Frequently Asked Questions - Post Auto Accident
Life can get very complicated in the aftermath of a car accident. Questions about injuries, car repairs, talking to the police and filing an insurance claim — not to mention the scare-induced adrenaline rush — bombard your senses and can leave you incapable of making a clear decision. That's why it pays to know ahead of time what to do if you are involved in a traffic accident. The questions and answers below are only brief insights on what to do after an accident. If you or someone you love has suffered an injury because of an accident, don’t hesitate to contact the experienced personal injury attorneys of Holland & Lamoureux at (866) 225-4907 for a free initial consultation. We'll help get the compensation you deserve.
Q. If I am in an accident, do I have to stop?
Yes! No matter whether you have hit a pedestrian, a moving car, a parked car or someone’s property, always stop if you hit something with your car. If you do not, no matter how minor the damage seems to you, you may be guilty of “hit and run” — even if the accident was not your fault.
Q. What do I do first?
The first thing to do at the crash site is to determine the extent of driver and passenger injuries. If the accident is a fender bender, emergency medical care might not be necessary. In minor accidents, resist the temptation to settle up with the other driver on the spot. You may have suffered injuries which do not develop systems until days or even weeks after the accident.
If you are involved in an accident involving any injury at all, no matter how minor, call for medical assistance and the police as soon as possible. Doing so will provide proof of the accident and will allow for an immediate investigation of the scene of the accident. The police will advise you whether it's required to move the crashed vehicles from moving traffic, and an investigating officer will take statements of the drivers and passengers involved.
Q. What facts do I need to gather?
After everyone is out of danger and any medical and police help have been summoned, obtain the following:
- Drivers’ names of all vehicles involved
- Drivers’ license numbers, addresses and phone numbers
- Drivers’ insurance companies and policy numbers
- License plate number, color, make, year and model of all cars involved
- Registered owners’ names and addresses of all vehicles involved
- Full name, address and phone number of occupants in any of the vehicles
- Full name, address and phone numbers of any pedestrians or other parties involved
- Full name, address and phone number of any witnesses to the accident
- Police officer’s name, department and badge number
- Actual location of the accident
Q. What other things should I be aware of?
You should be aware of and record notes about the following:
- If any of the drivers appear to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, notify the police or other emergency personnel immediately.
- Was medical assistance rendered at the scene of the accident?
- What kind of personal injuries were reported shortly after the accident?
- Did anyone say, “I'm not hurt.”?
- What time of day did the accident occur?
- What were the weather conditions at the time of the accident?
- Was anything wrong with the vehicles before the accident, such as a broken headlight or brake light?
- Did any damage result to the vehicles because of the accident? What parts of the vehicle were damaged?
- Did any of the vehicles need to be towed from the scene of the accident?
- How did the accident occur?
- Did anyone accept responsibility for the accident, or make any of the following comments?
- I am sorry, It was my fault
- I was speeding
- I was on my cell phone
- I wasn't paying attention
- I was not wearing my glasses
- Something distracted me
- I'm tired
- I was running late for work
- I'm in a hurry
- My coffee had just spilled
- I should have seen you
- I've been taking these pills
- My eyesight isn't what it used to be after dark
- Were any of the drivers involved driving while working or driving a company owned vehicle?
Q. Should I take pictures of the accident scene?
It’s a good idea to keep a disposable camera in your vehicle, because a picture is worth a thousand words. After an accident, a set of pictures of both vehicles can protect you from a claim by the other party that the damage to their car was more extensive than you reported. Also, the pictures can help you with your own insurance company in documenting the damage to your vehicle. Take shots from multiple angles and locations, as if on the points of a compass, to construct an accurate diagram of the collision.
If you are unable to take photographs, contact our office immediately at (866) 225-4907. At Holland & Lamoureux, P.A., we work with investigators and other expert personnel who often can rush to the scene of any serious accident and preserve and document valuable evidence before it is lost.
Q. If I think the accident is my fault, should I say so?
Don’t volunteer any opinion about whose fault the accident was, especially if you think it might have been your fault. Talk to a lawyer and your insurance company before taking the blame. Anything you say to the police or to the other driver can be used against you later. Don’t agree to pay any damages or sign any papers — except a traffic ticket — until you consult with an attorney. However, cooperate completely with the police.
Q. What if I get a ticket?
Don’t plead guilty to anything. Consult with an attorney before you say anything about your guilt or innocence. If the officer gives you a ticket, sign it if you are required to do so. Signing the ticket is not an admission of guilt, merely an acknowledgment that you have received the ticket and that you will appear in court to answer it. If the officer asks you questions, answer them as completely as you can, but stick to the facts. Don’t guess and don’t venture opinions. Above all, don’t argue with the officer. It won’t help, and it could hurt.
Q. Do I have to report the accident?
Your auto insurance policy requires you to inform your insurer when you've been involved in an accident. As soon as you are able, you must call your insurer and file an accident report. You also should notify the other driver's insurer of the accident. The insurance companies involved will then begin an investigation of the accident in order to determine who's at fault. Sometimes the insurance company will want your authorization to make a recorded statement concerning the accident. We suggest that if you or your passengers were injured in the accident, or if you believe the insurance company might try to claim you are not covered or you have any concerns about the adequacy of your coverage, you should contact an attorney before you go any further, and certainly before you give the insurance company permission to record your conversation. It's imperative you ask the insurance company adjuster for a copy of the complete claim file. If the insurer doesn't grant you a copy, file a complaint with your state's department of insurance and contact a lawyer.
Q. Should I talk to the other driver’s insurance company?
Never give an oral statement to the opposing insurance company. If you do, you will regret it. If you are contacted, be polite but decline to talk. Insurance companies’ claims adjusters are professional negotiators with extensive experience in using every psychological technique to maneuver you into giving information which can hurt your claim, including discouraging you from using the professional services of a lawyer.
You should seek the advice of an experienced personal injury attorney, who can determine the best way to proceed with the other driver’s insurance company. Contact Holland & Lamoureux, P.A. toll free at (866) 225-4907 for a FREE CONSULTATION so we can discuss your case.
Q. Do I need an attorney?
Hiring a lawyer is not required after you've crashed into someone, but there are a couple of scenarios in which seeking legal counsel is a good idea. If you've been seriously injured in the accident, you'll probably want a lawyer to help keep the lines of communication open between you and the insurance company and help you receive a fair settlement.
Proving to another driver's insurer that its policyholder caused the accident might require the services of an attorney as well. In order to prove the other driver is at fault, you have to show what the rules of the road are in the accident scenario: that the other driver disobeyed the rules of the road; that the driver's disobedience caused the accident; and that the accident caused harm to you or damage to your car. That might seem simple, but it requires substantial time, research, and knowledge of the law.
In Florida, if you've been injured in an accident, you will make your claim under your own auto insurance policy for reimbursement of medical expenses and lost wages under the no-fault law. However, you still can make a claim for damages to your car under the at-fault party's insurance.
At Holland & Lamoureux, P.A., we will promptly arrange for an attorney to consult with you free of charge to enable us to immediately take action on your behalf, making sure you get all the compensation you deserve.
Contact Holland & Lamoureux, P.A. toll free at (866) 225-4907 for a FREE CONSULTATION so we can discuss your case.
If you have a question that was not covered in the above Frequently Asked Questions or if your question was not fully answered, call or contact us today for additional information.
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