Following a minor car accident, sometimes referred to as a fender bender, you may be left feeling stressed and with many unanswered questions. Should you tell your insurance company? Who was at fault for the accident? How should you approach your claim? Do you need a car accident lawyer?
In Florida, your car insurance will cover damage to your vehicle and medical bills up to the limits of your policy. What is covered and what is not is dependent on your policy. If you feel that your insurance company is acting unfairly or they are unwilling to cover all of your damages, then you may need a car accident lawyer.
At the very least you should seek a free consultation, what do you have to lose? In a free consultation with a car accident lawyer at The Law Place, we will give you free legal advice, so you can move forward with confidence in your next steps. We will also tell you whether we believe you could benefit from representation. We will give you all the information you need and answer any questions so that you can make an informed decision.
Our attorneys work together so that you can benefit from our combined experience. We will handle the insurance companies, collecting evidence, and will be there to offer advice and support. We also work on a contingency basis, so we do not get paid unless you do.
Call our law firm today to schedule your free consultation at (941) 444-4444.
What Qualifies as a Minor Car Accident?
Generally speaking, a car accident is considered minor if there are no major personal injuries, no commercial vehicles are involved, and the property damage is less than $500. In these circumstances, it is likely that your own insurance policy will cover your damages.
However, it is still a good idea to seek advice from a car accident lawyer who can help you to make a judgment regarding the nature of your accident.
Should I Contact the Police for a Minor Car Accident?
Regardless of the extent of the accident, you are required to contact the police, even if the car accident is a minor one.
If there was substantial damage or injuries, then you should call the police to the scene of the accident. This is required under Florida Statute 316.062. If you fail to do so and drive away, then you could be convicted of committing a hit and run.
If the car accident really is a minor one, then you may not need to call the police to the scene. Instead, you should report the accident online or at your local police station. As per Florida Statute 316.066, you have 10 days to report an accident where police were not needed at the scene.
The police will do a report, which you can request a copy of. A police report serves as evidence for your insurance company. They may be reluctant to assist you without it. Furthermore, if you fail to report an accident, you could face fines or even imprisonment if the accident was serious enough.
What Causes a Minor Car Accident?
Minor car accidents happen on Florida’s roads every day. They occur for many reasons:
- Turn signal errors
- Bumper to bumper traffic collisions
- Parallel parking mistakes
- Sliding on wet roads into another car or a property
- Backing into an unseen vehicle
- Distracted driving
These are just a few of the reasons why minor car accidents occur. Driver awareness, road conditions, and a simple case of bad luck may be all that is needed for an accident to occur. It is good to be prepared and have good insurance. However, insurance companies are notoriously tricky, and if you feel that they are not handling your case properly, then you may need to hire a car accident attorney.
Sometimes you may think that the injuries you sustained were minor, only to feel much worse days after the accident. You could feel fine after the accident, especially when your body is full of adrenaline, and you may have no obvious injuries.
Injuries go beyond broken bones and head trauma. Things such as stained tendons, whiplash, stretched ligaments, and contusions can have a serious impact on your life. These are common injuries, even in minor car accidents, and they sometimes do not show up for days after the car accident.
This is one of the reasons insurance adjusters try to contact you as quickly as possible so that you settle quickly and ruin your chances of fighting for anything more once you realize that you have sustained injuries. The best thing you can do when an insurance adjuster calls is to avoid telling them you feel ok and tell them that you need to seek advice from a personal injury lawyer before you speak with them in any detail about the motor vehicle accident.
Delayed injures are another reason why it is important to make a report to the police. Even if you have medical reports on your side, you may struggle to claim any compensation without the police report.
The “Other” Guy
It is important to be aware that the other driver could try and bring a claim against you. Sometimes people may even report the accident and make it appear worse than what it was. They could lie about the extent of the damages and the injuries. You could be found at fault and left with soaring insurance rates.
The best thing you can do is exchange information with the other driver, take plenty of photos, and report the accident quickly. That way, you protect yourself. And if you are in a situation where the other driver is exaggerating a claim, then seek advice from personal injury lawyers at The Law Place.
