Even as the sounds of breaking glass and crumpled metal fade, there are things you must do. The moments after a car accident are vital. Stay calm. Your adrenaline and heart rate have probably spiked. Inhale slowly through your nose; exhale through your mouth. If you have any passengers, make sure they are alright.
Do Not Panic
Be cautious when exiting your vehicle. If it is in a lane, other cars may be racing around it. Look both ways and remind your passengers to do so as well. If your car is impeding traffic and you can safely move it, do so. If it cannot be moved, put on your hazard lights and set out flares or warning triangles.
If there are other vehicles involved, check to make sure no one is injured. Do not accuse the other driver and do not raise your voice. If the other driver or drivers are yelling, disengage. Screaming matches help no one. If there is a nearby space like a grassy median or some other area off the road, go there. This is the best place to exchange information. While waiting for the police to arrive, it might be helpful to make small talk. Do not discuss the accident and do not accept blame.
In Florida if there is an injury or damage exceeding $500.00, you must file a police report. There are other good reasons to do so. Police can take statements of witnesses and other drivers.
Often in the first scary moments after a crash someone will admit fault. Later, when things have calmed down, they may change their mind. Having a police officer recording events can make a difference.
Ask the officer for written statements. Make sure to get the police officer’s name and badge number along with the officer and the station’s phone number.
You are required by law to stay at the scene and call 911 in Florida if the crash involves a fatality, a hit and run, or a DUI. You also must call the police if it requires a tow truck to remove the vehicle or if it involves a commercial vehicle.
However, do not rely on the police to do everything. If a witness is available, get their contact information. See if they will allow you to record their statement with your phone. Make sure to ask before doing this.
You should also take photos of damage. If there is a nearby business, see if they have security cameras that might have recorded the accident. Speak to them quickly, as many companies do not store this data for very long. Your best bet is often to contact an attorney who specializes in this area — a Boca Raton car accident lawyer is ideal.
Get Insurance Info
If the other driver asks you not to file a claim with the insurance company, do not immediately agree not to file. While you may be asked for information like your home address or driver’s license number you should only give this to the police, not the other driver. Instead, provide the information on your insurance card: your full name, insurance company, policy number, and the phone number for your insurance company.
When To Not Call The Police
In very minor collisions with minimal damage, it might not be necessary to call the police. In these cases you can self-report. This can be done online. If the other driver accepts blame, has insurance, and the insurance companies agree they have all they need, then you can avoid calling the cops. However, when there is any doubt you should definitely call them.