Who To Speak To At The Scene Of A Crash

If you are able to communicate and move around after a vehicle crash, without causing more harm to yourself or others, there are several people you must speak with. The Florida Highway Patrol will want to know basic information about yourself, the vehicle you were driving, and how the crash occurred.

Some people are concerned they may be partially at fault in the crash. Florida Law has a rule that prohibits information given to the investigating officer about how the crash occurred being used against you in a civil lawsuit in most cases. If you plan on contesting a ticket you received at the scene of the crash, communicate with an attorney first. There are consequences against you in a civil case if you lose that traffic ticket contest. 

At an automobile crash scene, it is also important to check with the injury status of other persons involved in the crash. Often, the person who caused the crash will also tell you why they were not paying attention or what happened that caused the accident. If possible, have someone you trust with you in case they change their story later. However, do not give detailed information to the person who caused the crash, unless needed for your safety. Often, they are also in an unsettled state of mind and misinterpret what you tell them. Later, they may wrongly use this to their advantage.  

If an ambulance is called to the scene and you are able to communicate the nature of your injuries to them, you should tell them every part of your body that has any ache or pain. The pain in these areas can increase over the next days and even weeks. Ambulance employees are trained to know that. 

If you are asked if you suffered a concussion at the scene and do not have clear memory, tell them that. Do not suggest you have a clear memory if you do not. This can limit their ability to make decisions about your care. If the ambulance employee or first responder asks you if you want to go to a hospital, or suggest that you need to go to a hospital, it is always best to exercise caution and go. As Benjamin Franklin said, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”   

Often, the fire department arrives at the scene first due to their location relevant to the crash. They may have trained paramedics who arrive in advance of the ambulance. You should communicate with them as you would the ambulance providers. They are able to communicate with all emergency personnel. They can let all know what is needed at the scene for everyone’s protection. 

 Use your cell phone to call or contact a family member or friend who can come to the scene and assist you. If asked by them, be sure to answer their questions about how you are doing. Describe each and every injury you feel. If they have a cell phone or camera, have them take photographs of the injuries, the scene, and the vehicles. Also, take photographs of the folks who are there. They may be witnesses. 

Always obtain the name, address and phone number of witnesses at the scene. Busy law enforcement may arrive after the witnesses have left the scene and your information will be helpful to them in doing their job. It will also help us obtain the information we need to help you. 

Exercise care in talking to everyone who comes to the scene of the crash.   The person who is at fault may contact their family members or friends to come to the scene, and they will speak to you. Later their memory of the conversation will support their friend or family member, and their story will be the exact opposite of what you recall. 

Do not speak to an opposing insurance adjuster. This rule applies even if you are insured by the same carrier.

Often an insurance adjuster will arrive at the scene before law enforcement. Their job is to pay you a very minimum amount of money to release all claims, before you know the full extent of your injury.  

In tractor-trailer, malpractice, slip and fall, nursing home, workers compensation, and other cases, so called safety representatives and insurance claim representatives will try to speak to you before anyone else.  You should exercise great caution in speaking to them.  Politely tell them you look forward to speaking to them at a later time after you have been checked out for your injuries. Their job is to also pay you a minimum amount to settle all your claims. Often the day of or after the crash, these same folks will show up at your front door. This does not change the nature of their job. You should politely tell them you need time to determine the full extent of your harms and losses from the crash and look forward to speaking to them later. If they volunteer details about the person who caused the crash, have a friend there so you can make notes after they leave. You can use these notes to refresh your recollection later if needed.


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