Car accidents are unfortunately common occurrences on roads across the United States, including Florida. While some accidents may only result in minor injuries or damages, others can be devastating, leading to life-altering or even death.
In these cases, having a car accident lawyer on your side is crucial to help you navigate the complex legal process and obtain the compensation you deserve.
Steps to Take After a Florida Car Accident
Car accidents can be stressful, overwhelming, and sometimes even life-changing events.
Knowing what steps to take after a Florida car accident can help protect yourself, your rights, and your financial well-being.
Step 1: Check for Injuries and Call 911
The first and most critical step after a car accident is to check for injuries and call 911 if necessary. Even if you feel fine, you need to seek medical treatment immediately. Adrenaline and shock can mask pain and other symptoms. Calling 911 will also ensure that law enforcement and emergency medical personnel are dispatched to the scene.
Step 2: Move to a Safe Location
If possible, move your vehicle to a safe location away from traffic, such as the shoulder of the road or a nearby parking lot. If you can’t move your vehicle, turn on your hazard lights and stay inside until help arrives. It’s important to avoid standing in or near traffic as it can be dangerous.
Step 3: Exchange Information
Exchange information with the other driver(s) involved in the accident, including names, phone numbers, addresses, driver’s license numbers, and insurance information. It’s also important to get the names and contact information of any witnesses. You should also take pictures of the accident scene and any vehicle damage.
Step 4: Report the Accident
In Florida, you must report a car accident if there is any injury, death, or property damage of $500 or more. You can report the accident to the Florida Highway Patrol or the local police department. If the accident occurred on private property, you might need to file a report with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
Step 5: Contact Your Insurance Company
Contact your insurance company as soon as possible to report the accident and provide them with the information you collected at the scene. Your insurance company will guide you through the claims process and may provide coverage for damages and injuries. Be honest and accurate when providing information to your insurance company, as providing false information can result in the denial of your claim.
Step 6: Seek Medical Attention
Even if you don’t feel injured, seeking medical attention as soon as possible after a car accident is important. Some injuries do not show symptoms immediately, and delaying treatment can lead to complications or worsen the injuries.
Common Injuries Seen in Florida Car Accidents
Car accidents can cause many injuries, from minor cuts and bruises to severe and life-threatening injuries. The type and severity of injuries depend on several factors, including the speed of the vehicles, the location of impact, the use of seat belts and airbags, and the overall health of the individuals involved.
Here are some of the most common injuries that occur in car accidents:
- Whiplash: Whiplash is a neck injury when the head is suddenly and forcefully jerked forward and then backward, causing the neck to stretch and strain. It’s a common injury in rear-end collisions and can cause neck pain, stiffness, headaches, and dizziness.
- Broken Bones: The force of a car accident can cause bones to break or fracture, including arms, legs, ribs, and the pelvis. Broken bones can be painful and require surgery, immobilization, and rehabilitation.
- Spinal Cord Injuries: Spinal cord injuries occur when the spinal cord is damaged or severed, leading to paralysis or loss of sensation below the injury site. These injuries can be life-changing and require extensive medical treatment, rehabilitation, and long-term care.
- Traumatic Brain Injuries: Traumatic brain injuries occur when the head is struck or jolted, causing damage to the brain. These injuries can range from mild concussions to severe brain damage and can cause symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, confusion, and memory loss.
- Internal Injuries: Internal injuries can occur when organs are damaged or ruptured during a car accident. These injuries can be life-threatening and require immediate medical attention.
- Cuts and Bruises: Cuts and bruises are common in car accidents, especially if the occupants are not wearing seat belts or if the airbags deploy. While these injuries may be minor, they can still cause pain and discomfort and require medical treatment.
- Psychological Injuries: Car accidents can also cause psychological injuries, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression. These injuries can be just as debilitating as physical injuries and may require therapy and other forms of treatment.
After your initial treatment, follow up with your doctor regularly and keep records of all medical treatments and expenses.
Step 7: Consult with a Car Accident Lawyer
If you have been injured in a car accident, it’s important to consult with a car accident lawyer to protect your rights and obtain the compensation you deserve. A car accident lawyer can help you navigate the complex legal process, negotiate with insurance companies, and file a personal injury lawsuit if necessary.
Legal Considerations After a Car Accident
In addition to the above steps, there are several legal considerations you should be aware of after a car accident in Florida.
Florida follows the doctrine of comparative negligence, which means that if you are partially at fault for the accident, your damages may be reduced by your percentage of fault. For example, if you were 25% at fault for the accident and your damages were $10,000, your recovery would be reduced by $2,500.
Statute of Limitations
In Florida, you have four years from the accident date to file a personal injury lawsuit. If you fail to file within this timeframe, your case may be dismissed.
