Melbourne, FL -- (ReleaseWire) -- 11/01/2012 -- In the state of Florida, more than 600 traffic crashes occur per day. This, unfortunately, means that chances are quite good that at some point in one's life, they will be involved in a vehicle collision. Of course, the most important things to remember in order to prevent injuries in a car crash are to always obey traffic signals, never drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and to always wear a seatbelt, even backseat passengers. Those who are involved in a car accident should follow these steps to ensure that they receive the compensation they need and deserve, and that everyone remains as safe as possible.
1. Make sure that no one is hurt. The first thing one should do is to assess whether they, or any of their passengers, have been physically injured. They should call 911 immediately if they think they or anyone in their vehicle may be hurt. If the passengers are okay, they should turn on their car’s hazards and carefully exit their vehicle. Get confirmation from the other car involved in the crash that they are all right as well. If it is not possible to reach the other vehicle, try mouthing “Are you okay?” or giving a thumbs-up sign and waiting for one in return. If anyone in the other vehicle is injured, it is a legal obligation in FL to get help, so call 911 right away.
2. Don’t block traffic. If at all possible, anybody involved in a car accident should drive their vehicle to the side of the road or even to a nearby parking lot. If this is not possible, the drivers involved should ask passengers to remain in the car with their seatbelts fastened until help arrives. They should turn on their hazard lights, or if they have access to them, place road flares or orange warning triangles around their car. They should then call a tow truck.
3. Report the accident. Any accident that involves more than $500 in injuries and/or vehicle damage must, by FL law, be reported. Because it is nearly impossible for the average person to assess this by themselves immediately following the crash, every accident should be reported. Call the local police or 911. It is important to not make any conjectures about what happened in the accident. And, very importantly, never admit fault. It is not the job of the drivers to determine whose fault the accident was.
4. Exchange information and document evidence. The two drivers should exchange names, addresses, vehicle registration numbers, license plate numbers, and insurance company names and policy numbers. While waiting for the police to arrive, each driver should spend some time taking notes about what happened during the accident, while it is still fresh in their mind. If there are eye witnesses, get their names and phone numbers and ask them if they are willing to stay there until the police arrive. Take photos of both vehicles.
5. Answer the officer’s questions. Once the police officer arrives, he or she will interrogate both drivers. At this point, many people are already very angry and speak emotionally. It is important, however, to try to speak calmly and thoroughly, and it is also important to not interrupt when the officer is interrogating the other party. Based on what is said and the evidence, the officer will write a report and may write a traffic ticket to one or both parties involved in the accident.
6. Go to the hospital. After leaving the scene of the accident, everyone involved should go to the hospital to receive a medical evaluation and x-rays. Some common collision injuries, such as whiplash, often do not manifest until the day after the accident, so it is important to obtain an evaluation of each person's condition as soon as possible.
7. Follow through. Florida is a “no fault” state, meaning that all vehicle owners are required to purchase Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. PIP policies provide for 80% of the total payment of one's medical bills up to a limit of $10,000. The person who caused the injury will be responsible for the additional 20% of medical bills, and anything exceeding the $10,000 limit. However, the responsible person’s insurance company will not pay this amount. Rather, unpaid medical bills are included as part of the final settlement, or a verdict, if the case proceeds to a trial. This is why both parties should hire a lawyer who is experienced with car accidents to help them determine what insurance coverage is available to them. For more information, visit SinclairLaw.com.
About Sinclair Law
Founded in 1995 by Brad Sinclair, an attorney with over 25 years of experience handling personal injury cases, Sinclair Law specializes in civil suits involving personal injury and wrongful death claims. As an avid motorcycle enthusiast, Brad Sinclair is particularly interested in the special insurance needs of motorcyclists. Visit SinclairLaw.com for more information.