Each year, hundreds of thousands of car accidents occur in Florida. Unfortunately, a large portion of accidents result in injuries, often serious ones. After these accidents, you need an auto accident attorney to protect you. And yet, many people still do not hire one.
Whether you experience a minor fender bender or are in a major accident, hire a car accident attorney to avoid the loss of compensation and prevent someone else of accusing you of causing it.
How Car Accident Attorneys Help Their Clients
A firm understanding of when you need a car accident attorney begins with first learning what a car accident attorney does for their client. Essentially, a car accident attorney’s main goal is to secure their client the compensation they deserve.
Victims of car accidents face significant challenges in receiving fair compensation. And in many cases, victims do not even know how much of a payout they deserve.
Understanding the Value of Their Case
Car accident victims can often seek compensation for their losses. However, if they do not know how much their case is worth, how can they recover a proper compensation value? The answer is that they likely cannot.
In fact, during the claims process, insurance companies work diligently to persuade or box car accident victims into taking less. For example, an insurance company will typically offer a victim a quick and easy payout to tempt them to settle, knowing that the victim could receive more if they had a car accident attorney representing them.
And car accident victims, regrettably, tend to take these fast payouts, believing themselves fortunate to receive anything. But they do not know that they, as car accident victims, may be entitled to pursue a whole host of damages to cover their losses.
A car accident attorney can explain to their client exactly what they may be entitled to. In Florida, car accident victims get 80 percent of medical expenses and up to 60 percent of lost wages automatically covered by personal injury protection insurance (PIP).
However, injuries can quite rapidly exhaust these limits, and PIP does not cover other damages, such as pain and suffering.
Protecting Their Compensation Payout
When an accident victim takes a settlement, the case is closed, and the insurance company walks away with a big profit. But when you hire a car accident attorney, the attorney will take great care in reviewing your case and your losses to ensure they calculate all compensable losses you have suffered into your settlement.
During settlement negotiations, car accident attorneys negotiate fiercely with insurance adjusters for every compensable damage their clients have suffered to secure a just payout, even if it means going to trial.
Situations When You Should Get an Attorney for a Car Accident
While a car accident attorney can benefit you in any type of accident, there are certain situations when hiring an auto accident attorney is not only preferred but also a necessity.
The Accident Injured You
The stakes are higher if you have been injured in a car accident. The damages you can potentially seek may greatly increase. Hence, you can expect the insurance company that is handling your claim to put up a fight to pay you less.
Your PIP may cover up to $10,000 of your medical bills and 60 percent of your lost wages. However, once these limits are surpassed, you can bring a claim or lawsuit for more compensation.
The interplay between PIP and other forms of liability and health insurance often complicates the claims process. However, a skilled car accident attorney knows how to navigate these complexities and faithfully represent their client.
The Other Side Disputes Liability
When liability is not crystal clear, or evidence of obvious liability is weaker than it should be, this creates an opportunity for the insurance company to resolve the claim in their favor and pay you less.
However, a car accident attorney has the experience, skills, and resources to fight to get questions of doubt resolved in their client’s favor. Through expert investigations and accident reconstructions, a seasoned car accident lawyer will fight hard to clear up any liability issues and demand the compensation their client deserves.
You Disagree With the Police Report
The police report is essential to any claim for compensation or lawsuit. But what if the police report varies materially from your version of the events? What if you believe that the accident occurred differently than the authorities allege? In this situation, you need a car accident attorney.
The police report is crucial for a compensation claim. But if the report is inaccurate, then it could damage your claim.
Fortunately, an auto accident attorney has ways of proving how an accident occurred that are independent of the police report, such as through:
- Traffic camera photos and video footage
- Dashcam video footage and still photos
- Accident reconstruction by experts
- Eyewitness testimony
In other words, there is no need to fret if the police report is erroneous. Contact an attorney for help, and let them handle the issue.
The Crash Occurred in a School or Construction Zone
If your accident occurred in a school or construction zone, then different traffic rules may come into play. For example, speed limits dramatically change in school and construction zones. And in construction zones, a posted speed limit is often temporarily invalid during road construction efforts.
Additionally, the authorities take a closer look at car accidents occurring in these zones and tend to work quickly to identify and charge liable parties when appropriate.
