If you have never been in a car accident, consider yourself lucky! Every accident is different but one thing is for sure – no matter how minor, accidents can be stressful events. While there is no way to fully prepare for a car accident, knowing what to do ahead of time can help keep you calm and avoid additional stress.
Do Not Leave the Scene
Even if you were not at fault, you should never leave the scene of an accident. Leaving the scene is considered a “hit and run,” which is a criminal offense in Florida and can result in a misdemeanor or felony penalty depending on the details of the accident.
If anyone involved in the crash has sustained injuries call 911 immediately or have someone else call for you.
When medical attention is not necessary for anyone involved in the crash, calling the police is still important so that they can write up a report on the accident. In the case there is a disagreement between you and the other driver regarding the accident, this report will be very helpful.
Florida law requires that any accident resulting in injury or death to a person or damage to a vehicle or property of at least $500 must be reported immediately.
If you encounter an angry, aggressive, or intoxicated driver or passenger call 911 right away. It is not a good idea to try to “deal” with a person behaving this way yourself.
Move Your Vehicle
If your car is still driveable and it is safe to do so, move it to the side of the road and away from traffic as soon as you can.
In the case you cannot move your car, try to be as careful as possible when moving around and make sure to stand away from traffic. Keeping your hazard lights on or putting out cones or flares (if you have them) will help protect you from incoming traffic.
Exchange Information and Document Damage
As soon as it is safe to do so, take pictures of any damage your car may have sustained, and of the accident scene. You can also take pictures of the other person’s car, their license plate number, driver’s license, and insurance card in case you have no way of writing this information down. You will also have to provide information to the other driver, such as your full name, insurance provider and policy number, and license plate number.
Write down in as much detail as possible how the accident occurred. Even if you cannot document damages or details of the accident right away doing so as soon as possible may still be helpful so your insurance agent can better assist you and in case there is a disagreement with the other driver later on.
Never discuss specifics regarding the accident with anyone other than the authorities or your insurance agent. And unless the accident is very minor and both you and the other drive have agreed to handle it privately, never admit fault (even if you think you may have cause it).
File a Claim
Contact your insurance agent or provider in order to file a claim. You will need to describe the accident in detail and report any injuries or damages sustained by either party. Your insurance provider will also help you with the aftermath of the accident with things such as car repairs, car rental, etc.
Car accidents can happen to anyone, even the safest of drivers. As frightful as it is to even think of being involved in a crash it is always a great idea to be prepared. Having a helpful, understanding insurance agent will also help to minimize stress after an accident.
Contact us today if you are unhappy with your insurance provider or would like to review your auto insurance policy.