Getting into any car accident often results in the same kind of emotions: fear, anger, nervousness, and worry. Fear because you’re wondering if you’ll have any medical issues or whether your car insurance costs are going to increase. Anger at the person who may have caused the accident. Nervousness and worry may come into play if you think that you may have been responsible for the accident.
If you think that you may be responsible for the crash, read below for an overview about how to move forward.
What to do if you caused a car accident.
1. Never admit fault. The most important thing to remember is to never admit fault. It doesn’t matter if you took your eyes off the road for a minute, ran a stop sign, or failed to yield. Even if you are partly responsible for the accident, Florida is a comparative negligence jurisdiction. This means that even if you were at fault, if the other party was also partly at fault, their own level of responsibility for the accident will be taken into account.
For example, the accident resulted in $10,000 in damages and the other party is 40% at fault, you’d be responsible for $6,000 of the damages instead of the entire amount.
When the adrenaline is rushing right after an accident, it’s hard to know with 100% certainty how everything occurred. This can later be reconstructed with witness testimony, security camera footage, and accident reconstruction experts.
Never lie to the police officer who’s preparing the accident report, but don’t freely admit fault either. Stick with the basics: exchange name and contact information, take photos of the damage, note exact date, time, and location, and names and contact info from witnesses.
2. If possible, move your car out of traffic. We’ve all been stuck in traffic jams due to a car accident blocking roadways. Yet, it’s important to note that Florida Statutes make it clear that every step after an accident must be made without obstructing traffic more than necessary. The driver of any vehicle involved in the crash must make every reasonable effort to move the vehicle or have it moved so that it doesn’t block the regular flow of traffic.
3. Provide your information. Florida law requires that the driver of any motor vehicle involved in a car accident that results in injury, death, or damage to property provide their name, address, vehicle registration number, and driver’s license to other parties involved in the crash as well to police officers at the scene.
4. Render assistance to injured parties. Florida law also requires parties involved in a car crash to render assistance to injured persons involved in the crash. This includes calling 911 and/or making arrangements to provide the person with medical care.
5. Don’t talk to the other party’s insurance company. Even if you have a guilty conscience and feel like you’re to blame for the accident, talk with an attorney first. As previously mentioned, if the other party was slightly responsible for the accident, you wouldn’t be on the hook for the portion of the accident they caused.
Their insurance company will assign an agent to their case whose sole job is to reduce liability as much as possible. Every single statement that you make (even if it seems harmless) will be used to apportion as much of the accident as possible on you.
What if you don’t have car insurance?
Florida is a no-fault jurisdiction when it comes to car accidents, and requires all car insurance policies to carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP). What this means is that if someone gets into a car crash, they can file a claim with their own insurance company, regardless of who was at fault for the accident.
This doesn’t mean that if you caused a crash, you’d be off the hook if the other person has insurance. PIP covers up to 80% of a person’s medical bills and up to 60% of lost wages. It also has a cap of $10,000. Therefore, even if the other party filed a PIP claim with their own insurance company, you’d still be responsible for the remaining 20% of their medical bills, 40% of their lost wages, and 100% of damages over the $10,000 PIP cap.
In addition, depending on the circumstances of the case, the injured party could file a claim against you for additional damages, such as loss of future earnings, car rental costs, property damage, and pain and suffering.
To add insult to injury, you’ll be on the hook for penalties for driving without car insurance, and your driver’s license and car registration could be suspended.
Call Clark Law for a free consultation
It’s common to freak out after an accident. But don’t let those emotions work against you. If you or someone you love was involved in a crash, 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.