None of us wants to admit that we’ll take part in those statistics; but assuming that you will be in an accident at some point, do you know what to do? Let’s break it down into two categories: what you should do at the scene and what to do after the accident.
At the Scene
- Stop. According to the Florida DMV, you must stop. And if anyone is hurt, you are required to get help. In addition, you should give your name, address, and vehicle registration number to others involved in the accident. If you leave the scene of an accident that involves injuries without providing your information your license may be revoked.
- Don’t Block Traffic. If traffic is being blocked by your car you must move it. If you can’t move it yourself, you are required to get help or call a tow truck. Your car should never block traffic in any situation. Before you move the vehicles, you might want to use your phone to take photos, including the surrounding area, traffic signs, lane markings and the damage to vehicles involved. If there is any dispute about the accident, photos can provide a wealth of information and assistance in handling any claims following the suit.
- Report it. According to Florida law, any car accident that involves injuries or property damage over $500 must be reported. In these situations, you should call the local police department, sheriff, or the Florida Highway Patrol. Some experts advise that you should call the police in any accident – even if the other person wants to keep it off the books or you think the damage is minor. Because you don’t know how things will actually turn out, a police report will provide an official record of the accident.
After the Accident
- Call your insurance agent. People in the insurance industry say you should call your carrier regardless of the accident’s severity. If any payments have to be made to you or anyone else involved in the accident, the sooner your insurance company knows of the situation, the better.
- Do not admit fault. Be honest with police about the facts but let them determine your level of liability. Most car accidents happen because one of the drivers was legally negligent. Negligence is when someone has a duty to act with reasonable care and fails to do so, causing harm to another person. A negligent person is required by law pay for the harm he causes to another person in proportion to his or her liability for the other person’s losses. If indeed you are the one charged in a traffic accident you will have the opportunity to explain what happened in court. At that point, the traffic court will decide what the penalty is.
- Consider an attorney. If it is not a straightforward matter, an attorney might be helpful in getting to the bottom of the claim. Particularly if you are injured in the auto accident or the damage to your vehicle was extensive or if there is some question about fault. Of course, if you think you will need the help of a lawyer, make sure you document any medical expenses or other interactions that occur as a result of the accident.
Being in an accident is never convenient or easy. But, if you follow these simple procedures, the aftermath of your accident will be less frustrating and complicated.