What to Do After a Minor Car Accident
Following a minor car accident, you should stop your vehicle in a safe place, as close as possible to where the accident occurred. Take a moment to check in with yourself and take some deep breaths. If you are certain that no-one has any serious injuries, then you should get out of the vehicle and exchange information with the other driver. Make sure you get their name, number, car registration, and insurance provider. Following this be sure to take plenty of pictures of both cars.
As previously discussed, you may decide to call the police to the scene, or if not, be sure to contact them as quickly as possible.
You may be offered a settlement by an insurance company very quickly. If you accept this offer, then you will not be able to claim for anything more, even if your property damage and injuries turn out to be more serious than you thought. A car insurance company is a business. Their goal is to make money; they do not have your best interests at heart.
Do not accept the first offer made to you. Instead, ask a personal injury lawyer for advice about your claim. They will help to make sure that you are not taken advantage of.
What Is Florida’s No-Fault Law?
Florida operates under no-fault insurance laws, outlined in Florida Statute 627.7407. This means that following a minor car accident, you must initially seek compensation from your own insurance company, whether you were at fault or not.
Drivers are required to carry certain insurances, designed to cover people in case of minor car accidents. As per Florida Statute 627.736, you are required to carry a minimum PIP (personal injury protection) of $10,000 and $10,000 in property damage liability.
As a result of these laws, following a minor car accident, it is likely that your own insurance will cover your damages. However, if any serious injury occurred or the property damage was substantial, then you will need to claim against the other insurance company. In order to maximize your chances at fair compensation in this situation, you should hire a car accident lawyer.
Be sure to keep track of all your expenses and any adjustments you have had to make to your life. These can be used as evidence for your compensation claim, whether you are claiming from your own insurance company or somebody else’s.
How Can I Settle a Car Accident Without a Lawyer?
You may not need a lawyer for a minor car accident. This is because your own insurance company could cover the bills. However, sometimes there are unforeseen complications, or the situation could be more serious than you think. That is why we always advise people to at least seek a free consultation.
Following a car accident, there are things that you can do yourself to ensure that you have a strong claim. Seek a police report, seek medical attention, and contact your insurance provider.
You should be aware that as per Florida Statute 627.736, you have just 14 days to seek medical treatment in order to claim compensation for your car accident injuries.
Depending on your insurance policy, you may be required to quickly inform them of an accident to successfully claim your damages. Often you only have 24 hours. However, be careful about what you say, do not admit fault or give many details of your case at this time. Simply report it; let them know that you need to seek advice from a lawyer and see the police report before you give them more information. This will also give you time to make sure that you do not have any hidden injuries.
Keep hold of any evidence such as a police report, medical bills, and pictures of the accident, all of this can be used to negotiate your settlement.
How Long Do I Have to Make a Claim After a Car Accident?
Florida Statue 95.11, also known as the statute of limitations, states that you have four years from the date of the accident to make a personal injury claim in Florida.
However, you should file a claim as quickly as possible to make you are more likely to obtain rightful compensation. This is especially true if you are ever in a more serious car accident where a personal injury lawyer will need to gather evidence. It is much easier to find strong evidence when memories are fresh, vehicles have not yet been repaired, and CTTV footage has not been erased.
Should I Hire a Lawyer for a Minor Car Accident?
Following a minor car accident or a fender bender, we recommend that you seek a free consultation from one of the personal injury lawyers at The Law Place. We will review your case and give you free, unbiased legal advice. You may be covered by your insurance, in which case, you can use the advice you are given to file a claim with your insurance company.
However, if there is a way that a personal injury lawyer can help, and you agree to representation, then we will get straight to work on your case.
Here at The Law Place, we have established our team of Florida lawyers by finding people with a wealth of skills and experience. We have over 75 years of collective experience, and we take the time to review your case as a team so that we can explore it from every angle. We value the attorney-client relationship, and we take our role as your advocate very seriously.
As well as your case benefiting from the experience of all of our lawyers, one of our personal injury lawyers will be specifically dedicated to your case and be there to answer any questions that you have.
We will use our knowledge, resources, and connections to investigate all aspects of your case while listening to you and your needs. Most of our attorneys are AVVO rated 10.00, which is the highest possible rating and is based on things like awards, years of experience, and reviews.
Contact us today for a free consultation at (941) 444-4444.