What To Do After A Car Accident 5 Important Steps

gainesville car accident attorney

Even though it’s a minor accident, a car crash can be quite traumatic. It is possible that you don’t know what to do immediately after an accident. There are steps you can take after a car crash, gainesville car accident attorney.

It is crucial to act quickly and decisively in order to receive the help you need to repair your injuries and property damage. These are just a few of the major issues you should be aware of.

We recommend reading more about each topic.

Report an Accident

No matter the fault of anyone, you will need to report any accident to your insurance company. Failure to report an accident to your insurer will make it difficult to bring a claim later. 

It is possible that you will need to report the accident, depending on whether there were injuries or property damage. You may need to report the accident to police even if it is not necessary. 

You may be able to get evidence from the police that could support your claim.

Gather evidence

To-Do

  • Take photos
  • Talk to witnesses
  • Get official reports

You should take photographs and videos of the accident site if you are physically capable to support your claim. Photographs of the accident scene can be taken to show the location of the cars after it happened, as well as any damage or debris.

You also need to capture your injuries and the surrounding area. If there was a stop sign or traffic light, you might want to capture the vehicles in relation to that sign or light. It is also a good idea to get the contact information for any witnesses to the accident such as pedestrians and people in other vehicles. 

These witnesses can verify your account of what happened leading up to the accident. A report will be generated if the police arrive on the scene. A police report is a valuable piece of information for an insurance company.

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Investigate Fault

After a car accident, you can sue multiple parties. You don’t have to assume that one driver is responsible. You can increase your chances of getting all the compensation you deserve by involving all the parties involved in the lawsuit or claim. defendants can include drivers and the employer of at-fault drivers if they were working at the time. 

Sometimes, the responsible entity for maintaining or designing the road or its surroundings could also be held liable in complex cases.

Hire a lawyer

Fault & Injury

If serious injuries are involved, or if fault is being disputed, a lawyer might be of assistance.

A lawyer may not be necessary if your accident caused minor damage to property. A lawyer is recommended if you are seriously injured or your claim appears likely to be denied. 

Most car accident lawyers work on a contingent fee basis. This means they only get paid if and when you get paid. It is important to find an attorney that you can relate to and who has experience in handling similar cases to yours.

Get ready for a fight

Sometimes fault is clear and liability is quickly conceded. Any dispute relates to the amount of victim’s damages. However, the defendant or their insurance will vigorously defend any claim. 

They might argue that the victim did not comply with a procedural rule such as the statutes of limitations or they could raise the argument of comparative negligence or contributory negligence. 

The rules are different for each state. However, the general principle is that the victim’s damages can be reduced or eliminated completely if the defendant can prove that they were at least partially responsible for the accident. 

An insurer should not accept fault. Instead, you should speak with an attorney about the matter.

Reporting a Car Accident

You may be unsure if it is possible to move on after being involved in a minor car accident such as a parking area accident. While some accidents can cause damage to the vehicle, others may not result in injuries. 

There are different laws in each state that govern whether or not an accident should be reported to the police. However, almost every insurance policy requires that drivers report any accident to the insurance company.

Reporting to Law Enforcement

It is often dependent on the extent of injuries sustained in an accident that you must report it to police. You may not have to report an accident if it caused only property damage. 

You may be required to report an accident that only caused property damage in certain states if the damage exceeds a certain amount such as $1,000 or $2,500.Benefits

The police may be able to contact the driver who is not cooperating and provide insurance information.

Even if the accident is not technically reported, it can be beneficial to get law enforcement involved. Drivers must stop at an accident scene to exchange insurance information and contact information. If the driver fails to do so, or you suspect they are not insured, police can help you locate them or encourage them. 

The police report that law enforcement generates after an accident can be very useful in helping to determine who was responsible. They can inspect the accident scene and take photographs as well as witness observations. 

Although you might think you won’t need to file a claim as there weren’t any injuries, you may be liable for certain injuries later.

Sometimes, law enforcement won’t respond to accidents that don’t involve injuries sustained in weather-related emergencies. 

However, you can still fill out an accident report form together with the other driver and send it to the appropriate agency. These forms may be available at gas stations or roadside shops.

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Reporting to Insurers

Many drivers involved in accidents that don’t cause injury are reluctant to speak with their insurer. Some drivers may not feel the need to fill out paperwork, or they might be worried about their premiums rising. It is a grave mistake to fail to submit a report to your insurer.

Your insurer may not cover you if you find out later that your injuries are more severe than you thought, or if another driver claims injuries or vehicle damage. 

You will likely be told by your insurer that the accident was not reported. This could mean that the policy may not cover certain terms. You may pay more if the accident costs are significant than you would have paid through higher premiums.How to file a claim

Drivers are not required to report an accident to their insurance company. Not reporting an accident to your insurer may save you from losing your coverage.

