It is not difficult to get into a traffic accident in the state of Florida. In 2018, more than 400,000 traffic collisions were reported in this state, resulting in more than a quarter-million injuries and over 3,000 fatalities.
If you are injured by negligence, you’re entitled to compensation for your injury-related medical costs, lost wages, and more, but you will need to prove that you are entitled to that compensation by filing a personal injury claim with help from an experienced Stuart personal injury attorney.
After a negligent driver injures you, you’ll also need to take some steps to protect yourself and – if you need compensation – to protect your personal injury claim. There are also five mistakes – commonly made by the injured victims of negligent drivers – that you absolutely must avoid.
WHAT MISTAKES COULD DERAIL YOUR PERSONAL INJURY CLAIM?
What are those mistakes? What is the best way to proceed when you’ve been injured by a negligent driver here in Florida? If you’ll keep reading, those questions are about to be answered.
These are five of the most common mistakes that are made by Floridians after they’ve been injured in traffic crashes. To prevail with a personal injury claim, try to avoid:
- not contacting the police
- not exchanging contact and insurance details with the other driver or drivers
- not summoning medical assistance immediately
- talking to an auto insurance company
- not seeking experienced legal counsel immediately after medical treatment
MISTAKE #1: NOT CONTACTING THE POLICE
After a traffic accident, you must summon the police. If the other driver is incapacitated or unconscious, intoxicated, or hostile, the police can help you obtain the contact and insurance information that you’ll need. You will learn more – below – about exactly what you’ll need.
When they arrive, the police will investigate the accident, and their findings will be printed in a written accident report. If you need to file a personal injury claim and seek compensation, the police accident report will be a key piece of evidence.
Accident reports include details like the time and date of the crash, the makes and models of the vehicles, the weather conditions, the names of witnesses, and other important information. Ask the officers when their written report will be available and how you will be able to obtain a copy.
Most personal injury cases are settled out-of-court, so if a police accident report even suggests that you may have been injured because the other driver was negligent, your attorney may be able to negotiate a quick, comprehensive settlement of your personal injury claim.
MISTAKE #2: NOT EXCHANGING INSURANCE INFORMATION
When an accident happens, do everything reasonably possible to exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver. Get that driver’s name and address, telephone and license plate numbers, and driver’s license number.
You also must exchange insurance information. Get the name of the other driver’s insurance company, a phone number, the location of the company’s nearest office, and if possible, the other driver’s policy number.
If you do not obtain this information, you may have difficulty filing a personal injury claim. Get as many details as possible.
MISTAKE #3: NOT SEEKING MEDICAL TREATMENT IMMEDIATELY
It is imperative to be examined by a doctor immediately after an accident. No exceptions.
If you are injured in a traffic collision in Florida, obtain a medical examination immediately, even if you feel no symptoms – even if you feel great. Some types of internal injuries, and especially traumatic brain injuries, may not be immediately apparent or detectable.
Left untreated, any latent or hard-to-detect injury can emerge – days or even weeks later – as a serious medical condition. This cannot be stressed strongly enough – you must obtain a medical examination within 24 hours of a traffic accident.
Since 2013 in this state, if you do not have a medical exam within 14 days of a traffic accident – the “14-day rule” – an auto insurance company will not compensate you for your injuries and is not required to by law. If that happens, a good personal injury lawyer won’t be able to help you.
For both legal and medical reasons, having a medical examination after an accident is imperative. If you later choose to move forward with a personal injury claim, a medical exam creates the medical documentation that you will need as evidence in support of your claim.
MISTAKE #4: DISCUSSING THE CASE WITH AN AUTO INSURANCE COMPANY
You will probably be contacted by an auto insurance company in the first several days after an accident – possibly before you’ve been able to meet with a personal injury attorney.
If you have been seriously injured, the other motorist’s auto insurance company may offer you an immediate settlement. Do not accept it. Quick settlement offers are invariably low settlement offers. Your attorney will almost certainly be able to negotiate a better resolution of your claim.
If you’re injured, you have no obligation to speak to an auto insurance company, sign any insurance document, or accept any settlement offer. Instead, refer the insurance company to your personal injury lawyer, an experienced negotiator who will speak on your behalf.
MISTAKE #5: NOT SEEKING IMMEDIATE, TRUSTWORTHY LEGAL COUNSEL
The victims of negligent drivers must have a lawyer’s help. After you’ve been treated by a healthcare professional, arrange at once to meet with an experienced Stuart personal injury attorney to discuss your options – which may include filing a formal personal injury claim.
The sooner your case is in the hands of a reliable injury lawyer, the better. As mentioned above, an auto insurance company may contact you within the first several days after you’ve been injured, and you need to refer the company – and its questions for you – to your attorney.
You also need an attorney on the case promptly because evidence deteriorates fast and memories fade quickly. Your attorney needs to be on the case while the memories and evidence are still fresh.
WHAT ARE YOUR RIGHTS IF A NEGLIGENT DRIVER INJURES YOU?
Compensation for medical costs, lost wages, and more is your right if a negligent driver injures you in the state of Florida – but you can’t make any mistakes on the way to proving that you are entitled to compensation.
Take your case to a good personal injury attorney – as soon as possible after you’ve been injured – to avoid the mistakes that could derail your personal injury claim. If you’ve been injured, your health and your future may be at risk. A good lawyer’s help is imperative.