Understanding Your Rights and Obligations after a Car Accident
Do you know what to do if you have been involved in an accident?
As car accident attorneys at the Pensacola personal injury law firm of Baker & Baker, we understand that if you have been injured in an accident, it can be unclear what to do first. Of course, if you or someone else has been injured, getting prompt medical attention is imperative.
By following these simple steps, you can ensure your own safety and that of others while also meeting your legal obligations at the scene of an accident. You can also get vital information that will be important when filing a personal injury claim:
- Unless you feel you are in danger, do not leave the scene of an accident. If you need to move your car for safety’s sake and you are able to do so, pull off to the shoulder of the road or out of the way of traffic. If you must leave the scene, drive directly to the nearest police station.
- While it is understandable that you are concerned about your vehicle, the most important thing is to make sure that everybody is OK. Do not be afraid or embarrassed to call 911 if you think that you or anybody else has suffered even a minor car accident injury. If somebody is unconscious, has obvious severe injuries or is complaining of neck or back pain, do not move them. Emergency medical technicians are trained in how to properly handle an injured person and have the equipment to do so. Of course, if someone is in imminent danger because he or she is in the middle of the road or surrounded by gas from a leaking fuel tank, move them slowly and support the neck and back.
- Call the police immediately if there are injuries or if there is significant damage to any vehicles involved in the accident. Ask that a police report be filed, and find out where you can get a copy. Also, get the badge number and name of the officer(s).
After you have seen to the safety and medical needs of yourself and any other victims, you need to gather information. A word of caution: Be careful what you say to other drivers. Even if you were not at fault, it is easy to say something you may regret later, especially in light of Florida’s comparative negligence law and, worse yet, Alabama’s contributory negligence statutes. Your next steps should include:
- Get the name, address, phone number, driver license number, license plate and insurance information from all drivers who were involved. If there are passengers in the car, get their names, addresses and phone numbers, too.
- If there were witnesses, ask them if they saw the accident and get a short account from them. Also, get their names, addresses and phone numbers.
- Take pictures of the accident scene. Most cell phones have camera capabilities. If yours doesn’t, it might be wise to keep an inexpensive disposable camera in your glove compartment.
- Call your insurance company — and make sure you tell them the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about what happened.
- Do not talk to representatives of other driver’s insurance company. They will be looking for ways to minimize your compensation and are keeping track of every word you say.
Your most important step may be to retain an experienced Pensacola car accident attorney to protect your rights. At Baker & Baker, we have developed solid personal injury strategies and won substantial verdicts and settlements for more than 25 years.
Get skilled, experienced legal representation from a pre-eminent car accident law firm in Pensacola
To schedule a free consultation to discuss your case, please contact us by email or call us at 850-316-8247.