In some cases, there are rare circumstances in which an accident could lead to a dispute. You might have bumped into a structure on your property, or an item of equipment you own. 

You might not be subject to any penalties if the damage is limited to property you own and no one else is hurt. However, it is prudent and usually legal to file a report.Car Accident Cases: Evidence

Car Accident Cases: Evidence

Even if your car accident was minor, it is important to gather evidence as soon as possible. If you are unable to take photographs of the accident scene or any injuries or property damage, it may be possible to prove damages later. 

Witnesses who witnessed the accident or the events that led up to it may be able to confirm your story. It is important to build your claim quickly, as both memories and physical evidence can fade over time.

Photographs

If your injuries don’t prevent you from taking photos, you can take photographs with your phone from different angles. Photograph debris from the accident, skid marks and any other evidence of the crash. A stop sign, traffic signal or other traffic control device is another important part of an accident scene. 

A photo of the device, which can be included in the photo, can help to show who was allowed to use it and the location where the accident occurred.Photo Evidence

Photos after a car accident may illustrate:

  • The debris from the collision
  • Skid marks
  • Obstructions or road conditions
  • Traffic control devices
  • The perspective of each driver
  • Property damage
  • Bodily injuries

You might have heard the other driver claim that they couldn’t see your vehicle from the angle they were approaching it. To discredit this argument, you can take photos as if the other driver was looking at it.

Photographs of the vehicles and close-ups can be helpful in proving the extent of your injuries as well as illuminating the mechanics of an accident. Also, take photos of any injuries you might have.

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Witness testimony

Every driver involved in an accident must stop at the scene to exchange information with other drivers. Failure to do so is a hit-and-run crime. 

You should get the license plate number of a driver who does not stop and inform police. If they stop, get their contact information and identification. This information can be found on the driver’s car registration or insurance card.

Others who weren’t involved in the accident, such as pedestrians or drivers of other cars, might have witnessed the event and could testify for you. 

It is a good idea to get their contact information. They might be able confirm or refute your claim that the other driver is at fault.

Official Records

You may be allowed to use the police report that you have filed about the accident as evidence if you notify law enforcement. You should still get a copy of the report even if you disagree with some parts. The officer will provide an assessment of the accident and make the report public. 

Although this is not conclusive because the officer did not witness the accident, it can be persuasive.Copies to be requested

Drivers may request copies of the DMV or police reports from their respective law enforcement offices or DMV or the insurance adjuster, if they have filed a claim.

The other driver must file an accident report with your state if you require drivers to. It is important that you get a copy both of the other driver’s report and your own. 

You might have received a report from the other driver that conflicts with yours. These conflicts can be used to show that you should not credit the version of events given by the other driver.

Police reports in car accident cases

An officer who is summoned to the scene of an accident will create a report. The report will include important details about the accident, as well as an officer’s impression of the person responsible. 

The police report on an accident in which your involvement was involved can be obtained by asking the law enforcement agency that the officer is a part of to request a copy. 

You will need to request the identification number from the officer who will likely give it to you. A claims representative from your insurance company might be able help you obtain the report.

Understanding a Police Report

Non-Binding

Some information in the police report may be disputed by an insurance company or another party.

A police officer will usually conduct thorough investigations of the scene in order to include as many information as possible in their report. 

While some of these pieces are factual, others are opinions. Some examples of factual information include the date, place, and time of the accident, the names of any witnesses and drivers, weather conditions and the areas that were damaged. A police officer may also create a diagram of an accident scene and ask witnesses and parties for statements.

Statements about the cause of the collision and who is responsible for it are opinions, however. These statements are not binding and may not reflect the views of insurance companies. They will conduct their own investigations.

Use a Police Report

It can be difficult to determine whether a police report in a case involving a car accident is admissible in court. It may depend on your state’s rules of evidence. It is possible that a police report falls under the definition of hearsay. This is not admissible. 

Hearsay is generally an out-of court statement that is used to prove the truth. However, in some states there are exceptions for public records and business records, when a statement would otherwise be hearsay. This could include a portion of a police report.

You may be allowed to use the police reports if your case is in small claims court. The admissibility standard for evidence in small claims courts is much lower than that of regular courts.

Disagreement with a Police Report

Police officers make mistakes and are human. You might be able get the police report amended if you believe there is a factual error. 

If the officer incorrectly states the number of vehicles involved in the accident or the location where it occurred, you may be able to send the evidence and correct information to the law enforcement agency who created the report. 

If the evidence is sufficient, they should amend the report.Modifying a Police Report

It may be simpler to correct indisputable errors (e.g., the road where the accident occurred) on the report than to modify the officer’s conclusion about the cause of the crash.

