In 2018, there were over 29,000 car accidents in Hillsborough County. That is nearly 80 car crashes per day. And yet, with them being such a common occurrence, most people who are involved in motor vehicle accidents are not sure what they should do to protect their rights after a car crash.
Imagine you were at a stop sign waiting for your chance to make a turn when you were hit from behind. You feel some tightness in your back, but you aren’t bleeding and you don’t think you have any broken bones. You check on the other people involved in the crash and they seem okay. The person that hit you seems very nice; they were just on their way to work and got distracted.
First things First, After a Car Crash Call the Police
While this might seem obvious, you would be shocked by how often clients of mine chose not to call 911 after being involved in a car accident. The problem with this should be obvious. If you do not call the police, they will not come to the scene and they will not create a police report about your accident. Without a police report, stories can change, people can disappear, and your personal injury claim can be made exponentially more difficult.
Police reports contain information that is vital to pursuing a personal injury case. They ensure that you have the names, addresses, and phone numbers of everyone involved in the accident.
Additionally, they provide you and your legal representation with the insurance information of the other driver (or drivers). They allow your statement and the statement of the other driver to be taken soon after the crash. This way everyone’s story is documented in real time before anyone has had a chance to speak to their insurance company.
Go see a Medical Professional for an Examination After a Car Crash
Many people, in the immediate aftermath of a crash, do not feel pain of any sort. Others will feel discomfort, but simply chalk it up to being what happens to everyone after a car accident. These people will often avoid medical care. Then weeks later, their pain will increase (or simply linger).
While it is fine to see a medical provider at that point, the insurance company will use this delay against a personal injury claimant. Personal injury attorneys typically refer to this as a “gap in treatment.” Frankly, so do insurance companies. During the claims process, an insurance company will treat the fact that the claimant didn’t treat soon after the accident as proof that the accident is not what caused them to be hurt.
While an experienced personal injury attorney can combat this argument, it simply makes your claim harder to pursue. Going to see a doctor or a chiropractor after an auto accident will protect your rights as a personal injury claimant, and it will give you peace of mind if in fact you really are not hurt.
Florida’s Insurance Laws Play a Role
Additionally, it is important to note that in Florida, automobile insurance policies are required to carry what is colloquially known as PIP or “Personal Injury Protection” insurance. This insurance covers your first $10,000.00 in medical bills following a car crash. However, there is one major caveat: your treatment must take place within 14 days of the crash.
If you do not see a doctor within 14 days of your car accident, your PIP insurance will not pay for any of your treatment. While this is obviously not a problem for someone that is not hurt at all, for the individuals who felt soreness but assumed it would go away, it can be devastating to your personal injury claim.
In those situations where someone waits longer than 14 days to begin treatment, not only does your PIP not pay any of your bills, but the insurance company will likely argue that the crash was not the cause of your injury (due to the delay in treatment).
Call an Experienced Florida Personal Injury Attorney
Once the police have come to the scene of a car crash, one of your top priorities should be to get in touch with an attorney. If your injuries are such that they do not require immediate care, an attorney can help advise you on the type of physician to see first.
Personal injury attorneys (such as Knapp Accident & Injury Law) offer free consultations. This is an opportunity for you to speak to a trained professional that works on personal injury matters on a daily basis to get their opinion on the viability of your case. If you do not feel hurt, and you do not wish to see doctors, at a bare minimum an attorney can tell you that it is not a case worth pursuing.
Calling a Florida Personal Injury Attorney can provide you with a plan for how to approach your case. If you wish to proceed with a personal injury claim, time (especially soon after the crash) is of the essence. An attorney can help protect your rights during any statements that the insurance company wishes to take and they can gather evidence before it disappears.
Simply put, many people involved in a Florida car crash do not know what they do not know. Consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney about your potential case and how to proceed is a necessity for anyone that has a potential personal injury claim.
As I have Discussed Previously on my Site, Here are some of the damages for which you can recover in a Florida Car Crash
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Lost ability to earn wages in the future (loss of future earning capacity)
- Out of pocket expenses
You can also recover for your:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Permanent disability of disfigurement
Call Knapp Accident & Injury Law
If you, a family member, or a friend has been involved in a motor vehicle accident, call Knapp Accident & Injury Law for a free consultation. I have been practicing personal injury (from both the defense and plaintiff perspectives) for 11 years. I am here to lend my knowledge and my experience to you in your time of need.
We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help guide you through the process (and protect you from the pitfalls). Feel free to call or text us at (813) 568-3724.