Traffic Accident: What’s Next?
There is not much that you will encounter on the roadways that can be as frightening as having a traffic accident. No one ever expects it so that in itself is startling. But if the traffic accident is significant, one look at a totaled vehicle that you were riding in only moments before can be quite sobering. This is why you will often see such distress on the faces of those who have just experienced an accident. Even once the initial adrenaline created from the fear of injury subsides, the sensory overload that an accident victim experiences doesn’t end there. Next, he or she must work through the emotion brought on by the realization that the chaos has only just started. This is when a little direction as to what you should do next can be invaluable.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
Make sure that everyone in any of the vehicles that are involved are not injured. Obviously, if anyone has sustained injuries, call 9-1-1. Even if no one is injured, you will need to call law enforcement to the scene of the accident. You need to make sure they are called even in the slightest of accidents to ensure that your insurance covers your claim, and no one can accuse you of inappropriately leaving the scene. Also, if it is a very minor accident and you can safely move your vehicle out of the way of traffic, do so. This will help avoid another collision and keep the flow of traffic going.
Once they arrive, you can be assured that you will have to speak with one or more police officers, therefore, before the police even arrive, you should start weighing your words very carefully. When checking on the occupants of any other vehicles, you want to make sure that you don’t make any statements that can be construed as an admission to being responsible for the accident. That will be determined by the police officer when he arrives. As such, you also want to closely watch what you say to the police officer when he arrives because you don’t want him to use anything you may say to issue you a traffic citation. In other words, don’t lean into the other car and say “I am so sorry, I did not see you” or “It is all my fault, what can I do to help?”
WATCH WHAT YOU SAY
Florida is a no-fault state. That means that any damage to either vehicle is usually covered by the individual driver’s insurance company. Even though this is the case, the officer can still write you a traffic ticket for whatever infraction he believes that you may have committed which led to the traffic accident. When speaking with the officer, less is more. Be brief and be concise to ensure that your description of the accident does not incriminate you. It is also a good idea to try not to be accusatory toward the other driver. Emotions run high when people are involved in a car crash and accusations can quickly escalate into a nasty situation.
Be certain to always carry your insurance information with you and, if you are involved in a traffic accident, be prepared to exchange your personal and insurance information with the other driver. You also need to make sure that you get the name, phone number, address, and insurance information from the other driver, as well an incident report number from the responding officer.
You should then call your insurance company and provide them with the particulars of the traffic accident and the information that you have obtained from the other driver. The more information that you are able to provide to them, the quicker they will be able to resolve your claim. Failing to inform them in a reasonable amount of time may result in them refusing to cover the damages. One important point about insurance companies – the other party’s insurance company may call you and ask you for a statement as to what events occurred. They will be recording your statement with the hope that it will give them a reason to not payout on the claim. It is a really bad idea to agree to talk to the other person’s insurance company. That would be a great time to tell them that you are represented by a good traffic ticket attorney and then give them our number.
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