Have you ever been in a car accident, but then been unsure about what to do?
Here are some tips should you unfortunately get into an accident, according to the Law Offices of Stephen A. Smith.
1. Contact law enforcement immediately
Law enforcement will ensure you get medical attention, document the accident scene, preserve evidence, question witnesses and take each party’s vehicle and insurance information. All of this information is important for documenting the crash scene and determining who is at fault.
2. Take photos
Use your cell phone to take photos of your vehicle, their vehicle, the crash scene, and any injuries you may notice. Photographic evidence is very compelling at trial especially when it is taken contemporaneously with the crash.
3. Seek medical attention
Next, go to the ER/hospital immediately afterwards to make sure you’re OK. In most cases, accident victims don’t know they are injured until hours or days later. Also, the ER visit preserves your case because in Florida, you have 14 days to seek medical care otherwise you lose your ability to file a PIP claim. PIP is Personal Injury Protection insurance in Florida that pays 80% of your medical expenses up to $10,000.00 along with 60% of your lost wages. You must be diagnosed with an Emergency Medical Condition within 14 days to access the full $10,000.00 benefits. Otherwise, if you suffer only non-emergency injuries, you are limited to a maximum of $2,500.00 in PIP benefits.
4. Never speak to the other parties’ insurance company or give a recorded statement
Although you may believe there is no harm in setting up a claim to get your vehicle repaired, once your statement has been recorded, it will likely be used against you in a future trial. In addition, any explanation or misstatement will be taken in the best light for their insured’s benefit. Many people damage their claim or have to fight an uphill battle including filing a lawsuit for a claim that could otherwise have been settled during pre-suit if no recorded statement was given. In addition, many people are enticed with a quick payment by the at fault insurance company and duped into taking much less than their case is worth. Don’t try to go at it alone and diminish your claim.
5. Call your car accident lawyer
The attorney’s office can give you the necessary information to help avoid legal pitfalls. They can also help you file the PIP claim with your insurance company. At times, unfortunately, even your insurance company that you faithfully paid premiums to can become hostile towards you and your PIP claim. They have a statutory right to take your recorded statement and to force your attendance at a CME (Certified Medical Examination). A doctor of their own choosing is paid by your insurance company to examine you to determine whether any further treatment under your PIP policy is necessary. CME doctors almost universally determine no further treatment connected to the crash is necessary and therefore terminate your benefits under PIP. Once your car accident lawyer files a Letter of Representation with the insurance companies, they must communicate through your lawyer’s office going forward.
These are five cardinal rules that your personal injury attorney will know to protect your rights, begin recovery, and get financial compensation for your injuries. When in doubt, visit this website for more information or to schedule a consultation.