There are critical steps to take after a car accident to protect your rights. Take these steps after an accident if the other party is at fault for causing the accident.
Get Medical Treatment Immediately After the Accident
If you have any questions about an injury, get checked out. We encourage you to either go to the hospital or to an Urgent Care facility. If you can avoid taking the ambulance, do so. The ambulance bill is expensive and unnecessary.
Call the Police ASAP
The laws for reporting an accident vary by state, but it’s illegal to flee an accident scene in almost all states. Under Florida Statute 316.065(1), all motor operators have an obligation to report accidents under the following circumstances:
- A driver or motorist must report the accident with the fastest means of communication
- If any driver was injured or killed in the accident, you must report the accident
- If any property damage of at least $500 occurred, you must report the accident to law enforcement
So, after a Florida accident that was not your fault, it’s a good idea to call 911. According to Florida law, all motorists have a duty to give information to police and render aid. Even if none of the circumstances above apply, calling 911 is the first step to protecting your rights and potential compensation for damages.
Failure to render aid is a non-criminal traffic violation in Florida, and therefore you could face penalties for a nonmoving violation. So, when in doubt, it’s best to err on the side of caution and call the police.
Most Florida car accidents involve some degree of injury and property damage of at least $500. Therefore, (Florida Statute 316.065(1)) probably applies to most car accidents in Florida, meaning most accidents require you to call the police.
If the other driver flees the scene, that’s considered a hit-and-run. You should still call the police in that case and report the accident.
Gather Information While You Wait for the Police to Arrive
Once the police arrive on the scene, they will speak with all parties involved in the accident. While you wait, you should get some critical information from all parties involved, including:
- Contact information
- Phone number
- Insurance details
- Company name
- Policy number
- Pictures of the accident scene, car damage, injuries
- Contact information from any nearby witnesses
When the police come, they will gather all this information from the other drivers involved. However, it’s a good idea to obtain it yourself as well.
The at-fault driver is responsible for contacting their insurance provider to notify them of the accident. Unfortunately, however, not everyone does that. Gathering the appropriate information can help protect your car accident claim.
Notify Your Insurance Company
While your PIP coverage will cover some damages, it’s possible for the damages to exceed your policy limit. In that case, the other driver’s insurance would be liable for covering additional damages. Therefore, you deserve fair compensation for all the damages and losses you incurred from the accident. However, recovering fair compensation is seldom cut and dry.
Since insurance companies are profit-driven businesses, they often look for ways to reduce payouts to injury victims. You’ll most likely get pushback from the other party’s insurance company. They might try to:
- Offer you a lowball settlement amount
- Claim that you are partially or completely to blame for the accident
- Deny your claim
- Purport that your injuries are not as serious as you claim
Their bottom line is to pay as little as possible. However, to protect yourself, report the accident to your insurance provider. If you are worried or overwhelmed about dealing with insurance companies, a Florida car accident lawyer can help you do this.
What does PIP Pay for in Florida?
Under Florida Statutes § 627.736, PIP covers up to 80 percent of all reasonable and necessary medical expenses that result from the accident. Examples of necessary and reasonable medical expenses include:
- Emergency transportation
- Hospital expenses
- Surgical procedure expenses
- Nursing services
- Dental care
To receive coverage, you must seek treatment within fourteen days of the accident. PIP will also cover up to 60% of your gross wages and lost future earning capacity if you miss work due to accident-related injuries. In addition, insurance companies must pay disability benefits on the agreed-upon schedule, which is usually every two weeks.
If your loved one died in a car accident, PIP would provide up to $5,000 in death benefits to you or the surviving family members covered in the policy. The insurance company will pay you those benefits in addition to the deceased loved one’s medical expenses and lost wages.
Seek Professional Medical Treatment
As soon as you leave the accident scene, you should see a doctor. If you cannot go directly to a doctor, make an appointment as soon as possible. Even if you feel okay, you need to get a professional medical assessment.
Many injuries, like whiplash, don’t have immediate symptoms after the accident. Even if there are immediate symptoms, the shock and adrenaline from the crash are likely masking or dulling injury symptoms. Other injuries take time to develop and have a delayed onset of symptoms.
Consequently, getting a checkup done as soon as possible is best. The sooner you get this done, the better. If you delay medical attention, the insurance company might assume that your injuries are not serious enough to have warranted immediate care. In addition, you’ll have a much better chance at recovering compensation for damages that have supporting evidence, like medical records.
When Can You Seek Compensation from Another Party After a Florida Car Accident?
You could pursue the liable party for compensation if you sustained severe injuries. You can do so through a claim against their insurance company (through their liability coverage) or a personal injury lawsuit.
Personal Injury Protection will only cover medical bills, lost income, and death benefits. If you wish to recover for any other accident-related damages, you must pursue the at-fault party or their insurance company. Additional damages you might need to recover after a Florida car accident include:
- Property damages
- Pain and suffering
- Reduced quality of life
- Psychological distress
- Loss of mobility
Contact a Florida Car Accident Lawyer
Insurance companies can be difficult to negotiate with. As such, it can be highly advantageous to have a skilled legal expert to negotiate on your behalf.
Insurance companies often offer lowball settlement offers. Or, they may try to deny your claim altogether. Your attorney might be able to negotiate a fair settlement amount and resolve your case. However, if you cannot reach a desirable settlement agreement, or if the insurance company continues to deny coverage, your attorney might suggest taking your case to court. Then, a jury would hear your case and decide on a final award amount.
Either way, your lawyer can help improve the outcome of your case and win you the highest compensation possible. They have experience communicating and negotiating with insurance companies and anticipate their tactics. As a result, a good lawyer can help you build a winning strategy for your case.
Be Cautious of What You Say to an Insurance Adjuster
Be careful not to overshare with an insurance adjuster after the accident. The other party’s insurance company will start to investigate and may try to contact you.
Never apologize, admit fault, give a recorded statement, or any form of written consent. They can use this against you later. It’s best to consult your attorney before directly communicating with the insurance company.
Talk to a Lawyer About Your Car Accident Claim for Free
If you sustained injuries in an accident that was not your fault, you probably have many questions and concerns. Our team of experienced Florida car accident attorneys has helped hundreds of accident victims seek justice and recover damage compensation. We know what it takes to win cases and can help you decide on the next best move for your unique situation.
We offer a free and confidential initial consultation, so call us today, risk-free.