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Florida Auto Accident Guide

Florida Auto Accidents

Our Florida auto accident guide will help to guide you through the steps you need to take after being involved in a car accident. About two million people are seriously injured in crashes every year in the USA. Many of them have no idea what to do next. Unfortunately, what you do and say right after a car accident could change your life forever. We want those changes to be positive.

With that in mind, we’re providing this car accident injury guide for new and prospective patients at PhysMED. The goal is to help you access the medical care you need — and also protect your legal rights.

Please don’t substitute this guide for specific medical or legal advice. It is intended to be basic information. The best thing you can do is to contact us directly. We have a full team of medical professionals to examine you after a car crash. We are also very experienced with the legal side of Florida car crashes.

There are many steps involved in dealing with injury recovery and car-accident lawsuits. It’s a complex process that involves three professions: insurance, law, and medicine. It might not all make sense at first, but we are here to guide you through it. Here is a general overview:

  1. Check for injuries and call 911.
  2. Collect evidence at the scene and comply with emergency workers.
  3. Notify your insurance company.
  4. Come see us at PhysMED.
  5. Hire an attorney, if necessary.
  6. Keep up with medical treatment and legal schedules.

Step One: Immediately After the Crash

Right after the crash, you should tend to your injuries and those of others. These first few minutes are the most important.

1. Calling 911

Call 911 first. If you feel unable to call 911 yourself, please direct someone else to do so. The operator will ask you to collect and communicate the following information:

  • Your location
  • Hazards at the scene (power lines, fuel spills, heavily damaged vehicles, and so on)
  • Details about injuries

Do not provide details about who caused the accident. Do not admit fault. Just describe the scene.

Calling 911 satisfies your legal requirement to contact the police. Specifically, Florida law requires you to report to the nearest police department as quickly as possible if there are damages of over $500 to any person or vehicle.

2. Helping Yourself

You should have a basic idea about your physical condition now. If you are in pain, feel dizzy or have any other change in your condition, you will probably want to find a safe place to wait for emergency responders.

3. Helping Others

If it would be reasonable to do so, Florida law says you must render aid to others involved in your crash. You are not expected to sacrifice your own health or safety.

Rendering aid is often as simple as driving people to the hospital or calling 911 to get an ambulance for them. If you see someone with an obvious injury, do what you can to help them get to a medical service provider. The same is true if someone asks you for help.

It is also fine to provide initial care if you feel you are able to do so. Under Florida’s Good Samaritan Act, you can provide reasonable, consensual medical care to injured people without worrying about getting sued. A good example of this might be helping to move an injured person out of immediate danger, applying your up-to-date first-aid training, and so on.

Before you act, remember that you already called 911. Professional help is on the way.

Step Two: At the Scene

After everyone’s injuries are taken care of, you have some other duties and goals at the crash site. These relate to sharing and gathering information.

1. Collection Your Own Information

If your crash results in serious injuries, you will want evidence that shows the other drivers were responsible for the accident. One of the best ways to get this evidence is to collect it yourself. The following could be useful in negotiations or in court:

  • Pictures and video (with sound) of the crash site
  • Written or recorded witness testimony, signed and dated with contact information
  • Model, manufacturer, color, and model year of all vehicles
  • License plate numbers and expiration dates
  • Vehicle identification numbers of all vehicles
  • Names, contact information, and basic identifying information (such as age) of drivers and passengers
  • Contact information for vehicle owners (assuming the driver is not the owner)

In addition, you might want to draw a diagram of the crash. It is typically a before-and-after format with two pictures, including:

  • Locations of vehicles before the crash
  • Locations after the crash
  • Speed and direction of travel
  • Weather conditions and time of day

The idea is to collect as much information as possible. Ideally, you would want plenty of videos with sound depicting vehicles, roads, signs, other drivers, witnesses, and so on.

2. Sharing Information With Other Drivers

When you talk to other people at the scene, do not admit fault for the accident. Keep conversations brief. Most experts even advise against apologizing. However, you are obligated to share specific types of information:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Vehicle registration
  • Driver’s license

You may take pictures of other drivers’ registration and licenses, or you may write down the information. They may do the same for your documents. However, there are some things you should not do with other drivers:

  • Do not admit fault
  • Do not give (or promise to give) anyone money
  • Do not make any informal agreements (such as to not involve insurance or lawyers)

3. Sharing Information With the Police

You will not want to speak at any length with police officers. You should comply with their orders — if they ask you to move to a safe distance, for example. However, you have no obligation to provide information that might incriminate you. In general, the police come to the accident to do the following:

  • Ensure everyone gets medical care
  • Secure and investigate the scene
  • Investigate everyone involved
  • Issue traffic tickets

In short, the police are not necessarily on your side. They will report the accident as they see it. They might even issue you a traffic ticket that you might have to fight in court.

4. Sharing Information With Insurance Companies

You should contact your insurance company as soon as possible after a crash. You will need to provide:

  • The policyholder’s name and contact info
  • The car’s registration number
  • The policy number

You will also eventually want to contact the at-fault drivers’ insurance companies. You will need to provide the same contact, vehicle, and insurance information. If the driver was not the owner of the vehicle, make sure you get the owner’s data.

There are various reasons for reporting. It protects you against fraud, delayed-onset symptom claims, past-threshold injury claims, violation of your cooperation clause, and uninsured drivers, to name a few. Insurance companies make the process easy for you. Many even have apps.

The bottom line is that your insurance company needs to know about the crash, even if you don’t think there were any injuries or damage. It’s fine to share information with them, but you will want to follow some familiar guidelines:

  • Do not admit fault for the accident
  • Do not share information that might incriminate you
  • Do not agree to any type of settlement until later on in the process

Step 3: Recovery and Managing Your Claim

After you leave the scene of the accident, you should head to a medical care provider. PhysMED has a full medical team, including physicians, a neurosurgeon, and chiropractors. We are also very familiar with car accident injuries in Florida. Contact us to get the best outcome for your health and for your claim.

We focus on healing your underlying injuries. We will work with you, your insurance, and your legal team to help you get the care you truly need to recover.

Getting an Experienced Car Accident Doctor

You need a medical provider who understands this specific situation because our state handles car crashes differently than most other states. It’s a no-fault state, meaning that your own personal injury protection (PIP) insurance pays up to a certain amount. Here are some Florida car insurance basics:

  • You must carry PIP policies with at least $10,000 in injury benefits and $5,000 in death benefits
  • You have 14 days to seek medical care if you want to collect PIP (but you should seek care immediately)
  • Drivers must have at least another $10,000 in property damage liability coverage

You will also have various options when it comes to lawsuits and insurance claims. For example, if you receive a permanent injury, you can usually decide which insurance company you would like to claim from. You might also be able to name various parties in your lawsuit.

Florida personal injury lawsuits for car crashes operate on a system called comparative negligence. For example, if you were 20% to blame for the accident, you could only recover 80% of your losses from the other parties involved. Damages you could recover include:

  • Your medical treatment, including tests and imaging (X-rays, MRI scans, and so on)
  • Any costs associated with treatment, including over-the-counter medication or medical devices
  • Lost wages from missed time at work
  • Pain or suffering from the accident and the injuries

You never know what might happen after a car crash. It will help to have someone experienced by your side as your case develops. Call PhysMED today AT 941-909-3427 and we will set aside the first available time for your consultation.

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