What Should I Do If I Caused a Car Accident? Do I Admit Fault?
When a car accident happens, you may be quick to evaluate how and why it happened. The truth is, even the most straightforward-seeming accidents can have complicated causes. Because of this, it is critical to preserve your ability to file a possible car accident claim by not freely admitting fault at the accident scene. Even if you feel like you may have been at fault, you have a personal interest in letting the facts be fully analyzed by police and private investigators. It may be possible that you are not clearly at fault and those other individuals may actually hold fault for the collision.
If you’ve been involved in a car accident, it is important to hire an experienced auto accident attorney, especially if you have been injured. An attorney can help guide you through the aftermath of the accident, as well as advise you on your best course of action moving forward.
You can use the following information to help you better understand why you shouldn’t assume that you’re at fault for an accident and what to do when an accident occurs.
Florida’s “No-Fault” Law
Florida has a “no-fault” law, which means that in the event of a car accident, drivers would file a claim with their own car insurance company, regardless of who is at fault. In order to cover this law, all car insurance policies must include a $10,000 minimum in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage.
Even though accident payouts are administered regardless of fault, it is still important that you never admit fault or apologize for the accident when talking to the other people involved, the police officers, or your insurance company. If someone’s medical costs exceed their PIP coverage, or they acquire a “serious injury” from the accident, they may file a liability claim against you.
Similarly, if you have been seriously hurt in an accident or if your costs exceed your PIP coverage, you will want to preserve your right to file a possible claim on someone’s liability insurance.
What To Do If You’ve Been in an Auto Accident
Here are some important steps to take if you’ve been involved in a car accident:
- Stay at the Scene of the Accident
If you’ve been in a car accident, it is important that you stay at the scene of the accident. If it’s a minor accident, and you are able, you will want to move your car to a safe spot, such as a nearby parking lot, or the shoulder of the road. If you leave the scene entirely, you could face criminal charges.
- Check for Injuries
Check yourself and all persons involved in the crash for any urgent injuries that need medical attention. If anyone does need medical attention, notify emergency responders when you call 911 and let them know they need to send an ambulance.
- Contact the Authorities
In any accident, it is important to contact the police, as most insurance policies will require you to have an accident report as part of their investigation into the accident. Unless it is a minor accident, you should expect the police to make a trip to the accident site. While they are there, they will likely interview witnesses and gather information about the accident. While talking to the police, it is important that you answer their questions accurately and truthfully, but you never need to admit fault to them, even if you believe that you caused the accident.
- Exchange Information
If everyone is calm and safe, it is a good idea to exchange information with the other people who were involved in the accident. You will want to avoid assigning blame, apologizing, or wanting to determine fault. Instead, focus on exchanging information, such as names, insurance information, and contact information. If the other parties are not calm, it may be best to have the police facilitate this exchange of information.
- Gather Evidence from the Scene
Before the accident scene is disturbed, you will want to begin gathering evidence of the accident. You should try to take as many pictures as possible of the damage to all vehicles involved, as well, and pictures that show where the accident occurred exactly. You may want to talk to any witnesses and collect their contact information. If you or your passengers suffered any injuries, having photographic evidence of these injuries may prove to be beneficial in the future.
- Contact Your Insurance Company
As soon as you are able, contact your insurance company and report the accident. It is important that you do this in a timely manner, as many insurance companies have an accident reporting window (that can be as short as 5 to 10 days!) If you fail to report the accident within the amount of time covered in your policy guidelines, the insurance company may no longer be obligated to cover your claims. There is no need to admit fault when talking to your insurance company; instead, just stick to a factual description of what happened. If you would like, an experienced car accident attorney can help facilitate this conversation.
- Seek Medical Treatment
Even if you weren’t seriously injured in the accident, it is still important that you seek medical treatment afterward. There are many injuries common to car accidents that take a few hours or days to surface. If you are trying to file a claim with your insurance company, you will need official documentation of any injuries you sustained. Without a detailed doctor’s report, any injuries you may have suffered due to the accident may not be recognized by your insurance company.
- Seek Legal Counsel
If you’ve been involved in a car accident in Tampa, it is a good idea to hire an experienced car accident attorney. An attorney can help guide you through the process of gathering the evidence of your case, including pulling accident reports, medical charts, contacting witnesses, and hiring experts in your case. They can also be your liaison as you are dealing with hospital bills or insurance companies. If you’ve been seriously injured, they can also help you negotiate with insurance companies to get the compensation you need to help you get on the road to recovery.
Don’t Assume You’re At Fault, And Talk to a Tampa Car Accident Lawyer If You’re Hurt
Darrigo & Diaz has over 20 years of experience representing personal injury clients in the Tampa area. We will look at the specifics of your personal injury case and give you personalized advice for what steps you need to take in order to get you the compensation you need and the justice you deserve. When we represent you, we will make all efforts to thoroughly investigate the accident and determine who, legally, should be considered at fault.
Contact us anytime, day or night, to schedule a complimentary case evaluation. We are happy to meet with you either virtually or in person. You can contact us by phone by calling (813) 774-3341 or online.