What should you do following a serious automobile accident?
Because of an increasing and more mobile population, you and your family face a greater risk of being involved in a serious automobile accident. Taking the appropriate steps following the accident is vital to protecting your legal rights.
Collect and preserve the vital information for the parties and witnesses to the accident. An accident report will be generated by the law enforcement agency working the accident; however, the collected may be incomplete. There may have been additional witnesses to the accident that were not listed on the official report by the police officer. Speak with the officer personally to see if his notes contain any additional witness names and addresses. Verify the ownership information of the other vehicle. If the other driver was not the owner of the vehicle, an additional party may be liable for your damages.
Take pictures of the accident scene and the vehicles. If possible, you, or your representative, should take pictures of the vehicles’ final location following the collision, but before the vehicles have been moved by law enforcement. These pictures will be important if liability for the accident is contested by the other driver. If the vehicles have been removed from the roadway, contact the police officer and determine where the vehicles were taken. Once located, take pictures of all vehicles involved in the accident. The photographs should include multiple views of the vehicles, even those areas without crash damage.
Preserve your vehicle even if it is declared a total loss by your insurer. If liability is contested by the other driver, a crash expert and forensic engineer may need to personally inspect your vehicle and take measurements of the crush damage to your vehicle to protect your rights. If the vehicle was not preserved, valuable evidence may be lost.
Consult your attorney regarding your legal rights. The insurance company for the other driver may offer you the policy limits of their insured’s coverage; however, accepting such an offer, without following the requirements of Florida law, may preclude you from later receiving the benefits of your own Uninsured/Underinsured automobile insurance coverage. In addition, the release, that the insurance company will require you to execute before they disburse the funds to you, may result in you unintentionally releasing other parties liable for your damages.
If you or a family member are seriously injured in an automobile accident, you may contact my office for a free, initial consultation regarding your legal rights.