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Car accidents are traumatic, and being rear-ended can cause shock and other serious injuries. It’s normal to feel disoriented after any accident, but complying with the law is crucial. Taking the proper steps ensures that you protect your legal rights. Having an accident checklist handy can alleviate your anxiety.
Take the steps outlined here if you’re rear-ended.
Florida law prohibits drivers from leaving the accident scene. Wait until the police say you can leave, to avoid facing “hit and run” charges or other legal issues.
The consequences for leaving the scene vary, depending on the accident’s severity. You may not have the information you need to prove that the other driver’s negligence makes them liable for the accident. You could face criminal charges if a person was injured or killed in the accident. Other repercussions include losing your license and paying a fine.
Calling the police is mandatory if the accident causes over $500 of property damage. It’s also mandatory to call the police if a person’s injured or killed. Contact the Tampa Police Department or the Florida Highway Patrol. The authorities will complete a police report, which you’ll need to file an insurance claim.
Check on other passengers and drivers to determine if anyone suffered severe injuries. When you contact the police department, inform them about the injuries so they can send an ambulance. Florida’s Good Samaritan Act requires you to provide “reasonable assistance” to anyone injured.
After an accident, all drivers involved should exchange the following information:
Other information you should gather includes:
Photos can prove liability and help identify the at-fault driver. If possible, take pictures of the following:
Note your speed, direction, and the location of the accident. Note anything that could have contributed to the accident, such as malfunctioning traffic lights or animals on the road. Document the location of any security cameras you see in the area because they may have footage of the accident.
Consider contacting a car accident lawyer while you’re still at the scene. Car accident lawyers offer free consultations and charge contingency fees, which means you won’t pay a cent in legal fees until you win your case. Your car accident attorney can advise you of your legal rights and remind you of the steps you should take at the scene.
You may notice immediate symptoms from some severe injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries and internal bleeding. Other serious injuries, such as whiplash, may not display symptoms for 24 hours or more. Familiarizing yourself with common car accident injuries is one way to ensure you notice injury symptoms. Even if you don’t feel symptoms immediately, you should seek prompt medical attention to ensure you identify any injuries stemming from your accident.
Related: Common Injuries from Car Accidents
Florida law requires drivers to carry $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. Since Florida is a no-fault state, your insurance covers accident costs. Hire car accident lawyers to file car accident claims against the at-fault driver if the cost of medical treatment and lost income exceed your PIP coverage.
Related: How to Sue for After a Car Accident
After the accident, you should have driver information, witness information, accident scene notes, photographs, medical records, and a copy of the police report. If possible, keep these items together to ensure you have all the documents needed for your car accident claim. Add items as needed, such as receipts for prescription medications or medical treatments for your injuries.
Consulting a car accident lawyer from the accident scene ensures you receive immediate legal guidance. The attorney will remind you about the information you should gather. They’ll also advise you about things you shouldn’t do, such as admit fault or leave the scene.
Your car accident lawyer can help you deal with your insurance company. Insurance companies try to avoid paying out money, so you may have to fight for the compensation you deserve. Your lawyer can negotiate settlement offers and ensure you’re receiving fair compensation.
Your car accident attorney can also prepare your accident case. You may need legal representation if the other driver files a lawsuit. Your attorney can also prepare a case against the at-fault driver if your accident expenses exceed your PIP insurance.
Call Jack Bernstein, Injury Attorneys, for a free consultation to discuss your Tampa car accident. Jack Bernstein is happy to answer all your questions and outline your legal options. He applies his 37 years of experience to every case, helping car accident victims get the compensation they deserve.
Tampa Police. (2022).Whiplash. (2022).