What to Do After a Sideswipe Car Accident in Florida

What to Do After a Sideswipe Car Accident in Florida

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 adjusters, it’s enough to overwhelm anyone. It’s easy to be tempted to have conversations with the other party and their insurance 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 be held against you later? Specifically, what should you do after a sideswipe car accident?

What is a sideswipe car accident?

A sideswipe car 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 the shoulder to check for blind spots before doing so. This behavior violates Florida Statute 316.089, which states that a vehicle shall be driven within a single lane and shall not switch lanes until the driver has ascertained that such movement can be made safely. Other common causes include:

Understanding the causes of sideswipe accidents can help you avoid them and be better prepared if you are involved in one.

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 simultaneously. However, it’s crucial to think clearly about what you must do and be careful about what you say. Following these steps will help you cover your bases in case of litigation:

1. 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 by 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.

2. Assess if You or Anyone Needs Medical Attention

Any person involved in a car accident on 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 wounded 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.

3. Do Not Admit Fault

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. 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 essential facts because Florida is a comparative negligence jurisdiction. If you’re partly to blame for an accident, any damages you can recover will be deducted from your percentage of fault. So, if you’re 40% at fault and suffer $100,000 in medical bills, you can still recover 60% from the other driver. The only way to know the whole 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.

4. Exchange Information With the Other Driver

Florida law requires the driver of any vehicle involved in an accident that results in injury, death, or damage to any vehicle or property to provide the name, address, and registration number of the car they were driving. In addition, if the other driver asks to see your driver’s license, you must show it. This also applies to any police officer who shows up at the scene.

5. 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, the road conditions, nearby signage, nearby businesses or homes with surveillance cameras, and anything else that may substantiate your claim.

6. 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 a trial because it is considered hearsay — an out-of-court statement offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted. However, if the case ends 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.

The Impact of Florida Statute 316.089 on Sideswipe Accidents

Florida Statute 316.089 plays a significant role in sideswipe accidents. The statute mandates that vehicles must stay within a single lane and cannot switch lanes until the driver has ensured it is safe. This law aims to prevent accidents caused by improper lane changes, a common cause of sideswipe collisions. Violating this statute can be considered negligence and can significantly impact the determination of fault in an accident. Understanding this statute is crucial for both preventing sideswipe accidents and navigating the legal aftermath if one occurs.

When You Should Involve a Lawyer

Involving a lawyer after a sideswipe accident can protect your rights and ensure you receive fair compensation. Here’s when you should consider getting legal help:

  • Serious Injuries or Fatalities: These can complicate the case and require professional legal assistance.
  • Disputed Liability: If the other party disputes liability or blames you for the accident, a lawyer can help gather evidence and build a strong case.
  • Insurance Issues: An attorney can negotiate if the insurance company denies your claim or offers a low settlement.
  • Complex Legal and Medical Issues: Sideswipe accidents can involve complex legal and medical issues that a lawyer can help navigate.
  • Maximizing Compensation: An experienced attorney can ensure you get the compensation you deserve for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.

Contact Clark Hartpence Law Today for a Free Consultation

If you have been injured in a car accident, meet with an experienced personal injury lawyer to protect your rights and get the compensation you deserve. Contact Clark Hartpence Law today for a free consultation on your case. We are an experienced and knowledgeable legal team ready to support you during a difficult time.

If you or someone you love was involved in an accident, call us at (855) 680-4911 or schedule a free consultation.

Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney/client relationship.