How Do I Report My Car Accident?
First, you should never flee the scene of a crash. Provide any necessary help after the crash and call the local police if there was substantial property damage, death, injury, a hit and run, or an accident involving an intoxicated driver. Provide law enforcement with any necessary information but remember that anything you say can be used against you in the court of law. Be polite but cautious as to what you say. The police will later make an unbiased car accident report.
You should also inform your car insurance company of any accidents. By Florida law, every vehicle with four or more wheels is required to purchase Florida Car Insurance coverage with a minimum of $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and Property Damage Liability (PDL) each. Since Florida is a No-Fault Insurance state, the PIP benefits will cover medical bills and lost wages. Insurance companies have to pay for 80% of medical bills and 60% of lost wages.
What Should I Say to the Insurance Company?
You have to report your accident with your auto insurance company, but remember that what you say can affect your case. Report the clear facts of the accidents, give your information, and the other driver’s information, but you should not discuss fault without first consulting with an attorney.
If you hire a lawyer and the other driver’s insurance company contacts you, decline to answer. Inform them that your attorney will contact them. If an attorney or anyone on an attorney’s behalf attempts to solicit your case at the hospital, scene of the accident, by a phone call or letter, ask them to leave. It is wrong for them to reach out to you directly after your accident.
Should I Settle With the Insurance Company?
An insurance company’s first offer is likely not the best possible offer. Insurance adjusters profit from lowballing settlements to protect the company’s bottom line. As a rule of thumb, you should consult your case with an attorney if there was significant property damage and or personal injury. If you are injured, they will probably not account for all of your injuries, which can be costly in the future.
Call us today at 1-800 INJURED to be connected with an attorney who will review your options with you. Our network of professional car accident attorneys do not require any out-of-pocket fees, and they handle cases on a contingency fee basis. This agreement ensures that you will not pay any legal fees unless your attorney recovers compensation.
Should I Go to the Doctor After a Minor Injury?
Yes! You should visit the doctor after an accident regardless of how you feel. It is typical for signs of injury to appear weeks after the date of the crash. Some minor injuries can be indicators of future illnesses, including soft tissue injuries. To be safe, you should discuss all pains that have emerged since your accident.
My Medical Bills Exceeded My Pip Coverage, What Can I Do?
Sometimes the medical bills and lost wages following a car accident exceed the PIP coverage provided by your insurance company. By law, your insurance provider is only required to pay 80% of medical bills and 60% of your lost wages. Moreover, depending on your deductible, you may be responsible for the first $1,000 in medical bills and lost wages before your coverage kicks in. For many people, this coverage is not enough.
Fortunately, there are exceptions to the statute. People who are not at fault and were injured in a car accident can sue the liable driver if their medical bills exceed $10,000. In these cases, compensation for past and future medical bills, any lost wages, and future loss of earning potential.
Victims of car accidents can also sue the liable driver if they suffered a permanent injury. Permanent damage is a permanent loss of vital bodily function, significant scarring, disfigurement, disability, or death. In Florida, you could sue the responsible party for economic and non-economic damages. Financial compensation would cover any out-of-pocket expenses like past and future medical bills, medication, and lost wages. Meanwhile, non-economic damages pay for any psychological harm stemming from the accident. This compensation would cover the pain and suffering portion of your claim.
It Has Been a While Since My Accident. Can I Still File a Lawsuit?
In Florida, the statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits is four years. This law means that you have four years, from the date of the accident, to file a lawsuit petition in court. If the accident resulted in a death, the deadline is two years. However, you should not delay your case. Since evidence is not timeless, the sooner you hire an attorney, the better.
What if I Was Not Wearing a Seat Belt at the Time of My Accident? Can I Still Recover Damages?
Florida’s seat belt law requires the use of seat belts for all drivers and passengers in all motorized vehicles (except for a small list of exceptions), and your insurance claim will be directly impacted if you are in violation of this law during an accident, whether or not you are the victim in the accident. There are a variety of methods that an insurance company may attempt to use in order to reduce the amount that they owe you if you are not wearing a seat belt, but most likely they will approach this issue through comparative negligence and attempt to place a percentage of the blame on you for your injuries due to your decision to not use a mandatory safety device.
