A car accident, whether minor or serious, can damage your physical and emotional health, as well as damage your vehicle. Unfortunately, Florida has one of the highest auto accident rates in the United States, due in large part to the many visitors to our Sunshine State who don’t know the area and may be distracted as they look for their destination. It’s important to know what to do in the case of an accident and when to reach out for legal help.
What to do after a car accident
Be prepared to take these important steps if you’re ever involved in a vehicular accident in Florida:
- If you are not too badly injured yourself, make sure everyone is all right.
- Call the police to report the accident. Even if it seems minor and you think everyone is fine, you will want a police report, just in case problems arise later.
- Take pictures of the other driver’s license plate right away, in case he decides to drive away. Then take pictures of the entire scene, the weather, road conditions, your vehicle, passengers, etc.
- If you are in a dangerous situation, after taking key pictures of the accident, you may move the vehicles, if possible, to a safer location for exchanging information and waiting for the police to arrive.
- Exchange insurance information and do not volunteer any additional information to the other driver or anyone at the scene except the police. Only answer necessary questions. Just like in the movies, “Anything you say can be used against you in a court of law.” This includes not posting anything on social media about the accident. If you apologize, the other insurance company will treat that as an admission of fault.
- After speaking to the police, and if you are not taken immediately for medical treatment, see a doctor within 14 days. This is critical in Florida in order to be eligible for any compensation from the Personal Insurance Protection (PIP) portion of your insurance which will pay your accident-related medical bills.
- File a car accident report within 10 days with your insurance provider. Do not give your insurer or the other insurance company a statement or sign anything until you have sought legal advice. Again, stick to only the necessary information.
What to do if the other driver will not cooperate
Leaving the scene of a car accident without providing identification and insurance information is considered a hit-and-run, and thus, a crime. If the other driver is preparing to leave without providing you with his information, you may wish to inform him of this but do not do anything that could antagonize him. Take a picture of his license plate and let the police handle it.
Sometimes, even after you have collected information from the other driver, the other driver might not cooperate with his own insurance company by talking to them about the accident. While auto liability insurance policies include a Duty to Cooperate clause, sometimes drivers will still refuse. When this happens, that person’s insurance may refuse to pay your claim. Under these circumstances, you may need to sue in order to receive compensation.
How to get compensation in Florida
Florida law requires that all auto coverage in the state include PIP, which will pay up to $10,000 for injuries or lost wages (80% for medical, 20% for lost wages). You must see an approved medical provider within two weeks of the accident in order to be eligible for any payout.
However, this is often not enough to cover the costs of damages, especially if you have sustained serious injuries, and it does not cover damage to your car. Collision coverage will cover necessary car repairs and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage may help you when the other driver and/or his insurance is being uncooperative.
Remember, insurance companies lose money when they have to pay out on a policy, so they are in no hurry to satisfy your claim in your favor. This is why sometimes it is necessary to take the next step and file a lawsuit against the other driver. He won’t be able to remain silent when he receives notice of the lawsuit filed against him.
If you have collected the necessary information from the accident, seen the doctor, reported the accident on time, and waited patiently but have not received sufficient compensation for your injuries and losses, please contact me. As an expert in personal injury law and a lifelong Florida resident, I am 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.