If you are a driver in South Florida, this scenario might sound all too familiar:
You are on your way to work, and suddenly you are struck by another vehicle. You and the other driver pull over to the side of the road. The accident initially appears to be relatively minor given the limited property damage to the vehicles. Your adrenaline is pumping, and nobody initially complains of any injuries. Not wanting to be late to work, you both agree to exchange contact and insurance information. You each get back in your cars, and just like that you are on your way.
While this may be the quickest way to get to work or to your next appointment, it is not the best way to protect your legal rights. By failing to report the accident properly to the authorities, you expose yourself to a number of potential ramifications.
By properly reporting the accident, the appropriate law enforcement agency will create a Florida Traffic Crash Report for the accident. These reports contain general contact information for the drivers involved in the accident and for the owners of the vehicles. The motor vehicles involved are also identified by make, model, tag, and VIN, and insurance information is documented.
Additionally, a Florida Traffic Crash Report will often contain the following:
- A narrative of the different versions of how the accident occurred;
- Indicate if any of the drivers were driving under the influence of alcohol or other substances;
- Identify witnesses to the accident;
- Identify passengers in the vehicles;
- Identify road work and construction that may have been a factor in causing the accident; and
- Indicate whether anyone involved in the accident received a citation.
By failing to have a Florida Traffic Crash Report created:
- You expose yourself to the adverse driver changing their story as to who was at fault and/or how the accident occurred;
- You can lose valuable contact information of independent witnesses;
- You can expose yourself to a confrontation with the adverse driver; and
- You risk exposing yourself to allegations of leaving the scene of an accident.
An accident report may also have other unintended benefits. For example, not all damage to vehicles or injuries to persons are apparent at the scene of the accident. Often times, pain and injuries are masked by your adrenaline at the scene of the accident. Injuries may not be felt for several hours, or even until the next day. If you later decide you want to file a claim or lawsuit based on your injuries and medical expenses, insurance adjusters and defense attorneys will focus on the contents of the Florida Traffic Crash Report. As you can imagine, the a lack of a report can leave many questions unanswered, and be the subject of a dispute.
No one plans on getting into a car accident, but the actions you take immediately following the accident can really make all the difference. No matter how severe your accident or injuries, be sure to call the attorneys at Greenberg & Strelitz, P.A. for your free consultation at (561)361-9400.