When you get in a car accident, you should have two main priorities: Your first priority should be to take care of your health. If you were injured in the crash (or if you are concerned that you may have suffered a concussion or other internal injury), you should seek treatment right away.
Your second priority should be to protect your legal rights. Car accidents can be expensive, and they can cause various non-financial losses as well (i.e., pain and suffering). Depending on what happened and who is responsible, you may be entitled to financial compensation for these losses, but you will need to protect your legal rights in order to collect the compensation you deserve.
4 Calls You Should Make After a Car Accident in Florida
With these priorities in mind, there are four calls you should make after a car accident in Florida. When you are involved in a collision with another vehicle, you should:
1. Call the Police
Under Florida law, drivers are required to report all car accidents that result in physical injury or at least $500 in estimated property damage. This means that, except for very minor fender benders, virtually all car accidents need to be reported.
Technically, you are supposed to call 911 from the scene of the accident. If you have left the scene of a car accident without calling the police (and if no one else called 911), you will need to file a written report instead of calling. As the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) explains, “you can complete a ‘Driver Report of Traffic Crash (Self Report)’ or ‘Driver Exchange of Information’ online, or download the form . . . and submit it to the address on the form.”
Not only is calling 911 from the scene of a car accident legally required in most cases, but it can also help with establishing your legal rights. At a minimum, the police report will serve as an official record of where and when the accident occurred. If the responding officer notes in the report that the other driver was speeding, driving recklessly, or driving while drunk or distracted, your lawyer may be able to use this information to start building your insurance claim as well.
2. Call Your Insurance Company
Speaking of your insurance claim, you will also need to call your insurance company after a car accident in Florida. Not only is this almost certainly required by the terms of your auto insurance policy, but contacting your insurer is also the first step toward securing coverage for the collision.
This is due to Florida’s “no-fault” insurance law. Under this law, all drivers are required to carry personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, and drivers must file claims under their PIP policies before seeking compensation from an at-fault driver’s insurer. In fact, injured drivers will be limited to securing PIP coverage in some cases. In Florida, accident victims can only pursue auto insurance claims outside of PIP when they suffer “significant” or “permanent” injuries in a crash.
If you are entitled to auto insurance coverage outside of PIP, securing this additional coverage will also involve dealing with your insurance company. If the at-fault driver has liability insurance, your insurance company will deal with the at-fault driver’s insurer. If the at-fault driver is uninsured or underinsured, then you may need to file a claim under your uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) policy (if you have one).
3. Call Your Doctor’s Office or the Hospital
Remember what we said about your priorities? After a car accident, calling your doctor’s office or the hospital is important for protecting your health and your legal rights. It is important for your health because obtaining prompt treatment can be critical for avoiding unnecessary complications. It is important for your legal rights because documenting the cause of your injuries will help with establishing your right to coverage.
While it is a good idea to call ahead, you should not hesitate to go to the emergency room or even an urgent care clinic if necessary. You want to make sure you receive a diagnosis and begin treatment as soon as possible. Not only could any delays lead to unnecessary health complications, but they could potentially create complications for your insurance claim as well.
4. Call a Lawyer
Finally, you should call a lawyer. Whether you are limited to securing PIP coverage or you have a liability claim outside of PIP, you will need help to collect the financial compensation you deserve. Unfortunately, you cannot trust your insurance company to treat you fairly. You need to take control of your situation, and this means putting an experienced advocate on your side.
When you call a lawyer about your car accident, your lawyer will:
- Guide you through your next steps;
- Explain the mistakes you need to avoid;
- Investigate your car accident to determine its cause;
- Determine which claim (or claims) you should file; and,
- Fight to recover maximum compensation on your behalf.
In most cases, fighting to recover maximum compensation will involve negotiating with the auto insurance companies. But there are other possibilities as well.
For example, your lawyer may need to take your auto insurance claim to court, or you could have a liability claim outside of auto insurance. If your vehicle was defective, if you were injured in a rideshare accident, or if the other driver was working at the time of the crash (i.e., in the case of an accident with a commercial van or truck), your lawyer may be able to file a “third party” claim to help you recover full compensation for your accident-related losses.
Call Us for a Free and Confidential Consultation About Your Car Accident
Were you seriously injured in a car accident in Florida? If so, we encourage you to contact us immediately so that we can help you. To speak with an experienced lawyer about your car accident as soon as possible, call 954-784-6310 or request a free and confidential consultation online now.