Being involved in a car accident is scary, even if the accident was not severe. Although it may be difficult to remember at the time, you still need to take steps to be sure that your rights are protected after a collision with another person.
If you have been involved in a car accident, you may have the ability to sue the other driver for your personal injuries and any damage done to your vehicle. However, without certain types of information, your ability to obtain compensation from the other driver is severely diminished.
If you’ve been involved in an accident, follow this handy after-accident checklist to ensure you collect all information needed. We suggest printing it out and keeping it in your vehicle or keeping a copy on your phone.
Remember, safety first, but then collect the information required to protect your rights.
1. Check to be sure your passengers (and you!) are unharmed: Be sure that everyone is okay before leaving the vehicle, unless it is not safe to stay in the vehicle. Check on the other driver and passengers as well. If required, call 911 immediately. Florida law requires that those who are involved in a collision render aid.
2. Provide information and obtain information from the other driver: It is always good practice to obtain the other driver’s information if you are ever involved in a crash. Florida law requires that each driver provide specific information about themselves, including:
c. Registration number of the vehicle that he or she is driving
d. Display license or permit to drive (if requested)
If the other driver or passenger is not in a condition to receive or provide information, then you should give your personal information to the nearest law enforcement officer. Not all states have these specific requirements, but it is always a good idea to obtain this information for your records. We would also suggest obtaining insurance information at the time of the accident.
3. Never leave the scene of an accident until information is exchanged: Under Florida law, leaving the scene of the accident before providing this information is considered a hit and run. This rule also extends to collisions with stationary property, including parked cars or buildings. If there is no one available to take your information, then you are legally required to report it to the nearest law enforcement agency.
4. Call the police: Getting a police report about the accident may be helpful for your case. It documents the events and involves an impartial third party that is generally considered reliable. Sometimes the party at fault will try to convince you not to call the police.
However, there is likely a reason that they do not want to have the police there—including that their license may not be valid or they did not have permission to drive the vehicle. Never accept payment in exchange for not calling the police.
5. Talk to witnesses: If you noticed anyone around that may have seen or heard the accident, you may want to try to talk to them about what they observed. Be sure to ask for their name and a way to get in touch with them.
You may even want to ask if they would be willing to give a statement on your behalf. If you are uncomfortable doing this, getting their name is enough. Your personal injury lawyer can speak to any potential witnesses on your behalf.
6. Photograph the scene and any damage to your vehicle: If you have a camera or phone available, take pictures of the scene. Simple things like weather conditions or traffic at the time could be very important to your case later.
Photos of street lamps, lights, or stop signs may also be helpful. Take pictures of your car and the other person’s car, if possible. You should also take photos of any obvious injuries that you or your passengers may have endured.
7. Never admit fault or apologize: Even where you may have contributed to the accident, do not apologize or admit that you made a mistake after the accident. Being flustered after an accident occasionally leads to admitting something in error or general misunderstandings. Avoid this entirely by not discussing fault.
Consult with a Knowledgeable West Palm Beach Personal Injury Lawyers
Keep this handy list available in your car so you can use it if you are involved in an accident. Speak to one of the experienced West Palm Beach personal injury lawyers at Scott J. Sternberg & Associates as soon as you can after the accident to determine if you have a legal claim. Call 561-687-5660 for a free case evaluation.
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