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What Steps Should I Take Immediately After Witnessing an Accident in Florida?

Even as you breathe a sigh of relief that you were not involved, the fact that you witnessed an accident in Florida certainly inspires you to do what you can to help. You may have seen the dangerous conditions or actions that led to the incident, and you can probably tell that the injuries to the victim are serious. In Florida, people who are hurt in accidents may be entitled to recover compensation for their losses, so you could put this knowledge to good use.

If you witnessed an accident, and especially if you were hurt in one yourself, the key is taking the right steps in the aftermath. Your health is a priority, but so are your rights as a victim. Fortunately, you do not need a legal background to support a claim for yourself, a loved one, or someone you observed getting hurt in an accident. You need some guidance on how to ensure you recover the compensation allowed by law.

When you retain skilled representation for assistance with your claim, you can count on your Florida personal injury lawyer to handle the complexities and legal details. However, if you see someone else suffer injuries, there are some steps you should take immediately after witnessing an accident in Florida.

Common Causes of Accidents

You probably think that it is rare to see an accident happen, so you might be surprised to learn that there are threats all around you. One risk affects anyone who drives or rides in an automobile, as car accidents occur frequently on the busy city streets and roadways in Florida. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), there are 382,300 total motor vehicle crashes statewide every year. More than 3,200 people are killed in these collisions, while almost 241,000 victims suffer injuries ranging from minor to severe.

Additional causes of personal injury accidents include:

  • Collisions involving 18-wheelers, semis, large trucks, and other commercial motorized vehicles;
  • Motorcycle, e-scooter, and e-bicycle crashes;
  • Bicycle and pedestrian accidents;
  • Slip and falls and incidents caused by dangerous conditions on property;
  • Dog bites and animal attacks;
  • Drownings in public and private pools and water attractions;
  • Criminal assault and attacks that occur because of negligent security;
  • Construction site and workplace accidents; and,
  • Negligence in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

Steps to Take After Witnessing an Accident in Florida

If it were you who was writhing in excruciating pain after an accident, scanning around trying to find someone who saw what happened, you would certainly want someone to step up. Of course, when you or a loved one is the victim, you must handle many of the same tasks.

Medical Care: Initially, you should recognize that health care is the first priority for the victim. You must seek appropriate medical treatment for injuries right away, so make sure to take ambulance transport, head to the ER yourself, or get same-day care at an urgent care center.

Gather Evidence: At the scene, in the moments after an accident, there is a wealth of evidence regarding fault and how the incident happened. This information could disappear or become compromised afterward, so you can support a legal claim by capturing as much detail as possible via your cell phone.

Provide Contact Information: You want to ensure the victim can contact you to discuss what you observed and your input as a witness, so pass along your contact details. If you cannot reach the victim, include your name and contact information as a witness when talking with the police. Officers will include this information in their police report, enabling the victim to contact you.

How Your Efforts Help the Victim in Florida

Assisting the victim with medical care is crucial for getting the treatment they need to recover, and your efforts could even save someone’s life when you call 911 as a witness to an accident. However, you can also do a lot to support the victim’s legal rights. The losses for these individuals and their families are tremendous, and you could make a difference in their lives by providing input as a witness.

There are two areas where you can support a victim as a witness, which are important to know if you are ever hurt in an accident.

  1. Insurance Claims: Property owners, motorists, and businesses carry liability insurance to protect their interests when someone is hurt in an accident. The victim’s first step in the legal process is filing a claim under the insurance policy. Statements from witnesses can help with settlement negotiations.
  2. Litigation: If the insurance company refuses to pay a fair amount as compensation for the victim’s losses, the next step is filing a lawsuit. A witness may be called to testify regarding their observations of the accident.

What To Do If YOU are the Victim in Florida

The steps described above regarding medical care are equally important if you are the one who was hurt in an accident, but there are additional tasks you should keep in mind. For one, you should also pay close attention to detail when gathering evidence with your cell phone. Make sure to capture the intersection or stretch of road for a traffic crash, and take pictures of hazardous conditions that caused the accident. Note any security cameras that may have video footage of the incident.

As soon as you receive essential medical care and your condition stabilizes, set up a consultation with a Florida personal injury lawyer. In addition:

  • Make sure to get a copy of the police report.
  • Exchange contact and insurance information with all involved motorists if the accident was a traffic collision.
  • Obtain insurance information from a property or business owner if you were hurt because of dangerous conditions on the premises.
  • If contacted by an insurance company, refer the agent to your attorney. Decline to answer questions or make any statements, as you could reveal too much and harm your rights.

Damages in Florida Accident Cases

When a person is hurt in an accident that was someone else’s fault, it is possible to recover compensation through a personal injury claim. The objective of damages is to reimburse the victim and make them whole after an accident, at least as much as possible under the circumstances. There are different types of compensation available for victims:

  • Economic Damages: This category aims to pay the victim back for expenses and costs incurred to treat injuries, as well as other tangible losses related to the injuries. Examples include medical bills for emergency care, hospitalization, surgery, rehabilitation, and pain medications. Victims can also recover amounts for lost wages if they are unable to work because of their injuries.
  • Noneconomic Damages: There are losses that a victim suffers which are personal and subjective, since they affect quality of life. They cannot be quantified regarding dollar value, but the victim endures hardship. Pain and suffering, emotional distress, and scarring and disfigurement are types of noneconomic damages.
  • Wrongful Death Damages: In the event of a fatal accident, the victim’s surviving family members may be entitled to compensation for their own losses. The survivors can file a wrongful death claim to seek amounts for funeral and burial costs, as well as lost support, love, education, guidance, and financial contributions.

Questions to Ask a Personal Injury Attorney in Florida

If you were the victim of an accident instead of a witness, it is essential to reach out for legal help right away. However, the idea of retaining a lawyer can be daunting if you have never needed representation in the past. To help guide you in finding the right fit, you can ask a few key questions:

  • What percentage of your cases is personal injury matters? You want to know that your attorney primarily focuses on accident claims.
  • What are some strengths and weaknesses in my cases? You must realize what factors could affect the outcome of your case.
  • Should I consider settling? Every case is different, but your lawyer can help you make informed decisions about your options. When the insurer will not pay a sufficient amount, settlement may not be a wise move.

Timeline of an Accident Case in Florida

After witnessing an accident and offering your efforts, you may participate in some aspects of the legal process. Knowing the chronology of a personal injury claim is also critical if you or a loved one was hurt. The timeline generally works as follows:

  • The victim files an insurance claim, which may include witness statements. The insurer will conduct an investigation and may contact a witness for additional information.
  • The parties will engage in negotiations in an attempt to settle out of court.
  • If they cannot settle, the victim must file a lawsuit in court. As part of the litigation process, the parties may call a witness for a deposition to get additional details on the accident.
  • For lawsuits that do not settle, the court will schedule a trial. A witness will be called to testify regarding their observations of the accident.

Speak to a Florida Personal Injury Attorney About Legal Remedies

When reviewing the bigger picture regarding timing for a claim, it is helpful to know what steps you should take immediately after witnessing an accident in Florida. This information is especially useful if it is you or a loved one that suffered harm. Our team at Rosen Injury Law, P.A. is prepared to handle the legal tasks, so please get in touch with us to schedule a consultation. A knowledgeable Florida personal injury lawyer can provide personalized advice after reviewing your situation.

Related Content: How Long Does a Car Accident Claim Take in Florida?

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