Getting into a car accident is a stressful and nerve-wracking experience, especially if you or someone in your vehicle was injured. It can also be incredibly stressful in cases where there are disputes between the parties and their insurance companies. For most simple car accidents, auto insurance companies are able to handle disputes between the parties and take care of the property damage and medical expenses for anyone who incurs them. However, for more complex car accidents or in cases where there are severe injuries, you may need to take further action to protect your rights.
In this guide, we’ll tell you how to do just that.
What to Do After a Car Accident
After you get into an accident, the first several minutes after the accident are critical for preserving your rights for subsequent legal action.
These are the steps you need to take after a car accident:
Move to a Safe Area
Standing on the side of a roadway – especially an interstate highway – can be dangerous. If it is safe to do so and you are not seriously injured, move your car out of the roadway so that you do not interfere with traffic. If moving your car isn’t possible, flip on the hazard lights to warn other drivers that there is a problem.
Check on Other Parties
It is important that you determine whether anyone in your vehicle or any other vehicles involved in the accident needs medical attention. If so, call 911. Even seemingly minor symptoms like dizziness or shortness of breath should be checked out by a medical professional.
Call the Police
Police reports are essential for documenting exactly what happened. This can also prove invaluable for dealing with your insurance company, as insurance companies consider police reports to be more reliable than eyewitness evidence about what happened. The police report will eventually form the basis of a determination of fault in the accident.
Gather Necessary Information
It is very important that you get complete information about the other party and any witnesses to the accident. This includes:
- The other driver’s name and address
- The other driver’s insurance company name and policy information
- Statements and contact information from witnesses
- License plate info
- Make and models of all vehicles involved
- The name and badge number of any responding police officers
- Photos of the accident scene and the vehicles involved
This information will help you confirm that your version of events is the correct one.
File an Insurance Claim
Keep an Accident Log
An accident log is a good way to document all of the expenses you incurred as a result of the accident should you eventually need to enter into settlement negotiations or litigation with another party. Items in an accident log should include all of the information you obtained at the scene of the accident, repair estimates from your insurance company, medical bills you incurred to treat any injuries, and travel expenses incurred getting to and from doctor’s appointments. If you end up needing to hire an attorney to represent you, your accident log will form the foundation of your case.
When to Consider Hiring a Lawyer
You do not always need to hire an attorney for every car accident as your need for an attorney will be determined by the severity of and complexity of your accident. Relatively simple accidents like fender-benders can usually be handled directly by the parties’ insurance companies and rarely present the need for an attorney. However, if you were involved in an accident that involved injuries or if there is a liability dispute, you may want to consider hiring an attorney. Issues that warrant legal representation include:
- Physical injury
- Significant property damage
- Reckless driving
- Drunk driving
- Vicarious liability for employers of commercial drivers
Auto accident attorneys are experienced in handling all of the issues surrounding these types of accidents, including personal injury claims, wrongful death, and liability determinations. In cases like these, an attorney can assist you in getting compensation to cover the losses you sustained in an accident.
Deadline for Filing a Personal Injury Claim
If you are seriously injured in an auto accident and plan on filing a personal injury lawsuit, you need to begin the process within a certain period of time after the accident. Time limitations on various types of legal actions are known as statutes of limitations. The statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits in Florida is four years. Statutes of limitation serve two main purposes:
1. To encourage the plaintiff in a particular action to commence a lawsuit soon after the incident so that the evidence and the witnesses’ memories are fresh, and
2. To prevent the defendant in a particular action from having a potential lawsuit hanging over their head for an extended and indefinite period of time.
If you do not file your personal injury case within the four-year window provided by statute, the court will refuse to hear your case.
Contact a Clearwater Car Accident Attorney
If you have been involved in a car accident, you need to make sure that you preserve and use all of the evidence that is most favorable to your side. If your case ends up going into the litigation phase, you also will need an attorney to guide you through the process and fight for your legal rights. The attorneys at the Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA are expert car accident attorneys who have a history of representing personal injury plaintiffs in all types of car accidents. Please contact us today for a free consultation by calling 727-451-6900.
Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765