After a car accident, you may find yourself traumatized, potentially injured, or in shock, and you may not know what to do next. However, this knowledge can protect you and your finances. The nine most important things to do after a car accident are to:
- Get to a safe place
- Dial 911
- Seek medical attention
- Gather evidence
- Take care of your vehicle
- Report the accident to your insurance company
- Document your injuries and damages
- Keep up with doctor’s appointments
- Protect your legal rights
Although every car accident is different, these nine steps will help to ensure your health and safety and preserve your right to seek compensation from the insurance company for any injuries and damages you sustained.
- What to Do at the Scene
- After You Have Left the Scene
- In the Weeks and Months That Follow
- Should I Take An Ambulance After A Car Accident?
- How Long Does It Take to Receive an Offer of Compensation After a Car Accident in Florida?
- Can I Be Compensated for Lost Income After a Car Accident?
- What Am I Entitled to Be Compensated for if the Other Driver Was at Fault After a Car Accident?
- Get a Free Evaluation of Your Damages
- What Happens to the Vehicles After a Car Accident?
- What Steps Should I Take to Protect My Rights After a Car Accident?
- What to Do for Whiplash After a Car Accident?
- When Do Lawyers Recommend Talking to An Insurance Adjuster After a Car Accident in Florida?
- What Can I Expect From an Insurance Adjuster after a Car Accident?
- Who Decides Where My Car Gets Repaired After A Car Accident?
- Who Pays for Your Medical Bills After a Car Accident You Did Not Cause in Florida?
- Do I Need To Go To The Doctor After A Car Accident If I Don’t Feel Hurt?
- How Long After A Car Accident Can You Go To The Hospital?
- I Haven’t Been Able To Return To Work After A Car Accident, How Can I Afford A Lawyer?
- Contact a Car Accident Attorney
For a free legal consultation, call (800) 747-3733
What to Do at the Scene
1: Get to a Safe Place
Your first priority at the scene of an accident is getting to safety.
This means standing well off the shoulder if you are on an expressway, or well out of the flow of traffic if the crash occurred on a city street.
If you can do so safely, you must move your car off the roadway. If possible, try to take pictures of the vehicles and their positions before you move.
If you cannot move your car, sit inside it with your seat belt fastened.
2: Dial 911
Once you are safely off the roadway, dial 911 and report the accident.
Unless the car accident was truly a minor “fender bender” (i.e., absolutely no or very little damage to either car), ask the operator dispatch emergency medical personnel. This is critical for the health of everyone involved as well as for preserving your legal right to recover compensation.
3: Seek Medical Attention
Even if you feel fine, let the emergency medical technicians check you over when they arrive.
Car accident victims often sustain concussions, whiplash, and internal injuries, most of which will not manifest immediately after the crash. You may also be in shock, which can mask symptoms or pain that would otherwise be obvious to you.
If you do not seek treatment at the scene, but later learn that you did sustain injuries, the other side’s insurer may assert that you did not sustain your injuries in the crash. This can harm your chances of obtaining a fair financial settlement for your injuries.
4: Gather Evidence
Take as many photos of the scene as possible and write down all pertinent details.
Try to take photos of each vehicle involved — from as many angles as possible — as well as the overall scene. Take photos of any road hazards, traffic signs or markings, skid marks, and any other details that could potentially provide important context later.
Get the names and contact information for everyone involved in the accident as well as any witnesses.
5: Take Care of Your Vehicle
Even if your car appears to be roadworthy, you may want to call a towing service to take the vehicle to a repair shop.
Your vehicle may have hidden damage that could make it unsafe to drive. Also, driving the vehicle could cause further harm — especially if it lost oil, water, or other important mechanical fluids or components.
If you do not have a collision damage repair shop you prefer, ask the towing service to deliver it to your regular auto mechanic.
After You Have Left the Scene
6: Report to Your Insurance Company
You must report any accident to your insurance company as soon as reasonably possible.
If you fail to report the accident, even if you do not plan to file a claim with your insurer, you may violate the terms of your policy. However, do not provide anything more than the basic details, and do not admit fault.
Note: If the other driver’s insurer contacts you, watch what you say. If the adjuster requests a recorded statement, decline until you have spoken to a lawyer.
