Nobody ever expects to be in a car accident, but for the average driver, it happens every 17.9 years, according to CarInsurance.com. If you drive in the state of Florida, you are already a statistic. You will likely be involved in a crash at some point in your lifetime, possibly more than once.
It doesn't matter how much of a responsible and defensive driver you are. It's the actions of other motorists that will likely cause your crash. It's best to be prepared for the moment it happens and know what to expect in the days that follow.
A collision may come as a shock
The moment before a collision never seems like anything out of the ordinary. You could be going about your business and it could occur within seconds. Out of nowhere, you're rear-ended by a distracted driver, broadsided by a drunk driver, or run off the road by an aggressive driver.
You may start to get frustrated, but doing that could only make matters worse. You may also be in shock and adrenaline may be running high. The first thing you should do is take a deep breath and assess the situation. Pay attention to your location and surroundings. How bad does the damage look? Do you need prompt medical care? Is anyone else noticeably hurt? Has anyone stopped to help?
If you're in an area where you're at risk of being struck by another vehicle, move your car somewhere safe (if you can). Call the police to report the crash and wait for them to arrive. If you notice anyone is seriously injured, call 911. You will need to exchange your name, phone number, and insurance information with the at-fault driver.
Never attempt to argue with the at-fault driver or admit fault. Simply stay neutral until the police arrive. A thorough police report and the evidence you gather will speak for itself.
You should also survey the crash scene by taking pictures from multiple angles and noting all the details. Be sure to include car damage, tire marks in the road, and nearby landmarks. Write down the names and contact information of witnesses and ask them what they saw.
What will the police report include?
Once the police arrive at the crash scene, they will conduct their own investigation. They may first ask both parties involved in the crash to tell their side of what happened. The at-fault driver may admit fault at this time. This will be noted by police and will be helpful when it comes time to pursue a claim. If the driver refused to admit fault, the details from the police report will tell the real story.
The police report will include:
- Physical details of the crash scene — the direction both cars were traveling, where the damage occurred on both cars, and if any damage occurred to nearby landmarks.
- The behavior of the at-fault driver — if the at-fault driver was behaving aggressively, or was impaired by drugs or alcohol, that will be noted in the report.
- Arrests and/or citations — the police will note any arrests, citations, or traffic violations.
- Environmental factors — the report will include weather conditions, visibility issues, and road conditions.
You may obtain the police report online from Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles for a fee of $10.
Should I get medical treatment?
If you feel any kind of pain or discomfort after a collision, you should never try to walk it off. The shock and adrenaline of being involved in a crash often masks the pain. The symptoms of your injury could worsen days after the crash. You should still get medical attention even if you feel no pain at all. Your physician may identify an underlying injury that may need prompt and extensive care.
Getting medical treatment not only helps your doctor identify your injury, but it also helps your attorney devise a strong legal claim.
The Sarasota car accident attorneys at Farrow & Pulice, P.A. have been helping injured motorists recover medical expenses, wage losses, non-economic damages (pain and suffering), and punitive damages since 1997. Contact us online to discuss your legal options.