What to Do After a Car Accident
Are you wondering what to do after a car accident to ensure your rights are protected? The time immediately following an auto accident is stressful, and emotions can run high for all involved. However, it is important to follow a certain protocol to protect yourself financially and legally. The lawyers at Salter, Healy, Bassett & Rivera have created a list of helpful tips for you to follow. Trust in our 30 years of combined legal experience and follow this guidance if you are ever in a car accident.
Steps to Take Following an Accident
Here are some tips you should be sure to follow in the aftermath of an accident:
- Assist anyone involved who needs help and seek medical help for yourself. Even if you don’t feel hurt, you may have internal injuries that don’t show symptoms until days after the accident.
- Stay safe. Move your car to the side of the road as quickly as possible so that it is not in the way of oncoming traffic. If you cannot move your car, remain in the car with seatbelts on and your hazard lights flashing. Set out orange cones or warning triangles if you have them, and wait for help to arrive.
- Document everything. Take pictures of the damage to all vehicles involved in the accident. Get the contact information of witnesses so that they can back up your story in court if necessary.
- Exchange information with the other driver(s). Exchange names, addresses, phone numbers, insurance companies, policy numbers, driver license numbers, license plate numbers and any other relevant information. Do not ever assume responsibility for the accident — you should be polite, but if you say the accident was your fault, you will end up paying more than necessary.
- File an accident report. Law enforcement officers can help you with this if they arrive on the scene. Otherwise, you can access vehicle accident report forms online at the Department of Motor Vehicles website or at your local police station.
- Don’t give interviews to insurance companies. Make sure you talk to a lawyer before speaking with insurance companies so you don’t get taken for a ride.
- Contact an attorney. As soon as possible, contact a reputable auto accident attorney. We want to help you get the compensation that you deserve.
Remember — always be cooperative with the police and polite with the other driver, but do not say anything that could be interpreted as an admission of fault. Even a simple, “I’m sorry” can damage your case.
Damages Extend Beyond Immediate Medical Costs
Naturally, when the negligence of another party causes injury to you or a loved one in a car accident, you have the right to expect compensation for the medical treatment you receive after the incident. In many cases, you can turn to your own no-fault insurance policy for reimbursement at no additional legal cost. However, serious injuries can cause you to incur numerous other expenses related to your injuries, such as the following:
- Additional future anticipated medical treatment and assistive medical devices such as a wheelchair, crutches, bandages and pain relief medication
- Lost time from work
- The costs of hiring someone to care for your home and family during your recovery period
- Losses associated with permanent disability or scarring, which can affect your ability to earn the same income — or render you unable to earn any income
- Pain and suffering and psychological costs associated with post-traumatic stress disorder or other conditions caused by the accident
At Salter, Healy, Bassett & Rivera, we work with medical professionals to determine the long-term expenses you can expect and develop a detailed plan that helps identify the full costs of your injuries. If there is evidence of intentional misconduct or gross negligence, we can pursue punitive damages in accordance with Florida negligence law.
Your Attorney Advances the Costs of Pursuing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Bringing a personal injury claim to Salter, Healy, Bassett & Rivera carries no up-front costs. Salter, Healy, Bassett & Rivera operates on a contingency fee basis; we do not charge for our services unless we win a settlement or award for your case. At that time, we deduct for the costs of litigation and take a fee based on a percentage of the damages.
Length of Process Depends on Several Factors
One of the first questions we’re asked about a lawsuit is invariably “How long will it take?” We understand that your accident has probably caused some economic hardship, and we want to settle your case as quickly as possible, providing we can settle it fairly. When liability and damages are clear, cases can move quickly. However, serious injury cases tend to take longer, because insurance companies are loathe to settle for large amounts. Often insurers drag out the process to wear down the plaintiff. Fortunately, we are an established firm with the resources to maintain a suit all the way through trial to a verdict. When we recommend a settlement, it’s because we believe it’s in your best interests. Otherwise, we’re prepared to go to court and fight.
Contact Our St. Petersburg Car Accident Attorneys Today
At Salter, Healy, Bassett & Rivera, we are dedicated to ensuring our clients involved in accidents understand the full range of available legal options and what to expect during the legal process. Call our office or contact us online to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case. We will come to you if you cannot make it to our offices.