How To Respond When Auto Accidents Happen

by gclatworthy on February 26, 2013

[US law and general] Any motorists who are involved in an automobile accident have a legal requirement to stop their vehicle and assess the damage. All states have legal protocol in this process, but states such as Florida require strict compliance. Hit-run-drivers automatically lose their driving privileges for at least a year, depending on the circumstances of the accident.

Obviously, a seriously injured or unconscious passenger will not be able to respond. When accidents occur that leave seriously injured passengers in both cars it is also important for a witness to stop and contact authorities and offer help immediately. It could be a matter of life and death for the injured parties, regardless of legal requirements.

Leaving The Scene of an Accident

The best way to begin discussing protocol when involved in a wreck is by explaining what cannot be done. Do not leave the scene of an accident. Normally, drivers fleeing the scene of an accident are vulnerable to legal charges for other reasons, such as impaired driving. In Florida, as any Miami auto accident lawyer will tell you, this act alone is a suspension of driving privileges for one year; a penalty applied across many other states in the U.S.

It is never a good idea to leave the scene of an accident because other individuals may have witnessed the mishap. Additionally, many police officers have no problem pursuing a hit-and-run driver and this creates even more highway hazard than the initial accident.

Responding as a Hit-and-Run Victim

Always contact the authorities immediately if involved in an accident with a motorist who does leave the scene, whilst attempting to remember anything possible from the actual collision. This includes identification of the vehicle they were driving. Responsibilities of witnesses are also generally included legally, as an officer can question any witness, and those who are not in legal jeopardy will often assist officers in an investigation.

Everyone understands the inherent dangers involved in a car wreck. Minor accidents can be relatively simple to respond and sort, but major accidents are always problematic and assistance is always necessary.

Exchanging Information

States such as Florida require all parties in an accident to exchange names, addresses, and insurance providers. All accidents involving personal injury or vehicle damage will be adjudicated eventually, even if it is settled prior to court. Other exchange requirements are the drivers license number for each driver and the vehicle registration plate number given to all other potential litigants.

Responding When Physically Able

Obviously, a moderately injured individual will attempt removing themselves from the car if not ejected. Damaged automobiles are vulnerable to explosion if the collision renders the gas tank combustible, so the scene can be very dangerous. The best thing to have in the event of an accident is always a cell phone.

Actually, a camera phone is also very useful for taking pictures of the accident scene for later use, but calling authorities should be the first priority. It is also important to check any other vehicle for injured passengers when possible, but all accident scenes are chaotic and it can be difficult to keep focus. Following instructions is best after the authorities arrive.

It is very important for anyone who has been injured in an automobile accident to seek medical attention as soon as possible, even in the event of minor injuries or no apparent injury at the time of the mishap. Many injuries can worsen in a short amount of time and medical attention and time lapse are crucial in establishing a personal injury claim. Failure to seek medical treatment can impact any personal injury claim, along with failing to comply with any recommendations made by the medical professionals. 

As a former law blog editor, Georgina Clatworthy has written extensively on topics relating to auto accidents, injury claims and traffic infringements. Steinger, Iscoe and Greene is a Florida based law firm representing those injured in road traffic incidents.  Hiring a reputable Miami auto accident lawyer is your best chance of claiming the compensation you deserve and ensuring your rights and interests remain fully protected.

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