There are many things that go on in the minds of those that have just departed from the site of a car accident. One of the most prevalent is if they were able to do all that they could before leaving the location. While it is understandably difficult to be fully aware of the things you should have done, there are some accepted actions that are expected regardless of the stressful situation.
Lichtblau & Goldenberg has serviced the West Palm Beach area for over fifty-five years. In that time we have handled our fair share of car accident cases. We have found that attorneys who practice here generally agree that there are certain things people must make sure of when they get into a vehicular mishap. Our West Palm Beach Car Accident Lawyers Guide provides a brief commentary on what is expected.
Remember to do these things after a car accident:
1. Pause, for more than just a moment
There are some accidents that would prevent you from leaving whether it is due to your injury or to some obstructions. Other instances, however, will allow you to take off if you wish. In the case of the latter, stop. We understand that a quick exit from the scene of the accident may be preferable. However, doing so would be a bad move on your part.
The state of Florida has laws against such behavior. Being aware of an accident and yet leaving its immediate vicinity could merit criminal action against you. To keep it on the level of a car accident case, stay. It does not matter how minor the mishap may seem like to you. There are certain procedures to be followed in such cases. Be sure that you are the one that does so. If the other party exits the scene, he might be the one charged with a hit and run accident since you stayed.
2. Determine the degree of damage and injury
It is understandable that it would be difficult to keep your composure immediately after a car accident, especially a severe one. Keep in mind however that doing so would be in your best interest. You must assess your situation and check if you received any injuries before moving about. Waiting for medical assistance to show up at the scene is highly recommended if you feel any pain or are experiencing obvious injury.
Walking about especially if you know that there is something physically wrong with you is not the right decision. You might have some injuries that could be aggravated by this added movement. Any discomfort felt in the head or neck regions should be dealt with very carefully. This is a signal that something is not right. Waiting for the paramedics or any form of assistance should be the only move that you consider.
If you feel that there are no broken bones or other internal injuries and confident that everything is normal, then you can cautiously check your immediate vicinity. See if there are any injured persons around you and try to provide aid if necessary. Also, it would be a good idea to accept any assistance that is extended to you. Should you require additional help for other people, be the one to call for emergency services whenever possible.
3. Render aid to others involved in the mishap
Before helping other injured parties, keep in mind that you must not do anything to change their position. Inform them as well that they must remain still. If you can call for an ambulance, do so. You must remain at the scene of the accident so try requesting someone else that was not involved to contact the paramedics. Apply your knowledge in first aid or cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) should you see the need to do so. It could prove to be the crucial support needed by a car accident victim to buy additional time until professional medical help shows up.
Giving aid that is done with the most honest of intentions especially when the situation calls for it, is not legally actionable. There are some West Palm Beach attorneys that would advise against it. It is, however, the most humane thing to do, especially when the person suffering the injury has given his consent. Do not be afraid to do the right thing when there is someone in need. You might just be the timely assistance required to save his life.
4. Exert all efforts to establish a safe zone
Awareness is key immediately following a car accident. Safeguard the persons who are hurt from aggravating their injuries should the means permit you to do so. Helping clear the way for other vehicles to use the roads will reduce the risk of additional accidents. You need to have an area where you can securely discuss the incident with others who are involved in the accident. Prior to this, however, you should take photos if you have any devices on hand. Note that this applies only if the damage can be agreed upon as minor.
A major car accident scene should be left as it is. There is no telling what could be affected in terms of gathering accurate evidence in terms of attributing liability. It is best to wait for a police officer to arrive and assess the situation formally, in any case.
5. The police should be contacted immediately
Police officers are skilled at responding to those in need. After helping the injured, they can perform their other functions when it comes to car accidents. Writing a police report is one of them. It would most likely contain the type of physical trauma suffered, the extent of damage to the vehicles and which laws were transgressed. Please collect the following:
- The police officer’s personal information such as his name, badge number and the police agency he serves. This will allow you to secure a duplicate of the police report.
- The police report number if possible. Expect a minor fee for a copy. It is worth it though as it is very crucial in determining liability. This will provide a strong basis upon which financial compensation may be collected.
Experienced car accident lawyers from West Palm Beach are of the opinion that the police should be involved regardless of the degree of damage involved. Should there be no officer that would arrive at the scene, be prepared to request for the following from the others involved:
- Contact numbers
- Email address (if possible)
- Name of car insurance company
- Policy number
- Name, address and telephone number of insurance representative to be notified about the incident
- License plate number, some car accidents that transpire in Florida are also caused by people from out of town. Remember to include which state they are from.
It would be ideal to take somebody’s word on the above information. Asking to view their actual documents, however, is the recommended procedure. This will allow you to confirm their veracity with your own eyes. It could be their driver’s license, insurance details or other necessary information. There is always that chance of inaccuracy present given that a car accident has just happened. The other party could be in a state of shock, confusion or simply does not memorize such details.
Refrain from consenting to unassisted arrangements with people involved in the accident. A police officer must be present when discussing the incident. It is recommended to talk about the particulars with the official only. Do what is requested of you as much as possible though be cautious of what you disclose.
6. Collect the details and MAKE A COPY
Attorneys who deal with car accidents in West Palm Beach will advise you that keeping a recording of what transpired during the incident is very important. This is especially true if you received injuries or if your vehicle was damaged. The following are some particulars you need to collate and take note of before leaving the site of the accident:
- Vehicles involved in the accident (plate numbers, make and model)
- Drivers involved (full name and contact info, driver's license number, insurance carrier and policy number)
- Collision details (how it happened)
- Vehicle damage
- Witnesses (names and contact information)
- Accident scene and conditions
- Police information (names and badge numbers of responding officers)
- Ambulance information
- Towing information
It would be best if you could make a voice recording of the above-mentioned.
Also, remember to take photos of the scene before the cars are removed from their places. Be sure that you indicate their position with regard to the road. If you can also include some circumstances that could have caused the incident such as potholes and hazards, please do so. Take pictures of cuts, scrapes and bruises as well as damage to all vehicles concerned. Even tire tracks and other distinguishing features of the accident can be made a part of this.
7. Keep quiet
Disclose as much as possible only that which would help the completion of the police report. You do not need to share any more than that. Anything more may be taken against you in a court of law. This is because:
- There is a possibility that you are mistaken
- The likelihood of people misinterpreting what you mean
- You should refrain from making side arrangements unassisted by a police officer
Negligence is one of the elements that will legally place a party involved in a car accident under liability. It may be challenging, however, to show evidence of this, especially in Florida. Experienced attorneys are quite aware of its difficulty and have creative means with which to prove negligence.
Keep in mind the “No-Fault” clause that is included with insurance claims in Florida. This is the reason almost all drivers possess PIP otherwise known as uninsured motorist coverage. It allows partial payment of your claims regardless of who is liable. Note that it is your insurance company that will cover such amount. Whoever is to blame, having legal counsel specializing in car accidents from the West Palm Beach area is necessary to properly advise you on such matters.
Lichtblau & Goldenberg can be counted among the very best in this field. Our law practice has been around for over fifty-five years, a testament to our excellent service. We invite you to contact us and receive advice on your case absolutely free of charge. Ensuring that justice is served and your rights are upheld is our concern.
Our assistance also extends to the following:
- Vehicle repair arrangements
- Rental vehicle arrangements
- Making of insurance claims
- Medical care arrangements and negotiation of billing
Claims on car accident injuries deserve prompt legal action. Allow us to be the ones to handle your case. Lichtblau & Goldenberg attorneys are ready to take up your cause. Contact us through 561-863-9100. We are ready to represent you so that you can focus on recovering from your injuries.