Injured in a Car Accident? Don’t Make These Mistakes
There are many common misconceptions about what to do after an auto accident in Florida. As a result many auto accident victims fail to take the steps necessary to protect their legal rights. If you have been involved in a car accident in the Crestview area, here are five mistakes to avoid.
Assuming the Police Will Determine Who Was at FaultWhile the officer who responded to the scene of the accident may prepare a police report, this report (i) may or may not tell the whole story, and (ii) will only be one piece of evidence in your claim for financial compensation. Even if the other driver received a ticket and is ultimately found guilty in court, this is a criminal matter that does not establish your right to financial compensation. While it is important to call 911 from the scene of the accident, accident victims cannot rely solely on the police to determine liability - this is not their job. It is also necessary to conduct a private investigation as soon as possible.
Assuming You and the Other Driver Can Work It OutMany people believe that it is in their best interests to deal with their accidents without getting the insurance companies involved. This is particularly true with regard to "minor" accidents. However, there are a number of reasons why this is not likely to be the best course of action, including:
- You are likely required to report the accident to your insurer under the terms of your policy (though you should not give a recorded statement).
- It is usually far easier to collect payment from an insurance company that admits liability than an individual who wants to avoid dealing with insurance.
- It takes time and effort to establish fault and calculate the true cost of your accident-related injuries. If you agree to split the costs, or if you agree to accept payment only for your repair bills, you could end up paying for someone else's mistake for years to come.
Assuming Your Insurance Company Will Pay a Fair SettlementWhile it is generally best to go through the insurance companies, unfortunately, you cannot trust the insurance companies to pay you a fair settlement. Their goal is to pay as little as possible, and they are under no obligation to help you understand the true cost of your accident-related injuries.
Assuming You are FineWhile some accidents are certainly more serious than others, all accidents have the potential to cause physical injuries. Even if you think you feel fine, you should still see a doctor to make sure that you have not suffered internal injuries that require prompt medical attention.
Assuming that Hiring a Lawyer Means Going to CourtAlthough car accident lawsuits occasionally go to trial, the vast majority are resolved through out-of-court settlements. Hiring a lawyer does not necessarily mean going to court, but it does mean that: (i) you will not fall victim to the insurance companies; and, (ii) you will know what your case is worth so that you do not unknowingly settle for less than you deserve.