What Should I Do After a Car Accident?

What Should I Do After a Car Accident

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, and serious injuries are involved, call 911. Next, call an experienced attorney as soon as possible.

Once immediate medical affairs are taken care of, it’s essential to limit your communications in the minutes following an accident before speaking with an attorney. Speaking excessively to the police, your insurance company, other drivers or passengers, or even a bystander could impact the amount of any potential compensation you receive.

Depending on the advice of your attorney, you may be asked to document the scene by taking photographs or video, taking detailed notes about the accident scene, or even interviewing a bystander as to what they saw.

As we’ll mention later, Florida is a no-fault state, which means that all parties involved in the accident will generally make claims from their auto insurance policies. This means that both the victim and the perpetrator will seek assistance from their insurance companies to deal with the situation.

At Gallagher and Hagopian, our team of experienced personal injury attorneys will vigorously fight on behalf of victims and their families who are injured in vehicle accidents. If you’ve been injured in a car, truck, or motorcycle accident, call us immediately. Our team of experienced attorneys will do everything in our power to get you the compensation you deserve.

On this page, we’ll review some of the basic information you should understand about car accidents, car accident law, and what you should do in order to get the maximum compensation for you or your loved ones’ injuries.

Specifically, we’ll answer questions including:

  • What should I know about car accidents?
  • What are common negligent driving behaviors?
  • What are the most common injuries from car accidents?
  • What types of car accident damages can lead to compensation?

We also provide additional FAQs at the end of the page to help you understand exactly what you should and shouldn’t do if you’ve been involved in an accident.

What Should I Know About Car Accidents?

When it comes to dealing with injuries from a car accident, the more you know, the better. According to the Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT), nearly 40,000 people die in car accidents each year in the United States alone. An additional 4.4 million people are hospitalized each year as a result of car-accident-related injuries.

While many who die or are seriously injured in crashes are the drivers or passengers in cars themselves, more than 50% of worldwide car accident deaths are actually pedestrians, cyclists, or motorcyclists. Unfortunately, car accident deaths are so common that they’ve consistently ranked as the number one most likely cause of death for Americans aged 1-54.

While some car accidents are truly unpreventable, the vast majority occur as a result of the negligence of one or more parties. Other accidents may occur as a result of mechanical defects in the car, particularly those related to the brake system, tires, and transmission.

What Are Common Negligent Driving Behaviors?

With negligent driving so common in the United States and elsewhere, there are hundreds, if not thousands of ways that drivers may distract themselves and take their eyes off the road. However, some of the most common scenarios for negligent drivers include:

  • Rear-end collisions
  • T-bone collisions
  • Sideswipes
  • Inattentive/unaware drivers
  • Speeding
  • Reckless driving
  • Road Rage
  • Texting and cell phone usage
  • Disregarding hazardous conditions
  • Driving while impaired (i.e., under the influence of alcohol or drugs)

What Are The Most Common Injuries From Car Accidents?

Just as there’s a wide variety in types of car accidents, there’s a wide variation in the types of injuries someone may experience after an accident. Some of the most common include:

  • Soft tissue injuries: Soft tissue injuries are those that impact the muscles, ligaments, or tendons. These can include whiplash, or even spinal injuries.
    Scrapes and cuts: While a scrape or cut may seem minor, they can lead to serious bleeding and even infection. Stitches may be required for more serious incidents. A scrape or cut on the outside may also be an indicator of more serious internal injuries.
  • Head injuries: For those traveling inside a vehicle, head injuries can result from direct contact with a steering wheel or a side window. Minor head injuries could result in headaches or mild concussions, while more serious head injuries could be traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) which can lead to symptoms including paralysis.
  • Spinal injuries: Injuries to the spine can often occur as a result of a head injury, or even as a result of excessive whiplash. Minor spinal injuries may result in nerve pain and headaches, while more serious spinal injuries could result in partial or full paralysis, learning problems, severe migraines, and other debilitating symptoms.
  • Chest injuries: Like a scrape, a chest injury can seem minor on the outside, but could be a sign of more serious injuries. These include broken ribs, internal bleeding or bruising, or even damage to vital organs such as the lungs, heart, liver, or kidneys. Chest contusions may also be caused by an impact with an airbag or a seatbelt.
  • Arm and leg injuries: Arm and leg injuries can be as small as light scrapes or bruises, but can also be as serious as sprained or broken bones. In some cases, limb injuries are not apparent immediately and may only appear in the weeks and months after the accident.

Of course, these types of injuries are only the beginning when it comes to injuries that one can receive as a result of a car accident. A qualified car accident lawyer can attempt to pursue financial compensation for each of these injury types, as well as a variety of others.

What Types of Car Accident Damages Can Lead to Compensation?

