The screech of tires, the crunch of metal and plastic… it happens in an instant and nobody can tell you what the next few split-seconds will bring. From minor back injury to loss of life and limb, a car accident can change someone’s life in a blink. Sure, we have insurance, at least we’re supposed to, but is it enough? If not, where can we turn, particularly when it isn’t our fault? Many people learn the hard way after an accident that their insurance company, who they’ve paid for coverage, is not their friend when time comes to collect. How do you get the recovery you deserve? At The Law Office of Sean Clayton, P.A., we can help you answer these and many other questions you don’t even know you have.What do I do after the accident?
- If you are injured, seek immediate medical assistance, calling 9-1-1 if necessary.
- If able, report the accident to Law Enforcement. If serious injury or a dangerous situation exists, call 9-1-1.
- If it is safe, exchange information regarding insurance with the other party and preserve evidence to the best of your ability. Collect the names and contact information from willing witnesses and collect any photographic evidence you can in a safe and prudent manner.
- Report the accident to your insurance. Record the claim number for future use. Your insurance company may demand a statement. In some cases, you may be contractually obligated to give a statement. If you are uncomfortable, you may wish to seek the advice of an attorney before proceeding.
- Seek medical treatment. This was mentioned above, but in many cases the injury is not immediately noticed or not immediately pressing. However, Florida law limits the availability of Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits for those who fail to seek medical attention within the first fourteen (14) days. Don’t miss out on these benefits you’ve paid for if you need medical attention.
- Seek legal advice should you believe it in your interest or should you foresee a need for recovery.
This can be very simple to ascertain in most cases. However, their complicated fact patterns which can really throw a monkey wrench in otherwise straight-forward cases. If you have questions regarding liability, you may want to speak to an attorney. Most important, don’t assume because law enforcement assigned you blame that you were at fault. More often than not, the officer saw nothing and is making giant assumptions based on witness statements. They often write traffic tickets after the fact which can be beaten if challenged, because the simple fact is they didn’t see the accident. To find out more about fighting a ticket you received as a result of an accident, click here.Who do I seek recovery from?
The simple answer is insurance, because is it often the surest source of recovery. The truth is, however, that this is a complicated question. Naturally, we look to the at-fault drivers themselves, though they rarely offer recovery beyond their insurance policy. Also, there may be other contributing factors, like road conditions or manufacturers defects. These other factors may give rise to other sources of recovery, but this takes us into complicated areas of law best discussed with an attorney. As for insurance, there are many kinds of policies, but the most common include:
- Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
Florida is a no-fault state. This means that, in essence, regardless of fault our own insurance is there to protect us for up to 80% of expenses and 60% of lost wages in the event of an accident, up to $10,000. This is known as the Personal Injury and Protection (PIP) Policy. We are all required to carry this minimum coverage on our vehicle. Remember, though, you must seek medical treatment for injuries sustained in the accident within fourteen (14) days to take advantage of PIP benefits. While this amount is a comfort, many car accident victims come to learn that this protection doesn’t fully protect hem after a car accident. What’s worse, this money does little to compensate for pain, injury, or property damage. Where else can we look?
- Bodily Injury Policy (BI)
Many of us carry Bodily Injury (BI) Policies to supplement our insurance. It is often required to carry this supplemental insurance, as well as added property damage insurance, when a car is leased or under finance. This is a liability based policy which protects the at-fault driver from liability for injury to other parties. In cases where you are injured through no fault of your own, you would often turn next to the at-fault party’s insurance. In a perfect world, the at-fault party always has BI coverage and that coverage will always be enough. In some cases, however, the at-fault party doesn’t have a BI policy or the policy is too small to fully compensate. In these cases there is another type of insurance which may or may not exist.
- Uninsured/Under-insured Motorist Policy (UM)
This is an important insurance to carry. UM is a supplemental insurance that an individual carries on their own policy to compensate them for losses when the at-fault party is uninsured or under-insured. I cannot stress the importance of carrying UM in Florida where a considerable number of drivers fail to carry insurance. In Florida, UM is an insurance which you must specifically reject. At times, an insurance company cannot produce proof of rejection, which means that by default, their customer may have this vital insurance. UM represents one more avenue of recovery to explore in cases where you are injured in an automotive accident through no fault of your own.
There are several key elements to any car accident related claim. An attorney can immediately st about preserving the necessary evidence, guiding you through the legal process, and helping you to maximize your recovery so that you get all that you deserve. At the end of the day, this is what we do.What can I recover?
Should you prevail, you are entitled to recovery money for a number of losses that may be related to your injury. These may include:
- Medical Expenses, Past and Future
- Lost Wages, Past and Future
- Lost Earnings Potential
- Emotional Distress
- Costs directly related to your injury
In some cases, your spouse may recover as well.
Don’t go it alone. Everyone, including your own insurance may well stand in the way of you getting the recovery you deserve. You need an attorney who can stand up to their representatives and make sure your interests are equally represented. At The Law Office of Sean Clayton, P.A., we want to protect your rights and help you get the recovery you deserve. Contact us immediately to set up a free consultation.