However, if the officer’s legal conclusions and opinions regarding the accident are not in your favor, this section of the report will be rewritten. Although you may be able add your version of the events to the report, this depends on the discretion of law enforcement agencies.

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Whom do I sue after a car accident?

Accidents can occur without warning and it is possible to not know what caused the crash. After you have been treated for any injuries, it is important to keep evidence of what occurred during the time leading up to the accident. Most car accidents are caused by driver error.

However, it is possible that there may be others at fault. You may be able to obtain full compensation for your injuries and costs if you bring in more defendants.

Driving a driver

First, you need to investigate the liability of any or all of the involved drivers in a collision. Unsafe driving can lead to an accident. A driver who is found guilty of negligence may be held responsible. This means they did not take reasonable precautions behind the wheel. 

Multiple drivers could be responsible in chain reaction cases that involve multiple vehicles. A victim can have multiple insurance policies if all the relevant drivers are present in the case. 

This is important because one person’s policy might not be sufficient to cover catastrophic injuries to multiple victims.Application for a Minor’s Licence

In some states, such as California and, liability is imposed on an individual who signs a minor’s driver license application.

Suing a Vehicle owner

You may be able sue the car owner if they allowed another person to drive their car that they shouldn’t have trusted and this person causes an accident. 

This applies in teenager driver accident cases where the teenager responsible for the crash was driving a parent’s car. It is important to show that the car’s owner knew that the driver was unsafe. 

Negligent entrustment is not applicable in cases involving stolen vehicles, as the owner of that vehicle probably couldn’t have expected the driver to drive their car.

Suing an Employer for a Driver

A theory of vicarious responsibility can be used to sue an employer if a driver is at fault in an accident. This applies regardless if the employer was negligent. If you were struck by a driver driving a red light, the employer could be sued, provided that the driver wasn’t an independent contractor.

Sometimes, negligence by an employer may be responsible for an accident. 

The employer may be sued under negligent supervision, negligent hiring, and negligent training. They may have hired a drunk driver or imposed policies that encourage reckless driving. 

Other situations could involve the employer failing to properly inspect and maintain a vehicle. All of these theories require the employer to prove the elements of negligence.

Suing Car Manufacturers

A defective vehicle or part could play a role when a car is in an accident. Although this is less common than driver error. You might file a products liability against the manufacturer and other entities involved in the distribution chain if a tire blows or malfunctions, or a airbag fails or is not deployed. 

Products liability claims are usually based on strict liability, not negligence. This means that you don’t need to prove that the defendant did not use reasonable care. 

You can establish liability by proving that the defective component or vehicle caused the accident.Negligent Repairs

A repair shop that repaired the vehicle may be responsible for negligent repairs if the accident was caused by a malfunction .

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Contractors and Government Entities

An accident may have been caused by poor road conditions. You may be able sue the government for negligently repairing the road. The government must usually comply with strict procedural requirements.

These claims must be brought within a shorter time frame than personal injury claims. To limit the government’s exposure, damages caps may also be applied.

Private Property Owners

Rarely, an accident could be caused by a property owner not keeping their property safe. A bush or tree might grow too close to the road, making it difficult for drivers to see other vehicles and stop signs. 

This factor can be a contributing factor to your accident. You may file a premises liability lawsuit against the property owner. The property owner must prove the hazardous condition existed and that they knew or should have known.

Work with a Car Accident Lawyer

You may be able handle your insurance claim on the basis of a minor car accident that caused only minimal property damage and no injuries. If you have suffered severe injuries from a car accident, such as severe medical bills or lost income, there may be a lot at stake. 

You may also find that the insurance company will spend more to contest all or part of your claim. A car accident lawyer may be a good choice in these cases.

Most attorneys who represent car accident victims and those with personal injuries cases work on a contingent fee basis. They will usually take a percentage of any settlement or judgment you receive. 

You don’t usually have to pay anything if they don’t get any money for you. You will need to find out who will pay for the additional costs of filing a claim when you retain an attorney.

How an attorney can help

Your attorney can help you communicate with insurance companies and other adverse parties. This will take away the stress and ensure that you are not taken advantage of by an insurance adjuster. 

Although negotiating a settlement in a case involving a car accident is often difficult and complex, an attorney might be better equipped to help the victim determine the value of the case and how to get the insurance company to pay. Lien holders can also cause complications. 

These are insurers who provided benefits to accident victims before the auto insurance, which creates a lien. An attorney can help reduce the lien to ensure that you keep as much of the settlement/judgment as possible.Insurance Tactics and Bad Faith

Insurance companies often take advantage of car accident claimants’ anxiety and inexperience to settle claims quickly and cheaply. 

