As a personal injury attorney, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten calls from friends, relatives or clients who were just in a car crash, they’re calling me from their cell phone and have no idea what to do.
Ouch, I’m hurt. What do I do? First, let common sense rule: If you’re hurt, immediately call 911 and don’t worry about anything else. Stay in your car and wait for the ambulance. Then maybe call a loved one to advise your family of the personal injury. Everything else is of secondary importance.
I don’t think I’m hurt. What now? If you’ve taken stock of yourself and you think you’re okay – there are no open wounds, no blood, no obvious signs of broken bones and you’re able to move all your limbs and neck freely, still call 911. But you’re calling 911 to report the collision, not to report your injuries.
Do I have to move my car off the road? Florida Statutes mandate that the cars should be moved if possible to avoid blocking traffic. F.S.§316.061(2). If there is any doubt as to who caused the crash (issues of liability) and keeping the cars in place will ease the investigation and erase doubt regarding who caused the crash, do so. Other drivers will make their way around you – we’ve all done this. The investigating officer may instruct you to move the car but at least he/she would have already seen the collision scene and made liability assessments.
Should I always call the police in a crash? Well, not always, but usually. Florida Statutes mandate that if you’re in a crash and there are any injuries or the property damage appears to be $500 or more, call the police. F.S.§316.065(1). Now, how do you assess what’s $400 worth of damage and what’s $600 of damage? You can’t. Call the police.
The other driver promises to admit that he’s at fault to your insurance company and please don’t call the police! Were you born yesterday? Call the police.
But this is a parking lot accident and police don’t respond to those. Baloney. Call the police.
But we’ll end up waiting here for hours! Your car’s wrapped around my car, where you going? Call the police.
Now, if the cars just tapped each other and there’s zero property damage to either car and both drivers feel just fine. Well, don’t call the police. Still exchange the basic information, just in case. But you can skip the 911 call.
While we wait for the police, should we exchange information? Absolutely! You’ve got time and some at-fault parties tend to get nervous waiting for the police to respond knowing they’ve got some blemish on their driving record that may result in them dancing the Pokey Two-Step off to the county jail when the police arrive. They tend to excuse themselves to grab something out of their car and then take off. Get the info – name, address, driver’s license number and, most importantly, car insurance information.
Aaack!! The other driver just took off! What do I do? There’s really nothing you can do. It is definitely not advisable to go on a Hollywood style car chase. You’ll endanger your life and others. However, it isn’t unusual for others drivers who witnessed this crash to – not give chase – but follow the other car to at least get the car’s license tag information. People do not like injustice and will often go out of their way (literally) to help out and identify a hit-and-run driver.
Any other calls I should make? Yes. Call your car insurance company to report the collision if your car sustained property damage and/or if you were hurt – however slightly – and are contemplating seeing a doctor. This call can sometimes take 20-30 minutes so make sure you have some time available to answer lots of questions.
**Ouch** My neck hurts! It’s been a few days since the crash and I haven’t seen a doctor yet. Has it been too long to for me to get some treatment? Ah, here’s where a good personal injury attorney can help. The answer is, of course not. Just because you didn’t run to an emergency room directly after the crash doesn’t mean there’s not a latent (or hidden) injury that evolves after the adrenalin subsides. Some physicians say it takes up to two weeks to feel the full array of injuries sustained in a crash. But once you’ve identified a physical issue, do not wait any longer. Get in to see a specialist.
Most personal injury attorneys would concur that if you’ve been involved in a car crash and you’ve sustained personal injuries to some degree and you think you might need to make a claim, it is advisable to contact your personal injury attorney at this point. If you’re not feeling well, your lawyer is better able to navigate the insurances (yours and the at-fault party’s), the lost wage claim, getting your car fixed or totaled, scheduling doctor appointments, filling out PIP applications, etc.
We are genuinely here to serve you.