Florida is a no-fault insurance state, meaning your insurance company will provide coverage for your damages, regardless of who is at fault. However, there are limits to this coverage, and you may still need to file a lawsuit or negotiate with the other driver’s insurance company if your damages exceed your coverage.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Florida law requires all drivers to carry minimum liability insurance, but not all drivers comply. If you are involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, your insurance policy may provide coverage under uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
Insurance Considerations After a Car Accident
In addition to the legal considerations, there are several insurance considerations you should be aware of after a car accident in Florida.
Insurance Claims Process
The claims process can be complicated and time-consuming. It’s important to follow your insurance company’s instructions and provide accurate and complete information. Keep records of all communication with your insurance company, including phone calls, emails, and letters.
Damages Covered by Insurance
Your insurance policy may provide coverage for damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering. Review your policy carefully to understand what is covered and what is not.
Deductibles and Limits
Your insurance policy may have deductibles, which are amounts you must pay out of pocket before your insurance coverage kicks in. Your policy may also have limits, the maximum amounts your insurance company will pay for damages. Be sure to understand your deductibles and limits to avoid any surprises later.
Why You Need a Car Accident Lawyer
If you have been involved in a car accident, you may wonder if you need a lawyer. While not all accidents require legal representation, there are several situations where having a lawyer can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case. Some of these situations include:
- Serious Injuries: If you have sustained serious injuries, you may be facing extensive medical bills, lost wages, and long-term disabilities. A car accident lawyer can help you obtain compensation for these damages.
- Disputed Liability: If the other driver’s insurance company is disputing liability for the accident, a lawyer can help gather evidence and build a strong case to prove fault.
- Insurance Company Tactics: Insurance companies are notorious for using various tactics to reduce or deny claims. A car accident lawyer can help protect your rights and ensure you receive fair compensation.
- Settlement Offers: If the other party’s insurance company offers a settlement, it may not be enough to cover all of your damages. A car accident lawyer can evaluate the settlement offer and negotiate for a more favorable outcome on your behalf.
Services Provided by Sternberg | Forsythe, PA
Sternberg | Forsythe, PA, is a law firm specializing in personal injury cases, including car accidents. We provide a wide range of services to our clients, including:
- Case Evaluation: Our car accident lawyers will evaluate your case to determine the best action.
- Investigation: We will thoroughly investigate the accident to gather evidence and determine liability.
- Negotiation: All negotiations with insurance companies will be handled on your behalf to obtain a fair settlement for your damages.
- Litigation: If necessary, we will represent you in court to obtain the compensation you deserve.
- Medical Referrals: Our lawyers work with medical professionals to ensure you receive the best care for your injuries.
- Communication: We will keep you informed throughout the legal process and answer any questions or concerns.
What to Do After a Car Accident: FAQs
What should I do immediately after a car accident?
First, you should make sure everyone involved in the accident is safe and call for medical assistance if necessary. Then, contact the police and exchange insurance and contact information with the other driver.
Should I see a doctor even if I don’t feel injured?
Yes, it’s always a good idea to seek medical attention after a car accident, even if you don’t feel injured. Sometimes, whiplash and other injuries are not immediately apparent.
Should I report the accident to my insurance company?
Yes, you must report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible. Failure to do so may result in the denial of your claim.
What if the other driver doesn’t have insurance?
If the other driver doesn’t have insurance, your insurance policy may provide coverage for uninsured motorists.
What if I was partially at fault for the accident?
In some states, even if you were partially at fault for the accident, you may still be able to recover damages. A car accident lawyer can help you understand the laws in your state and determine your options.
Should I speak to the other driver’s insurance company?
It’s best to consult with a car accident lawyer before speaking to the other driver’s insurance company. Insurance adjusters are trained to minimize payouts and anything you say to them can be used against you.
How long do I have to file a claim?
The statute of limitations for filing a car accident claim varies by state, but in most cases, it’s two to three years from the date of the accident. You must contact a car accident lawyer as soon as possible to ensure you meet all deadlines.
What damages can I recover in a car accident case?
You may be able to recover damages for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and property damage, among other damages.
Can I still recover damages if the other driver died in the accident?
Yes, you may still be able to recover damages from the other driver’s estate or insurance policy.
How much does a car accident lawyer cost?
Most car accident lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, meaning they don’t get paid unless they recover compensation for you. The fee is usually a percentage of the amount recovered and is agreed upon in advance. It’s essential to discuss fees with your lawyer before hiring them.
Contact Our Car Accident Lawyers for Help with Your Case
Car accidents can be life-altering events that require the help of a skilled car accident lawyer.
Sternberg | Forsythe, PA, provides clients a wide range of services, including case evaluation, investigation, negotiation, litigation, medical referrals, and communication.
If you have been involved in a car accident, it’s essential to seek medical attention, report the accident to your insurance company, and consult with a car accident lawyer to protect your rights and obtain the compensation you deserve.