Were you involved in a car accident? The situation can feel overwhelming, but taking the right steps to report the accident, seek medical treatment if applicable, and explore your legal options should be a priority.
If you're unsure of what to do after a car accident in Florida, following these steps will help improve your legal and health outcomes.
Immediate Actions Post-Accident
Even a minor crash can cause you to go into shock. It's a natural reaction, but you should take a few deep breaths and force yourself to act.
Think Safety First
Immediately after the crash, staying safe and calling first responders should be your only priorities.
- Check yourself for injuries and make sure your passengers are fine.
- If it's safe to do so, exit your vehicle and check other drivers and their passengers for injuries.
- If someone is hurt, don't attempt to move them. Call 911, describe the situation, and follow instructions.
- If no one is hurt, it's safer to wait in your vehicle. If possible, park on the side of the road to get out of traffic. Turn your hazard lights on to signal other drivers.
Minor crashes don't always warrant a call to 911. If you don't contact first responders, you should still report the accident.
- Call local law enforcement so they can dispatch an officer to file a police report. Under Florida Statute 316.065, you are legally required to call law enforcement if someone is dead or injured or if the crash caused $500 in property damage or more.
- If the crash didn't cause any injuries and resulted in less than $500 in damages, you can self-report the crash online.
Documenting the Crash
Florida is a no-fault state, which means your own personal injury protection (PIP) policy will cover your medical expenses. There are situations where you can seek additional compensation from the other parties involved under tort law.
Whether you're dealing with your own insurer or seeking compensation from another party, you'll need credible proof.
Having a law enforcement officer file a police report is a great start, but you should capture additional proof before first responders clean up the scene.
- Use your phone to snap pictures of the vehicles involved. Capture the entire scene from different angles.
- Approach witnesses and ask for their contact information.
- If there are nearby businesses, ask if they have security cameras that might have caught the crash on video.
- Exchange contact information with the other drivers and passengers involved.
Medical Attention and Florida’s No-Fault Insurance Law
So far, in 2023, more than 166,000 car crashes have resulted in injuries in Florida. Here's what to do if you sustain an injury in a crash.
Remember to Document Your Injuries
It's best to call 911 even if your injuries don't look serious. An emergency room doctor can conduct an examination and put together a detailed medical report.
Follow your treatment plan. If you fail to do so, your PIP insurer might deny or adjust your claim on the grounds that your injuries aren't as serious as they seem.
If you don't call 911, you should still have a doctor perform an exam. Symptoms of whiplash or concussion can show up a few days after the accident.
PIP and the Serious Injury Threshold
In Florida, the law requires that you carry a minimum of $10,000 per person and $20,000 per accident in PIP coverage. This policy will cover up to 80% of your medical bills with a limit of $10,000, regardless of who is at fault.
This no-fault rule doesn't exonerate reckless drivers from the consequences. There are situations where you can seek additional compensation via tort law.
- You can take legal action against the responsible driver if your PIP coverage isn't enough for your medical bills.
- You can seek additional compensation if you meet the serious injury threshold. This threshold includes death, permanent injuries, disfigurement, or permanent loss of bodily function.
A recent Florida tort reform requires you to be less than 50% responsible for the accident in order to seek additional compensation under tort law, highlighting the importance of documenting the accident immediately after it happens.
Reporting and Legal Consultation
Once you've addressed your medical needs, you should look into receiving legal advice.
Prompt Reporting Is Critical
Report the accident quickly since there is a two-year statute of limitations for taking legal action after a car crash. You're also legally required to report the accident to law enforcement, and reaching out to your PIP provider in a timely manner ensures you can pay your medical bills on time.
Why You Should Seek Legal Advice
Navigating the post-accident process is easier with an experienced car accident lawyer by your side.
- Your lawyer can help gather evidence pertaining to the accident.
- If your PIP provider denies or adjusts your claim, your lawyer can appeal the decision.
- A legal representative can help you determine if you meet the serious injury threshold.
- They can negotiate with third parties if you decide to seek additional compensation.
- Your lawyer can also help establish your own liability under the comparative fault rule.
Find a Legal Representative With Accident.com
It's normal to freeze and find yourself in a state of shock after an accident, but knowing what to do after a car accident in Florida will help you take action and collect important proof.
Taking the right steps can have a significant impact on the legal and health outcomes of the accident. If you need help navigating this complex process, visit Accident.com and fill out a short form so we can match you with a car accident lawyer near you.