Florida Car Accident FAQs
After a motor vehicle accident, who will pay for your property damage and medical expenses? What happens if you are permanently incapacitated? What should you say to your insurance company? Should you get a second medical opinion? If you have been injured in an accident, we can help answer your questions and recover compensation for your losses. The following are questions that clients frequently ask our Florida car accident lawyers at Freidin Brown, P.A.
I was involved in an accident here in Florida, but I live in another state. Can I sue?
Yes, you can sue in the Florida county where the accident happened, even if you are from another state or country.
What should I say to the insurance companies after an accident?
You will need to report your accident to your own car insurance company. What you say, however, can make a difference in your case. Report the facts, but do not editorialize on what happened. State that an accident occurred, give your information and the other driver’s information, and answer all questions with facts. Do not discuss fault.
If the other driver’s insurance company contacts you, decline to give a statement. Let them know that your lawyer will contact them. Also, if an lawyer or anyone else on an lawyer’s behalf approaches you at the hospital or your home, calls you, or sends you a letter in an attempt to have you sign up as a client, be sure to ask them to leave. It is unethical for an lawyer to reach out to you directly after your accident.
Who’s at fault for my accident?
This is one of the most important questions to ask in any car accident case, and while it may be difficult to answer without the individual facts and circumstances about your wreck, there are some basic concepts you should understand when it comes to fault and liability. Generally, victims of auto accidents have the right to hold the at-fault party who caused their accident accountable for their negligence, and financially liable for the damages they caused. Proving fault and liability, however, is dependent on what happened in your case. In some circumstances, the at-fault party may be another driver whose negligence (i.e. speeding, traffic violation, or even intoxication) caused your crash. In others, commercial companies (including those who own and operate commercial trucks) or manufacturers of defective products (such as faulty tires) could be held liable for your damages.
Determining fault and liability is a case-by-case matter, and one that demands the attention of proven lawyers. Remember, just because you allege a driver or some other party is at fault for your accident does not mean you’ll be fairly compensated. Defendants and their insurance providers often fight accident claims aggressively, raise disputes about who’s at fault, and do all they can to pay as little as possible. Having a lawyer by your side can ensure you have the resources to handle these issues as they arise.
How can I protect my rights after a car accident?
After any type of auto accident, there are many steps you can take to protect your health, the safety of others, and your legal rights should you have the opportunity to pursue a personal injury claim against the at-fault party later on. A few important steps you can take to do so include:
Calling emergency services to request medical assistance, if needed, and to have a police officer respond to the scene of the accident. A law enforcement officer can gather information about what happened in your crash for use in a police report, which can serve as important evidence in any personal injury case you file at a later time. Collect as much information as you are able to at the scene. This can include contact and insurance information from all involved parties, names and numbers of witnesses, driver’s license information, and vehicle information such as license plate numbers. Take photos of the scene of the accident from multiple angles if possible, as well as photos of the position of the vehicles, nearby traffic signs or signals, damage to vehicles, visible injuries, and other factors you may feel are important to understanding what happened. Take the time to write down or record all you can remember about what happened in your accident as soon as possible while the details are still fresh.
While these steps are important, many victims simply don’t remember them or have the ability to address them in the wake of serious collisions. Ultimately, one of the most effective ways to protect your rights is to work with lawyers who can help you take the appropriate steps moving forward, communicate with insurance companies on your behalf, and begin working on your claim for compensation.
Can I afford a car accident lawyer?
If you are concerned about finances and being able to afford a personal injury lawyer to help with your car accident case, you should know that most injury lawyers – including our legal team at Freidin Brown, P.A. – work personal injury cases on contingency fees. This fee arrangement means that victims do not pay up-front fees to hire a lawyer, and that lawyers’ fees are taken as an agreed upon percentage of the final financial recovery. If no recovery is made in your case, there are no fees. Our lawyers can further explain how our contingency fees and our agreements work during an initial consultation.
How much is my car accident case worth?
It is simply not possible, nor ethical, to affix any monetary sum to an accident case in its initial stages. That’s because car accidents are case specific matters, and because the full scope of victims’ damages must be known before any negotiations or speculations about value can take place. Generally, victims of preventable auto accidents have the right to recover the economic and non-economic damages they incurred as a result of the wreck and their resulting injuries. These damages can include, among others, past and future expenses for medical treatment, lost wages caused by missing work, reducing earning potential caused by disabilities or impairment, pain and suffering, mental anguish, and emotional injuries.
Should I accept the insurance company’s offer?
In most cases, an insurance company’s first offer to you is not its best offer. Insurance adjusters have been trained to lowball settlements in order to protect their companies’ bottom lines. Furthermore, if you have been injured, they will likely not account for all of your injuries. Before you accept an insurance company’s settlement offer, discuss your case with an lawyer. It will not cost you anything to sit down with us to review your options — our initial consultations are free, and we handle each case on a contingency fee basis. This means that you will not owe us lawyer’s fees unless we recover money for you.
I have only minor injuries. Do I need to go to the doctor?
Yes. Even minor injuries can be signs of issues in the future (such as soft tissue injuries). In fact, it is common for injuries to appear weeks after an accident has occurred. No matter how you feel, visit the doctor and discuss all of the aches and pains that have appeared since your accident.
I don’t think I can work. How will I pay my bills?
If your injury prevents you from working, your personal injury settlement or verdict should include compensation for a percentage of your lost wages.
It has been a while since my accident. Can I still file a lawsuit?
You have a limited amount of time to file your car accident claim. This is called the “statute of limitations.” In Florida, you have four years to bring a claim, unless the accident caused a death and then the statute of limitations is two years. It is important, however, that you take action as soon as possible. Evidence does not last forever, especially in car accident cases, and the sooner you have a lawyer working for you, the better.