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I'VE BEEN HIT. NOW WHAT? What to do After a Florida Car Accident

Accidents happen. Here in Sarasota, a new mall is set to open in two days and traffic is going to be a nightmare. Not to mention the snowbirds will be returning very soon. So, it's a good time to be prepared for what you are required to do, what you should do and what you should not do in the event you are involved in an auto accident. 

Things you must do:

Don't Leave the Scene. If you leave the scene without providing your information, your license can be revoked! Ensure your vehicle is in a location where it won't obstruct traffic (either ask for help or call a tow truck). And if someone is injured, seek medical help immediately.

Report the Traffic Accident. Any car accident that involves injuries or property damage over $500 MUST be reported. Call the local police department, sheriff or Florida Highway Patrol. If an officer investigates the crash, a report will be filed. If a crash report is not prepared by a law enforcement officer, you'll need to complete and file one within ten days of the accident.

When Law Enforcement Arrives. Under Florida law, you are required to speak to the law enforcement officer to answer questions about the accident. If you are issued a ticket as a result of the accident, you are also required to sign the ticket. If you refuse to sign the ticket, you may be arrested.

After the Accident. Even when the other driver caused the accident, Florida residents must use their own Personal Injury Protection (PIP) auto insurance, also called No-Fault Insurance, to pay medical bills and lost wages. You must seek medical treatment within 14 days of the accident.

Things you should do: 

Take pictures of the scene (location of the vehicles, debris in the road, skid marks/gouges/scrapes in the pavement), damage to all vehicles involved and any injuries suffered (even bruising from the seatbelt).

Go to a doctor immediately. If you are in severe pain, go to the hospital right away. If you think you feel okay, injuries can manifest over the course of several days and it is best to visit your general practitioner the next day. Just remember to seek medical help within 14 days of your accident!

Keep a journal of how you feel each day after the accident, documenting your medical visits, your medications, and pain, and how the accident has affected your daily life.

Select an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible.

Things you should NOT do:

Do not speak to an insurance company, except to fulfill your obligation to tell your insurance company about the accident. Otherwise, tell insurance companies that you have retained legal counsel and refer them to your car accident lawyer.

Do not give statements (either oral or written) to anybody. 

Do not admit any type of fault in the accident to anyone. 

Do not post anything about the accident online (this includes Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!).

Do not reveal the limits of your insurance coverage, including your car insurance, health insurance, homeowner's insurance, etc.

If you've been involved in an accident, your best course of action is to call an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Questions surrounding liability, payment of your medical care and the pain and suffering you're experiencing can be complicated. In such cases, you are always better off having a seasoned attorney in your corner to explain to you your rights and negotiate any settlement between you, other parties, and even your own insurance company. 

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