7: Document Your Injuries and Damages
After a car accident, start keeping careful notes of your injuries and damages.
Record any symptoms you have, noting dates and times, as well as visits to the doctor or other medical treatment. Keep track of receipts and other documents that support damages you sustained, such as bills from the towing company.
Contact our lawyers today!
In the Weeks and Months That Follow
8: Continue Medical Care
You must continue attending doctor’s appointments and obey your doctor’s orders. If you cease medical care, the insurer can argue that you are contributing to your injuries.
9: Protect Your Legal Rights
The best way to protect your legal rights after a car accident is to speak to a lawyer.
A car accident lawyer can help protect your legal rights and explain your options for filing an insurance claim, either with your insurance company or the other driver’s insurance. Your lawyer can help you determine where to get your car fixed and get you the right treatment for your injuries.
Complete a Free Case Evaluation form now
Should I Take An Ambulance After A Car Accident?
If you have injuries after a car accident, particularly if they are serious, you should take an ambulance to the nearest medical facility to get checked out.
However, just because you do not look or feel injured does not always mean that you are not injured. Not all injuries present signs or symptoms right away, and then there are those injuries that appear minor but are actually more severe. Thus, it is probably a good idea to see a doctor for a medical evaluation immediately after the accident.
Seeking medical attention immediately after a car crash is not only a smart thing to do for your health, but it can help you build evidence for any ensuing insurance claim or lawsuit against the other driver. Additionally, it will make it easier to draw a conclusive link between the crash and any suffered injuries.
What Should I Do Immediately After a Car Accident?
If you have serious injuries from a car accident, your sole focus should be on getting to a hospital as quickly as possible. If you have access to a phone and are physically able, call 911 yourself and summon an ambulance. Otherwise, try to get the attention of someone nearby and have them call for help, if they have not done so already.
If you do not feel you need an ambulance to transport you to the hospital for immediate medical attention — and you should err on the side of caution here — then you should try to gather as much evidence as possible at the scene of the crash.
Take pictures of the accident scene, focusing on getting footage from as many angles and vantage points as you can — close-ups that show the extent of the damage to your vehicle, as well as panned-out shots revealing the broader scene and the angle at which the vehicles collided.
Also, if you are able, try to talk to witnesses on the scene, gathering statements from them and collecting their contact information. Such evidence can help your attorney tremendously as he or she builds a case against the responsible party and pursues them for compensation.
Then, even if your injuries seem minor (or nonexistent), see a doctor for a medical exam as soon as possible, preferably the same day of the accident.
Why Should I Get Medical Help Even if I Do Not Look or Feel Injured?
There are two reasons why you should get medical help even though you do not look of feel injured:
- You might be injured but not realize it; and
- It can help you and your attorney win compensation against the at-fault driver.
First, you might be injured but not realize it. Some injuries — particularly head injuries — can take days or weeks to manifest. And by the time these injuries present symptoms, they are often more severe and harder to treat than if you had addressed them right after they occurred.
Your health is too important to neglect to save a couple of hours and a doctor’s office copay after an accident. Just the peace of mind that you will receive when the doctor examines you, and confirms you have no injuries is worth it.
Second, it can help you and your attorney win compensation against the at-fault driver. If you do happen to have injuries, for the sake of your case against the other driver, you want to treat them as quickly as possible to draw a strong causal link between the crash and your injuries.
If weeks or months elapse between the wreck and your injury diagnosis, the at-fault party, and his or her lawyer, could cast doubt on your claims, arguing that something might have happened in the interim that was the real cause of your injuries.
Should I Hire an Attorney After a Car Accident?
You are not required to hire an attorney after a car accident, but if you want to protect your rights, shield yourself from liability, or win as much compensation as possible from the other driver, an attorney can help.
At the Law Firm of Anidjar & Levine, we have helped many of our clients win settlements after their car crashes. We can put our knowledge and resources to work for you.
How Long Does It Take to Receive an Offer of Compensation After a Car Accident in Florida?
There are two important deadlines associated with a car accident claim filed in Florida. After you submit your car accident claim, the insurance company has 14 days to respond to your claim and 90 days to either pay your claim in full, pay your claim in part, or deny your claim under Florida law.