The percentage of comparative fault that you may ultimately need to accept as a result of your decision to not wear a seat belt (again, in situations that are NOT exceptions) can be significant. Comparative negligence could reduce your settlement by 40% or more depending on how specific your injuries are to your decision to not wear a seat belt, which can have a serious impact on your financial stability moving forward.
Should I Release My Medical Records to Another Driver’s Insurance Adjuster?
Knowing what to do when an insurance company requests your medical records is important, and something that you and your attorney will be able to discuss in specific detail. It is entirely understandable that they would need the medical records that relate to the accident, but are you aware that the waiver they send will likely allow them unrestricted access to your entire medical history? Not only does the insurance company not need to see your entire history, but it is likely that they will dig through it in order to try to pin certain injuries on pre-existing issues, whether or not it is actually the case.
Before signing any waivers or providing the insurance company with any medical information, consult with an attorney to understand the preferred way to approach this process. Your primary focus is to protect your financial interests in this process, and making sure that you handle this step appropriately will be an important way to keep your prospects up.
If I File a Personal Injury Claim, Will I Have to Go to Court?
A personal injury claim is not the same as a personal injury lawsuit, so by filing a claim there is no indication that you will ever need to step foot in the Florida courts. In fact, some estimations claim that as few as 5% of all personal injury claims ever see a trial, and that roughly 50% of these claims are settled before a lawsuit is file. However, there is no exact way to track these statistics, since settlements do not need to be disclosed, so the actual number may vary.
Regardless of what the actual settlement rate is with personal injury claims, the reality is that you are statistically unlikely to need to go to court unless there are specific reasons for doing so. For example, if your attorney believes that you are entitled to punitive damages, it may make sense to file a lawsuit immediately (since you are not able to claim these types of damages – they are awarded by a judge or jury independent of your compensatory damages).
If I Don’t Feel Injured After an Automobile Accident, Do I Have to See a Doctor?
After any car accident, visit your doctor as soon as possible. There are a few reasons for this, with the most important and obvious being that you should be absolutely certain that you have not missed any injuries that seem minor, but could be indications of something much more serious – or could evolve into something serious if left untreated.
The second reason that you should see a doctor is that without official medical documentation of any of your injuries, the insurance company will be extremely aggressive in combating making payments for them. When you see your doctor, you are getting the double benefit of having a medical professional ensure that you are healthy, and providing yourself with much-needed support for your upcoming legal process.
What if I Believe the Accident I Was in Was at Least Partly My Fault?
Luckily for you, Florida uses what is known as pure comparative negligence when determining fault in an accident, meaning that you are still entitled to compensation even if you are partially responsible for your accident. However, it is exceptionally important that you hold off on making any statements accepting responsibility until you are working with an attorney, since the insurance company will be quick to jump on your statements and use them to limit their own financial obligations as aggressively as possible.
Keep in mind that an insurance company will use a simple apology at the scene of the accident as an admission of guilt, so imagine what an actual statement accepting partial blame will do for your legal case. Let your attorney handle it so that you don’t find yourself wading through a legal quagmire trying to make true and accurate statements while also trying to avoid having an unnecessary amount of fault placed on you.
Call 1-800 Injured After an Accident
If you were injured after an accident, it is essential that you hire an experienced personal injury attorney. You may be tempted to settle with your insurance company to receive some temporary relief, but don’t. They are likely to offer an amount that may not cover future medical expenses and lost wages. Once you settle, you can’t go back. Any car accident injury warrants proper medical examination and the legal advice of a competent attorney. Call us today, and we will connect you with an attorney dedicated to getting you the compensation you need.
1-800 INJURED is an attorney and medical referral service that helps clients like you every day. Our network of honest attorneys will work with you to ensure that all your injuries are accounted for, and that expensive medical bills don’t compromise your future. You shouldn’t have to suffer due to someone else’s negligence. Let one of the lawyers within the 1-800 INJURED network handle the legal work so that you can focus on recovery. Call us today at 1-800 INJURED and get your life back on track.