A car accident is always a stressful and overwhelming event. But those feelings are compounded if the other driver is at fault.
What legal rights do you have? Who will pay for your medical bills and car repairs? And, do you need an attorney?
Learn more about what to do after a car accident that is not your fault.
Immediate steps to take after a Tampa car crash
After any motor vehicle accident, you should:
- Stop and pull over to a safe location, if possible.
- Call 911. Let the dispatcher know if you or anyone else is hurt. Ask them to send a police officer to the scene.
- Florida Statute § 316.062 requires that you exchange contact information with the other driver.
These are just the preliminary steps to help ensure everyone’s safety and properly document the crash. In the days following the accident, there are additional steps you need to take to preserve your legal rights and pursue a settlement.
5 Steps to take after a Tampa car accident that is not your fault
How do you receive compensation for your medical bills, car damage, and missed work? And when should you talk to an attorney? Here are five steps you should take after a car crash that was not your fault.
1. See a doctor, if you have not already done so
It is not unheard of for injured people to refuse medical treatment at the scene of a crash. After a car accident, your body experiences an adrenaline rush. You may not feel pain right away, even if you are hurt.
You will not be able to pursue a car accident settlement if you are not evaluated and do not have an official diagnosis. Seeing a doctor not only helps preserve your legal rights but also prevents your injuries from worsening.
2. Obtain a copy of the accident report
The accident report proves when and where the crash occurred and who the other involved parties were. Ideally, the police officers were on the scene right after the crash and completed an accident report then.
If, for some reason, nobody called the police, file a report with the Tampa Police Department as soon as possible. Obtain a copy for your records, as your insurance company will ask to see the report.
3. Notify your insurance company
You need to tell your insurance company about the accident, even if it was not your fault. You should call them as soon as possible.
When you call, have a copy of the accident report in front of you. The insurance company may ask for information off of the report.
4. Gather any evidence you have
This step sounds more daunting than it is. You do not have to be a private investigator. But, you should download any dashcam footage or crash scene photos to keep this data safe and preserved.
Collect all your accident-related paperwork, such as the police report and contact information of any eyewitnesses.
5. Contact a Tampa car accident lawyer
You do not have to “wait and see” what the insurance company will do. There is no reason to waste your time, while you miss work and your car needs repairs. The sooner you hire legal representation, the sooner you can receive your settlement.
Why do you need an attorney if the accident was not your fault?
You can benefit from legal representation after an accident that was not your fault.
An attorney takes over negotiations
When you hire a Tampa car accident lawyer, they take over all legal aspects of your case. You do not have to worry about phone calls and letters from the insurance company. Instead, you can focus on your recovery and returning to work.
Many accident claims do successfully settle out of court. But if putting your case in front of a judge or jury is your best option, you do not want to be without legal representation. Your attorney can help you prepare for your court and let you know what to expect.
An attorney can help maximize your settlement
The state has a “comparative fault” law, Florida Statute § 768.81. That means liability in a car accident is not all-or-nothing. For example, one driver could be 30 percent responsible for the crash, and the other driver 70 percent.
If you are partially responsible for the accident, your settlement will decrease. This is good news for the insurance company because it does not want to pay out any more than it must. The insurance company will scramble for ways to unfairly blame you because even a small percentage could save it a lot of money.
An attorney will fight back against any false claims made against you. If the accident was not your fault, your settlement amount should reflect that.
When is a Tampa car accident not your fault?
All drivers must follow traffic laws and use good judgment. Many Tampa car accidents result from someone’s careless or reckless behavior. In other words, these crashes are preventable.
According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, driver distraction plays a role in many crashes. In a recent year, distracted drivers caused 314 fatalities, 2,753 incapacitating injuries, and 11,878 non-incapacitating injuries throughout the state.
You also may hold the other driver liable if they were under the influence of alcohol or drugs, drove too fast for the weather, or broke the posted speed limit.
The most important thing to do after a car accident that is not your fault? Speak with a Tampa car accident lawyer
Do not wait to consult with an attorney. After a car accident, you have a limited amount of time to take legal action. Contact a Tampa car accident lawyer today.