What Do I Do After A Car Accident?
Q. I was just involved in an auto accident. Now what do I do?
A. First, focus on safety above all else after an accident. If possible, pull your vehicle to safety. If not, place emergency lights on and either stay in the vehicle or get to the side of the road. After you do this, your next step should be to get medical help for your injuries. You’ll also want to try to gather any information you can if possible. Things like witness names, some photos of the accident scene, and other factors could help prove your case. But first, get safe.
Q. Do I have to photograph the scene?
A. It will help, for sure. But if you’re injured or unable to safely photograph the accident scene, don’t. Focus on your safety first. If it’s possible to take photos once you’re safe or to even take photos of your vehicle in the days following the accident, it could have a direct impact on proving your case.
Q. I don’t feel hurt. Do I still need to go to the doctor?
A. Absolutely. Not only will some injuries not manifest themselves for hours or even days after an accident, but by waiting to seek medical attention you make it much more difficult to connect your injuries to your accident. This, in turn, means that it is harder to get the compensation you deserve. Seek medical attention as soon as possible, even if you don’t feel like you’re hurt.
Q. How long do I have to seek help?
A. Medically speaking, you have 14 days to seek medical care after an accident in order to apply your injuries to your PIP coverage. Waiting longer than this means that you may not be able to get help with your medical costs through PIP. However, in most instances, you’ll have up to 4 years to actually file a claim for personal injury damages through a lawsuit. But the longer you wait, the harder it will be for your attorney to get you what you deserve.
Q. I may be partially to blame. Do I still have the right to compensation?
A. In most cases, the answer here is yes. Florida is a comparative negligence state. This means that a court will assign a percentage of blame in some instances, and award compensation based on this. If you’re found to be 25% to blame for the accident, for example, you may only be able to receive 75% of the total damages one would normally be owed.
Q. What is a CME?
A. A CME is a Compulsory Medical Examination. Essentially, it’s a medical exam that an insurance company requires in order to show just what kind of injuries you have suffered from. It could play a major role in your ability to receive compensation. However, an independent medical examination may also be used by your attorney to help show that you are owed what you say you are owed.
Q. I’m being offered a settlement. Shouldn’t I take it?
A. The short answer here is no – or at least not until you let your attorney review the offer. Insurance companies often offer settlements that are far lower than you really deserve in an attempt to avoid paying anything more than they have to. As such, it’s vital to let your attorney review your settlement offer to ensure that you get the maximum amount possible from your case.
Q. Do I really need to find an attorney?
A. Yes, if you want to ensure that you are able to receive compensation that will cover your medical expenses and financial costs associated with the accident. The process of getting financial compensation isn’t easy, and often involves very complex steps that the average person won’t understand. Contacting a lawyer is the best way to be certain that your rights are protected and that you get what you’re owed.