What Should I do After a Car Accident?
At the Scene: Of course, safety following an accident is the immediate concern. Often, a second collision can occur due to vehicles and debris in the roadway. Don’t be a victim of a second accident. If your vehicle is operable remove it from lanes of traffic. Call 911. Wait for the police to arrive, even if it takes a long time – especially in an accident with significant damage or if you experience any pain or tightness whatsoever.
If you are able, take photographs of both vehicles, including the license plate of the other vehicle or vehicles involved. Also, take a picture of any skid marks in the roadway, if safety concerns allow it. Finally, make sure the names, addresses and phone numbers of witnesses are recorded.
Medical Care: If you are experiencing any pain following an accident, see a medical provider as soon as possible. If you are experience pain, numbness or tingling radiating into an arm or a leg, it is important that you be seen on an emergency basis as this is a common sign of a serious intervertebral disc injury. Untreated, such an injury can lead to permanent nerve damage.
It is very common for a person to experience a significant increase in pain and muscle spasms a day or two following an accident. If you do not think you need emergency treatment, see your primary care doctor as soon as possible. Florida law now requires that you see a medical provider within fourteen days of a car accident in order to be entitled to the full $10,000.00 in medical and lost wage coverage. If you do not see a doctor within that timeframe, your benefits will be limited to $2,500.00. Make sure the doctor is made aware of every area of your body that is painful, even if it seems minor at the time.
We tell all of our clients that they should make medical decisions as if there was no claim for injuries. There is nothing more important than your health. If a medical procedure or physical therapy is making things worse, by all means, you should let your doctor know and ask for an alternative.
Damage to your Car: We recommend that you have your own insurance company adjust the damage to your car. This will not make your rates go up as long as the other driver was at fault. Your insurer will be paid back by the at fault driver’s insurer and your deductible will either be waived or recovered you your car insurer.
Your insurance company has a contractual obligation to you that the other driver’s insurance company does not have. If you end up in a dispute over the value of your car (assuming it is totaled) or the repairs needed to return your car to its pre-accident condition, you have a right to be compensated for attorney fees from your own insurance company if suit is necessary pursuant to Florida Statute § 627.428. This means that, if you win, your insurer and not you will pay the associated attorney fees. While many personal injury lawyers are not willing to handle your property damage claim, we routinely do so if our client has difficulty dealing with an insurer.
Hiring an Attorney: Most attorneys, including our lawyers, handle personal injury cases resulting from car accidents on a contingency basis, which means that you pay the attorney nothing unless a recovery is made for you. Because of this, there is no harm in hiring an attorney early in the process. If you end up feeling back to normal, simply inform us. We are very happy when a client relays that he or she is back to normal as that is the best outcome possible. It is helpful to hire an attorney early on to handle the many details associated with a car accident claim including: setting up your personal injury protection claim with your auto insurer; assisting with your property damage; investigating the accident; obtaining witness statements; assisting with the coordination of your medical care; and responding to an insurer’s request for your statement.