When you’re in a car accident do you know what steps you should take? If you answered “no” to this question, you should know that you’re not alone. The steps you should take are important and easy to remember, which is why we’ll review them here for you.
When you’re in a car accident in Florida, law dictates that you must stop and exchange information with the other driver. Of course, you want to make sure that you don’t obstruct traffic any more than necessary. If anyone has been injured, you must render “reasonable assistance” to them. Failure to take these steps may result in you being charged with a felony if someone is injured or dies. Even if there’s only property damage, you may still be charged with a misdemeanor.
While at the scene of the accident, make sure everyone is fine and if anyone does need medical assistance, call 911 immediately. If someone is killed or there’s injuries or property damage of $500 or more you must immediately notify the police and highway patrol. Regardless, you’re responsible for exchanging information all relevant information (e.g. name, phone number, address, driver’s license number, vehicle registration number, insurance company and policy number). You should also get this information for any witnesses. It’s also in your best interest to take photographs and notes too.
Although you may be tempted to apologize, don’t. You don’t want to discuss liability right now. Doing so may result in you unintentionally or unnecessarily admitting guilt.
Contact Your Insurance
As soon as possible, call your insurance company and report the accident. In Florida you’re responsible for maintaining at least $10,000 of Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and Property Damage Liability (PDL). Since Florida is a “no fault” state, PIP will cover you regardless of who’s at fault. Your PDL will cover any damage that you’ve done to another person’s property.
Make sure you’re honest with your insurance company. This doesn’t mean you have to accept their settlement offer though. If this means that you’re struggling to have your claim resolved, then make sure you participate in the mediation that’s offered by the Florida Department of Financial Services. This is also who you should talk to if you have questions or want to file a complaint about your insurance.
Talk to an Attorney
Unfortunately, there are times when you may need to take legal action after a car accident. Oftentimes this will depend on the extent of the injuries and the amount of damage that occurred. For this you must remember that the Statute of Limitations (the timeframe you have for being able to file a negligence or personal injury claim) is four years from the date upon which the accident occurred. Typically, such claims are based on the idea that the other driver was negligent. This means that they were careless and thus caused or contributed to the accident.
You can also seek monetary compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering in this manner. There are different divisions of the court that may hear your claim depending on how much financial compensation you’re seeking. For instance, the county civil court will hear any case seeking up to $15,000 while the county civil court hears cases of up to $15,000 and the circuit court is responsible for any case seeking financial compensation above that level.
Don’t try to figure everything out by yourself. When you’re in a car accident in Tampa, give Attorney Juana Maria Rojas right away. She can help you sort through your claim and get the settlement you deserve. Get started today by contacting her now.
Picture Credit: Pixel-mixer