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Steps To Take If You’re Involved In An Auto Accident

Get Medical Attention

First and foremost, get medical attention for yourself or anyone else who is injured. Even if you don’t think you’re injured, get medical attention. Medical injuries from accidents sometimes are slow to appear. You may get home and find that you now have a back or neck problem, or other internal injuries, so don’t take the risk. Get medical attention.

Call the Police

Bringing the police to the scene is always a good idea. Police reports will provide the documentation you need to begin building your case and claim.

Take Photos

You can never have too many photos. Document the entire scene. Photograph the vehicles involved, any obvious physical injuries if you are able to do so, road conditions (such as ice or freezing rain, etc.), road impediments, confusing signage, the streets and surrounding area, and anything else that you think would help build your case.

Make a Journal

Write down your immediate thoughts about the accident while it is fresh in your mind.

Gather Contact and Insurance Information

Be sure to get the names and contact information for the other parties involved in the accident, as well as their complete insurance information. Also quickly gather the names and contact information for all witnesses to the accident, before they leave the scene. Remember, many people that see an accident occur will stop for a moment, look to see that everyone is fine, and then go on about their business. These are valuable witnesses for your case and claim. Try to talk to all of them if you are able to. Your personal injury attorney can follow up and interview them all later, but it is up to you to get their information before they leave or they may be gone forever.

In A Car Collision, How Do You Determine Who Is to Blame?

Every collision is different. Determining fault is usually based on a wide range of factors and considerations. Once called to the scene of the accident, a police officer could make an evaluation based on the obvious information he or she finds. However, you need to remember that the officer’s information is limited as they were not witnessed to the accident, and as such their evaluation could be insufficient to substantiate your account of the event, or… their account could get it all wrong. The fact is, while you do want the police involved and you need their report of the accident for your case and claim, you really need to hire a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Witness accounts and police reports can sometimes work for you but not always. You need a personal injury attorney to get involved and perform an independent investigation so you will be protected.

If Someone Hits My Car from Behind, Could I Be Liable?

In Florida, the prevailing thought is that the car in the rear is typically responsible for a rear-end collision. However, that is not always true in every case; unusual circumstances could potentially overturn this normally accepted thought, and have. Circumstances matter and every case is different so you cannot assume that the front driver is always in the clear, and the rear driver is always at fault; it could go the other way. This is why assumptions are never good, and it’s best to hire an experienced auto accident or personal injury attorney to represent you, whether you’re the front vehicle driver or the rear vehicle driver.

When More Than One Party Is at Fault for The Accident, What Happens?

The state of Florida adheres to the pure comparative negligence standard. This standard states that even when one party bears partial responsibility for an accident, that party can seek damages from other parties who are also deemed to be partially at fault. In this scenario, the amount of recovery would be reduced by a percentage of fault assigned to the plaintiff in the case.

Understanding the Florida No-Fault Law

Under the guidance of Florida’s no-fault auto insurance law, it is common for injured drivers to seek reimbursement for any accident costs they have incurred, from their own carrier, without regard to who is at fault for the collision. This is clearly a reason to have a qualified accident attorney representing you throughout the process and especially when it is time for negotiations with insurers. Disputes occur with insurers often, and you need an advocate to champion your case and get you the fair treatment you deserve. If there is a serious injury due to the accident, a plaintiff is allowed to seek damages from the at-fault driver and that driver’s insurer. Legislators have been seeking to change this rule, so it is imperative that you have a skilled attorney representing you who is current on all changes and information regarding these laws.

Understanding Bodily Injury Coverage

Bodily injury liability is another type of specific auto insurance coverage that is not typically mandatory, but optional for the average Florida driver. Bodily injury liability covers medical costs due to injuries from vehicle accidents. Florida does require a driver to carry at least the bare minimum of $10,000 in overall Personal Injury Projection coverage, which is obviously not a lot when you take into account the rising costs of medical care. Oftentimes extra coverage is needed to cover the basic medical costs of an accident injury, even when the injury is not catastrophic in nature. Drivers with past convictions of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol may be required to purchase bodily injury liability coverage because of the potentially increased risk they present to other motorists and passengers on the roads.

What Sort of Damages Might I Be Able to Recover in Connection with a Personal Injury Claim?

In Florida, the law provides an opportunity for you to recover many types of damages for personal injuries due to some other party’s fault. Damages can include medical expenses incurred due to the accident, and also lost wages. And Florida law allows for your damages recovery to include past, present, as well as future medical expenses and the lost wages resulting from your injuries. In addition, you may recover for past, present, and future pain and suffering. Talk to your accident attorney and learn about all your options.

What About the Losses My Spouse or Children Suffered Due to Another Party’s Actions That Caused My Injuries? Can My Spouse or Children Recover for Damages?

Yes, there are many types of damages that your spouse can recover, including lost financial support and services that she or he has suffered due to your injuries. In most situations, your spouse can recover for whatever amount it would cost to hire for services you cannot perform while injured. In addition, you would typically be entitled to pursue a claim for ‘loss of consortium.’ Loss of consortium is a legal term for any normal benefits that a married couple would usually enjoy, that you and your spouse can no longer engage in due to the injuries you sustained. Children and dependents can also recover for lost financial support and services they’ve suffered due to your injuries.

How Long Do I Have to Pursue a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

The statute of limitations in Florida is four years. While this may seem like a long time, there really isn’t any time to waste. Personal injury lawsuits can sometimes be settled quickly, but not always, especially if the lawsuit is for a significant amount of damages. It’s always better to act immediately and not delay.

How Can I Pursue a Personal Injury Lawsuit Against an Insurance Company? I Know They Will Have Unlimited Resources, and My Finances Are Limited.

It is your constitutional right to file a lawsuit and seek appropriate compensation for any injuries you suffer due to another party’s negligence. The insurance company quite often has greater resources than the average person, of course. But this is not a problem at all because we always pay your expenses associated with the filing of your lawsuit and pursuing a personal injury claim. You will never pay any of those kinds of expenses until we settle your case out of court or win a jury verdict in court. At that point, all attorney’s fees will be deducted from the settlement or the jury verdict compensation that was awarded to you.

What Are the Odds I’ll Win My Personal Injury Case?

Attorneys, at least seasoned and qualified ones, don’t make predictions because every case is unique with many variables and moving parts. That said, we’ll be straight with you from the beginning about how we see your case, its potential value, all the strengths and weaknesses of your case, and what we intend to do to make it the strongest it can be. If your case has problems that we’re concerned about we’ll tell you right upfront, and when we evaluate your case at the beginning, we’ll advise you as to whether accepting a settlement from the other party or their insurer is the best idea.

Could My Case Be Settled Without My Knowledge or Permission?

No, we would never make that important decision for you. We will advise you of course, but you will always be the one who makes the final decision on a settlement offer in connection with any personal injury claim. It’s ultimately your decision to accept any settlement and your right.

Is There a Standard Time Frame for Settling Personal Injury Cases in Florida?

No, as every case is always different, it’s impossible to predict just how long the process will take, but the severity and kind of injuries suffered, and which insurance company the other party has representing them, will both be factors that determine length of time till settlement. As we know, certain insurance companies are quite willing to talk of early settlement, and others are not. And some insurance companies are not keen on going before juries, while some play it tougher. Therefore, time to settlement depends on your case, the particulars of your case, severity of injuries, etc.

Attorney Robert Fenstersheib

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