Getting into a car accident is always a stressful experience. From dealing with physical injuries, damage to your car, and taking time off work, to trying to figure out what you should or shouldn’t say to insurance adjustors, it’s enough to make anyone feel overwhelmed. It’s easy to be tempted to have conversations with the other party and their insurance just to try to solve everything as quickly as possible, but how can you do so while protecting yourself? What if you do or say something that could later be held against you? Specifically, what should you do after a sideswipe car accident?
What is a sideswipe car accident?
A sideswipe accident is one where a motor vehicle collides with another motor vehicle traveling next to it in the same direction. It’s common for them to happen when changing lanes — especially when not looking in the rearview mirror and over your shoulder to check for blind spots before doing so. Doing so is in direct violation of Florida Statute 316.089, which specifically states that a vehicle shall be driven within a single lane and shall not switch lanes until the driver has first ascertained that such movement can be made safely. Other common causes include:
- Distracted driving — such as texting, eating, or reading a billboard
- Driving on curves
- Inclement weather
- Losing control of the vehicle on a wet road
- Weaving in and out of traffic
- Swerving to avoid another collision
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
What to Do After a Sideswipe Car Accident in Florida
When you get into a car accident, a million thoughts may rush through your mind at the same time. However, it’s crucial to think clearly about what you need to do and be careful about what you say. Following these steps will help you cover your bases in case of litigation:
- If possible, move out of the flow of traffic. If the accident was relatively minor and you can safely move out of traffic, do so. Communicate with the other driver — whether by your turn signal, hand signals, or through your window — to let them know of your intentions and to avoid giving the impression that you’re driving away. This is in accordance with Florida Statute 316.061, which establishes that every stop must be made without obstructing traffic more than necessary. If a damaged vehicle can’t be moved, the driver of such a vehicle must make every reasonable effort to have it moved so as not to block the regular flow of traffic.
- Assess if you or anyone needs medical attention. Any person involved in a car accident in Florida roadways is required to render aid to injured individuals. Specifically, Florida Statute 316.062 states that reasonable assistance includes carrying or making arrangements to take injured parties to a hospital for medical treatment if it is apparent that such treatment is necessary. Such a requirement also applies even if the other person doesn’t appear to be visibly hurt, but requests assistance to do so.
- Do not admit fault. Maybe you took your eyes off the road for a minute to switch the radio station or look at a phone notification. While these circumstances constitute distracted driving and could have led to the accident, it’s also possible for the other driver to have been negligent as well. If they changed lanes without using a turn signal or checking their blind spots, then both of you could’ve contributed to the accident. These are important facts, because Florida is a comparative negligence jurisdiction. This means that if you’re partly to blame for an accident, any damages you can recover will be deducted by your own percentage of fault. So, if you’re 40% at fault and you suffer $100,000 in medical bills, you would still be able to recover 60% from the other driver. The only way to know the full story is to gather evidence through a legal process called discovery. Only answer factual questions such as your name and contact information. Let attorneys handle the rest.
- Exchange information with the other driver. Florida law requires the driver of any vehicle involved in an accident that results in injury or death, or damage to any vehicle or property, to provide their name, address, and registration number of the vehicle they were driving. In addition, if the other driver asks to see your driver’s license, you are obligated to show it. This also applies to any police officer who shows up at the scene.
- Take as many pictures as possible. Take pictures of your injuries and anyone else’s injuries. Do the same with the damage to your car and the other driver’s car — and do so from all angles. Take pictures of the street name, cross streets, the other driver’s driver’s license and license plate number, of the road conditions, of near signage, of nearby businesses or homes with surveillance cameras, and anything else that may substantiate your claim.
- Read the police report. Depending on the type of accident, you may be required by law to fill out a police report. This report is not admissible as evidence in trial because it is considered to be hearsay — an out of court statement offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted. However, if the case ends up in litigation, the attorneys involved could subpoena the officer to testify, and the officer could use the report to refresh their recollections. Therefore, ensure that all information provided in the report is accurate.
Call Clark Law If You’ve Been in a Car Accident in Tampa Bay
If you or someone you love has been involved in an accident, call us at (855) 680-4911 or schedule a free consultation. At Clark Law, we have experienced attorneys who regularly represent clients involved in motor vehicle accidents, and we can help you determine the best next step.
Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney/client relationship.