What to Do if You are in an Auto Accident in Florida
I. AT THE SCENE
If you are on our web page it is probably too late and you have already had an accident, but just in case here is what you should remember when you are in a car crash.
First – always consider safety first. You are NOT required to leave the vehicles in the roadway, especially if they are both drivable and there are no deaths or grossly serious bodily injuries. Move them off to the side or a close parking lot.
Second – make sure you and everyone at the scene is ok. If you need medical assistance, or think you or someone may need medical help, call 911 right away. Be sure to tell the operator that someone is injured.
Third – do not admit the accident was your fault. Perhaps it was, and it may be appropriate to admit that later, but at this point your adrenaline is flowing, and you are not in the best state of mind to make decisions that will have lasting effects.
Fourth – If there is over $500 in damage, or someone is injured, you MUST report the accident under Florida Law.
Fifth – If you have a camera (a cell phone camera will do if that is all you have), take pictures of the other cars in the accident. You can take pictures of yours as well, but you will always have access to that, you may not ever see their car again. Take pictures of the road as well, especially if there is debris or skid marks, be sure to take photos of those. You can never have too many photos, and in today’s world of digital photos they are basically free.
Sixth – get the names, addresses, and phone numbers of any witnesses. Do NOT rely upon the officer to put this information in the report, even if he/she speaks with the witness. More often than not, the name does not appear in the report. Remember, if you are injured, attending to your injuries is primary. Have a friend or relative help you with getting the information above.
II. AT THE HOSPITAL or DOCTOR’S OFFICE
Whether you go to the hospital the day of the accident, which you should if you are injured, or a doctor a day or more later, there is one rule you need to remember. TELL THE DOCTOR EVERYTHING. This may sound obvious, but in particular you need to be sure to relate the following with as much accuracy as possible. All of your current injuries that you have.
Oftentimes people have a really bad injury and will not mention the less bothersome problems to the doctor in hopes they will just go away. Sometimes they do, and sometimes they don’t. When they don’t, and the complaint is not in the original records, the other side will claim the injury or complaint is not from the accident since there was no record of it on the initial visit. You can avoid this by being thorough, and making sure your doctors and nurses write down everything you tell them about.
”If there is over $500 in damage, or someone is injured, you MUST report the accident under Florida Law.
Be completely forthcoming about your prior problems, especially with regard to the injuries from the accident. If the accident caused you neck pain, but you also have a history of going to the doctor for neck pain, be sure the doctor you are seeing knows that. Otherwise he will later say the neck pain is from the accident and when asked whether he knew you had a history of neck pain, he will say no, which will cause his opinion to be questioned. However, if he can say he considered all of your prior medical problems and knew of them, and still believes this accident caused an injury, he is much more credible to a jury.
Follow the directions they give you. When you are discharged you will likely be given directions. It may be for bed rest. It may be to get a prescription, or it may be to see another doctor. If you don’t follow those directions you will later be questioned why you did not, and was it because you were not really hurt. The only exception to this might be to see a different doctor than the one they refer you to if you have a doctor you know and trust.
— Mark Cornelius
NOTICE: The article above is not intended to serve as legal advice, and you should not rely on it as such. It is offered only as general information. You should consult with a duly licensed attorney regarding your Florida legal matter, as every situation is unique. Please know that merely reading this article, subscribing to this blog, or otherwise contacting Bogin, Munns & Munns does not establish an attorney-client relationship with our firm. Should you seek legal representation from Bogin, Munns & Munns, any such representation must first be agreed to by the firm and confirmed in a written agreement.