Whittel & Melton’s personal Injury law practice, (based in Hernando County, but practicing daily in Pasco, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Sumter, Lake, Marion, Orange and Alachua Counties), has taught us the unfortunate lesson to be very weary of other drivers during the holiday season.
Historically, we have seen the very worst of the driving public during this time and wanted to let the community know what steps we recommend taking immediately following an auto accident where someone may be injured. As an example, NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) has published studies showing from 2001-2005, there was an average of 36 deaths that occurred per day on America’s roadways as a result of an alcohol impaired driver or DUI. During Christmas, this horrific number actually goes up to 45 per day and jumps even higher during the New Year’s holiday, to 54 deaths per day.
If you have been in an auto accident in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Dade City, New Port Richey, Spring Hill, Brooksville, Bushnell, Tavares, Orlando, The Villages, Ocala, Inverness, Crystal River, Gainesville or anywhere in Florida – taking the following steps will hopefully make a potentially scary and stressful situation something you can move forward from and not be taken advantage of. The worst part of being the victim of any car accident in Florida is when the Auto Insurance companies continue to victimize youby treating you as if you were looking to have such a problem in your life. Don’t be victim twice – read the below steps and let us know what we can do to help – 352-666-6666.
Whittel & Melton, LLC – Florida Personal Injury Lawyers
Step 1 – No matter who is at fault for the accident, call 9-1-1 and ask for assistance from law enforcement. This is a very important for several reasons. First, you will later want the best and most accurate record of the details of the accident from an unbiased source and FHP, Sheriff or local police department will hopefully complete some type of Florida Crash Report. Second, should there be any hurt feelings or bad attitudes at the scene, a law enforcement official can help keep the peace. Most importantly however, after a crash, your body is rushed with adrenaline and emotion and you really are the last person to make the assessment as to whether or not you need medical care – let someone else decide this – like EMS.
If for some reason, law enforcement does not appear at the crash scene and you are injured, find your own transportation to the hospital. Too often we have clients who needed immediate care, but waited for an ambulance that never appeared. Your health is the highest priority – get yourself to the hospital if needed.
Step 2 – To the extent physically possible, exchange as much information as possible with all other vehicles and any witnesses. Too often, very important eyewitness accounts are lost due to folks not taking appropriate notes.
Step 3 – Take Pictures. Unfortunately no matter how many witnesses or law enforcement reports, Insurance companies love to play devil’s advocate and suggest that somehow they are unable to do their job due to incomplete information. Like anything else, pictures are sometimes unavoidable versions of the truth. When applicable, you should not only take pictures of the accident scene, the vehicles involved, the local scenery around the accident, but also the actual injuries of those involved. Please keep a disposable camera in your vehicle for such an occasion. iPhones and Blackberry phones capable of taking pictures and/or video and emailing the contents are great options, too.
Step 4 – Contact your insurance company and report the accident. You do not need to get into details about the accident, whether or not you’re are hurt or whether or not you are seeing a doctor. Simply call your insurance company and report that the accident occurred, that you were involved, give them the Florida Crash report information or the other drivers information if you have it—and the simply let them know that your attorney will be in contact with them in the near future. This is important because you have contractual obligation to report the accident to your insurance company. Once you have reported the accident, our office can direct any future communication regarding the specifics involved in your case. Do not sign any documents or give any kind or recorded or unrecorded statements about the events of the accident without speaking to one of the personal injury lawyers at Whittel & Melton first.
Step 5 – Be sure that you have a medical doctor that you can see after any emergency care that you have been given. Too frequently our office hears from individuals who were injured in automobile accidents and state that they went to the emergency room and were told that they were fine and did not follow up with any physician—only to learn they had injuries which required surgery. What many folks don’t understand is that the doctors at the ER, although highly trained and very intelligent, are required to treat people to avoid tragic outcomes, like death and dismemberment. These emergency doctors are not well equipped to deal with pain and the necessary first steps of treating serious, although not life threatening, injuries. If you do not have a doctor you are comfortable seeing for your injuries, our staff would be happy to provide you some names of very component medical help in our community.
Step 6 – Of course, we need to see you as soon as possible. The fact of the matter is you could skip the first 5 steps and we could still help you, but the further along the way you are on steps 1-5, step 6, coming to see the auto injury attorneys at Whittel & Melton, will allow us to help you better.
If you or a loved one has been in a Hernando County car accident and experienced any injury, please call the Spring Hill and Brooksville law firm of Whittel & Melton at 352-666-6666 or visit us online.