INJURED IN A CAR ACCIDENT IN FLORIDA? THREE THINGS YOU SHOULD DO BEFORE HIRING AN ATTORNEY
Those first moments after a major car accident can be a blur. Florida Legal has handled hundreds of car accident cases in Florida. We've put together this easy to remember list for accident victims. Remembering these three things will increase your chances of getting the best possible result.
1) DOCUMENT THE ACCIDENT SCENE.Once an accident has happened the other driver's insurance company will immediately begin the process of preparing to defend any potential insurance claims against them. Everything about the accident becomes important. Don't hesitate to take as many photographs of all the vehicles involved especially the location of the damage to the vehicles. Make note of the location of any traffic cameras, and take down the names of any potential witnesses to the accident. Do not count on the police officer to take down the names of all witnesses. Oftentimes many witnesses are left out of the police report. Once you have these photos and information it is important that you do not share them with anyone except your lawyer.
2) SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION AS SOON AS POSSIBLEIn many cases it is normal for the body to experience a delayed reaction to injuries after an automobile accident. Injuries to the spine and head often don't become noticeable until a few days after the accident. You may feel dazed and in shock but feel that you don't need immediate medical treatment. Unfortunately, due to the way the Florida's No-Fault law is written this is the biggest mistake most accident victims make.
As someone who has taken numerous automobile accidents to trial I can tell you that the favorite defense of the insurance companies and their attorneys is to point out that you did not complain of any injuries at the scene of the accident. The old standard "but effective" defense is to claim that "any person who was genuinely injured would surely have said something at the scene of the accident." In Florida every vehicle by law must carry at least $10,000 of no-fault medical insurance benefits. This means that any medical treatment related to your accident will be covered up to this amount. However you can lose these benefits if you don't seek treatment within two weeks of your accident.
The most effective way to avoid damaging your case is to follow these simple steps:
a) After the accident request to be transported to the nearest hospital or urgent care center or have a friend or relative take you there;
b) If you are asked by the other driver, a police officer, or EMS personnel inform them you think you may have been injured but you would like to get checked out by a doctor.
c) Follow up with any diagnostic testing or follow up recommendations.
Following these steps will ensure that you don't lose valuable medical coverage and make it much more difficult for the insurance company to claim you weren't injured in the accident.
3) NEVER PROVIDE A RECORDED STATEMENT TO THE OTHER DRIVER'S INSURANCE COMPANYIf you've been lucky enough never to have been injured in an accident before, you may be surprised at how aggressive insurance companies and their investigators can get. Insurance adjusters and their investigators will literally "blow up your phone" trying to get your statement after an accident. Why? Because they know how the game is played; getting someone to give them a statement outside of the presence of their attorney is a huge advantage for them. The insurance company's' goal is to either avoid paying claims or get away with paying as little as possible. Insurance adjusters are free to make misleading statements or ask you questions in a way which make you confused. Once again the old adage "anything you say can be used against you" holds true. Any statements you provide to the insurance company will become evidence against you in Court. Don't make that mistake, consult with an attorney first. If you do find yourself being pestered by an insurance adjuster or investigator it is usually better to pick up the phone and tell them you don't want to speak to them until you talk to a lawyer. If you refuse their calls they may keep calling or even show up to your house. The law does not require you to provide a statement to the other side's insurance company.