In addition to physical injuries, many car accidents can lead to emotional and financial strain. An experienced lawyer may be able to secure a settlement or verdict related to issues such as:

  • Depression and anxiety: Recovering from injuries after a car accident can be challenging both physically and mentally, and it’s natural for people to experience a degree of depression and anxiety during the healing process.
  • PTSD: In the case of more serious injuries, especially those which involve blackouts or concussions, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) may begin to manifest. PTSD can result in severe panic attacks, depressive episodes, nightmares, personality changes, and even violent episodes.
  • Loss of consortium: In many cases, physical or psychological changes after a car accident can lead to serious issues in marriages, partnerships, or other intimate relationships. This can be especially the case after a serious disability, such as paralysis, occurs.
  • Loss of income: In many cases, an accident can lead to the loss of a job or business due to an inability to carry out regular working functions. This can significantly contribute to the mental health issues and potential relationship issues listed above. Loss of income can also directly impact any dependents. These could include a spouse, partner, parent, sibling, or child that depends on the victim’s income for ordinary living expenses.
  • The general quality of life: While the damage areas above are somewhat comprehensive, there are still many other psychological and emotional issues that victims may face after an accident. Accident victims may find it harder to leave the house to visit friends or engage in regular social activities and may face regular discomfort or mobility issues due to their accident. Any accident-related disfigurement or bodily changes may also impact an accident victim’s quality of life, and could lead to additional compensation at a settlement or jury verdict.

Vehicle Accident FAQs

Q. What should I do if I am involved in a car crash?

A. You must insist that the crash be reported to law enforcement so that a law enforcement officer can complete the appropriate forms. You shouldn’t try to negotiate a payment agreement with the other party to settle damages.

Other suggestions include:

Make sure the investigating officer records complete insurance information for all parties on the crash report. Report the accident to your insurance company immediately. If the other party is insured or uninsured, be sure to report that information to your insurance company so that they can pursue compensation, as they have more information resources at their disposal.

Q. If I didn’t cause this accident, why does my insurance have to pay anything?

A. The Florida No-Fault Law provides that a Florida resident involved in an automobile accident must seek medical and wage loss from his/her own insurance company regardless of who is at fault in the accident. This is true even if you are involved in an accident while a passenger in someone else’s vehicle. You must initially file for medical and wage loss benefits with your own insurance company.

Q. Do I have to buy insurance?

A. As a Florida State resident, you must be able to show you can take financial responsibility for any incidents in which you and your vehicle are involved. Florida’s Financial Responsibility Law and Florida’s No-Fault Law both outline coverage you need to meet financial responsibility requirements and legally operate your vehicle.

Whether you plan to drive it or not, if you own a vehicle with a state license plate you must cover it with the minimum liability insurance requirements. Returning your license plate to a driver license or tax collector office is the only way to legally cancel your insurance.

Q. Since my vehicle is inoperable, I need a rental car. Who is going to pay for that?

A. Even though it is extremely frustrating to you as the accident was not your fault, the other driver’s insurance company will do a liability investigation to make sure their driver was at fault and that they owe you for the claim. This investigation will almost certainly include getting a statement from their insured. They may also want to speak with any witnesses and get a look at the police report if one was made. This all takes time, so rarely will another driver’s insurance company agree to provide you with a rental car in the first 24 hours after an accident.

If you have rental car reimbursement coverage on your own automobile insurance, you should consider getting a rental car under your own policy rather than waiting for the other driver’s insurance company to complete their investigation. If they determine their insured was at fault, they will reimburse your insurance company.

Q. What type of auto insurance coverage is required for a person causing a crash?

A. The Florida Financial Responsibility Law requires that any person at fault in a crash resulting in bodily injury and property damage to others must have in effect at the time of the crash full liability insurance coverage. This coverage includes minimum limits of bodily injury liability of $10,000 per person, $20,000 per crash, $10,000 property damage liability per crash, and personal injury protection limits of $10,000 per person per crash.

If You’re Injured in a Car Accident in Bradenton, Call An Attorney Immediately

If you’ve experienced an auto accident, the impact can be overwhelming. Pain and suffering, medical bills, lost wages, and a general disruption of your life are the common results of an auto accident.

You should not have to suffer because of another individual’s negligence, but don’t assume that contacting your insurance company will eliminate the burden. Understand that insurance companies are in business to make money, so the less the company pays in policyholder claims, the more profitable they will be.

You may be driving to work, on your way to dinner with friends, making your way across town to pick up the kids, or just heading to the grocery store. Whatever the errand, there exists a basic assumption that if you obey the traffic laws and you operate your vehicle responsibly, you should be able to complete your trip without incident. Unfortunately, the negligent behavior of certain drivers occasionally subjects others to the risk of auto accidents.