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What do I do after a car accident?
1. Call the police and exchange insurance information
After an accident, you should always call the police and have the police issue an accident report. The report should include the names of all relevant parties involved, their contact information, and their insurance information. The report should also provide if any traffic laws were broken. Although waiting for the police may be time consuming, it is important to get a police report as parties may later deny liability or even deny that they were involved in the accident. Failing to exchange insurance information and obtain a police report could be detrimental to your case. Injuries often do not present themselves until days or even weeks after an accident. Having a police report and insurance information may help assist with your case and any potential recovery in the future.
2. If injured, seek medical attention immediately.
It is important that if you are injured that you seek medical attention as soon as possible. Although injuries may not appear until several days or even weeks after an accident, it is important to be evaluated by a medical professional immediately. Additionally, Florida’s PIP (Personal Injury Protection) laws now require that you seek medical attention within 14 days to receive PIP benefits. Failure to seek treatment within 14 days will likely waive your right to recover any PIP compensation.
3. Take detailed photos or videos.
After an accident it is important that you preserve your evidence. The best way to do this is by taking detailed photos of the damage to your vehicle and the surrounding areas. When taking pictures of the damage to your vehicle, it is important to take close-up photos and photos from a long distance. Additionally, take pictures of the roads where the car accident occurred, any road signs surrounding the area, any damage on the roadway or surrounding areas, and the other person’s car. With the advent of smart phones, it should be relatively easy to gather photographic and video evidence of the car accident scene. These photographs may later need to be provided to the insurance company or utilized in court if a lawsuit is initiated.
4. Take detailed notes of the incident
In the event that your case goes to trial it may take years before you get your day in court. It is important that you write down a detailed description of the incident shortly after it occurred. Include as much detail as possible including names, dates, times, and locations to the best of your knowledge. Include as much descriptive information as well. For example, if there were multiple passengers in your vehicle or the other vehicle, write down their names, what they were wearing, and anything they may have said shortly after the accident. Provide this information to your attorney, so that they may properly argue your case. Additionally, if your case proceeds to trial this information could be used to refresh your recollection, so that you are able to accurately describe the incident to the jury.
5. Keep records of medical bills and time off.
Throughout the recovery process it is important that you keep a file with all of your medical expenses including any expenses that you have paid out of pocket. Additionally, be sure to keep records of lost wages and any time that you have had to take off work. All of this information will be useful when proceeding with your case.
6. Do not provide any statement to the insurance company.
The insurance company for the at fault driver may attempt to have you give a statement regarding the incident and your injuries. In doing this, the insurance company may try to get you to make certain statement in order to hinder your claim. If the insurance company requests to speak to you, simply let them know that you will have your attorney call them back. Speaking with the insurance company on your own will not benefit your claim as the insurance company may try to make you a low-ball offer or attempt to have you provide statements they will later use against you.
7. Complete the treatment that your doctor recommends.
After you seek medical treatment, it is important that you follow the advice of your treating physician as your treatment is important to making a proper recovery. Additionally, if you fail to complete your treatment, the insurance company may argue that the treatment was unnecessary or that your injuries were not as severe as previously thought. Make sure to attend all appointments or complete all prescribed rehabilitation sessions. If you fail to complete your treatment, it may have a substantial impact on your recovery both physically and monetarily. When being treated for injuries related to a car or auto accident, you should always follow the advice of your medical provider.
8. Don’t sign any legal documents without having your attorney review the documents.
The insurance company for the at fault driver may approach you with a waiver of liability or general release and request that you sign the document. This should be a red flag. You should never sign any documents without having your attorney review the documents first. By signing a waiver of liability you may forfeit any claim that you have to recover for damages. If presented with any liability forms, contact an Orlando car accident lawyer to review the forms prior to signing.
9. Tell your doctor about all of your injuries.
Doctors need to know about all of your injuries so they can properly document the injury and treat it. Many patients will try and act tough or pretend like the injuries do not bother him or her. It is important that you are honest with your doctor and let the doctor know about all of your symptoms, no matter how minor. Additionally, let your doctor know if any previously health issues have been worsened by the car accident. For example, if you previously had back spasms that are now worsened by the accident, let your doctor know.
Your doctor needs as much information as possible to properly document and treat your injuries.
10. Don’t settle before finishing medical treatment.
The insurance company may offer you a quick payout to resolve your claim. Although this may seem tempting, it is typically not a good idea to accept any offer until treatment is completed. If you have not completed your medical treatment, you may be left with large medical bills that are uncovered. Additionally, it may be difficult to determine whether you will be left with any permanent injuries until your treatment has been concluded. Once you have finished your prescribed treatment, you will have better picture of any permanent injuries and your total medical expenses.