Car accidents are very stressful and often scary for everyone involved. Emotions and adrenaline run very high, and it’s easy to forget what you need to do to effectively and safely move on when in the middle of an accident. Although it may be difficult to think on your feet, it’s important to remember a few important steps to ensure your safety and your ability to notify the police and your insurance company.
- Physical safety checks: if you, the other driver or any passengers were injured, call 911 immediately. If you or someone else is seriously injured, make sure you or they don’t move – stay still and wait for the emergency workers to help when they arrive. Get anyone who isn’t seriously injured off of the road and onto a sidewalk or shoulder away from traffic.
- Get police involved: if there is significant damage to either vehicle or any injuries to report, call the police. After they arrive, ask for a report and retain any names or badge numbers of the officers who came to the scene.
- Exchange info and identify witnesses: get the other driver’s name, phone number, driver’s license number, license plate number and basic information about their insurance. Always be polite and cooperative, but don’t apologize or admit fault. Florida is a no-fault insurance state, so fault isn’t crucial to admit for insurance purposes anyway. At this point, it’s good to get any witnesses’ information and ask them what they saw and if other similar accidents happen in the area.
- Notify insurance: call your insurance agent or leave a message and let them know truthfully what happened – be clear about the facts and provide any details that may have led to the accident. Do not lie to your insurance company, as they can later drop you or deny any coverage for the accident. Ask for your police report, review it and be sure to give it to your insurance company to review, too.
- Take photos and record details: take photos of the damage to your vehicle as soon as you can after the accident – some insurance companies allow you to take photos and upload them to a mobile app to record your accident and report it. Get details about the time, streets/intersections, weather conditions, if it was light out or dark, debris in the road or any other obstacles or conditions that may have contributed to the accident.
Consider calling an attorney
With significant damage or injuries in a car accident, it’s important to cooperate with police or emergency personnel and your insurance company. However, it’s also important to consider hiring an attorney to help you with your accident’s aftermath. An attorney can help you pursue compensation for any injuries, or help you defend yourself if you were at fault.