at full speed, only realizing afterward that their leg was badly broken! This is a wonderful self-defense mechanism, but it can be counterproductive if you aren’t aware that it’s operating. Injuries can present themselves days or even weeks after the accident, as the body calms down and hormones return to normal. So while you would likely notice a broken leg after an accident, it’s possible you wouldn’t notice an injured neck, or wouldn’t connect back pain to the car accident.
- Never skip seeing a doctor. Those insured in Florida carry Personal Insurance Protection (PIP), which covers up to $10,000 of medical expenses or lost wages. However, you must see an approved medical provider within two weeks of the accident in order to be eligible for any financial compensation from PIP. Seeing a doctor within a few days of the accident is important for more than just financial reasons. Fast medical attention can, in many cases, catch an injury before it gets worse. It also creates a paper trail so that, if you need to go to court or to the insurance companies about your injuries, you will have early evidence. Be sure to go to a doctor who frequently sees car accident patients, because the average doctor may not have as much experience and may not know what to look for.
- Never speak to the other driver’s insurance company before speaking to a lawyer. And never volunteer information to your own insurance company – tell them only what you have to. Never agree to a quick settlement or allow the insurance company to threaten, intimidate, sweet talk, or bully you. Never sign anything before reviewing it with a lawyer.
- Never post anything on social media about your accident. Anything you post or anything you say about the accident can be used against you by insurance companies that want to minimize their financial loss as much as possible.
- Never forget to follow through. Although you may not be feeling up to it, you need to complete the work of filing your insurance claim quickly. Different insurance companies have different time limits, so don’t risk missing deadlines. And stay on top of them. They have a lot of accident reports to go through – make sure they make yours a priority. And make talking to a personal injury lawyer part of your follow-through. Remember, insurance companies are in the business of making money. Making payments on insurance policies is an expense they would like to keep to a minimum. While individuals who work for insurance companies may be very nice, some company policies are not. It’s best to have the expert advice of an attorney who has years of experience dealing with insurance companies and vehicular accidents.
As an expert in personal injury law and a lifelong Florida resident, I’m dedicated to helping injured Floridians get the compensation they need to live as comfortably as possible following an injury. I will dive deeply into the details of your case to discover any and all factors involved in your accident in order to present the strongest argument for compensation. I have a long track record of winning significant awards in court or in settlements. Contact me today at (954) 448-7288 so that we can discuss the details of your accident.