We carry car insurance as a way to keep us safe and give us peace of mind. Perhaps a more overarching motivation for many is that having car insurance is required by law in most states. We never really think we will actually have to make a claim. So if and when we do find ourselves in an accident, we don’t know where to even begin!
Car accidents are jarring experiences and it is often difficult to have a clear mind immediately following one. Although being prepared cannot prevent a car accident from happening, it can help you to avoid even more agony in the moments, days, and weeks that follow.
Although we hope you never have to use it, we have compiled a 16-point checklist for you to run through the steps you need to take immediately following an accident. We encourage you to save it to your phone or print it and keep it in your glove box next to your insurance and vehicle registration info in the event that you may need to refer to it. Using this checklist can potentially save you a lot of money and headaches in the long run.
The checklist is a more detailed list of what your steps are immediately following the accident.
However, in case you don’t make the recommended move to download the checklist, we have also compiled a short little summary for you below so you can be better prepared in the event of a car accident.
1. Take immediate action.
First, remember not to panic. Then before anything else, ensure that you have not suffered any injuries. After you take care of yourself, then check on the passengers in your vehicle. Is everyone alright? Make sure that all parties involved have not suffered any major or serious injuries.
Call 911. Notify the dispatchers of the accident, damage, and most importantly, if anyone involved needs emergency medical assistance.
Do your best to move the accident to the side of the road. As required by Florida State Statute 316.061, all parties involved must stay at the scene of the accident while taking actions to not obstruct the flow of traffic any more than absolutely necessary.
2. Compile necessary documentation and evidence.
While the police are on their way, make note of your version of the events. Write down what happened from your point of view and take detailed photos of the accident scene, your surroundings, and damages to the vehicles. If the other parties want to talk to you, try to limit conversation with them as much as possible and most importantly, NEVER ADMIT FAULT. This could be detrimental to your car accident claim and potential personal injury case.
The authorities will arrive at the scene fairly quickly and you will need to file a police report. This is especially important if the accident resulted in serious injury or damage to any vehicle, however, it is always a good idea – even in the case of a minor accident.
Aside from filing a police report, all parties involved will need to exchange information. According to Florida State Statute 316.062, any driver involved in an accident that resulted in injury, death, or vehicle damage, must present any other party involved with their name, address, and vehicle registration number. In addition, all drivers must present their permit to operate a vehicle. The first responders will likely require this information as well, so be sure to have it ready when they arrive.
However, do not let anyone photograph your license and vehicle registration.
3. Contact your insurance company.
Most policies vary slightly, so it is best to review your contract and know what is expected of you. However, it is a good idea to contact your insurance company as soon as possible after you’re sure everyone is safe and you’ve filed a police report.
If you are worried that you may say something accidentally that could potentially hurt your car accident case, then you may want to consult with an attorney first before making this call. An experienced car accident attorney at Pipas Law Group can help prepare you for what you can expect when talking to insurance adjusters.
It can be intimidating to contact your insurance company letting them know that you’ve been in an accident. We know that even if you were not at fault, an accident can still negatively affect your insurance rates.
Although, it is best to contact them right away. You want to give them as much information as you can, and the sooner the better, so they can begin the claims process.
Be careful not to admit fault, or accidentally fall for any tricky leading questions by insurance adjusters. Although your insurance adjuster may seem like they are on your side and here to help you, their job is still to keep as much money in their employer’s pockets as possible.
Before talking to any insurance adjusters, you may want to read our article and watch the video How to Respond to Insurance Adjuster Calls Without Self-Sabotaging Your Car Accident Case.
4. Know when to contact an attorney.
Some small incidents may resolve themselves fairly easily on their own. Others may be a bit more difficult.
Remember, the purpose of talking to an attorney after an accident is to make sure that insurance companies involved properly compensate you for your injuries and damages.
If you have suffered injuries or vehicle damages as a result of an accident and are having trouble getting fair compensation, we urge you to reach out to an attorney.
Please give us a call for a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.