Car accident victims often have to deal with severe injuries and overwhelming medical bills. To make matters worse, insurance companies try to offer lowball settlements to get injury victims to close their cases. But they usually offer only a fraction of what injury victims need to cover their losses. Insurance companies don’t have injury victims’ best interests in mind. They are big businesses, and the insurance adjuster’s job is to save money and reduce their liability.
It’s not uncommon to see insurance adjusters try to pressure injury victims into accepting low settlement offers. Unfortunately, that sometimes leaves people with much less than they deserve. Accident victims should know they don’t have to deal with insurance companies and sort out legalities alone.
It is essential, however, for accident victims to know that they have a time limit to file a claim. Most people feel the financial pressure when they receive a medical bill or car repair expense. For others, it’s a missed paycheck from accident-related injuries. Unfortunately, regardless of what unexpected financial burden comes first, many injury victims find themselves in financial turmoil that they don’t know how to solve.
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Steps to Follow After a Florida Car Accident
Right after the car accident, there are crucial steps to take to ensure you protect your rights. Taking these steps will also help strengthen your claim later on. As a result, you will have a better shot at recovering the fair compensation you need to cover your damages.
- Call the police. Call 911 to report the accident and wait for the police to arrive. If you or anyone else is injured, call an ambulance as well. Then, ensure you get a copy of the official police report and any relevant medical reports. Those will serve as valuable evidence for your claim. Without solid evidence, it can become a matter of your word against the other party’s.
- Gather evidence. With modern technology, gathering evidence is easier than ever. You can use your smartphone to record key evidence like:
- Pictures of license plates of all parties involved in the accident
- Pictures of the accident scene
- Pictures of property damage
- Contact information for the other driver
- Contact information for witnesses
- Any other relevant information to establish liability
- Reach out to an experienced Florida Car Accident Lawyer. A seasoned lawyer knows how to start building your case. They will help you stand up to insurance companies who sometimes try to minimize their liability and undercut your settlement payment.
Things to Avoid After a Florida Car Accident
Knowing what not to do after a car accident is equally important as knowing what to do. So avoid making these mistakes after a car accident.
- Failing to report the accident. While it can be tempting to simply exchange contact information with the other driver and move along, this could jeopardize your injury case. You may have an injury that does not show symptoms until later. Or, maybe the other party will later change their statement and deny they are at fault. Whatever the case, your best bet is to call local law enforcement and file an official incident report.
- Admitting guilt or blame. Most people are naturally inclined to apologize after an accident, regardless of fault. However, apologizing after a car accident can sometimes be twisted later to make it seem like an admission of fault. Don’t admit or accept fault even if you think you may have caused the accident.
- Accepting a settlement too quickly. The insurance company often makes an aggressive “take it or leave it” offer. They intentionally put pressure on people during sensitive times, usually right after the accident. It’s best to wait until you consult with an attorney before making any decisions or agreements.
How Much Time Do I Have to File a Claim After a Florida Car Accident?
Car accident victims in Florida have four years from the date of accident to file a lawsuit due to the statute of limitations. While four years seems like a lot of time, it can pass quickly after a crash. If you have severe injuries, you will probably want to focus on recovering and getting your life back in order. In addition, you might be struggling to pay all the accident-related bills to keep your family afloat.
Evidence can get lost or destroyed quickly after an accident. That’s why it’s best to act sooner rather than later. Your memory of events will be fresher and more clear, too. The best way to avoid crucial mistakes is by working with an experienced lawyer.
When to Call a Florida Car Accident Lawyer
Not every person involved in an accident will need legal representation. However, there are some cases when it’s best to work with an attorney. For example, in the following situations, it’s best to contact an attorney so they can start building your case:
- If you or a loved one sustained serious injuries
- Liability is not clearly or easily established
- If you were involved in a crash involving another motorist (pedestrian, car, truck, bicyclist)
- If you were in a crash in a construction zone or work zone
- If you disagree with the police report
- If you were involved in an accident with an underinsured or uninsured driver
- Anytime the insurance company is offering an unfair settlement or gives confusing answers regarding liability
Even if you were involved in a seemingly minor collision, an attorney could still be invaluable under specific circumstances like:
- Significant property damage
- If you or any passengers were injured
- If you missed work due to accident injuries
- If you encounter any issues with car repair costs or insurance limits
The sooner you contact an attorney, the better. That’s because evidence vital for your claim can get lost or destroyed in weeks.
Even if you’re unsure if you need to file a claim, it’s best to err on the side of caution.
Helpful Things to Prepare Before Meeting With Your Lawyer
You can help your case move along and run smoothly by having certain things ready to provide for your lawyer. Be sure to have the following items:
- Contact information for the other driver and witnesses, if possible
- Key facts and details about your case. Try to write everything down while it’s fresh in your memory
- A copy of the police report
- Any medical records, documentation, and bills
- All financial documents related to the accident
- Pictures of the accident scene, your car damage, and any injuries
- Witness contact information
When to File A Florida Personal Injury Claim
Remember, a personal injury claim is different from a personal injury lawsuit. You must file a claim with the insurance company for the injuries and damages you have sustained. This is when the experience of a personal injury attorney will be invaluable in getting the best possible outcome for your case. They are skilled negotiators who have experience in dealing with insurance companies. They can help ensure you get the maximum compensation for your injuries and damages.
If the insurance company is bullying you or playing hardball, your attorney can help level the playing field. For example, they might suggest filing a personal injury lawsuit if you cannot reach a desirable agreement with the insurance company. In that case, you would file a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent party to seek compensation for damages. Unfortunately, this often happens after the insurance adjuster tries to deny your claim or undermine the severity of your injuries.
The Advantages of Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney
It might seem easier to handle the aftermath of a car accident alone. However, that’s not usually the case. An attorney can make your life easier and handle your case so you can focus on healing and recovery. Here are some of the benefits of hiring an attorney:
Dealing With the Insurance Company
Since insurance companies don’t always play fair, securing yourself with an attorney who can represent you is best. Your attorney will ensure the insurance company is not acting in bad faith.
Handling and Filing Necessary Paperwork
Car accident claims require paperwork and important forms. Your lawyer will ensure you have all the necessary forms and file them properly. Failure to do so could result in delays.
Ensuring Your File a Claim on Time
Your attorney knows the statute of limitations and how to handle your case efficiently. You won’t miss any critical deadlines to protect your right to compensation.
A lawyer will help you get a higher settlement or award. Not only do they know how to build a winning case, but they also know what’s a fair amount. In addition, they usually aren’t afraid to go up against insurance companies and will fight for you to get all your losses covered.
Conducting a Thorough Investigation Into the Case
The right attorney will have large networks and resources to draw from. That includes hiring experts to conduct a thorough and accurate investigation into the case. For example, they might enlist the help of accident reconstruction specialists, forensic experts, and more. That way, you can establish the liability of all responsible parties and hold them accountable.
Contact a Florida Personal Injury Lawyer Today
If you were involved in a car accident in Florida, you might benefit from hiring a Florida Personal Injury Lawyer. We can help you win the maximum possible settlement for your injuries and any losses you incurred due to the accident.
Our award winning legal team has the knowledge, experience, and resources to help you win your case.
Contact us today for a free initial case review.