What to Do After a Car Accident in Tampa, FL
The moments after a car accident can be incredibly disorienting, especially if you are in pain resulting from the accident. You may not know what to do immediately after the crash or in the days and weeks that follow. Fortunately, an experienced auto accident lawyer can guide you through this stressful time.
Scroll down for advice from Brooks Law Group about what to do after a Tampa car accident. If you need personalized assistance, call or contact us today for a free consultation with one of our experienced auto accident lawyers.
Key Things You Need To Know If You Are In A Car Accident
Although there are several steps to take in the aftermath of a Florida car crash, pay attention to two key points:
- You must stop at or return to the scene of the accident. Florida law requires all motorists to stop as near as safely possible to the scene of a motor vehicle crash — or to promptly return to the scene of the accident — and either remain at the scene until you’ve exchanged information with the other motorists involved or until released by a responding law enforcement officer. Failure to do so could result in criminal charges and could complicate your ability to obtain compensation for your accident-related losses.
- Though Florida is a no-fault auto insurance state, you could be entitled to compensation beyond your personal injury protection (PIP) benefits. No-fault insurance means that you will first seek compensation for your medical expenses and lost wages through your own insurance company. However, depending on the circumstances of the accident, your injuries, and your policy limits, you may also have the right to file a lawsuit against the at fault party(s). This could open the door for more compensation that you would have received through PIP, as well as pain and suffering. For this reason, you should talk to a car accident lawyer as soon as possible to learn your legal options.
What to Do at the Scene of a Car Accident
There are several steps that you can take at the scene of the car accident to protect your claim. Much will depend on the extent of your injuries. If you are not too hurt, make sure to do the following:
- Check for injuries. If someone has been hurt or appears in distress, call 911 for emergency medical assistance.
- If no one appears to have been seriously harmed, it’s still important to call and report the accident to the local police department or Florida Highway Patrol. An officer will come to the scene to investigate and prepare an accident report. This will contain the officer’s findings from investigating the crash, including whether any motorists were cited or arrested. The report may also give the officer’s opinion who is at fault for the crash.
- Get the contact, vehicle, and insurance information from each motorist involved in the accident. This information will be essential when filing your claim.
- If any bystanders witnessed the accident, ask them to provide a brief statement. Get their contact information so a car accident lawyer can follow up with them later.
- Take photos of the accident scene. Include shots of damage to the vehicles involved, any debris or skid marks in the road, the traffic controls, any obstructions to visibility, and the traffic, road, weather, and lighting conditions at the time of the crash.
- Avoid apologizing or accusing another motorist of causing the accident. You should only discuss what happened with any law enforcement officers who respond to the scene. When you speak with an officer, just stick to the facts, without guessing or exaggerating. Offering an apology, even out of sympathy, may be used as evidence of your fault if the other party decides to file a lawsuit against you.
What Information to Collect After a Car Accident
In order to file an injury claim, the insurance company will need certain information from you.
This can include:
- Medical records from your treatment
- Pay stubs or income statements to verify your wages or income
- The police accident report
- Vehicle damage/repair reports
- Accident scene photos or video
- Surveillance camera or dashcam footage
- Eyewitness statements
- Photos of your injuries
After being hurt in a car accident in Tampa, the last thing you should have to worry about is collecting the right evidence and submitting documentation correctly. A car accident lawyer can take care of these tasks for you to maximize your chances of a full financial recovery.
What Are the Most Important Things to Do After the Accident Scene is Cleared?
Notify your insurance company about the accident
Your insurance policy likely requires you to notify your insurer of a car accident promptly. Failing to give timely notice of an accident may give the insurer a contractual basis to deny you coverage for your injuries.
Get examined by a physician
You may think you did not sustain serious injuries in the crash. However, the stress of the accident can cause an adrenaline rush that masks serious pain. Pain and other symptoms of serious injury can also have a delayed onset. However, a doctor may be able to diagnose undetected injuries through a physical exam. Promptly identifying injuries after a car accident also strengthens your claim that those injuries resulted from the crash. That can weaken an insurer’s argument that your injuries were a result of something else or arose from a pre-existing condition.
