How do you handle a car accident while on vacation in Florida?

What do you do if you're in Florida for a vacation when you get into a car accident? First, don't panic. The initial steps you should take right after an accident will probably sound familiar:

1. Call an ambulance if anyone is even slightly injured, and call the police.

2. Exchange contact information with the other driver, including addresses, phone numbers and insurance information.

3. Try to get contact information from any witnesses to the accident. Sometimes people who witness a crash will pull over and wait to give their statements to the police. Those are good people to approach to for contact information in case you need their testimony in the future.

4. Take photos if you can with a cell phone of both cars, any marks on the road from their tires, debris from the wreck, the road conditions and anything else you think might be important (like shrubs or other plant life that's covering up important road signs).

5. Call your insurance company and report the accident. Do not discuss fault, give all the details you have about the accident. Decline to give a recorded statement, and don't say you aren't injured even if you really think that you aren't. Adrenaline may be masking painful symptoms that will show up in a few hours.

The next step is where things can get a little complicated. Florida is one of the few states with no-fault insurance. Up to a certain amount, your own insurance will pay your medical expenses, lost wages and car repairs. However, that does not mean that you cannot sue for more extensive damages beyond what your insurance will cover.

It's important to understand that (with a few exceptions) Florida will have jurisdiction, or legal authority, over your case.

That can, without a doubt, get inconvenient if you live far away. Fortunately, most of the work involved in any lawsuit, if one is necessary, can be handled long-distance through the magic of modern conveniences like email, Skype, phone calls, faxes and overnight delivery.

Even so, it's smart to consult with an attorney in Florida that handles car accident claims involving out-of-state visitors. If you can, try to make an appointment to discuss your case before you return home.

Source: FindLaw, "Florida Car Accident Compensation Laws," accessed March 31, 2017

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