Getting in an accident can be an upsetting experience. Not only are you shaken up, but you may be injured as well. If you are injured, you may be facing ongoing medical treatment and time missed from work while you recover. Apart from the inconvenience, you’ll also have to manage the pain and suffering that may follow.
In severe cases, you may be permanently disfigured or disabled. If the accident was not your fault, you may wonder what steps you should take to receive insurance compensation. A Fort Lauderdale car accident attorney can help.
Understanding Insurance Laws
There are two main types of insurance rules in the United States – fault and no fault. In a fault state, a person who causes a car accident must pay any bills that are associated with the collision. In a no-fault state, a person’s own insurance will pay for their accident-related medical bills. Florida is one of the few states that follow the no-fault rule. Lawmakers believe that this is a way to avoid the courts being overrun with personal injury cases.
It may sound like a person who causes an accident gets off scot-free in Florida, but this is not the case because they will still have to pay for damage to property.
Exceptions to the No-Fault Rule
There are some exceptions to the no-fault rule. If your injuries are permanently debilitating or disfiguring, you may still be able to sue an at-fault driver.
Drivers in the Sunshine State are required to have $10,000 in personal injury protection and $10,000 in insurance for damage to property. Personal injury protection insurance will not always cover all of a person’s medical bills after an accident if their injuries are severe. You might be able to sue the driver for further losses.
When a driver was drunk or on drugs at the time of the accident, there may be some situations in which you can sue them. The negligent driver will be responsible for paying your bills if the accident happened in a fault state.
What to Do Immediately After an Accident
When you have an accident, you should call the police and stay put until they get there. Take pictures and get the names of witnesses. Get the name and insurance information of the other drivers involved in the crash. If you are injured, seek medical attention.
The police are likely to have many questions for you. Most attorneys will tell you that you do not have to answer those questions.
Save all of the bills that you get from your medical treatments. When you have an accident-related surgery, you should save every bill that is related to it. Save bills from alternative treatments such as acupuncture as well. Make sure to save receipts from medications that you take.
You are likely to miss time from work because of your injuries. It is important to record those hours and get your employer to write you a letter stating the number of hours you have missed and the amount of money you have lost as a result. If you have missed any important training because of your injuries, you should note that as well.
People often need maid services after they have been injured. Insurance may pay for household help, so you should save the bills for housekeeping. You may be unable to drive or need rides to medical appointments, insurance should pay for ride-sharing services or cabs.
If you are severely injured, you may be entitled to compensation for pain and suffering. Insurance companies are unlikely to award money for non-economic damages unless you have convincing evidence. You will want to talk to a psychiatrist and have them write you a report. You will also want to keep a daily journal detailing all the things you are no longer able to do and how your life has changed because of it.
File an Insurance Claim
When you have an accident in Florida, you will contact the appropriate insurance company and they will ask you questions about your accident. They will have you send in the documentation that you have collected and assign an insurance adjuster to your case. The adjuster will investigate your claim and decide whether or not they think it is valid. If you are approved, they will offer you a settlement.
The first amount of money they offer you will normally be too low. Insurance adjusters work for insurance companies, and they want to keep their company’s money in-house. You should talk to a personal injury attorney. They will tell you if the settlement is fair or if you can get more. If your injuries are severe, an attorney can tell you if it is worth it to file a lawsuit against an at-fault party.
A lawyer can negotiate with your insurance company to get you the best deal possible. If necessary, they can represent you in a lawsuit. Look for an attorney with years of experience in Florida personal injury law.
Car accidents are almost always terrible experiences. Collecting evidence and hiring a great attorney are the first steps to getting the money you need to get back on track.