In the aftermath of a car accident — especially in Florida, where healthcare costs are notably high — the impact on the injured victim’s life can be profound. Not even counting the physical injuries and all the pain that comes with them, a simple emergency room visit can cost thousands of dollars. If you need specialized treatment or surgery, the bills can skyrocket. The average cost of a three-day hospital stay is around $30,000.
Florida is a no-fault state, which means your own insurance company pays for your medical bills up to a certain limit after a crash, regardless of who is responsible. However, this coverage can be quickly exhausted with high medical costs. If expenses exceed your policy limits, you could be left to cover the rest of the costs on your own.
Car accident injuries may not merely lead to mounting medical bills but also cause loss of current and future income, leaving you struggling with prolonged pain and suffering along with financial burdens. Considering these harsh realities, you must take the right steps after your accident to ensure you are not overwhelmed by the financial and legal repercussions that can follow.
Remember, every car crash is different, and these steps might vary slightly depending on your situation. Following this guide should help you follow a structured approach to protect your well-being and your right to financial compensation.
After the crash, check if you or anyone else is injured. If there are injuries, call 911 or the Florida Highway Patrol without delay. Some injuries might not be immediately apparent due to the shock and adrenaline rush, so seeking medical treatment should be a priority.
Under Florida law, if your vehicle is involved in a crash and is obstructing traffic but can be driven safely, you need to move it out of the road. If, however, your car cannot be moved due to damage or safety concerns, turn on your hazard lights. This alerts other drivers to your presence and can help prevent additional collisions.
Report the Accident
It is mandatory to report a car accident in Florida to law enforcement officers under certain circumstances. Specifically, if the accident results in injuries, fatalities, or significant property damage (commonly defined as damage exceeding $500), you are required to notify the police.
After ensuring everyone’s safety, wait at the scene for the police to arrive. Leaving the scene can result in legal consequences. Once the police arrive, provide them with an accurate account of what happened. Your statement, along with those of others involved and any witnesses, will be included in the police report. You can typically request a copy of this report from the police department or through online portals.
Share the following details with the other driver(s) involved in your accident:
- Full names, phone numbers, and addresses of all drivers
- Other driver’s insurance information (company name and policy number)
- Vehicle registration number along with the make, model, color, and year of the other vehicle(s) involved
- License plate numbers
- Witnesses’ contact information
When communicating with the other driver, avoid discussing fault or liability for the accident. This can be determined later by insurance companies or law enforcement.
Document the Scene
High-quality pictures of the crash site will be invaluable during the insurance claims process and any legal proceedings as they provide an objective record of the accident. They can support your version of events and help in accurately determining liability and damages.
Take photos of all vehicles involved, especially showing how they are positioned relative to each other. Take some close-up shots of the damage to each vehicle. If there are relevant road signs, traffic signals, or road markings near the accident scene, photos of these can provide context about the driving conditions, right-of-way, speed limits, etc. If your injuries are visible, take photos of these as well.
Take photos from various angles and distances to give a comprehensive view of any skid marks, debris, or damage to surrounding property. Remember to safely store these photos and back them up if possible.
Get a Full Medical Check-Up
The reason for this is simple: some injuries, particularly those like whiplash, do not show symptoms right away. It is like a hidden problem that might emerge later. By then, it could be more serious.
In Florida, there is an extra layer of urgency due to the state’s Personal Injury Protection (PIP) laws. Under PIP, if you are injured in a car accident, you are required to get medical care within 14 days to be eligible for insurance benefits. If you wait longer than those 14 days, your medical expenses may not be covered by your PIP insurance.
Notify Your Insurance Company
As soon as you can, inform your insurance company about your collision. This initial contact is more about letting them know the accident occurred, rather than going into all the details. Most insurance policies have a clause that requires you to report any accident promptly; not doing so can complicate your claim.
Be upfront about the facts of the accident, but do not admit fault or give detailed statements until you seek legal counsel. Anything you say here could be used in the insurance process or even legal proceedings later on. A Florida car accident lawyer can give you advice on how to communicate with them so you do not unintentionally say something that could be misunderstood.
Consult with a Lawyer
If there are disputes about who is at fault, you suffered severe injuries, or you are facing a large financial burden, contact a dedicated personal injury lawyer. The statute of limitations for car accident claims in Florida has been reduced from four years to only two years, so delaying getting legal representation is not a good idea.
Top lawyers have the skills, experience, and resources to gather and interpret evidence that proves liability. Most lawyers representing car accident victims in Florida work on a contingency fee structure — they get paid only if you win your personal injury lawsuit or settle.
Remember, insurance companies often try to settle quickly and for much less than what might be fair. A car accident lawyer can negotiate on your behalf, ensuring that your right to maximum compensation for your injuries and losses is protected.
Choose Florida’s Top-Rated Car Accident Attorney to Maximize Your Compensation
All drivers have a responsibility to be careful on the road. If you were injured in a motor vehicle accident because the other driver was not paying attention or was driving dangerously, you could get compensated for your damages. In the unfortunate event that you lost a family member, you might have a claim to recover wrongful death damages for your loss of companionship, financial support, medical and funeral costs, and more.
At The Law Offices of Scott J Senft, we have successfully represented numerous car crash victims and their families over the past 25+ years in Florida. Our legal team will leave no stone unturned to collect strong evidence and hold the negligent parties liable. Call us at (954) 505-2183 to schedule your consultation and learn your next steps.