Car Accident FAQs
If you have been injured in an auto accident, figuring out what you need to do can be a challenge. As if dealing with your injuries and getting your car fixed weren’t enough, Florida’s “no-fault” insurance law presents some unique challenges for auto accident victims and their families. With more than 20 years of experience and millions of dollars recovered, attorney Gregg Hollander is a trusted advocate for accident victims in Boca Raton and throughout South Florida. Here, Mr. Hollander answers some frequently asked questions (FAQs) about protecting your legal rights:
- 1. In the Immediate Aftermath of an Accident
- 2. Dealing With the Insurance Companies
- 3. Mistakes to Avoid
- 4. Calculating Your Losses and Maximizing Your Financial Recovery
1. In the Immediate Aftermath of an Accident What Information Should I try to Collect?
After an auto accident, you should try to collect as much information as possible. This starts at the scene of the accident, and it continues through the final resolution of your claim. The following types of information are all useful, but, if you don’t have something, don’t worry – we can investigate and collect all of the evidence we need to pursue your claim on your behalf:
- The other driver’s vehicle and insurance information
- Witnesses’ contact information
- The police report
- Photos from the scene of the accident
- Medical records for your accident-related injuries
If you have health insurance, your insurance should cover your accident-related injuries. If you secure compensation through your auto insurance company or the at-fault driver’s insurer, your health insurer may be entitled to subrogation, but this is a process that the insurance companies resolve between themselves directly.
If your doctor tells you to rest, you need to rest. If this means taking time off from work, you need to take time off from work. Not only is this important for your health, but, if you have suffered serious or permanent injuries that entitle you to compensation outside of PIP (more on this below), it will be critical to maximizing your financial recovery. Your claim for compensation will include recoupment of your lost wages. If you need help paying your bills while your claim is pending, there are options available.
Yes. Not only are you likely required to report the accident under the terms of your policy, but promptly reporting the accident to your insurer is also important for preserving your claim for compensation. Even if you believe the other driver was at fault, you still need to contact your insurance company to start the recovery process.
When you contact your insurance company, your claims adjuster will likely talk to you about personal injury protection (PIP). If you have auto insurance, you have PIP (it is mandatory under Florida law). PIP is no-fault auto insurance that provides coverage for medical expenses and lost income, and standard policies provide up to $10,000 in coverage.
Under Florida law, an auto accident victim can only seek compensation under an at-fault driver’s bodily injury liability (BIL) insurance policy if he or she has suffered a “serious and permanent” injury. The same is true for uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) insurance, which applies in cases where the at-fault driver’s BIL coverage is insufficient or non-existent, or where a claim involves a hit-and-run accident.
Additionally, some cases will involve claims against parties that were not directly involved in the accident. This can include vehicle manufacturers, repair shops, municipalities and government agencies, road construction contractors, and at-fault drivers’ employers.
First, never assume that you were partially at fault. Auto accidents can involve a variety of different factors. Determining who (or what) was to blame requires a thorough investigation.
Second, even if you were partially at fault, you are still entitled to compensation under Florida law. Under Florida’s “pure comparative fault” statute, the amount of your recovery would be reduced in proportion to your percentage of fault (i.e. if you were 10 percent at fault, you would be entitled to recover 90 percent of your losses).
If you disagree with your doctor’s advice, do not simply avoid it, and do not take your care into your own hands. Seek a second opinion promptly. If you aren’t sure where to go for quality medical advice, contact us for a referral.
In addition to avoiding assumptions and ignoring your doctor’s advice, other mistakes to avoid after an auto accident in Florida include:
- Giving recorded statements to the insurance companies.
- Discussing your accident on social media.
- Returning to work or other strenuous physical activity too soon.
- Accepting payment before you know your total losses.
- Trying to handle your case without legal representation.
If your injuries are minor, you may be limited to recovering your medical expenses and lost wages through PIP. However, if you have a BIL, UIM or third-party claim, you can seek full compensation for all of your accident-related losses. This includes:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future loss of income
- Other out-of-pocket losses
- Pain and suffering
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Emotional distress
- Loss of companionship, consortium, society, support and enjoyment of life
If you have a BIL, UIM or third-party claim, then yes. However, if you are only entitled to PIP (which Is not an assumption you should make until you discuss your case with an attorney), then you will not be able to recover compensation for your pain and suffering or other non-financial losses.
Knowing when to settle your claim requires a thorough understanding of the long-term effects of your injuries and your rights under Florida law. Most accident victims are entitled to far more than they realize. To find out what your case is worth, contact the Hollander Law Firm now for a free initial consultation.
For more answers and legal advice that is custom-tailored to your individual circumstances, please contact us to schedule your free initial consultation. To speak with Boca Raton auto accident attorney Gregg Hollander in confidence, call (888) 751-7770 or request an appointment online now.