What Should I Do After An Auto Accident In Florida?
Author: Attorney Jason Macri
Unfortunately, hundreds of auto accidents occur on the streets of Florida every day. Whether it is due to driver distraction, bad weather, lack of attention or intoxication; it seems that more and more people are becoming involved in auto accidents. Many times it is fairly easy to determine who is at fault for an accident. For example, if a vehicle is stopped at a red light and is struck from behind, it is safe to say the person who struck the vehicle from behind is at fault. Barring any unusual circumstances – such as the fact that the driver at the red light was backing for some reason – the driver who struck the other vehicle from behind would be found to be at fault. What about an accident that is not so clear cut? Those are the cases that are difficult to prove.
What to do after a Florida auto accident
Surprisingly, it is very important for a driver of a vehicle to collect their own evidence after an accident. One cannot leave it up to the police to help prove who was at fault. Typically, a police officer is very busy handling a multitude of issues. Your auto accident might not be at the forefront of his/her concerns. Many times it is not a police officer but a community service aide who arrives at the scene of an accident. Community service aides are typically less experienced and less qualified than police officers at investigating accidents. Unfortunately, they are not always able to make an accurate determination of fault. This is why it is very important to collect your own evidence in an effort to prove who was at fault.
Most important piece of evidence: Witnesses
Some of the most important evidence sources are witness statements. The vast majority of auto accidents are witnessed by others. Many witnesses will pull their vehicle over to make sure everyone involved in the accident is ok but they may not stick around if they feel their presence is not necessary. If a person is involved in an accident, after tending to their medical needs they should try to speak with witnesses. One should ask for names and telephone numbers of witnesses that way an attorney or investigator can contact them later and ask what they saw. Once a witness leaves the scene of an accident, it is very unlikely that they will resurface later.
Also very important: Pictures
Pictures are also a very important element to evidence gathering. Many times an accident is not so clear cut and may need a photo to help with the description. Take a side swiping for example; an auto accident where one vehicle runs up on the side of another. In that type of accident, it is extremely difficult to prove who was at fault. One driver will surely say that the other driver came into their lane or ran up on the side of their vehicle. Who do you believe in that situation? A photo of the vehicles may be able to help. What if one vehicle cut in front of the other, causing the accident, and both vehicles stopped where they were when the accident happened? A photo of the scene of that accident could surely help show what really happened. Once those vehicles are moved, it will be impossible to get a photograph of their position. Taking a photo in that instance would be extremely helpful.
Think outside of the box
After an accident many emotions come about that may cloud one’s judgment. Looking for witnesses or snapping photos might not be at the forefront of one’s mind. It is important to think outside of the box however. Ask yourself how you will prove that you were not at fault. There are many different ways to go about proving negligence. It is equally important to prove that you were not negligent. Sometimes proving you were not negligent is the first step to proving that somebody else was.