These tactics can even escalate to bad faith where the claimant could pursue separate damages against the insurance company. An experienced lawyer can help alleviate the stress and hold the insurance company responsible.

An attorney can also help you gather evidence to support your case. It is important to gather evidence about both liability (who caused it) and damages (what you have lost as a result of it). 

An attorney may hire experts to investigate the accident. They can also discuss the events with witnesses and police officers. To determine the extent and severity of your injuries, they can help you obtain evidence from medical professionals. Sometimes, an attorney may hire medical experts to help explain the effects of your injuries.

How to choose a car accident lawyer

You should choose an attorney who is able to relate to you when you’re looking. You should also look for someone who has handled similar cases to yours. 

An important asset is trial experience. Insurers may be more willing to pay more if the victim’s lawyer is willing to take it to trial. It is important to confirm that your attorney will actually be handling your case and not passing it to paralegals or any other assistants.

Learn more about how to find and work with a personal injury attorney.

Request a Case Evaluation

In the first meeting with an attorney or assistant, you will discuss the details of the accident and your injuries. Before deciding whether to accept the case, the attorney or their assistant might ask you about your insurance coverage. To better understand your case, the attorney might ask you to bring along certain documents. 

You may be asked to bring medical bills, the accident report from the police, and correspondence with insurance companies. The attorney-client privilege protects the contents of these conversations.

Therefore, you need to be honest with your attorney. This will allow both parties to determine the value of your case, and whether or not it is a good idea to proceed together.

Car Accident Cases: Defenses

You may be able, if you are sued by someone else after a car accident, to challenge their ability to prove elements such as causation. You may also be able to use other defense strategies to minimize or avoid liability. 

Your auto insurer will likely investigate your case and develop litigation strategies for you if it is covered. It may still be helpful to learn how these arguments work, regardless of whether you are a plaintiff or a defendant.

Many times, multiple drivers were responsible for an accident. 

One driver may have failed to yield the right-of-way while the other was speeding. Perhaps one driver was distracted on their phone while the other was tailgating. This raises the question of the plaintiff’s negligence. It can be dealt with in three ways.

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Pure Comparative Negligence

Comparative negligence states that a victim who is partially at fault for causing an injury or death should also be held responsible. California, New York and Florida follow a pure comparative negligence approach. They determine the percentage of fault each party has for an accident and then allocate damages accordingly. If each driver was 50% responsible for a crash they could each receive half the damages from the other. Even if the plaintiff is more at fault than defendant, they may be awarded damages proportionately to their fault.

Comparative negligence is basically proving elements of a negligence case against the plaintiff. They had a duty of care and failed to do so, causing the accident. A plaintiff must investigate the accident thoroughly in order to determine the defendant’s responsibility. The defendant will also need to conduct a thorough investigation in order to prove the plaintiff’s comparative fault.The Fault of Other Parties

It is possible for more than one cause to a car accident. A defendant might try to reduce their proportional liability by claiming that the plaintiff or another defendant was at most partially to blame.

Modified Comparative Negligence

Modified comparative negligence is used by some states, which may be more friendly to certain defendants. Modified comparative negligence establishes a cutoff point for fault. Any damages cannot be awarded to plaintiffs whose fault exceeds this percentage. 

This is typically between 50% and 51%. This is because a defendant shouldn’t have to pay money to someone who was equally at fault or more for the accident.

A modified comparative negligence system is used if the plaintiff’s percentage fault falls below the cutoff.

Contributory Negligence

This rule is very favorable to defendants and only applies in four states (Maryland Virginia North Carolina North Carolina Alabama and Alabama).

It also does not apply in the District of Columbia. This rule states that a plaintiff in a car accident cannot recover damages if they are partially responsible for the accident. 

The plaintiff does not get any damages even if the plaintiff was only 5% responsible. In these states, the defendants and their insurers try to make this argument as often as possible. You should consult an experienced attorney if you have a claim for car accidents in a state with contributory negligence.

Procedural defenses

A defendant or their insurer can try to dismiss a case on procedural grounds if a comparative/contributory negligence argument is not applicable. These arguments are not related to the merits of the case. The statute of limitations is an important procedural argument.

This is the state’s deadline to file a personal injury lawsuit. The case will almost always be dismissed if the plaintiff fails to comply with this deadline. Insurers or defendants may also argue that the complaint does not state a claim or that it lacks technical elements.

A court may allow or deny a plaintiff the right to amend a complaint depending on the circumstances.Failure to state a claim

A plaintiff must present sufficient facts to support their claim in order to make a valid claim. A plaintiff claiming general negligence must, for example, include all facts related to duty, breach, causation and damages.

A plaintiff must adhere to all procedural rules in order to avoid any complications or setbacks. They should consult an attorney if they are uncertain whether a particular rule applies.

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