Motor Vehicle Accidents FAQ
- I’ve been in an automobile accident. What should I do?
- Should I take any photos?
- Should I contact my insurance company?
- Should I give a statement to the other driver’s insurance company?
- When should I consult with a personal injury attorney?
- Should I seek medical treatment?
- What types of insurance covers the injuries I suffer in a motor vehicle accident?
- How do I find an experienced personal injury attorney?
First, immediately make provision for your safety and health. If you are injured, make sure that emergency medical services (“EMS”) and law enforcement are called. Have EMS examine you and if appropriate, have them transport you to an emergency room for treatment. If you are able, try to obtain the following information:
- the name, address and driver’s license number of all drivers involved in the accident;
- the name, address and policy number for all insurance companies of all drivers involved in the accident;
- the name and address of all passengers in any vehicle;
- the name and address of all witnesses to the accident;
- the name and badge number of the attending law enforcement officer;
- the report number for the accident report (obtain a copy of the report if possible).
After you have provided for your medical care, either you or someone on your behalf should take photos of all vehicles involved in the accident. Also, take photos of all physical injuries you have sustained (such as bruises, scrapes, lacerations, etc.).
Most automobile liability insurance policies require that its insured promptly report any motor vehicle accident involving an insured or an insured vehicle. Failure to do so could result in the insurance company denying coverage or delaying payment of claims. If your insurance company wants to take your statement under a situation where you or anyone in your vehicle has been injured, it would be advisable to retain an attorney before giving a statement to your insurance company. You will also want to fill out and submit to your insurance company a Personal Injury Protection (PIP) application for benefits.
You should not give a statement to the other driver’s insurance company unless first consulting with and being represented by an experienced Florida personal injury attorney. Furthermore, do not sign any paperwork submitted to you by the other driver’s insurance company. In no event should you provide any type of Medical Release or Authorization allowing the insurer to obtain your medical records.
If you have been injured in the accident, it is advisable to consult an experienced personal injury attorney at your earliest opportunity. The insurance company for the other driver is not your ally regardless of how cooperative or friendly it may seem. That insurance company has attorneys and other resources to try to defeat any claim you assert. In order to be on equal footing, you need to have an injury attorney on your side. Early consultation with an attorney can also help your case in that your attorney may be able to help investigate and document your case. Sometimes a delay results in witnesses and evidence disappearing or becoming more difficult to obtain. The opposing insurance company will be aggressively investigating your case and you need someone doing the same for you.
Seek medical treatment immediately. Sometimes what seems like a minor injury can worsen within hours, days or even weeks. If appropriate, be examined at an emergency room or by your family physician as soon as possible. Ultimately, the course of your medical treatment is something that you and your medical providers must determine. However, delay in seeking treatment can impact both the speed and extent of your recovery as well as the prospect of your making a damages recovery for your injuries. You should seek treatment and if not satisfied, seek a second opinion or inquire into alternate or additional types of diagnosis and treatment. Most important, follow your medical provider’s recommendations.
In Florida, there are various types of insurance coverage which can apply to compensate you for your injuries. First, your own automobile insurance coverage should contain Personal Injury Protection (“PIP”) benefits. These usually are in a minimum amount of $10,000. You may also have your own Med Pay coverage which will pay for medical benefits in excess of the PIP coverage. PIP and Med Pay benefits pay your medical expenses regardless of which party was at fault. PIP will also pay a portion of your lost wages. In addition, the other driver’s insurance may have bodily injury coverage (“BI”) which may compensate you for damages you suffer. These damages will vary depending on the case and the injuries suffered by you but they can include: medical bills, lost wages, lost earning capacity, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and other miscellaneous losses. If the other driver’s BI coverage is not sufficient to cover all of your injuries, you may seek recovery against your own auto insurer if you have Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage (“UM”). By way of example, consider a situation where you are injured in an automobile accident caused by another driver who has $20,000 in BI coverage. Assume you have PIP benefits of $10,000, Med Pay benefits of $5,000 and UM coverage of $50,000. Your medical bills are $23,000 and you have suffered a serious permanent injury causing you damages. In this example, your medical bills will be paid first from your own PIP and Med Pay coverage up to $15,000. The medical bills above this amount and all additional damages may be paid from the other driver’s BI coverage. So if your total damages above the medical bills paid by PIP and Med Pay are $45,000, you could seek to recover $20,000 from the other driver’s BI insurance and $25,000 from you own UM coverage. Frequently, the insurance companies providing these coverages will not pay the benefits. Therefore, in order to make a recovery of all of the benefits available to you, you will need the assistance of an injury attorney experienced in handling automobile, truck, motor cycle and other motor vehicle claims.
The name of a personal injury attorney who is experienced in handling injuries arising from motor vehicle accidents, including automobiles, trucks, boats, and motor cycles, can be found much like finding other professionals, including by asking friends and family, doing research on the internet and elsewhere and through lawyer search sites such as www.findlaw.com, www.martindale.com and www.lawyers.com. Although some personal injury lawyers advertise, your selection of an attorney based on advertising alone is not a reliable choice. You will be more satisfied with doing your own search and finding someone who will meet your needs. Most importantly, in hiring an attorney, meet with the attorney in person and make sure that you are comfortable with the experience and approach and demeanor of the attorney who will be representing you. Make sure you meet the injury attorney who will actually handle your case, not just with a paralegal or case manager. The relationship you have with your attorney during this important time will be helpful to you and should be based on a mutually good rapport between client and attorney.
Contact an Experienced Tampa Bay, Florida Lawyer
Please contact the Lins Law Group regarding any personal injury, estate planning, or estate administration matter. Our firm can be reached at 813-280-0082, or by filling out the in-take form on our Contact Us page.
For more information, visit our sister site: www.mytampabayinjury.com