More than 29,000 car wrecks happen across Hillsborough County, Florida each year. Thousands of motorists sustain injuries as a result.
Being involved in a car accident can be a shocking experience. The aftermath can be overwhelming, frustrating, and painstaking.
Knowing what to do at the time of a crash and in the days that follow can save you a great deal of trouble and save you money.
The scene of the crash
At the scene of a crash emotions may be high, and tempers may flare. You may be frustrated because you know that the driver who struck you was behaving recklessly. Maybe the driver ran a red light, was speeding, texting and driving, or driving drunk. Perhaps you saw the driver tailgating you or weaving through traffic.
It’s best to stay calm, assess the situation, and avoid arguing about who’s to blame. Take a moment to check on other parties involved in the crash and call 911 if anyone is noticeably injured. If you are in an area where you are obstructing traffic, do your best to get out of the way but take pictures first if you move the vehicle prior to police arriving.
While waiting for the police to arrive, make sure you exchange insurance information with all other parties involved in the crash. In addition, you should take these steps to help gather quality evidence at the crash scene:
- Take pictures of the crash scene: Be sure to include damage to your car and any other cars involved. If you notice any tire marks in the road or damage to roadside structures, capture that as well.
- Document the details: Jot down direction both cars were traveling at the time of the crash, as well as the date, time, and location. Also, write down the behavior of the at-fault driver before and after the crash and any statements the other driver makes to you about fault, like “I’m sorry.” Was the driver noticeably impaired or aggressive? Did the driver attempt to deny fault?
- Speak to witnesses: If your crash occurred on a major roadway, it’s likely someone was around to see it happen. Perhaps someone stopped to help. Be sure to take down their names and contact information. Ask them what they saw happen and write it down.
The police report
Once the police arrive, they will ask all parties involved in the crash to tell their side of the story. They will then examine the crash scene and piece together an unbiased report. Any citations or arrests will be noted in the report. However, note that at the scene you will not be given a copy of the police report but instead a driver’s exchange. The driver’s exchange only tell the parties involved and the respective insurance companies and policy numbers for all vehicles.
The police report for a car accident is usually ready 5-10 days after the car accident. The police report is the backbone to your car accident claim and tells the real story about how the crash occurred. With a police report, your case is no longer your word against the at-fault driver. Your attorney can use this report to present real evidence that your crash was caused by someone else’s negligence.
You may obtain the police report on the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles website for a fee of $10.
After your crash
You will first be required to report your crash to your insurance company. Be sure to stick to the basic facts. Anything that deviates from that can be used against you, even by your own insurance provider. That why we recommend hiring a lawyer first to help you report the claim.
You should also seek medical attention as soon as possible. This is an area where a lot of people fall short. They feel fine after a wreck or only have a few bumps and bruises. Many people think they can just walk it off, so they fail to bother with seeking medical care.
Signs of an injury often appear after the shock and adrenaline of a crash fully wear off. Days later, that bump to your head may be something far worse. By getting prompt medical treatment, your injury can be identified before it worsens.
Pursuing a claim
So you did the right thing. You saw a doctor, and as it turns out, you will need further medical treatment. You may even need some time off from work while you recover. You may think that all you have to do is file a personal injury claim and all your expenses will be covered. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy.
You will likely receive a phone call from the at-fault driver’s insurance provider. Do not, under any circumstance, answer any of their questions or provide a recorded statement. They will come across as friendly and innocuous, but anything you tell them can hurt your chances of being compensated. Don’t fall for their tricks.
Instead, consult with an experienced Tampa car accident attorney who can do the talking for you. At the Armando Personal Injury Law, we treat our clients like family. We’ll take the time to sit down with you and help you explore the legal options available to you.
Contact us to find out how we can help you.