What to do after car accident
By Attorney Jorge P. Gutierrez
Special to THELAW.TV
If you drive enough, you will end up in a motor vehicle accident at some point in your life. Not because you did anything wrong. But more likely because someone else was not paying attention, was talking or texting on the cell phone, or just being negligent in their driving. Below you will find some helpful tips on how to make the process after the accident as painless as possible.
THINGS TO DO
You should contact your insurance company as soon as possible after the accident. Make sure you write down the claim number they provide, as this will save you lots of time the next time you need to speak to anyone regarding the accident.
Take some time and read your insurance policy and understand it. Bring the policy — or at least the insurance card — with you to any subsequent doctor’s appointment, as well as to any visit to any attorney.
Immediately after the accident, take extensive notes as to how the accident occurred, who was in the vehicles, the directions of travel, as well as anything that may have caused the accident (i.e., someone ran the light). Also take pictures at the scene of the intersection or the location of the vehicles, as well as any property damage. Additionally, note the name and address of any people who stop and say they witnessed the accident. These people may leave before the police arrive, but you can always get their testimony later to help with resolving your claim.
Make sure to get the insurance information from any other individuals or vehicles involved. Get the policy number and the insurance carrier at the very least.
Keep a log with a detailed list of everyone you talk to, their contact information, as well as the substance of what was discussed.
Keep track of all expenses as a result of the accident. This includes out-of-pocket expenses for medications, co-pays, rental car expenses, etc. Make sure to keep receipts and bills for any repair work on the damaged vehicle and any medical costs incurred in the treatment of any injuries that resulted from the accident.
Contact an experienced attorney to discuss your rights after an accident. Most attorneys will speak to you for free and provide valuable advice.
THINGS NOT TO DO
You should never admit fault at the scene of the accident. There may be other causes for the accident and it’s much more difficult to change things after such an admission.
You should never sign any release or document presented by an insurance adjuster without consulting an attorney. You could be signing away all rights to recover — not only personal injuries, but also property damages and outstanding medical bills, even though you may be told something else. Once it’s signed, its very difficult to undo a release.
Never try to leave the scene of an accident without calling the police, so a report can be filled out. Just exchanging information because you are in a hurry or not wanting to make a big deal about it is the absolute worst thing that you can do. Doing so will create issues in having your medical bills paid, as well as property damage claims. Don’t do it.
Always remember that time is not on your side after an accident. Your right to recover medical expenses may be time barred if you wait too long to seek treatment. If you have any medical problems, those should be documented immediately by a physician or hospital.
If you receive a check in the mail, do not deposit it until you consult with an attorney or are absolutely sure that all your losses — both current and in the future — will be taken care of.
The author, Jorge P. Gutierrez Jr., is a South Florida Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney who specializes in the areas of serious personal injury, wrongful death, and medical malpractice. He is a partner at Freedland Harwin, PL in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
PAID ATTORNEY ADVERTISEMENT. This website contains attorney advertising. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely upon advertisements. THELAW.TV, LLC and our media partner, Post-Newsweek Stations, and its parent company and subsidiaries, are not law firms. THELAW.TV is an advertising platform for lawyers. THELAW.TV is not a lawyer referral service or prepaid legal service plan. The sole basis for inclusion of the participating lawyers or law firms is the payment of a flat fee. THELAW.TV and our media partner, Post-Newsweek Stations, and its parent company and subsidiaries, do not endorse or recommend any lawyer or law firm who appears on this website. THELAW.TV, LLC and our media partner, Post-Newsweek Stations, and its parent company and subsidiaries, do not make any judgments as to the qualification, expertise, or credentials of any participating lawyer, other than to ensure that the lawyer is licensed to practice in their state and is currently a member in good standing of their state bar. No representation is made that the quality of the legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers. THELAW.TV, LLC and our media partner, Post-Newsweek Stations, and its parent company and subsidiaries, provide information designed to help the public better understand the law and the legal process. But legal information is not the same as legal advice, which is the application of law to an individual's specific circumstances. THELAW.TV, LLC and our media partner, Post-Newsweek Stations, and its parent company and subsidiaries, do not represent and/or endorse the accuracy or reliability of any information or advice contained in, distributed through, or linked, downloaded, or accessed from any of the materials contained on this website. The legal Q&A videos are informational only and are not intended to provide legal advice. Please consult a lawyer regarding your specific situation. We recommend you consult a lawyer if you want professional assurance that the lawyer's information, and your interpretation of it, is appropriate to your particular situation. You hereby acknowledge that any reliance upon the materials herein shall be at your own risk. Any information you submit to THELAW.TV may not be protected by attorney-client privilege. Thank you.
PLEASE READ THESE TERMS AND CONDITIONS CAREFULLY BEFORE USING THELAW.TV. This site and all content, information and services accessible through it ("THELAW.TV") is made available by THELAW.TV, a Florida LLC, ("THELAW.TV"), and may be used only under the following terms and conditions. BY ACCESSING AND USING THELAW.TV, YOU ("User") AGREE TO BE LEGALLY BOUND BY THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS SET FORTH HEREIN (the "Agreement"). - See more at: http://thelaw.tv/miami/About/disclaimer#sthash.BKSoHKgu.dpuf