Car accidents happen every day up and down highways in the State of Florida. They can have expensive and devastating ramifications for your entire life if you’re unfortunate enough to be involved in one.
Many car accident victims are unsure about what to do in order to protect their rights and give themselves the best chance of receiving compensation. So, although they know they’ll need to contact their insurance company, many are unsure about whether or not to contact an attorney first.
Here at The Law Place, we’re here to provide professional legal advice to all car accident victims whether or not the accident was their fault. We can liaise with a driver’s insurance company and help them to file a claim or a lawsuit in order to recover damages.
For a free consultation and to speak with an experienced car accident attorney near you, call our Florida office today on (941) 444-4444.
Who Should I Call After a Car Accident?
After you’ve been in a car accident, you’ll need to decide whether you should call your insurance company or find a car accident lawyer. Here at The Law Place, we recommend the latter.
In the State of Florida, many insurance companies will be trying to avoid paying higher amounts of compensation at any chance. For example, they may ask you if you feel ok following an accident, and even answering in the affirmative to be polite can harm your claim as this downplays the severity of your injuries.
Working with an experienced lawyer from the very beginning of the process will make sure that you don’t say or do anything to harm your insurance claim and will give you the best chance of receiving the right level of compensation from your insurance company, as well as later on if you wish to file a claim or lawsuit to recover damages.
However, in many cases, you’ll need to report to your insurance company after a car accident within 24 hours. Many individuals struggle to find an attorney within this period. So, if you are unable to find legal representation before you are required to report an accident, say only that an accident occurred and that you will be using an attorney to handle any claims moving forward.
What to Do After a Car Accident
Whilst we recommend speaking to an attorney before contacting your insurance company, there are a number of things you’ll also need to do after a car accident to keep yourself safe, protect your legal rights, and make sure you have the best chance of receiving the level of compensation you deserve. Completing these steps in the right order is vital in order to receive the best-case outcome.
Remain at the Scene of the Car Accident
According to Florida Statute 316.061, any driver involved in a crash that has damaged property or injured another individual is required to remain at the scene of the car accident unless they are removed from the location in an ambulance due to suffering injuries. So, you’ll need to stay at a close distance to the scene until you have fulfilled all of your legal obligations. You’ll also need to move your vehicle so that it is not obstructing traffic if you are able to do so.
If you do not comply with this law, you could be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor, which will result in a $500 fine and up to 60 days in prison, in accordance with Florida Statute 775.083.
If law enforcement has not yet arrived at the scene and if no other individuals have contacted them, it is your duty to call 911 to report the car accident. This is especially important if anyone has become injured, as it is your duty to ensure that they receive medical attention.
Comply With Law Enforcement at the Accident Scene
According to Florida Statute 316.062, Once the police have arrived, you are legally obligated to comply with their request for information. This will help them to create both the police report and the accident report – both of which are needed by your insurance company if you plan to make a claim or file a lawsuit. You’ll be required to give your name, address, and contact details, as well as your license and vehicle registration.
Receive Medical Treatment
The most important thing to do after a traffic accident is to keep yourself safe. You should make sure to go to a hospital or be checked by paramedics if they arrive at the scene to ensure you don’t have any injuries.
In addition, according to Florida Statute 627.736, you’ll need to seek medical care within 14 days in order to be able to make a personal injury claim. Therefore, you should always get yourself checked by a medical professional even if you feel well in order to avoid missing out on compensation if you decide to make a claim later on.
Start to Document Evidence
As soon as an accident occurs, you’ll need to start documenting any evidence to support you in case you need to make any personal injury claims or in case somebody involved in the incident makes a claim against you. The sooner you start the gather evidence and the more thorough you are, the better the chance you’ll have of recovering damages.
You should be collecting valuable evidence by:
- Noting down any license plates.
- Writing down everything you can remember from before, during, and after the accident.
- Making a note of the mental state of anyone involved in the crash, for example, if the driver who hit you seems intoxicated or drowsy.
- Exchanging contact information with any other drivers, passengers, or witnesses involved in the accident.
- Collecting the details of the other driver’s insurance company.
- Taking photographs of any property damage and any injuries you have sustained.
Contact a Lawyer
Ideally, you should seek legal representation before contacting any insurance companies to avoid jeopardizing your chance of receiving compensation.
If you were charged with a crime at the scene of the accident, you need to get in touch with a criminal defense attorney. However, if you were injured in an accident that was not your fault or you have become significantly injured, you should find an experienced personal injury lawyer.
You should also bear in mind that according to Florida Statute 95.11, the Statute of Limitations to make a negligence case is 4 years. This may sound like a long time. However, it can often take 2-3 years to receive a court date if you file a lawsuit. Therefore, it’s best to get into contact with a lawyer as soon as possible.
Contact Your Own Insurance Company
In the State of Florida, all drivers need to possess a minimum of $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection car insurance coverage. This means that regardless of whether or not you were responsible for the accident, you’ll be able to make a claim through your own insurance company to recover any initial damages.
This means that your own insurance policy should cover:
- 80% of medical bills for serious injuries
- 60% of lost wages.
However, it’s best to navigate this process through the use of an experienced lawyer to avoid harming your claim.
File a Claim or a Lawsuit Against the Other Driver
Car accidents in the State of Florida can be incredibly expensive and will usually exceed what is covered by your own insurance company. Therefore, if you choose to make a claim or file a lawsuit against the other driver responsible for your crash, you could be entitled to higher amounts of compensation for:
- Medical expenses, including ambulance travel, doctor’s fees, post-diagnostic check-ups, rehabilitation costs, medication, physiotherapy, and more.
- Pain and suffering benefits to cover any emotional trauma or loss of lifestyle due to injuries.
- Loss of consortium if your relationship has been affected due to a partner’s injuries.
- Wrongful death if the policyholder was killed.
During a personal injury claim, your lawyer will negotiate with the other driver’s insurance company to achieve an out-of-court settlement which will be paid to you. Alternatively, they can file a lawsuit on your behalf to take your case before a court of law.
Your lawyer will be able to help you decide whether to make a personal injury claim or file a lawsuit based on the specifics of your case. However, you’ll need to take into account how much you can spend, how long you can wait for benefits to be paid as well as how public or discreet you’d like to be.
How to Avoid Harming Your Insurance Claim
In order to give yourself the best chance of receiving higher amounts of compensation, you should:
- Never apologize or admit fault for the accident to other individuals or drivers involved.
- Be wary of answering questions from insurance companies without legal advice.
- Never sign anything from your insurance company without consulting an attorney.
- Refrain from contacting anyone involved in the accident whilst the legal process is underway – all communications should be managed through your attorney.
- Document everything thoroughly, especially medical bills, the time you were required to be absent from work, the amount of lost wages you suffered, in addition to taking pictures of your injuries over time as they heal.
Contact The Law Place for Help With Insurance Companies
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, you could be facing high medical expenses, property damage, as well as any potential liability for causing the accident. Remember, your insurance company will also be trying to find loopholes that will allow them to pay you a lower amount in benefits. So, you should always seek legal advice from an experienced car accident and personal injury attorney before speaking to your insurance adjuster.
For help with contacting your insurance company, navigating the legal process, and claiming compensation, get in touch with The Law Place today. We’re an experienced law firm based in Florida with a commitment to offering excellent service and a high track record of success. We support clients across Florida to achieve favorable case outcomes and win them the compensation they deserve. We’ll also defend you if you’re facing a claim or a lawsuit from another individual involved in your accident.
Book your free consultation with one of our personal injury lawyers today on (941) 444-4444.