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What to Do After a Car Accident in Miami

It's not uncommon to see LeBron James riding his bicycle to Miami Heat games. Cars will slow down in traffic as drivers try to catch a glimpse of The Chosen One. If you're not careful, you may run right into these slow-downs before you even realize what's going on. One moment it's the Miami Bass booming in the streets, but the next minute, it's your Volvo! Not to worry -- it's actually pretty simple to figure out what to do after a car accident in Miami. Before too long, you'll be back on your way, and not even King James' procession will be able to slow you down. Here are quick answers to common questions about the basics of a car accident case.

Q: What do I do after a car accident in Miami?

A: Offer help and exchange identifying information.

If anyone is hurt after the wreck, offer "reasonable assistance." In most cases this means offering a person a ride to a medical facility or calling an ambulance. You must do this if the person appears to need treatment or if he or she merely asks for it.

When it's safe, kindly exchange names, addresses, and vehicle registration numbers, and car insurance carrier information with all of the driver's involved in the pile-up and with any person injured or attending damaged property. If anyone asks to see it, display your driver license. Offer the same information to any law enforcement officer on the scene and investigating the incident. In addition, provide the officer with your insurance information. If you don't have the information on you at the time, turn it in within 24 hours so that the officer may void the citation you are likely to have received.

Q: Do I have to call the police?

A: Yes, notify law enforcement.

The law says that you must immediately report the crash to your local law enforcement if there appears to be at least $500 in damage or if someone is injured. These days, just about every little repair costs at least $500, so it's good practice to report all accidents. Throughout Miami-Dade County, report to the Miami P.D.'s non-emergency line at (305) 579-6111. If your mishap occurred on the freeway, call the Florida Highway Patrol's Miami Station at (305) 470-2500 or dial *347 from your cell phone. The investigating officer has 10 days to complete a report, and it will be available to you upon request. Reports are available to the public 60 days after the wreck. Check with the M.P.D.'s Records Unit for information on how to obtain a copy of a report.

Q: What do I have to tell an investigating officer?

A: Tell the truth, but be aware of your rights.

Be honest. It is a crime to give false information to an officer when reporting a collision. Some people worry that their statements may be used against them, but under Florida's laws relating to car accidents, generally, a "report or statement may not be used as evidence in any trial, civil or criminal." This applies to your statements for the purpose of preparing an crash report. But if you've been arrested after a crash, and properly read your Miranda rights, most lawyers advise individuals to exercise the right to remain silent.

Q: How long do I have to stick around?

A: As long as it takes to finish reporting.

In most cases it's a crime, under Florida law, to leave the scene after you've been involved in an accident, so stay put. If someone has been hurt (or killed), you must remain on the scene until you've exchanged all of the above information and offered assistance. If the police are on the scene, remain there to complete the report. When you're finished, double check with the officer that it's alright to leave. If no officer arrives, then you should leave so that you can go to the nearest authorities.

Q: Who pays for the damage?

A: Your insurance covers you initially.

In Florida, every driver pays. For now, we have a no-fault system. Each driver must carry personal injury protection (PIP) and property damage liability insurance worth $10,000, not including the deductible. If you're injured, contact your own insurance provider to cover your medical bills and other expenses related to your recovery. You can only pursue a legal claim against an at-fault driver in the event of a serious accident. For more details on Florida's no-fault insurance laws, review the Florida Bar's materials on the subject. Check back regularly because car insurance laws can change quickly.

Call an Attorney If You've Been in a Car Accident in Miami

If you've been injured in a serious auto accident, you will need to learn more about your ability to recover damages under Florida's no-fault insurance laws. While this can be a confusing topic of law, you don't have to figure out what to do after a car accident in Miami on your own. Let a local injury law attorney guide you through the process and help you recover the maximum amount owed to you.

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