When you are in a car accident, you may face pressure from another driver—especially one that caused the accident—to exchange information (or even just exchange money) and avoid calling the police. It is vital, however, that you call the police as soon as possible after reaching a safe location.
Calling 911 After a Crash Is a Must
Hopefully, your crash occurred in a location and under such circumstances where the police arrived swiftly. If this was not the case, it is important that you call them yourself.
There are several reasons to call the police in the wake of your accident, including:
- Police can ensure the safety of those involved in the crash or those who may be in danger because of circumstances related to the crash
- They can help resume the flow of traffic
- They will write a report documenting the crash
- They can determine whether the other driver was not intoxicated or under the influence of drugs at the time of the accident
The officer or officers at the scene should offer you a copy of the accident report. If they do not, make sure to request and receive a copy before you depart from the scene. If possible, you should also request a copy of any other documentation if the person who caused your accident is found criminally liable.
Once you have dealt with the police, there are several additional steps to take to ensure that you leave all options open for obtaining any compensation to which you may be entitled.
Additional Steps to Take After an Accident
First, know that it is the law in Florida for drivers to have a bare minimum of insurance (the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles affirms this). You should, at some point after you have reached a safe location, exchange insurance information with the other driver involved in your accident. You should report to the police if:
- The driver claims that they are uninsured
- The driver gives any other excuse that prevents them from providing their insurance information
- You detect the odor of alcohol or other signs of impairment when talking with the driver
- The driver urges you not to contact the police
There is no reason for a driver not to have proof of insurance on them at all times. Once you have gone through the process of exchanging insurance information with the other driver (successfully or not), call your own insurance company to alert them to the accident.
Next, if you are injured, request medical attention. Request documentation of any care that you receive, and if necessary, take an ambulance ride to the hospital—there is no greater mistake than rolling the dice with your health.
Once you have taken these steps, you can contact a lawyer if you believe that the other driver acted in some negligent way and caused you injury.
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You Might Be Able to Pursue Compensation for Your Injuries
One of the most important reasons to receive medical attention at the scene of the accident (and to obtain documentation for the treatment) is that many injuries, such as whiplash, do not become apparent immediately after your accident.
You may discover that you suffered a serious internal injury, or may develop headaches or other symptoms of traumatic brain injury—symptoms that could linger and provide significant health and financial strain on you. You may be excluded from pursuing action if you do not report the presence of injuries within the ten-day reporting window imposed by Florida Statute § 316.066 after police conclude their investigation.
Call a Lawyer to Avoid Missing Out on Compensation
A lawyer will advise you of relevant reporting windows, statutes of limitations, and other factors that could impact your ability to bring any personal injury lawsuit necessary to pursue compensation to which you may be entitled.
A lawyer can then:
- Collect the details of your case
- File your case in court
- Present your case for compensation
- Complete your case
You may be entitled to awards through a judgement or settlement, including but not limited to coverage for:
- Medical bills
- Lost income
- Pain and suffering
Do not wait to call a lawyer, as there are several rules and regulations that commonly confuse or subvert the average victim of motorist negligence.
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