A few weeks ago, I was driving home from a lovely dinner and evening on Anna Maria Island. I had enjoyed some time on the beach with my two young children and my mother, who was visiting from Ohio, We were tired, covered in sand and on our way home after a long, fun day. While stopped at a red light on Manatee Avenue, we were hit from behind. As we sat, stunned, we were hit again, by the same car.
After confirming that my passengers were uninjured, I hopped out of my car to check on the driver of the other vehicle. She said she was fine, and I suggested we get off the busy street. We pulled into a nearby parking lot to assess damage and exchange insurance info.
But that’s about where my plan ended. I laughed about it later, as I realized I work in the office of two highly experienced personal injury attorneys. A large portion of our caseload is the result of auto accidents. But I had no idea what to do in case of a motor vehicle accident.
Auto accidents happen – a lot
With high traffic volume, seemingly endless construction and tourist destinations at nearly every turn, it’s no surprise that there is a multitude of auto accidents in the area. Traffic reports mention issues on I-75, University Parkway and Fruitville Road on a regular basis. According to Florida’s Integrated Report Exchange System, there were 6,570 reported crashes in Sarasota County in 2016. That’s an average of 18 a day.
With numbers like that, it’s hard to believe that, ala The Hunger Games, the odds would be ever in your favor of not being involved in an accident. While there is a wide range of severity in these crashes in regard to both property damage and personal injury, documentation is critical and starts at the scene.
It can be overwhelming at the time of an auto accident to think about what needs to be done and recorded. Certain information could be extremely helpful for insurance/personal injury claims. I was fortunate to have my mom with me. She was thinking far more clearly and calmly than I was.
I was also fortunate to have her cell phone with us, as my phone battery was nearly dead. My phone had just enough juice left to call the police. My mom captured key photographs of the cars and the scene on her phone.
What to do in an auto accident
Here are some key tips about what to do when in a car accident, adapted from esurance.com:
- Move to a safe area if possible. If you are unable to move yourself and/or your vehicle, turn on your hazard lights to alert other drivers. If you’re able to move, turn off your vehicle and get out, making sure it is safe to do so before exiting.
- Check on others involved. Call 911 if anyone is injured.
- Call the police to the scene. Cooperate fully but avoid blaming others or admitting fault.
- Gather info. Get names and contact info for drivers, passengers and witnesses. Record license plate numbers, insurance information and the make and model of all vehicles involved.
- Document the scene. Take photos of damage to the involved cars (close-up and long distance shots), the accident location (try to include stop signs and traffic lights, if applicable), any damage of the location/scene, if significant (i.e. signs, trees, etc.), and your injuries, if applicable.
Notify your insurance company. And if you are injured, contact Luhrsen Goldberg at 941-212-2600 for a free consultation. Our attorneys, based in Lakewood Ranch, have 25 years of experience. Julie Luhrsen and Christina Goldberg have established reputations as skilled and trustworthy advocates for personal injury victims and proudly provide personalized attention to their clients.