Being rear-ended in a car accident can be shocking and frightening. Not everyone knows exactly what to do after getting into a car accident, especially after it had just happened. Certain laws are critical to follow, or there can be some serious consequences. You can end up in court trying to prove liability on the other driver.
Having a checklist of what to do after a car accident can be helpful and ease some of the worry and anxiety from the accident itself.
Here’s what you should do if you were rear-ended by another car:
Florida law is very strict on what to do immediately following a car accident. You must remain at the scene. Leaving early can result in you being charged with a “hit and run,” especially if someone has been severely injured or killed because of the accident.
This would result in your license being taken away and the possibility of criminal charges, as well as a monetary penalty. Depending on the severity of the accident, your car should be moved slightly so that it is not in the way of traffic.
Depending on your physical state, you should check on the other driver. Assess the situation, see if they are injured and how badly and call the police immediately. They will dispatch an ambulance to your location and police officers to help.
If the other person is seriously injured, you need to “render reasonable assistance” to that person until help arrives. It is imperative that even if there are no injuries, you call the police. It is part of Florida’s driving laws that if there are any injuries, death, or property damage exceeding $500, you must call either the Florida Highway Patrol or the Tampa Police Department as quickly as possible.
It’s important to get as much relevant information as possible from the other person. Write down and keep the following for your records:
It’s important to include pictures of the damage to the cars, road conditions, the other driver’s tag, and anything else you think might be relevant later. It’s even a good idea to check for security cameras in case they may have recorded the accident. If you don’t need to be transported to the hospital immediately, try to remember what occurred and write it down, including what direction you were going, what direction the other car was doing, your speed, and the name of the road.
It’s recommended that you seek medical attention after a rear-end collision, even if you feel fine. In this case, you could be suffering from whiplash in the very least, and you wouldn’t feel the extent of your injury until later. The adrenaline from the car accident occurring tends to mask any immediate pain. Yet after sleeping for the night and once things calm down the pain will become evident.
If you do have any injuries, the hospital will document it for you, including any tests that they may do. This is a major step if you have whiplash because that isn’t an obvious injury and it’s not the easiest to diagnose.
Related: Common Injuries from Car Accidents
As soon as you’re deemed healthy and able to get home, the next step is calling the insurance company. Florida is a no-fault state, meaning that even if you aren’t at fault for the accident, you must turn to the insurance company to be compensated for, medical bills and lost income. Once your no fault insurance PIP is used up, you can seek compensation from the other party, but only if they are at fault. Your insurance company must pay your medical bills under the PIP no fault.
It is wise to speak to a Tampa car accident lawyer at this point. The insurance companies goal is to pay out as little as possible in a claim and while they may seem nice and concerned, they typically don’t have your best interest in mind.
Related: How to Sue for After a Car Accident
Keep track of everything that occurred as a result of the car accident. This includes medical records, photos of your injuries as you heal, prescriptions you were given, and the cost of certain medical procedures or equipment.
After you’ve done all the steps to protect yourself after the accident, be sure to continue doing so by not talking about the accident. Especially to the adverse insurance adjuster. You may accidentally say something that can be held against you in court or that causes them to want to pay you as little as possible. Don’t admit fault, and the less you talk about it, the easier it will be for your personal injury attorney.
It’s also important to be careful of any settlement that the insurance company may offer you. Typically, the insurance company will offer you the least amount possible because they know you can’t file suit and litigate against them.
While an experience lawyer can help you through the process and ensure they aren’t giving you a bad deal. You should watch out for settlement offers. Insurance companies often offer a very quick, low amount of money to get the settlement over and done with. This is very common for the first offer the insurance company will give you.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident in Tampa, FL, contact Jack Bernstein, Injury Attorneys for a free consultation. Jack Bernstein has over 36 years of experience handling car accident cases in Tampa and is happy to personally answer all your questions and concerns regarding your accident.