The statute of limitations for bringing a personal injury or property damage complaint is generally four years from the date of the accident. It can be helpful to file your claim quickly, but you may want to take care of a few things before you do so:
- Seek medical treatment, even if you are not sure if you are injured
- Document the details of the accident by collecting witness contact information and taking pictures
- Hire to a car accident lawyer to handle negotiations with the insurance company for you
Filing a Car Accident Claim in Florida
After filing your claim, your insurance company may make you a settlement offer. If you accept this offer, you also agree to not pursue any further legal action as it relates to the accident. Carefully consider whether the settlement being offered will fully compensate you for your damages before accepting it.
Every accident is unique, but damages we can typically pursue in car accident cases include:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Liability for the accident
- Insurance coverage
Speaking with a car accident lawyer before accepting a settlement offer from an insurance company can help you determine if the offer is enough to cover your current and future expenses related to the accident.
Hiring a Car Accident Attorney
A car accident attorney is sympathetic to how long it takes to receive an offer of compensation after a car accident in Florida, and works to ensure all the deadlines are met, so that you receive the compensation you deserve in a timelier fashion. They can also negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf, so you can focus on feeling better. Another way your car accident lawyer can help is by collecting evidence to demonstrate the liable party’s negligence, which will strengthen your position. If negotiations with the insurance company prove unsuccessful, your lawyer can continue to protect your rights by taking your case to trial.
If you or a loved one was injured in a car accident in Florida, we can help. Contact the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine at 1-800-747-3733 today for a free case evaluation.
Can I Be Compensated for Lost Income After a Car Accident?
If you sustain serious injuries in a car accident, you may be unable to work for weeks, months, or even years. If the crash occurred because of someone else’s negligence, you may be able to pursue financial compensation for your lost income. In most cases, your claim or lawsuit should include the income already lost as well as the projected income you may lose in the future.
How Do I Calculate My Current Lost Income After a Car Accident?
To be compensated for lost wages after a car accident, calculate how much income you have lost. This calculation also includes benefits (e.g., health insurance) from your employer.
If you make $500 per week and you missed four weeks of work, you have the right to $2,000 compensation for lost wages. Base this calculation on your gross income. (Net income is the money remaining after taxes and other standard deductions).
What Documents Do I Need to Prove Lost Income?
Typically, your lawyer will use your most recent pay stubs or wage statements to document your regular income. A letter from your employer may also suffice for this documentation, as long as it details your position, compensation structure, and how long you were out of work.
If you do not typically work a full-time (40 hours per week) job, you may have to provide additional documentation, such as your income tax returns for the prior year(s). Several weeks or months of pay stubs may also help obtain an average weekly income value.
If you work in a service industry where tips make up a significant part of your income, you will have to provide additional documentation. If you collect your tips primarily through credit card transactions, or another method with a reliable paper trail, you can easily document this aspect of lost income.
If you collect tips in cash, you can document this using your tax returns – but only to the extent that you have claimed your tips in the past.
What About the Income I May Lose in the Future?
If your injuries will prevent you from working in the future, the at-fault driver is liable for those losses as well.
Your car accident lawyer will need to obtain medical opinions or other expert testimony about your inability to work in the future. If you will miss work for six months, for example, your claim should include the value of six months’ income.
If you sustained a significant long-term injury or disability, however, it may affect your lifelong earning capacity in a more profound way.
For example, if you worked in a warehouse or on a loading dock, your job may have required you to lift heavy objects. If you sustained a long-term spine injury, you may have lost the physical ability to continue in that position. If you must consequently take a lower-paying, non-physical job at a lower hourly wage, you can claim the difference between your prior earning capacity and your future, reduced ability to earn a living.
Physical injuries are not the only legitimate type of disability that can occur from a serious car accident. If you developed a psychological or mental challenge such as PTSD or severe anxiety – and if that condition interferes with your ability to work – you have the right to claim that lost income as well.
Can I Be Compensated for Lost Income if I Am Self-Employed?
If you are self-employed, you also have the right to receive compensation for lost income. The biggest difference is in how you will demonstrate your historical income in your car accident claim.
