What to do after an automobile accident


By: Shane Farnsworth Special to the Boca and Delray newspapers
Nobody wants to be in an accident. Unfortunately, with all the traffic, construction, and distracted drivers in South Florida automobile accidents are regular occurrences. With that being the case, it is important to know and understand what actions you should take if you are involved in an automobile accident.
The first thing you should do, if you are able, is to check and see if anyone is injured. If so, call 911. Notify the dispatcher an accident has occurred and there are injured parties. The dispatcher can dispatch paramedics and also alert the police. If nobody is injured, you still need to call 911 and ask for the police to be sent. Once 911 has been notified remain at the accident scene. If the vehicles are drivable and blocking traffic, they should be moved to a safe location as nearby as possible. Do not leave until the police arrive and complete their investigation.
Once the vehicles are in a safe location, immediately speak with any witnesses. It is imperative that you get their contact information before they leave. Witnesses can be crucial to the determination of who is at fault later on.
Prior to the police arriving you should begin to gather your information. You will need to provide your driver’s license, vehicle registration and auto insurance card. Once you have those documents take pictures of the damage to your vehicle and any other vehicles involved. You should also photograph the accident scene if it is safe to do so. This will help you in your insurance claim and if you need to pursue legal action related to the accident.
You should not discuss the accident with anyone at the scene. Do not admit fault. The facts of the accident should only be discussed with the police. You do not want to make unwise statements in a time of stress that can later be used against you.
Once the police complete their investigation you should receive a copy of the drivers’ exchange of information. This will contain the names and addresses of the parties. It will also contain everyone’s insurance information.
Next you should contact your insurance company and open a claim. You will then probably be contacted by an adjuster. Your adjuster will assist you in explaining the claims process and doing other things like getting your vehicle repaired or obtaining a rental car.
If you are injured in the accident seek medical attention. You should see a doctor as soon as possible. This will help to document your injuries. A thorough and complete medical history will be necessary to prove your injuries and their relation to the accident.
If you are injured, you should also consult an attorney experienced in personal injury cases. The sooner you seek legal counsel the better. Your attorney will act as your representative and deal directly with the insurance companies on your behalf. An experienced attorney will be able to assist you in the preparation of your case and in maximizing its value.
Shane Farnsworth is an attorney at Shane M. Farnsworth, P.A. in Delray Beach. He represents clients in the areas of personal injury, insurance disputes and civil litigation. His office can be reached at 561-272-8337 or online at shanemfarnsworth.com