Taking Care of Yourself on the Road

Written By Jason Neufeld

If you or someone you know has recently been in a car accident, then you understand how frustrating, confusing and time-consuming an accident can be. If there is any controversy at all in the accident, then the case can drag on for what can seem like an eternity. The best way to avoid having to deal with this colossal headache is to prevent these accidents altogether, but we here at Neufeld, Kleinberg, & Pinkiert understand that mistakes do happen when driving in Miami, Florida. We would like to share with you some tips and advice about how to prevent accidents, what to do in the event that you do experience an accident and why it is of utmost importance that you hire an experienced attorney to guide you through the process after an accident occurs.

How to Prevent Car Accidents by Driving Safely

Through campaigns and fundraisers about raising awareness for accident prevention, the accident rate in the United States has declined steadily over the years. Despite this, car accidents are still one of the primary causes of deaths for people under the age of 35. There are well over 30,000 people that die in car accidents each year, and the goal should be to lower this number each and every year by preventing the accidents from happening in the first place.

While improvements in car technology have made the driving experience much safer for people, there is still no way to eliminate human error. Here are six tips for driving more safely so that you can get home to your loved ones safe and sound:

1.) Drive Sober

This is one of the easiest ways to prevent causing a car accident, and it is also one of the main reasons that people are killed in driving accidents. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a selfish act that rarely ends well. If you are under the influence of any substance, just call a friend, family member, a cab, or walk home. It is not worth the consequences.

2.) Stop Speeding

For every mile per hour that you go over the speed limit, you significantly increase your odds of finding yourself in a car accident. Speeding is one of the primary causes of car accidents, and it is easily preventable. When you find yourself speeding, you need to ask yourself how much time you are actually saving by putting yourself and others at risk. At best, you arrive at your destination five minutes earlier than you would have if you were driving the speed limit. Is that really worth risking lives?

3.) Stay Off the Phone

Distractions when driving can be dangerous to everyone on the road. Talking on the cell phone and texting are two ways to cause an accident without even seeing it coming. Talking on the phone and texting decrease your reaction time, and it is not worth risking your life to answer your mom’s question about whether you will be home for dinner 15 minutes before you would if you just waited.

In addition to the phones, it is also smart to avoid eating, putting on make-up and playing with the radio or other devices.

4.) Staying Awake

While driving tired may seem like second nature to some, it will eventually catch up to you if you are doing it on a regular basis. Nodding off behind the wheel for even a few seconds can put you at risk of finding yourself in an accident. Fix this by getting a solid eight hours of sleep at night. If you are driving with a friend, let them take over at the wheel for a little bit while you rest. Driving tired can be just as dangerous as driving drunk.

5.) Be Careful in Bad Weather

Driving while the weather conditions are bad can be a recipe for disaster. If you find yourself in a situation where the rain is coming down hard or snow is falling faster than you have ever seen, do yourself a favor and pull over to the side of the road until the situation clears up. If you determine that it is ok to drive in the elements, make sure to slow down a little bit to allow yourself a bit more time to react to any situation.

6. Have Your Car Serviced

This easy to forget step can be the difference between you stopping safely and running into the back of someone’s car. Make sure to take your car to an experienced car mechanic. Keep track of how many miles you have put on your tires, and make sure that your breaks are good to go. You will thank yourself when you hit the breaks, and they actually do what they are supposed to do.

How to Handle a Car Accident
Accidents can be a frightening time for everyone involved, and it is easy to lose your cool in a stressful situation like this. That is why it is especially important to do your best to remain calm, and remember what you need to do in the event of an accident. This can be the difference between thousands of dollars and future lawsuits. Handling the situation properly from the beginning will ensure that you walk away from the accident prepared for whatever comes next. Remember these six steps, and you will be fine:

1.) Make Sure Everyone is fine

If you find that you are fine after the accident, get out of your car and survey the situation. Walk over to the other car to see what is going on inside, and do your best to determine the condition of the other person. If they appear to be injured, leave them where they are, and dial 911 immediately. You may make their situation worse by attempting to move or help them.

2.) Move to a Safer Area if Possible

Talk with the other driver involved to see if you can agree to move your cars to a safer area. However, take as many pictures of the cars as you can to document the scene before anything is moved. It is very easy to start forgetting what exactly happened once the police arrive.

3.) Report the Accident

Report what happened to the local police. Having a police report may prove to be invaluable when you are dealing with the insurance companies at a later date. Cooperate with the police when they arrive, but refrain from admitting guilt or blaming anyone else on the scene. The police will write an objective report of what happened, and then you can let the insurance companies determine who was at fault.

4.) Gather Info

Do not forget this step. You need to document as much of the evidence as is humanly possible. Remember to gather:

  • Names of everyone involved
  • License plate numbers
  • Insurance information
  • Makes and models of all vehicles
  • Contact information of witnesses
  • Where the accident happened
  • Name and badge number of police officers

5.) Take Pictures

Again, do not forget this step. Having pictures of the scene will allow you to show the insurance companies physical evidence of what happened to the cars involved. Unfortunately, stories tend to change after the fact. Having pictures will help to ensure that you protect yourself in the event that the story begins to be twisted.

6.) Report the Accident to Your Insurance Company

Make sure to report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible to get the process started. If you find that the other person involved in the accident does not have car insurance, make sure you mention this to the police officer that responded to the scene. The insurance company may request any of the evidence that you documented, so make sure to have that in a safe place at home.

When to Hire a Lawyer

Dealing with the aftermath of the accident can sometimes be more difficult than the trauma experienced from the accident itself. Not everyone is completely honest during the insurance claims process, and you do not want to have to deal with the insurance companies on your own. You may want to consider talking with a lawyer if:

  • Your vehicle is significantly damaged
  • Fault is yet to be determined
  • You do not receive enough money
  • You feel pressured in any way
  • Your claim involves injuries
  • The insurance company denies your claim
  • A lawsuit is filed against you

How a Lawyer Can Help You

Taking on an insurance company by yourself is not a good idea, especially if this is your first time through the process. Insurance companies go through this type of situation everyday, and they are experts at getting their way by finding loopholes and other ways to keep from paying you. They also may record their phone calls with you and try to get you to accidentally admit guilt or trick you into saying something that you do not mean. An experienced attorney knows how to talk with insurance companies in a way that will avoid potential missteps, which will increase your chances of a fair settlement.

How to Choose a Lawyer

If you do determine that you want a lawyer to help you through the claims process, it is important that you find the one that will give you the most for your money. Make sure to ask potential lawyers things like:

  • What experience do you have in working with insurance claims?
  • How much of your work involves car accident claims?
  • Have you had any cases like mine? What were the results?
  • Can you give me an estimated dollar amount for my potential settlement?
  • How much do your services cost?

Having these questions answered will help you to determine what lawyers are best for you, and which ones may not be right for your particular job. Our goal at Neufeld, Kleinberg, & Pinkiert is to keep you safe on the roads of Miami, Florida. By following the tips that we outlined earlier, you will immediately make yourself a safer driver, and you may save yourself money. If you do find yourself in the unfortunate situation of a car accident, we are here to help you through that process to make sure that you are treated fairly in all ways. We have years of experience dealing with these types of situations, and we are more than happy to provide our expertise to help you get results. Please stay safe out on the roads, and if anything should come up, do not hesitate to seek our help.