The shock and confusion that follow a Tampa car accident often leave motorists stunned and unsure of what to do. Here are nine steps that you can take in the aftermath of a collision to keep yourself safe and preserve your insurance claim.
Get to Safety
Pulling onto a shoulder or median after a crash can minimize the risk of subsequent accidents that can occur when drivers and passengers remain in the roadway after an accident. If your car cannot move, or if someone in the car is seriously injured, turn on your emergency blinkers and call 911 immediately.
Call the Police
Florida motor vehicle laws require drivers to report certain car accidents, such as those that result in death or injury, or that involve an intoxicated driver. Even many fender benders qualify since they typically result in property damage totaling at least $500.
Err on the side of caution if you are unsure whether your accident is serious enough to report. Reporting your accident may help you prove later that the collision was severe enough to cause injuries.
Get Insurance and Contact Information from Other Drivers
If you can do so, you should exchange information with other drivers. If you hire a lawyer to handle your personal injury case, you should also provide this information to them. Most lawyers handle all communication with insurance companies once a client hires them.
Medical records can detail the extent of your injuries, but photos can show them to insurance adjusters or to a jury. If you are too injured to take photos at the scene of your crash, ask a witness or uninjured person at the scene to do so for you. Document your injuries at every stage of treatment. You should also take photos of the vehicles involved, any marks or debris on the roadway, street signs, the weather or other conditions surrounding the accident.
Get Medical Treatment
Even if your injuries do not seem severe, you should let emergency personnel evaluate you and seek care at an emergency room or urgent care center immediately afterward. Follow any discharge instructions you receive. This will document the extent of your injuries and show that you are complying with your doctor’s recommendations.
Speak to Witnesses
Witness statements serve as valuable evidence for accident victims. In the absence of video evidence or other documentation, they can describe how an accident occurred and may be able to help identify which driver was at fault. Get witness’ contact information so that your lawyer can take their statements later.
Do Not Admit Fault
Seemingly harmless statements can be perceived as admitting fault for an accident. This can make you ineligible for compensation later. When you speak to police or other drivers, do not share opinions or speculate about what may have caused an accident. Just relay what you saw, heard and felt.
Keep Any Documentation You Receive
Accident reports, instructions from your doctor, out-of-work notes and other documents substantiate your personal injury claim and show the extent of your damages.
Call a Tampa Personal Injury Lawyer
Most accident victims have trouble getting started with their personal injury claims. The experienced attorneys at Dennis A. Lopez & Associates can take over the process for you, working to ensure that you receive the compensation you need while giving you the peace of mind you need to recover. Contact our personal injury law office today at (813) 291-3683 to discuss your case with our team.