If you have been injured in a car accident in Florida, you probably have been getting information from many different sources. Your friend or family member may give you some advice, maybe your insurance agent, and you may have looked online for some answers. Because no two car accidents are the same, what worked in the past, may not apply to your situation. However, there are some common themes among car accidents. At St. Petersburg Personal Injury Attorneys McQuaid & Douglas, we specialize in car accident claims. We are familiar with what steps to take and what to avoid. The following article is an attempt to dispel some of the myths surrounding Florida car accidents.
It Is a Myth That All Drivers Carry Insurance
While it is required by Florida law for all drivers on the roads to have insurance, it has been my experience that approximately in ⅓ of all of my cases, one party is not insured. That even includes some of my clients. Not all of these issues are intentional. There can be problems with bills being paid or when transferring policies. But, many people still risk it and drive around with a suspended license and no insurance. Some people are even in the country illegally with no license. Therefore, when you add up all of the problems, expect that the other driver was not insured and protect yourself. The best way to do that is to carry UM insurance so that if you are injured in a car accident, you have a reserve of insurance money to pursue.
It Is a Myth That Exchanging Information Is Enough
Simply exchanging information after a car accident is not enough. Regardless of the severity of the accident, you should always call the police. An accident report will assist the insurance companies to determine fault without relying on the word of the people who were involved. It also will help acquire witness information and document what occurred. Not only should you never trust the other person to do the right thing after the accident, the insurance company isn’t bound to listen to their insured anyway. So, the best way to protect yourself after an accident is to simply contact law enforcement and let them handle the investigation.
It Is a Myth That Insurance Will Pay for Everything
Trusting insurance companies to voluntarily pay money is foolish. Even if insurance wants to do the right thing, there are often monetary limitations on the policy. It has been my experience that it is common for there simply to not be enough insurance money available to pay for your full losses. Insurance is expensive and most people simply do not carry high insurance limits that would cover losses in the case of a severe injury or even death.
It Is a Myth That Your Insurance Adjuster Is on Your Side
Even though an insurance adjuster is nice to you over the phone, does not mean that they are looking out for your best interests. Insurance adjusters do not get good job reviews, raises or bonuses by paying out a lot of money. The truth is that they are incentivized to not pay claims or to pay as little as possible. While you should always be polite with the insurance representatives, keep in mind that their job depends on not being generous to you.
It Is a Myth That You Do Not Need to Seek Medical Care for a Minor Accident
You should get checked out immediately after a car accident regardless of the severity of the damage. I have clients on a regular basis that sustain serious injuries even in a low speed parking lot accident. The truth is that the impact of a car collision even at a low speed can cause injuries. People who wait to see if their injuries will get better often regret that decision. The seriousness of the injury may not be fully revealed for days or even weeks and by that time, it is often too late to start getting medical treatment. So, I advise everyone to get checked out immediately. It is a healthy decision and it will greatly help any injury claim that you may have in the future.
It Is a Myth That Hiring a Car Accident Attorney Is Expensive
Car accident attorneys get paid on a percentage basis out of the amount of money that is recovered in your case. This is called a contingency. If no money is recovered, you do not owe the lawyer anything. This fee structure makes it easy for a client to hire a car accident lawyer. Compared to other types of legal cases, contingency matters are the most low risk for clients. You never need to put any money down or make payments.
It Is a Myth That You Can Hire Any Type of Attorney to Handle Your Claim
Not all lawyers specialize in car accident claims. But, that won’t stop most lawyers from agreeing to take your case. When you hire a lawyer who is not set up to handle car accident claims, your case will inevitably be damaged. So, err on the side of caution and only speak to a lawyer who is experienced with your type of accident claim.
It Is a Myth That You Should Handle the Accident Injury Claim on Your Own
Handling a claim without the help of a lawyer is another mistake that people make. I don’t understand why people think they can handle their case on their own, but I have never seen a situation in 20 years where someone has recovered as much without a lawyer as with one. I say that with one exception. There are times when the injury is so severe and the insurance is so little, that the policy is tendered immediately. But, getting to that point and making sure that there is no other insurance is important and well worth the percentage that you will pay the lawyer. And, if you think you are in a situation where the insurance company is going to pay the full policy amount, all you have to do is ask the lawyer to reduce his or her fee as a concession.
Contact a Local Car Accident Attorney
Getting a local attorney who is familiar with your type of claim should be your goal in every case. I advise people to do their research on the attorney and find someone that they feel comfortable with. The firms that advertise on television may sound good, but understand that you will be treated like a number at a place like that. You will only be able to maximize the compensation that you deserve by hiring an experienced local lawyer that has treated people with respect and honesty. The insurance companies know the firms that they can settle for cheap, so don’t make that mistake. At St. Petersburg Personal Injury Attorneys McQuaid & Douglas, we take our time with each client and maximize the value of each case. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, please contact us for a free consultation.