Have you just had your first car accident in Florida?
If you're like many other people, the primary thing you feel after the panic dies down is confusion. It's hard to know what to do in the aftermath of an accident.
Here are some important tips you should know:
- The first thing to consider is whether or not you or any of your passengers are injured. If so, call 911 immediately. If you're able, check on the other driver and any pedestrians that were injured.
- Never move anyone who is injured. If someone has injured one's neck or spine, one wrong move can turn a bad injury into a catastrophic one.
- Florida is a "no-fault" state. That means your own insurance coverage takes care of your injuries and property damage for claims up to $10,000 and possible more, even if you weren't at fault.
- Even if you don't think your injuries or property damage is serious, you are required by law to call the police if anybody is hurt or the property damage looks like it will be more than $500.
- If no one is injured and the damage is minor, you have 10 days to file a crash report.
- Never allow another driver to talk you out of calling the police and handling the accident "off the books." Not only is it illegal, it could cost you important protections if you are more seriously injured than you realize. Insist on exchanging insurance and contact information with the other driver.
- If the other driver refuses or starts to drive off, try to capture a copy of the license plate with your cellphone. That can be used to track down the other driver later.
- File a claim with your insurance company as soon as possible.
Because Florida uses a "no-fault" system, you can only file a lawsuit against the other driver if you suffer a serious injury in the car accident. However, it's important to keep in mind that serious injuries -- including nerve damage and traumatic brain injuries after a concussion -- can start to show once your adrenaline dies down.
That's what makes it so important that you act cautiously, insist on documenting the accident and seek medical care if you need it.
Source: FindLaw, "Florida Car Accident Settlement Process and Timeline," accessed Jan. 26, 2018