According to the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles, there are more than 235,000 car accidents in the state every year. While most of these accidents are minor and only cause damage to the vehicle, many of them cause very serious injury to the cars’ occupants.
If you are in an accident, the first steps you take will be crucial in protecting yourself and your legal rights. Auto injury attorney Lisa Levine offers the following advice on what to do after a car accident in Fort Lauderdale.
- Stop at the scene. Never leave the scene of an accident, no matter how minor it is.
- Move out of traffic. If your car is still in working order, move it off the road and out of the flow of traffic.
- Let other drivers know. Put your flashers on and/or set up flares to alert other drivers that there is an accident.
- Call police. Whether it’s a serious accident or a minor fender bender, it’s a good idea to contact the police. Having a police report may be needed to file an insurance claim later. When speaking with the officers who respond, give only the facts as accurately as you remember, with no speculation or guessing about fault or cause.
- Document the scene. Write down notes as soon as you can on exactly what you remember of the accident. If you have a camera, take pictures of the scene, the damage to your vehicle, and any visible injuries.
- Get the other contact information. You’ll want to write down the name, address, phone number, and insurance information of the other driver. If any witnesses stop at the scene, it’s a good idea to get their contact information, too.
- Call your insurance company. Let your own auto insurance company know that you’ve been in an accident as some policies have an immediate reporting requirement even if the other driver is at fault. When that is the case, the other driver’s insurance company should be the first in line to pay you. However, if that driver is uninsured or underinsured, we highly recommend that you carry Uninsured Motorist coverage on your own auto insurance policy. This protects you when the other driver does not have coverage or does not have enough to cover the damages from the accident. Another important feature of Florida car insurance is the ability to stack your coverage. If you have multiple vehicles and elect to stack your Uninsured Motorist coverage, then you would be eligible to get up to the full amount of coverage for all vehicles combined when you’ve been in an accident and the other driver’s insurance is insufficient. If you do not elect to stack coverage, then you would be entitled only to the coverage limit for the vehicle that was involved in the accident. When signing up for an auto insurance policy, your agent will require to sign a waiver either accepting or declining the stacked coverage.
- See a doctor. Even if you don’t feel injured, it’s important to get checked out by a doctor. Not all injuries are immediately apparent, even very serious ones. The sooner you see a doctor the faster you can get treated and have your injuries documented.
- Keep it together. Collect all of the info related to the accident and put it in one safe place altogether. This should include all of the information you collected at the accident scene, copies of photos, claim numbers, the information of the claims adjuster handling the case, receipts for medical bills, damage repair, and any other expenses related to the accident.
- Talk to an attorney. Many car accident victims will try to get a fair settlement from the negligent driver’s insurance company without ever consulting an attorney. While in rare cases the insurance company will pay out a fair amount without any issues, the far more likely scenario is that they will offer you a quick, low-ball settlement and try to scare you into taking it. Before accepting any money from the insurance company — in fact, before even speaking to the other driver’s insurance company — the best thing you can do is speak to an experienced car accident lawyer about your case.
If you’re not sure what to do after a car accident or need help with a personal injury claim, contact Fort Lauderdale auto injury attorney Lisa Levine today to schedule a free consultation.