No one hits the road and expects to be involved in a car accident. Unfortunately, hundreds of car accidents happen in Florida every day. Many accidents inflict costly damage and injuries. While you’re struggling to recover from your injuries, the stress of fighting to recover the compensation you deserve can be overwhelming. Understanding the car accident claims process and working with an experienced personal injury lawyer can help to make a difficult situation much easier.
First Steps to Take After Your Florida Car Accident
The things you do immediately after an accident will be crucial to your personal injury claim.
1. Stop and Get Help
If you have been involved in a Florida car accident you have a legal obligation to remain at the scene. If you can, try to pull the vehicle over to a safe location to prevent further harm. If anyone has been injured, call for help immediately.
2. Report the Accident
In addition to remaining at the scene, you must also report the accident to local law enforcement if:
- Anyone, including yourself, suffered an injury; or
- There is property damage exceeding $500.
Why is it important to report the accident? Police will arrive on the scene and take note of important details that will be relevant to your future claim(s). They may also make preliminary determinations of fault and issue traffic citations to the person (or people) who caused the accident. This will be helpful when it is time for you to file a claim for damages.
3. Seek Medical Attention
It is important to see a doctor if you are not transported to a hospital by emergency medical professionals. This is true even if you don’t think your injuries are too severe. A medical professional will ensure that all of your injuries are identified and treated properly. Internal injuries can be difficult to diagnose on your own and can become life-threatening if left untreated. Your medical report will help to establish a causal link between your accident and injuries.
4. Gather Relevant Information
Gathering information is an important step after your accident. You’ll be dealing with insurance companies and you’ll want to have certain information on hand. You should gather:
- The name, address, and insurance information of other drivers involved
- Identifying information of other vehicles involves
- Police reports, and
- Medical reports (if possible).
Filing a Claim With Your Insurance Company
When you register a car in the state of Florida you have an obligation to purchase a minimally-acceptable insurance policy. Current law requires you to purchase a policy that covers at least:
- $10,000 of personal injury protection (PIP), and
- $10,000 of property damage liability (PDL).
When you are injured in a car accident, state law requires you to look to your own insurance company for help. This is true whether or not you are responsible for causing the accident. Just because you must look to your own insurer doesn’t mean that you can’t file a personal injury lawsuit for damages. State law simply wants you to try to recover compensation for your injuries from your insurance company first.
You’ll want to make sure that you file a personal injury claim with your car insurance company as soon as you can after your accident. Use the information you gathered after the accident to support your claim for damages.
If you suffer property damage in a car accident, you don’t have to go through your insurer first. You can go directly after the person who is responsible for causing the crash. Make sure that you get the damage to your vehicle (and/or other property) checked out as soon as you can. Delaying this assessment can hurt your ability to recover compensation in the end.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit for Damages
As an accident victim in Florida, you have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit against the person (or people) who are responsible for causing the crash. You do have to try to recover compensation for your personal injuries from your insurer first. If your insurer refuses to pay or your damages exceed your policy allowances, you can decide to pursue compensation from other parties.
Who Can I File a Personal Injury Lawsuit Against?
In Florida, most personal injury lawsuits are based on the law of negligence. Negligence occurs when a person has and breaches a duty of care to another. Anyone who drives a car in Florida has a legal duty to be safe and drive in a way that doesn’t put others in harm’s way. Breaching this duty can cause serious harm. If your injury is the result of someone else’s negligence, you can hold them financially responsible for your harm.
Other drivers aren’t the only potential defendants in a personal injury lawsuit. The following parties may also be negligent and cause a Florida car accident:
- Truck drivers
- Vehicle manufacturers
- Vehicle retailers, and even
- Local and/or state government agencies.
How can you know who is responsible for your Florida car accident? Hire an attorney who will conduct a thorough investigation on your behalf. Determining what caused your accident will help to identify all potential defendants. The more defendants you identify, the better your chances of maximizing the compensation you get.
Statute of Limitations for Florida Car Accident Claims
How long do I have to file a personal injury claim for damages after my accident? If you want to file a claim with your insurer, you must check your specific policy to see how much time you have. A good rule of thumb is to file the claim as soon as you can after the crash.
For personal injury lawsuits, Florida law imposes a strict statute of limitations. You will only have four years from the date of your accident to file a claim. If you don’t file your claim before the statute of limitations expires you will not get the money you deserve.
How Our Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Can Help
Whether you are fighting with your insurer and thinking about filing a lawsuit for damages, it is important to work with an experienced attorney. Here’s why.
1. You Need Time to Get Better
Car accidents can be incredibly painful and overwhelming. The last thing you need to do is try to juggle a complex legal claim while you are trying to recover from your injuries. Hiring an attorney who is well-versed in local law and procedure can take a great deal of stress off of your shoulders. At Lavent Law, P.A., our attorneys will handle all aspects of your legal case while you take the time to focus on getting better.
2. Insurance Companies Don’t Want You to Hire a Lawyer
It’s true. Insurance companies would prefer that you try to handle a claim on your own. Why? They want to minimize the amount of money you are able to recover. If you hire an attorney, you are much more likely to recover a fair and meaningful settlement.
As a result, insurance companies will try to take advantage of your emotions after an accident. Many will try to convince you to accept a lowball offer. It’s important to understand that these early offers probably won’t be enough to cover the full extent of your injuries. Insurers will also make you sign a form that will prohibit you from filing any claims related to this accident again. As a result, you’ll be out of options to get the money you need.
3. Your Injuries Can Be Difficult to Value
How much should you receive from your personal injury claim? Who gets to decide what your injuries are worth? If you don’t hire a lawyer an insurance company will answer both of these questions. Since they’re more interested in protecting their profits than your well-being, you can be certain that your claim will be undervalued. At Lavent Law, P.A., we thoroughly investigate all accidents and work with experts to make sure that injuries are valued properly. We don’t just look at your expenses today, but also determine how your injuries may affect you down the line.
4. The Claims Process Can Be Confusing
Florida complicates the process of recovering the compensation you need after an accident. Hiring an attorney to handle all aspects of your personal injury claim will make the situation much more manageable for you. At Lavent Law, P.A., we will pursue compensation from your insurance company as well as anyone who may have caused you harm. Our aggressive approach to your case allows us to help you maximize your financial settlement or award.
5. We Can Help You Recover Compensation Even If You Share Fault
Do you share some of the blame for your accident? If so, don’t let an insurance company intimidate you and deny your claim. In Florida, fault is not a bar to recovery. You can recover compensation as long as someone else is to blame. However, the amount of money you can get is directly linked to how much of the accident is your fault. At Lavent Law, P.A., our attorneys will work to find evidence that shifts blame to others. The less fault you share, the more money you can get.
Need Help With Your Florida Car Accident Claim?
Have you been injured in a Florida car accident? Do you need help understanding your legal rights and obligations? Contact Lavent Law, P.A. to schedule a free consultation with our skilled legal team. Our Florida car accident lawyers will review your case and determine the best strategy for getting you the money you deserve. Call us for help today.