When it comes to car accidents, there is no such thing as a silver lining. However, since the range of damage can vary from relatively minor to catastrophic, if you got into a minor accident, you may be tempted to go on about your day as if nothing happened. However, this is seldom a good idea. While you may have gotten lucky and avoided injuries, you won’t really know that until you’re checked by a healthcare professional. It may also be possible for your vehicle to suffer minor damage that — if not addressed promptly — may lead to costly repairs. So, what can you do after a minor accident to ensure you’re protecting yourself?
What to Do After a Minor Car Accident in Florida
1. Do Not Admit Fault
You could’ve been changing the radio station, reading a billboard, or telling your kids in the back seat to stop fighting with each other. Maybe that contributed to the accident. Or maybe the driver in front of you slammed on the brakes. Maybe it was both things. This is important to keep in mind because Florida is a comparative negligence jurisdiction. This means that any negligence will be apportioned according to each party’s percentage of fault. If you get out of your car apologizing for the accident, that could later be used against you as admitting 100% responsibility for the accident.
2. Get Out of the Flow of Traffic
Florida law requires people involved in car accidents that only resulted in damage to vehicles or property to avoid obstructing traffic. If you were involved in a fender bender, you likely can move your car to the shoulder of the road or pull into a nearby parking lot. Not only will this ensure you’re complying with your legal responsibilities, but it also keeps you and the other driver safe from oncoming traffic.
3. Exchange Information With the Other Driver
Exchanging information with the other driver protects both of you in the event either one needs to file a claim. This includes information provided on each other’s driver’s licenses, license plate numbers, and the make, model, and color of each other’s motor vehicles.
4. Take As Many Pictures As Possible
When taking pictures, keep in mind everything that may help you in the event you need to file a claim. This includes photographs from every angle of any visible damage to either one of the motor vehicles, as well as cross streets, nearby homes or businesses that may have surveillance videos, and anything that may have obstructed you or the other driver’s view — such as shrubbery partially covering a street sign or video of a malfunctioning street light.
5. Determine Whether You Need a Police Report
Filing a police report isn’t always necessary. Florida law only requires it under certain circumstances. Those that may apply to minor car accidents include anyone who’s complaining about pain, if one of the cars involved is a commercial vehicle, or if anyone was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. In all other instances, you can just exchange information with the other driver without needing to call the police.
6. Go To the Doctor
Even if you feel fine, err on the side of caution and get a physical exam to rule out any possible internal injuries. While you may feel well immediately after a minor accident, it may be due to adrenaline — which can block your body’s ability to feel pain as part of its fight-or-flight response and cause symptoms to be delayed. Or you could have what would be considered a minor injury now (such as a herniated disc) that may later cause you chronic back pain if left unattended. In addition, Florida law requires that if you file a claim with your own insurance company for Personal Injury Protection (PIP), you must do so within 14 days from the date of the accident.
7. Do Not Talk With the Other Party’s Insurance Company
If, despite not having suffered any injuries or damage to your car, you get a phone call a few days later from the other party or their insurance company, do not provide any information. If they left you a voicemail, save it for when you can listen to it with an attorney. If you answered the phone, limit the conversation to obtaining the insurer’s name and contact information. Do not answer any questions. Just as with admitting fault, anything you say could be later used against you.
8. Consult With an Attorney
There are a lot of variables in a car accident. You could have delayed symptoms of injury, the other party may file a claim against you, or — even if the accident was minor — you may have to deal with cosmetic repairs to your car. Speaking with an experienced car accident attorney will ensure you’re aware of your rights and responsibilities. It will also help you avoid snafus, such as unintentionally saying something you shouldn’t have said to the other party’s insurance adjuster.
Call Clark Law If You Got Into a Car Accident in Tampa Bay
If you or someone you love has been involved in an accident or is wondering about whether a ticket or charge can be contested, 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 course of action.
Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney/client relationship.