Unfortunately, Florida car crashes happen all too frequently. If you become involved in one, there are certain things you should – and should not – do immediately afterward. The decisions you make at the scene could impact you either positively or negatively for the next several months or even years.
Here are the top five things you should do immediately after a car crash.
1. Stay at the scene
Do not leave the scene of any accident until law enforcement officers arrive and give you permission to leave. If you leave too soon, you could face charges of leaving the scene and/or hit-and-run, both of which are crimes in Florida.
2. Determine if anyone sustained injuries
If you or any of your passengers show any sign of injury, call 911 immediately on your cellphone and request emergency medical assistance as well as police assistance. Likewise, check on the status of other drivers and passengers. Do not attempt to move any injured person unless (s)he faces an even greater danger by remaining in the car, such as from a fire, downed power line, etc.
3. Exchange driver information
Talk with all other drivers involved in the crash and jot down the following information for each:
- Name, address and phone number
- Driver’s license state and number
- License plate state and number
- Insurance company name and phone number
Give this same information about yourself to each driver. Be as calm and courteous as possible when talking to each one, but never apologize for the accident in any way or imply that you might have caused it. Emotions likely are running high at this point and none of you has a full and objective understanding of what happened, let alone who caused it to happen.
4. Take pictures
Use your cellphone to take pictures of each vehicle involved in the accident. Zero in on the following for each vehicle, including your own:
- License plate
- Make and model
- Signs of new damage
- Signs of pre-existing damage
While you are at it, also take pictures of the overall accident scene, paying special attention to any traffic signals, barriers, warning signs, etc. nearby.
5. Make a police report
Once law enforcement officers arrive on the scene, make a note of each officer’s name and badge number. Answer their questions truthfully, but as briefly as possible, and never volunteer any information they do not ask for. Never admit or imply in any way that the accident could have been your fault. What you may consider helpful information could be misinterpreted as an admission of guilt that could be used against you in court, especially if the officers issue you a citation or one of the other drivers sues you. Be sure to ask the officers for their police report number and when, where and how you can obtain a copy.
Only after completing these five crucial steps is it time for you to call your own insurance company and report the accident. Again, be truthful, but do not volunteer unnecessary information. Tell the agent that law enforcement is on the scene and investigating the crash. Your accident may well be the first of a long chain of events that could quickly become quite complicated. For your own protection, never speak with representatives of any other driver’s insurance company. Refer them to your attorney instead.