If you were fortunate to walk away from your vehicle after a car accident in Tampa, you must remain at the accident scene and wait for the police to arrive. The presence of officers is likely to bring you comfort, knowing help is available, but it could make you nervous. If you’ve never been in a major accident before, read on to find out what to expect during a Tampa car accident scene investigation and how you can protect your rights.
The Officer at the Tampa Car Crash Scene Will Render Aid
Before the police arrive at the scene, dispatch should contact emergency medical services if someone is hurt. If they have not arrived, police will aid anyone hurt in the crash. The officers may check on you to see if you need medical attention. They’ll report back to dispatch about your condition and that of the other victims and get an estimated time of arrival for EMS.
You Must Provide Pertinent Information During the Car Accident Investigation
Once officers and/or EMS render aid, the police will begin gathering information about the drivers and the vehicles involved in the Tampa car accident. All the information they gather will go into the crash report, which is essential evidence if you file a car accident claim against the other driver later. Police may fill out a long-form or short-form crash report, depending on the collision’s severity. Officers will ask you for your:
- Name/ID or driver’s license
- Vehicle registration
- Insurance card or policy information (company, policy number, contact info)
- Phone number
Officers will also collect the following information, though they may or may not specifically ask you for it:
- Make and model of the car
- Body style of car
- License plate number
- Model year
- Color of the car
- Estimated cost of damage to your vehicle
- Name of the vehicle owner
This is all standard procedure, as the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) mandates. You can provide insurance information in a physical or electronic format. The info you provide is necessary to facilitate the investigation. Florida law also requires you to exchange with the other drivers and passengers in the accident. Be honest about this information. The officer will verify it with the database they use. Providing false information is an obstruction of justice.
Officers Will Work The Tampa Crash Scene
After collecting key information from you and the others involved in the wreck, police will investigate how and why the crash occurred. The police will examine evidence at the scene, analyzing skid marks, tire prints, debris, fluid trails, and the resting place of the vehicles. They will also take measurements and photographs of the cars and crash scene. The investigation may take more than an hour as police may have to create a diagram of the accident and note a lot of information, such as:
- The exact location of the crash
- The type of collision (sideswipe, rear-end, front-to-front, etc.)
- Condition of the road surface
- Weather and other environmental factors
- Lighting during the crash
- Type of road
- The incline
- Number of lanes
- Traffic control status
Officers Will Question You About Your Tampa Car Accident
In addition to collecting the information above, the officers investigating your Tampa car accident scene will ask you questions about the crash. They will want to know anything that helps them understand how it happened. So, be prepared to answer honestly about:
- Where you were going
- Where you were coming from
- Which direction you were traveling
- The speed you and the other driver were moving at
- The initial event that led to the crash (turning, changing lanes, backing up, driving ahead, etc.)
- The first harmful event of the crash (rollover, collision with a person, animal, vehicle, a fixed object, and so on)
- Your state of mind at the time
- What were you doing in the vehicle when the crash occurred? Were you distracted, using a cell phone, or conversing with another occupant?
- What actions you took in response to the crash itself or the events that led to the crash
- Was there anything obstructing your view?
Ultimately, the investigation hopes to discover if you, the driver of the other vehicle, or some other third party caused or contributed to the crash. Officers will want to know if you performed any actions that contributed to the accident, such as following too closely, driving too fast, or improperly passing. They’ll assess your condition to determine if you are physically or mentally impaired, sick, fatigued, emotional, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Moreover, they’ll try to determine whether something inside or outside the vehicle distracted you.
What to Do During a Tampa Car Accident Investigation to Protect Your Rights
- Stay calm: Breathe and take your time to process the situation.
- Don’t lie: Always tell the truth. Lying to the police is a crime.
- Be concise: Tell what happened in as few words as possible. Avoid adding information officers didn’t ask for unless you feel it is necessary for them to understand the events.
- Don’t admit fault: If you bear fault for the crash, it will hurt your chances of recovering compensation later due to Florida’s modified comparative negligence laws.
- Take photos and video: If you have access to a cell phone or camera, take pictures and video of the crash scene, the damage to the interior and exterior of the vehicles, the position of the vehicles, and the street location. You should also take photos of your injuries.
- Get the officer’s name and badge number: You will need this information in case you need to contact them.
- Obtain the crash report or report number: The crash report is usually available within 10 days. It contains key information that helps determine liability if filing a claim for damages.
- Get a car accident lawyer: A lawyer is key to protecting your right to compensation after a car accident. An injury lawyer can help you recover damages for the crash if you were hurt. In addition, your attorney may perform an independent investigation of the accident if necessary. They’ll gather evidence to support your claim, speak to witnesses, and aid you in receiving the proper medical care you need to address your injuries. Ultimately, your injury lawyer will file a claim or lawsuit for the money you deserve.
Have you been injured in a car accident? We have a Tampa car accident lawyer ready to help. Call the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine for a free consultation today.
We Can Help.