Follow all treatment recommendations and instructions
If you defer treatment of your injuries and they get worse, the at-fault drivers and insurance companies may claim that you have failed to mitigate your injuries and losses, which can impact your right to compensation or the amount of financial recovery you receive.
Keep a diary or journal of your recovery
Describe the pain and difficulties that your injuries and treatment/rehabilitation have caused you, as well as the impacts that your injuries have had on your work, personal life, family relationships, and friendships.
Avoid discussing your accident or posting photos or videos of yourself on social media
Insurance companies often monitor accident victims’ social media accounts for posts that contradict their official claims, such as a different account of what happened in the accident or photos or video of the individual traveling or keeping active after they’ve claimed to have suffered a debilitating injury.
Do not talk to the other drivers’ insurance companies until you’ve spoken with a car accident lawyer
If you retain an attorney to handle your car accident claim, you can require that insurance companies communicate only with your lawyer and not directly with you. That way, your attorney can provide any information requested by the insurance company and prevent adjusters from trying to get you to say something that might harm their claim.
Do I Need a Car Accident Lawyer?
Many crash victims try to handle their insurance claims on their own, not wanting to deal with the hassle or expense of hiring an attorney. However, most victims who hire car accident attorneys end up recovering more compensation than those who don’t. A lawyer can:
- Evaluate your case and determine whether you can step out of Florida’s no-fault system to file a claim against the at-fault party(s).
- Place a reasonable estimate on the value of your injuries and losses.
- Investigate the car accident and gather the evidence needed to prove your case.
- Guide you through the car accident claims process.
- Fight for you to secure a maximum settlement.
- File a lawsuit, if necessary, and represent you aggressively in court
Who to Call After a Car Accident in Tampa
After a car accident in Tampa, call your doctor. In Florida, PIP rules state that you only have 14 days to seek “initial treatment and care” after injuries from a crash. Otherwise, your claim for compensation could be denied.
Next, contact a car accident lawyer at Brooks Law Group. The sooner we can begin working on your claim, the more likely we can recover the evidence needed to establish your rights to compensation.
How to File Your Tampa Car Accident Claim
In most cases, you will begin your car accident case by filing a claim under the personal injury protection (PIP) coverage in your own insurance policy.
If you suffered serious injuries and you expect to exhaust your PIP coverage, you will likely also file a claim with the insurance companies of each motorist you believe was responsible for causing the accident. The other driver’s insurance company will investigate your claim and either accept or deny responsibility. If multiple drivers may have been responsible for the crash, they may negotiate among themselves to apportion fault.
You and your attorney will also negotiate with the other driver’s insurance company to reach a settlement and resolve any disputes over liability. If you can’t reach a settlement with the other driver and the insurance company, you may need to pursue your claim by filing a lawsuit in court.
When your losses exceed the coverage limits of the at-fault driver’s insurance policy, or if the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance, you might also be able to recover compensation if you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM) in your policy.
How Brooks Law Group Can Help You
Brooks Law Group will fight for you to receive maximum compensation for your injuries and losses following a serious car accident in Tampa. Our legal services are comprehensive, meaning we help you from case open to case closed.
When you work with a car accident lawyer from our firm, you get:
- An explanation of all your legal rights and options
- A hardworking legal team that conducts a thorough investigation and uncovers convincing evidence to support your car accident claim
- Access to accident reconstruction specialists and other experts to help us develop a strong, persuasive explanation of what happened in the accident and how your injuries have affected your life
- An attorney who will identify all of the at-fault parties and available sources of compensation for your injuries and losses
- A reliable communicator who will handle all negotiations with the insurance company on your behalf
- A law firm with a strong track record of success, both in settlement talks and at trial
Florida law allows accident victims to seek compensation if they sustained injuries. Let Brooks Law Group enforce your rights. If you’ve been hurt in a traffic collision in Tampa, FL, call or contact us for a free consultation today.