If a person is injured in an automobile accident in Florida and suffers permanent personal injuries due to someone else’s negligence, the injured person is entitled to monetary compensation for pain and suffering, mental anguish and inconvenience, along with payment for out of pocket medical bills and lost wages.
In order to help ensure that your right to collect against a negligent person is protected, there are several important steps that a person should take after an automobile accident occurs.
First and most importantly, it is essential that police authorities are contacted and called to the scene. After an automobile collision, you may be approached by the at-fault party who asks you not to call the police and that he or she will “take care of everything.” Never trust this approach because after both of you leave the scene without documentation of the crash from your local police department, you will probably never see the at-fault driver again.
Once the police authorities arrive at the scene of the accident, the officer will speak with the drivers and any witnesses and will draft a report detailing what happened. The police report will indicate the address of the at-fault driver, information of the automobiles involved in the crash, witness contact information and vital insurance information, along with other facts important for the case. Also, usually the person that caused the accident will be given a traffic citation.
Most of the information listed in the police report will help your attorney in the filing of the claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Without it, it is possible that the person that caused the accident could deny being at fault, or worse yet, deny that the accident occurred at all. To avoid this conflict and to protect your rights, make sure to always call the police.
It is also important to take pictures of the vehicles involved and of the injuries suffered in the accident, this will help document the severity of your case. Nowadays, everyone has a cell phone and taking pictures is commonplace. Write down the names and contact information of any witnesses, they can help corroborate the details of the accident. In addition, look to see if there are any cameras in the area that may have caught the accident for the attorney to request.
Another unfortunate mistake made by many people involved in automobile accidents is refusing medical care at the scene. Many times, an injured person declines medical care and transportation to the emergency room, even though suffering from pain, because they do not have health insurance or money to pay for the treatment. However, health insurance is not the primary coverage to pay for medical bills from an automobile accident. A person’s own automobile insurance coverage comes first.
In Florida, if you own an automobile, you must have basic insurance coverages known as Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and Property Damage Liability. If the injured person carries the minimum automobile insurance coverage required by law, he or she is covered. PIP is the specific coverage for the paying of your medical bills. In Florida, it does not matter who is at fault in the automobile accident, everyone must go through their own PIP. This coverage will pay for 80% of your medical bills, including paramedics and emergency room, and 60% of lost wages. Along with PIP, many may have Medical Payments Coverage, which pays for the 20% not covered by PIP.
However, there are instances in which a person may have a deductible on their PIP policy. The amount of the deductible varies, and you should check your insurance policy for this information. A deductible means that your insurance company will start paying the bills, only after a certain dollar amount has been incurred. For example, a person may have a $500 deductible and hospital bills for $1,000. In this case, the insurance company will not pay the first $500 of the bill, and then pay 80% of the balance.
Finally, if a person is injured in an automobile accident, it is important that he or she seek legal advice from a qualified attorney as soon as possible. In personal injury cases, the first legal consultation is usually free, and the injured person should only pay a legal fee if the attorney wins the case.
After an accident, the insurance company will begin calling the injured person and requesting a recorded statement. Before giving a statement, the injured person should call an attorney and obtain advice as to how to proceed. Usually, the attorney’s office will help you to deal with the insurance companies involved in the case and help you with burdensome and confusing claim forms. Also, the attorney should handle all the negotiations for you, for you to obtain all the insurance benefits you are entitled to.