Did you know that Florida alone is home to almost 16.78 million registered motor vehicles? Of that, 7.67 million are private and commercial vehicles, including taxicabs. All in all, the Sunshine State is the third US state with the most vehicle registrations.
With so many vehicles on the road, it’s no wonder that more than 300,000 to 400,000 crashes occur in the state each year.
For this reason, it pays to know what to do if you get into a car accident in Florida yourself. This is especially true as the Sunshine State is one of the few states with a no-fault auto accident law.
To that end, we created this guide listing all the steps you should take following a Florida car accident. Keep reading to discover the dos and don’ts of dealing with the aftermath of a collision.
Stop and Turn Your Hazard Lights on
Under Florida law, any motorist involved in an accident must stop at or as close as possible to the scene. They must stay at the scene to fulfill their duty to give information and aid to any injured person. A driver who violates this can get a second-degree misdemeanor or even a felony charge.
So, the first thing you need to do after a car accident is to stop your vehicle and then switch its hazard lights on. If you can, park your ride to the side to avoid causing a traffic build-up. If you can’t, you should at least engage the hazard lights to alert oncoming traffic.
Don’t Give in to Adrenaline
Adrenaline can give the body a temporary superhuman-like strength. An adrenaline rush can occur when the body gets exposed to extreme fear or stress, such as a car crash. If this happens to you, you may develop a false perception of being alright.
As a result, you might not feel any pain following a car crash, even if you actually have injuries. Moreover, an adrenaline rush can last for up to one hour.
For those reasons, it’s best to check yourself and your passengers for any injuries right away. Do the same with the other vehicle’s driver and passengers. If someone is unconscious, bleeding, or in pain, call 911 or Emergency Medical Services.
Call the Authorities
In the Sunshine State, you must report a car crash that results in an injury or death to the police. The same goes for any road accident that results in apparent property damage of at least $500. These are requirements codified in the 2020 Florida Statutes Section 316.065.
Crashes that occur within a municipality are reportable to the local police department. However, you can also contact the county sheriff or the Florida Highway Patrol.
Call the police even if you’re not sure if the damage to your car is worth $500 or more. A police report can serve as a crucial, helpful resource if you end up having to file an insurance claim later on. Besides, trained law enforcers at the scene can help facilitate a smoother investigation.
Limit Conversation With the Other Involved Motorists
As you wait for law enforcers to get to the crash site, you can ask the other motorists for their insurance details. It’s best if you can see their actual driver’s license and physical insurance card. This way, you can make sure that their driving credentials are valid and up to date.
Write down the other drivers’ complete names, addresses, and contact information. Take note of their insurance provider and policy number, too. Be sure to list down the other cars’ license plate numbers and state registration.
Just as you need to get these details, make sure you also share your information with the other drivers. After this, go back to your car and wait for the police to arrive. There’s nothing else you should talk about with the other parties involved.
Collect Evidence and Talk to Witnesses
Take as many photos and videos as you can of the crash scene. You’d want bird’s eye views, landscape, close-up, and panoramic shots of the site.
Talk to any witnesses and ask them for permission to record their testimonies in videos. Ask for their names and request their contact information.
Notify Your Insurance Company
As Florida is a no-fault state, all drivers must carry personal injury protection (PIP). This is the part of your auto insurance policy that kicks in if you get injured in a car crash. It should pay up to 80% of medical bills and 60% of lost wages, with a cap of $10,000.
Your insurer pays your PIP benefits regardless of who caused the crash. This means you don’t have to establish or prove that the other driver is at fault for your injuries. However, you must let your insurance company know right away about your injuries.
You must establish fault when it comes to property damage, though. This is where the other driver may play the blame game and claim you’re at fault. For this reason, it’s best to hire a car accident lawyer who can prove the other driver’s negligence.
Go for a Medical Checkup as Soon as You Can
Many car crash injuries are internal and may not exhibit signs and symptoms right away. For example, whiplash injury symptoms can take days or weeks to become apparent. These include pain, numbness, reduced mobility, and muscle weakness.
Worse, about half of whiplash patients can develop long-term disabilities.
All that should be enough reason for you to see a doctor following a car crash. Your doctor will likely have you undergo lab tests to diagnose hidden injuries.
Master These Guidelines of Dealing With a Car Accident in Florida
Your health is the most important thing to pay attention to after a car accident in Florida. So, make sure you head straight to a doctor as soon as you can after the crash, even if you have no visible injuries. It’s also best to lawyer up if you’re certain you’re not at fault for the crash.
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