Provided by HG.org
Every year, millions of people are involved in motor vehicle accidents. These accidents range from minor fender benders to serious accidents that cause catastrophic injuries. Knowing how to react after an accident can help victims protect their legal rights. Here are a few steps to take if you are involved in an accident that is not your fault.
Check for Injuries
The most important step after an accident is to check if any drivers or passengers have any injuries. If they do, call for emergency help right away. Quickly responding to an injury can make the difference between life and death.
Call the Police
Some jurisdictions do not require you to immediately call the police after an accident and instead allow you to make a report yourself online hours or even days after the accident. However, an official police report can serve many purposes, including getting the officer’s impressions when they are fresh.
Only talk to the other driver in order to gather important information, including his or her name, address, telephone number, driver’s license, insurance information and type of vehicle. If there are any witnesses, get their contact information. Note any surveillance cameras in the area and take pictures of your damages, injuries and the scene of the accident if you are able.
File a Claim
Florida requires no-fault insurance (ie PIP Insurance) so contact your own insurance company. PIP provides for medical expenses and lost income up to a certain amount.
If the other party suggests handling the situation without involving the insurance company, resist. It is important that you clearly document your injuries and damages from the accident, and a delay can work against you. The other driver may attempt to deny fault if he or she did not contact the insurance company immediately after the accident.
If the other driver has contacted his or her insurance company, get the claim number when you make your own report. Ask for a claims adjuster or a location that is approved to provide repairs. There may be a delay between the day of the accident and when your vehicle can be repaired as the insurance company makes its own conclusion regarding fault. Many insurance companies rely on the police report to confirm this information. Once the insurance company accepts fault, ask for authorization for repairs in writing.
Contact Your Own Insurance Company
Some insurance companies specifically require that you notify them immediately after you were involved in an accident, regardless of fault. Check your policy and contact your own company if necessary. This may also help you receive some coverage until your insurance company pursued the other company for their proportionate share of the accident. This step may also be necessary if the other driver was not insured or had inadequate coverage.
Contact a Lawyer
If the other insurance company does not accept fault on behalf of its insured driver or if you are seriously injured, consider contacting a personal injury lawyer. He or she may handle communications between you and the insurance companies and make recommendations on how to strengthen your case and legal claim.
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