Traffic Accident: What’s Next?

trThere is not much that you will encounter on the roadways that can be as frightening as having a traffic accident. No one ever expects it so that in itself is startling, but if the traffic accident is significant, one look at a totaled vehicle that you were riding in only moments before can be quite sobering. This is why you will often see such distress on the faces of those who have just experienced an accident. Even once the initial adrenaline created from the fear of injury subsides, the sensory overload that an accident victim experiences doesn’t end there. Next, he or she must work through the emotion brought on by the realization that the chaos has only just started. This is when a little direction as to what you should do next can be invaluable.

First things first – make sure that everyone in any of the vehicles that are involved are not injured. Obviously, if anyone has sustained injuries, call 9-1-1. Even if no one is injured, you will need to call law enforcement to the scene of the accident. You need to make sure they are called even in the slightest of accidents to ensure that your insurance covers your claim, and no one can accuse you of inappropriately leaving the scene.

Once they arrive, you can be assured that you will have to speak with one or more police officers, therefore, before the police even arrive, you should start weighing your words very carefully. When checking on the occupants of any other vehicles, you want to make sure that you don’t make any statements that can be construed as an admission to being responsible for the accident. That will be determined by the police officer when he arrives. As such, you also want to closely watch what you say to the police officer when he arrives because you don’t want him to use anything you may say to issue you a traffic citation.

Florida is a no-fault state. That means that any damage to either vehicle is covered by the individual driver’s insurance company. Even though this is the case, the officer can still write you a traffic ticket for whatever infraction he believes that you may have committed which led to the traffic accident. When speaking with the officer, less is more. Be brief and be concise to ensure that your description of the accident does not incriminate you. It is also a good idea to try not to be accusatory toward the other driver. Emotions run high when people are involved in a car crash and accusations can quickly escalate into a nasty situation.

Once everyone has been checked on and the police have been called, it is imperative that you move the vehicles that were involved to the side of the road. This is prevent any further accidents or injuries to yourself or others. Obviously, you don’t want to move too far away from where the accident occurred because you don’t want it to appear as though you are trying to “leave the scene.”

Be certain to always carry your insurance information with you and, if you are involved in a traffic accident, be prepared to exchange your personal and insurance information with the other driver. You also need to make sure that you get the name, phone number, address, and insurance information from the other driver, as well an incident report number from the responding officer.

You should then call your insurance company and provide them with the particulars of the traffic accident and the information that you have obtained from the other driver. The more information that you are able to provide to them, the quicker they will be able to resolve your claim. Failing to inform them in a reasonable amount of time may result in them refusing to cover the damages. One important point about insurance companies – the other party’s insurance company may call you and ask you for a statement as to what events occurred. They will be recording your statement with the hope that it will give them reason to not pay out on the claim. It is a really bad idea to agree to talk to the other person’s insurance company. That would be a great time to tell them that you are represented by a good traffic ticket attorney and then give them our number.

Traffic accidents are usually costly, even when the vehicles are covered by automobile insurance. First of all, you are faced with paying your insurance deductible which is usually $250 or $500, but it could be $1,000 or more depending on which insurance company insures the car and what type of coverage is selected by the driver when he or she is selecting his or her insurance. Naturally, these costs increase once you have a traffic accident because most insurance companies are quick to raise your insurance rates, usually by hundreds of dollars per year, if you make a claim for an auto accident.

In addition to the cost of rising insurance rates and having to shell out a hefty deductible, there are other financial hardships that can arise from having a traffic accident. If your car is damaged to the point that you can’t drive it and you don’t have rental car coverage, you could conceivably miss time from work. This may not be a big deal for someone who is salaried, but for hourly employees who have not accrued vacation time or comp time, this can seriously impact one’s paycheck, and when living paycheck-to-paycheck this can be devastating, especially to families.

The Florida Highway Patrol that responds to accidents basically just act as reporters of the event and, in all likelihood, will issue you a traffic citation, regardless of who is at fault. So, of course, there are then the costs associated with getting a traffic ticket itself. These costs can vary depending upon what the driver is cited for. For example, many traffic accidents result from failing to yield the right-of-way, following too closely, or as is often the case, speeding. Any combination of these actions can be construed as “aggressive driving,” and are considered moving violations and these infractions are punishable by fines and courts costs.

If you are one of those drivers who tends to take pride in the fact that you have never had an accident or haven’t had one in years, be careful. No matter how cautious you are behind the wheel, sometimes it only takes a momentary lapse in judgment or attention for all of that to change. Additionally, don’t forget that you don’t have control over the other drivers around you. Aggressive or careless driving tactics on the part of someone else can quickly make their problem your problem.