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Tuesday, August 7, 2018

What to do After an Auto Accident

By Catherine Powell

Image courtesy of wikimedia
Into every life, a little rain must fall.  Actually, in Florida, it’s more like a LOT of rain.  Not only does it rain almost every day during the summer in the Sunshine State, but this is the time of year when more accidents happen.  Big surprise there, right?  That being said, if you happen to wind up in an auto accident, here is my list of do’s and don’ts.


      1.      Check for Injuries – In the aftermath of an accident, the adrenaline is pumping.  This makes it all too easy to be unaware of any injuries to you, your passengers or anyone else involved in the accident.  Even a low-speed accident of less than 10 MPH can cause whiplash, back or knee involvement or other injuries that will only become apparent in the days or weeks following the accident. 

      2.      Move Your Vehicle – Before exiting your vehicle, you need to drive it onto the shoulder of the road if possible.  The last thing you want to do is to survive the car crash only to get creamed by a passing car after you exit the vehicle.

      3.      Get Out – Once you do exit the vehicle, you should check on the occupants of any other vehicles or pedestrians involved in the accident.  This is not the time for finger-pointing, so don’t play the blame game.  All it can do is get anyone else involved in the accident and on the defensive.  The opportunity to present your case will come once the police arrive on the scene.

Image courtesy Max Pixel

      4.      Call the Police – If there is any noticeable damage to your car, you need to summon the police.  Even if they don’t issue a ticket, your ability to document the accident and get compensated by the at-fault driver necessitates a police report.  Don’t let the other driver tell you he or she will be more than happy to pay for damages to your vehicle out of pocket.  As soon as you head for home, they could easily change their mind and refuse to pay.  If you have no documentation from the scene of the accident, good luck getting them to pay up.

If need be, call for an ambulance as well.  Unless you are a trained EMT or a practicing doctor or nurse, the scene of an accident is no place to play doctor.  If an accident was serious enough to cause serious injuries, your efforts to assist an injured motorist could well cause additional damage (for which you could be held liable).  You’d be surprised how easy it is to cause a neck or back injury by trying to move an injured motorist.  Unless the car is on fire or a limb has been severed, your best bet is to ask if anyone nearby has medical training while you wait for the ambulance to arrive.

      5.      Document the Scene – If you have a cell phone with a camera, use it to document the scene and the damage to your vehicle before the police arrive.  It will help you make your case to the cops and the insurance company if you can show proof of the damage done. 

      6.      Call Your Insurance Agent – Once the police have been alerted and you have documented the scene, it’s time to call your insurance agent to start the process of filing a claim.  Your agent can not only help you make the right moves after an accident has occurred, he or she can also give you helpful advice on what to tell the police when they arrive on the scene


      1.      Leave the Scene – Once an accident has occurred, do not leave the scene.  Not only is this likely to get you in more hot water with the police, it could result in your arrest.  Even if the collision was minor, you are required by law to stop, check on any other parties involved in the accident and exchange insurance information.
Image courtesy flickr

      2.      Lose Your Cool – The second biggest blunder you can make is to go from a traumatic incident like a traffic accident to a potentially deadly incident of road rage.  Sure, you’re angry that you were involved in an accident.  Even if the accident was 100% the other motorist’s fault, you won’t be held blameless if you wind up adding insult to injury by verbally or physically confronting the other driver.  Not only will it not help to defuse an already explosive situation, it could well escalate it to the point of no return.

“The number of road rage incidents that involve firearms also appears to be rising. Last month, The Trace, a nonprofit news organization focused on gun violence, found that cases of road rage involving a firearm more than doubled to 620 in 2016 from 247 in 2014, with 136 people killed in those three years. The count included cases of motorists brandishing or firing a weapon at another driver or passenger.”

      3.      Neglect to Exchange Info – In the aftermath of an accident shock can set in.  You’re not at your most lucid when it comes to remembering what you need to do.  Regardless of the extent of damage or injury, you should always exchange insurance and license information with the other driver.  Also, make sure you write down the license plate on the other driver’s vehicle, since it may not be owned by the driver involved in the accident.  If you fail to exchange info and something happens days or weeks later, you will be on your own when it comes to seeking compensation for damage or injuries.

      4.      Look at the Short-Term Effects – This is the one that gets more drivers into hot water than any other.  You get in a fender bender, and there are no obvious injuries.  Nobody is bleeding; an ambulance isn’t summoned, so why worry?  If you only look at the short-term effects of an accident, even a minor one, what happens a few days later if your neck starts to throb or your back goes out?  You’re on your own, that’s what.  It isn’t unusual for injuries to the spine and neck to take days or even weeks to pop up. 

If you do detect anything amiss in the days following an auto accident, don’t delay, see a doctor right away.  Not only can a doctor or chiropractor start you on the road to recovery, he or she can also help you document any injury so that you can file a claim. Many insurance companies have time limits on how long a driver has to file a claim.  Any delay could cost you big.

Catherine Powell is the owner of A Plus All Florida, Insurance in Orange Park, Florida.  To find out more ways to protect you and yours on the road, check out her website at


  1. Having been an EMT, I can tell you more people survive the crash only to get hit once they exit their vehicle. You'd be surprised at what shock can cause people to do in a crisis.

  2. Been there done that. I wish I had these tip written down at the time it happened. It would have been a big help.


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