Car accidents happen everyday. No one wakes up one morning expecting to have a car accident that day. And when accidents happen, they usually cause injuries and shock. I believe it is important to offer people guidance on what to do after a car accident to protect their rights and preserve the evidence. After being involved in a car accident, you or someone near you should:
1. Unlock your doors and turn off your engine.
2. If you can, check how are the other occupants of your car. If someone is hurt, ask them not to move and if you can, make sure they are immobilized.
3. If someone is bleeding, try to apply a tourniquet or compress the wound to stop the bleeding.
4. Call or ask someone to call 911 for you. Make sure to request the police and rescue.
5. As much as you can, preserve your calm and remain oriented. Answer as clearly as possible all questions asked by emergency rescuers.
Sometimes after an accident, a person is not in pain and responsive. Adrenaline and other factors may contribute to this. Should you find yourself in this situation, try not to move around unnecessarily. If you can, try the following:
a. Give your insurance information to the other driver and ask for their’s. Also, give that information to the police.
b. Try to obtain the name, addresses and phone numbers of people who have witnessed the accident
c. If you can, take photographs or videotape the scene. This can be done either with a camera or, thanks to current technology, a cell phone.
d. If you are hurting or not feeling well to any extent, ask to be taken to an emergency room.
e. Tell the physician or emergency room doctor, nurse or paramedic, where it hurts. Give a detail account of everything that hurts, from the top of your head to your toes. Don’t refrain from telling them about any condition and let them decide what’s relevant or not.
f. Follow the orders from your healthcare providers. After all, they are the experts and for them to be able to effectively help you with your injuries, they must know as much as you can tell them about your past medical history. This also applies to your attorney. Tell him or her everything about your past so that he/she can properly represent you.
7. Report the accident to your own insurance company. According to the law in Florida, you and your family members are covered under your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) policy. This policy pays 80% of your medical bills and 60% of the wages you have lost up to an aggregate of $10,000.00, minus any deductible you may be responsible for.
8. DON’T GIVE A STATEMENT TO YOUR OWN INSURANCE COMPANY, THE ADVERSE INSURANCE COMPANY OR ANYONE ELSE WITHOUT FIRST TALKING TO AN ATTORNEY!
9. When deciding which lawyer will represent you, make sure to ask the lawyer about his or her qualifications and experience in handling car accident cases. The practice of law is very similar to the practice of medicine. You wouldn’t see an ophthalmologist for spinal cord surgery. You would schedule an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon with as much experience as possible doing spinal cord surgery. The applies to lawyers. Attorneys that practice in areas other than car accidents do not fully understand all the details of these claims and may not be aware of all applicable laws.
10. It is important that you obtain the best medical care possible. Make sure that you see specialists experienced in the kind of injury you suffered. As recommended before, tell all your doctors about every ailment you have (from top of head to toes) every time you visit them. This will allow them to make a proper evaluation of all your injuries. Tell them about all pre-existing conditions and all medications that you were taking at the time of the accident. Make sure you give each doctor the same history, without leaving anything out. Remember, too much history is better than missing history. In other words, do not try to hide anything. If you want to get the best help possible for your injuries, your doctors must know everything about your past. This equally applies to your lawyer. Tell him or her everything about your past so that they can provide you with proper representation. Nothing is too private or embarrasing not to tell either your doctor or your attorney. Remember, the law prevents these professionals from revealing anything you tell them about your past.
11. Florida attorneys handle automobile accident cases on a contingent fee basis. This means that the lawyer cannot charge you for his/her time nor for the costs associated with litigating the case until and unless they are successful in recovering compensation for you.
12. As a client in a personal injury case, Florida law gives you certain rights. Your attorney must provide you a Statement of Client’s Rights signed by him or her and counter signed by you when you hire the firm. Similarly, your lawyer must also give you a copy of the Contingency Fee Agreement you just signed.
13. The law in Florida gives you a certain amount of time to file suit for injuries. This is called a Statute of Limitations The amount of time depends on whether you are suing the driver at-fault or your own underinsured/uninsured motorist insurance carrier. A qualified lawyer should be able to tell you what is the applicable statute of limitations for your claim.
If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident, you should immediately contact a law firm experienced in handling these cases. The Palm Beach County Car Accidents Law Offices of Greenberg, Stone & Urbano has throughout the years represented many clients involved in traffic fatalities, traumatic brain injuries and serious personal injuries. Visit our website to learn more about us and contact us today for a free consultation.