With an auto accident attorney on your side, you get an advocate who will not only seek to get you compensated fully but also protect you from liability.
The Other Driver Lacked Insurance
If your PIP runs out, you can file a claim against the other driver’s insurance company if they carry bodily injury insurance. However, if they do not, you may have other options.
Your auto accident attorney can help you explore these options, which might include directly suing the other driver. To determine whether this is a valid option, your auto accident attorney will investigate the other driver’s financial situation to understand what assets they might have and their employment status.
Some drivers also have uninsured motorist coverage, which activates when the driver who hit you has little to no insurance. Your attorney will make sure that the insurance company pays what it owes.
After Any Car Wreck
Many drivers handle simple car wrecks that cause no injury without the services of an auto accident attorney. However, it is best to call a lawyer no matter how minor the accident appears to be and regardless of the presence of injuries.
Calling on a lawyer in these types of minor cases is a wise choice that can ultimately do no harm but can protect you from serious liability.
For example, injuries from a car accident do not always appear immediately. Suppose that you are in a fender bender, after which you exchange information with the other driver and believe the matter is resolved.
However, later on, the other driver may discover they have injuries from the accident that they were not initially aware of. You could then potentially face a claim for compensation that you are not prepared to handle.
When you contact an attorney after a car accident, the attorney can take steps to protect and prepare you for a potential claim against you.
Whether for a minor or major accident, an auto accident attorney can make sure you are in the most advantageous position throughout the resolution of the accident and keep you from being blindsided by a claim or lawsuit.
What to Do After a Car Accident
What you do after a car accident can significantly affect how your case plays out. Taking the correct actions can help protect your claim and give you a better chance of receiving the compensation value you deserve.
After a car accident occurs, you must:
- File an accurate accident report
- Avoid claiming responsibility for the accident
- Take photos and videos
- Obtain witness information
- Inform your insurance company
- Meet with a car accident attorney
Remember that your safety and the public’s safety are paramount after a car accident. Never do anything that puts yourself or anyone else in harm’s way, even if you feel it might help your case.
Additionally, if you are injured, keep in mind that you will likely need a medical record to demonstrate those injuries.
Preparing for a Meeting with a Car Accident Lawyer
As with most legal actions, the sooner you meet with an attorney and take action, the better. In Florida, there is a statute of limitations of four years. You will need to ensure you and your attorney can file your claim before this deadline has passed.
If you have been in an accident and have decided to speak with a car accident lawyer, you will want to ensure that you show up for your meeting prepared. Doing so will help your auto accident attorney better evaluate your case and its merits.
Get the Police Report
After an injury accident or an accident with at least $500 in property damage, you must file a report with the authorities. Never skip this step, and make sure to bring the report to your meeting with your auto accident lawyer. If a police officer was on the scene, then they will make a report, of which you should be able to receive a copy.
Gather Your Medical Records
Your auto accident attorney will want to see all medical reports of the injuries you have received. This includes the initial treatment record and any ongoing records of medical treatment and care.
Gather Photos or Videos
If you were in an accident, you or someone you know may have taken photos and video footage before, during, or after the event. Bring these to your meeting with your auto accident attorney, as they can be powerful pieces of evidence.
Get Your Driving Record and License
Your attorney will want to see not only your license but also your driving record. Both contain relevant information that can affect the course of your compensation claim.
Gather Your Insurance Information
Gather your PIP policy documents for your auto accident attorney to review. You might also have additional auto insurance, such as uninsured motorist coverage. Bring these policy documents and any healthcare policy documents you might have.
Make a List of Questions
Write down any questions you would like to ask. Your auto accident attorney wants to address your confusion and ensure you understand the claims process and compensation. Remember that every question you have is valid.
A Car Accident Attorney Is Your Best Advocate
You may leave compensation on the table after your settlement without an auto accident attorney representing you. Because initial consultations are free, it is worthwhile to at least meet with a car accident attorney to discuss your case and learn what options you may have.
After a car accident, a car accident attorney can be your best advocate and ally. Whether the accident is minor or serious, hiring a qualified personal injury lawyer can protect your interests and ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.
After a car accident, call a car accident attorney immediately.