Because a car accident is not simply an accidental brush against someone on a sidewalk. A car accident involves damages to another person’s property as well as any seen or unseen injuries in the aftermath. Above all else, after an accident, we recommend (1) calling the police, (2) exchanging insurance information, and (3) following up with your insurance company.
Chances are, your case will usually be resolved at what’s called a mediation. A mediation is when we sit down with you and the defense, and a third party mediator. A mediator is a neutral person who has no interest in the outcome of your case. It’s at this time that most cases are resolved without having to go to trial.
First, in the case of a manageable and minor accident, wherever possible, pull your car off the roadway. In years gone by, accident victims have felt obligated to leave everything as it was and stay put. Unfortunately, that blocks routes and frustrates other drivers and could lead to additional accidents. So get yourself to a safe place.
Second, call the police. In any situation involving an accident, you need to have a trained police officer assess the situation. Filing a police report with your account of what happened in the accident is vital to determining, in the days the follow, who can and will be held responsible for the crash.
Third, get medical attention as soon as possible. Car accidents often involve violent collisions that contort the body and lead to any number of injuries, the kinds of injuries that catch victims off guard in the second, third, or fourth day after the accident. Whiplash, TMJ, and traumatic brain injury can each be devastating in their own way.
And fourth, call an experienced personal injury attorney to advise you in protecting your rights.
Yes. Yes. And yes. Drivers are human and prone to forget a few things at the scene of an accident, but cameras will always be an impartial and critical resource.
Use your phone to snap pictures of the following:
1. Any Damage (whether it be to your car, someone else’s car, or a piece of property).
2. Potential Skid Marks (behind one or more vehicles)
3. Conditions and Debris on the Road
4. Appropriate Landmarks
If you qualify for Personal Injury Protection (PIP), the PIP carrier will cover 80% of any and all medical expenses related to injuries sustained in the accident up to $10,000. Medical providers will submit bills to the PIP carrier (typically your insurance company), and will be paid directly on 80% of the balance. Once the insurance company has paid $10,000 in benefits, it will consider your PIP coverage to be exhausted. This does not mean that you cannot still treat with a doctor. And you should consult with a qualified attorney.
Your case may go through several different phases before it is finally resolved. If a settlement cannot be agreed to within a reasonable amount of time, your attorney would file a lawsuit on your behalf. The Florida rules of civil procedure govern the amount of time that it takes to fully litigate and try a personal injury case in civil court. This time can be lengthy based on factors such as the jurisdiction, the caseload of the judge, and complexity of the cause of action, so there is no easy answer.
Personal Injury actions must be brought within four years of the accident. This means that waiting more than four years after your accident to attempt to file a claim will bar your recovery completely. Even more stringent is Florida’s statute of limitations governing wrongful death cases, which must be brought within two years of the death. It is very important that you protect yourself from these strict time limits by getting quick medical attention after your accident and contacting a Florida Personal Injury Attorney as soon as you can.
According to Florida State Statutes, the only persons who may file a claim of wrongful death are spouses, children, or parents of the deceased. Other exceptions may include blood relatives or adoptive siblings who are dependents of the individual lost.
If you are injured in an accident with a hit and run driver, you will need to contact your insurance company immediately. Ask your insurance carrier if you carry collision and uninsured motorist coverage. If you do carry collision coverage under your insurance policy, your insurance company will pay to have your vehicle repaired. And if the accident resulted in bodily injury, you can file an uninsured motorist claim for your personal injuries and any pain and suffering. However, if you do not carry uninsured motorist coverage you may not receive proper compensation for your injuries. Our office strongly recommends you contact your insurance carrier to ensure you already carry or have purchased uninsured motorist coverage.
When someone leaves the scene of an accident, chances are, they feared the consequences of sticking around. But fear should never trump responsibility. Leaving the scene of a car crash (what most of us now just call a hit-and-run accident) carries far more legal punishment than anything the driver may have done initially.
In the case of an accident with one or more injuries, insurance companies can pay up to the limit of your elective coverage, otherwise known as Bodily Injury Protection or BI. But the limits of BI coverage are normally defined as a limit per person, per accident. For example, a $10,000/$20,000 BI policy indicates that the insurance company will pay up to $10,000 per injured person, but no more than $20,000 for all injured parties.
To minimize the impact on their bottom line, insurance companies hire Bodily Injury Adjusters that can be very friendly and even come across as trustworthy. But don’t be fooled. The pleasantries may lead you to believe that there is no such thing as Bodily Injury Protection, or that you can’t even bring a claim against their insured. Not true.
“Board Certification” according to The Florida Bar “is the highest level of evaluation by The Florida Bar of the competency and experience of attorneys in the 24 areas of law approved for certification by the Supreme Court of Florida.” Only 1% of the entire membership of The Florida Bar, that is only 1,076 out of more than 90,000 lawyers in Florida, has earned The Florida Bar board certification in civil trial.
According to Florida State Statute 627.737(2):
In any action of tort brought against the owner, registrant, operator, or occupant of a motor vehicle…or against any person or organization legally responsible for her or his acts or omissions, a Plaintiff may recover damages in tort for pain, suffering, mental anguish, and inconvenience because of bodily injury, sickness, or disease arising out of the ownership, maintenance, operation, or use of such motor vehicle only in the event that the injury or disease consists in whole or in part of:
(a) Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function.
(b) Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, other than scarring or disfigurement.
(c) Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement.
It’s important to note that not every case is the result of just one person’s negligence. Often more than one person, sometimes including the injured party, is to blame for the resulting damage. In this situation, an accident victim can recover a percentage of the damages that he or she sustains. Speaking to an experienced personal injury attorney is crucial when it comes to receiving compensation for this type of situation.
Drivers involved in a car accident sometimes, for reasons of time and weather and legality, forgo any calls to the police. Instead, they just exchange information. But this can cause serious problems for any future causes of action that might be necessary to make against the negligent driver. So please remember that after an accident, call 911 to get police involved, then contact your local, experienced Florida attorney.
Both practically and legally speaking, the root cause for pain and suffering is that of inconvenience. Prior to an accident, you made breakfast for your kids, spent an hour at the gym, and never missed a day of work. But after an accident, you struggled to lift a pan for grilling bacon, you had to limit your number and range of exercises, and you started missing several days of work to recover from the last several. Perhaps you got rear-ended at a stop light. Perhaps you fell from a ladder at a construction site. Perhaps you even slipped on an office floor that had no sign. The reason “pain and suffering” often gets thrown around is because each case is a little bit different, but in the end, it simply means that after an accident, you were inconvenienced by the consequences of that accident, whether the individual or business that caused it intended harm or not.