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What are the proper steps to take after a car accident?

Every year, drivers in Florida are involved in roughly one quarter of a million motor vehicle accidents. In most cases, accidents happen very unexpectedly and quickly. This means that the drivers involved may be experiencing shock, panic and fear immediately after a car accident. This can make it difficult to think straight and to reason through the proper course of action. So what are the steps that drivers should take after an accident?

First, under Florida law, drivers involved in motor vehicle accidents that involve death or injuries must remain at the scene of the accident. Obviously, if anyone suffered serious injuries in the car crash, the first priority must be to take care of that person and to call for help. Another important safety measure after an accident is that drivers must move their vehicles out of the way if the vehicle is blocking traffic. That may require calling a tow truck if the vehicle is no longer operable.

If no injuries resulted from the accident, a driver still must remain at the scene and give their name, address and other identifying information to other people involved who request that information. Likewise, if the police arrive, all drivers must cooperate with the police investigation. Regardless of whether the accident involved injuries, a driver must report any accident that involves damage to property in excess of $500. That means calling the Florida Highway Patrol, sheriff or other appropriate law enforcement departments so that they can file a report.

Drivers who are involved in accidents should focus on safety and abiding by all of the requirements of Florida law with regard to reporting the accident and helping victims. Once drivers fulfill those obligations, they can think about things like collecting evidence including photographs of the aftermath and getting contact information from witnesses in the area. The person then may want to discuss the matter with an attorney who can detail all of their legal options.

Being involved in a car accident can be a very harrowing experience. It may be difficult to think rationally and keep emotions in check following such an event. Accordingly, all drivers should prepare for the worst in advance and at least be aware of the proper way of handling the situation immediately after an accident.

Source: DMVFlorida.org, “Car Accident Responsibilities,” Accessed on Jan. 9, 2014

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