Your car accident lawyer may use your federal income tax returns from the two years prior to the accident. If you bill your clients each month, you could look to your accounting records to demonstrate a drop in your monthly billing amounts.
Self-employed accident victims may also pursue compensation for lost opportunities – although this may present a more complex challenge for documentation.
You might provide copies of your daily or weekly calendars to your lawyer, showing the number of appointments you typically went on in a week. Or, if you had existing contracts for work you could not complete due to your injuries, those may serve to document lost income.
If you are a business owner or entrepreneur, your accountant or CPA may help you demonstrate business volume before and after your accident. You can support those records with copies of your business bank statements.
What Am I Entitled to Be Compensated for if the Other Driver Was at Fault After a Car Accident?
If you suffered injuries in a car accident caused by another driver, you are probably wondering what compensation you can recover. Because each case presents a unique set of facts, this can be a difficult question to answer. There are, however, categories of damages that generally apply to most cases.
“Damages” is the legal term that insurance companies and courts used to describe compensation that a wrongdoer (or “tortfeasor”) must pay to the victim. Claims adjusters and lawyers may divide damages into two categories of compensatory damages: “special damages” and “general damages.”
Special damages are those that actual dollar figures can quantify. They include medical expenses, loss of earnings and property damages.
Medical expenses tend to be the driving force of all damages in a car accident case. The amount of medical care a victim requires tends to have a direct relationship to the other damages the victim has suffered or will continue to suffer.
Medical expenses can include previously incurred bills for treatment, as well as the estimated costs of future treatment. Past and future expenses for which you may want to seek compensation include:
- Ambulance fees
- Radiology expenses
- Physician or hospital bills
- Pain management (medication, acupuncture, chiropractic)
- Physical, occupational, or vocational therapy
- Cognitive therapy
- Counseling costs
- Mobility aids, accessories, or modifications
- In-home health care services
- Rehabilitative or long-term care facility expenses
- Non-medical household expenses related to the accident, such as child care, maintenance, or repairs you were unable to provide
- Medical costs incurred between the accident and time of death (in a wrongful death case)
Lost earnings and diminished employment opportunities also comprise the “special damages” category. If you have missed work due to incapacity, or because you were attending treatment appointments, your employer can furnish wage and hour documentation to prove the amount of time missed from work. If you have been self-employed, you would furnish profit and loss statements to substantiate a claim for the profit you have lost because of the accident.
If the accident will hinder your future income, then you have a claim for loss of future earning capacity. Typically, an expert witness is necessary to verify the mathematical specifics of the lost future earning capacity. The typical factors involved in this situation are the victim’s age, occupation, experience, skill, and life expectancy. You may also account for any fringe benefits, or retirement benefit opportunities lost as a result of the lost future earning capacity.
Another area of special damages provides for the destruction or devaluing of any personal property involved in the accident. Apart from a vehicle itself, you may have suffered damage to personal electronic devices, bicycles mounted onto the vehicle, or other valuables the vehicle contained.
General damages, or “non-economic” damages include categories of damages that, while significant, do not lend themselves to mathematical calculation. They can include pain and suffering, emotional distress, or loss of companionship.
Pain and Suffering
“Pain and suffering” usually refers to the physical distress involved in enduring and recovering from injuries. This category of damages depends on the nature of the injuries. The amount of pain and suffering damages also relates to the outlook or prognosis for future pain stemming from the injury.
Mental pain and suffering tends to fall under the category of “emotional distress.” This includes loss of enjoyment of life, anxiety, or humiliation due to disfigurement, anger, fear, and other forms of mental anguish.
Loss of Consortium
Car accidents hurt families. In the case of married victims or parents of child victims, a claim for loss of consortium (or loss of affection or loss of companionship) may apply. Known as a “derivative” action, these are claims that a deprived spouse or parent can pursue for damage to the quality of the relationship. The primary victim’s claim must be successful in order for any derivative claims to succeed.
In an auto accident case involving drunk driving, the victim may also pursue a claim for punitive damages. Though a court can award punitive damages to the victim, the intent of these damages is to punish the offender, and not to compensate the victim.
Under Florida law, voluntarily driving a vehicle while impaired constitutes the sort of reckless indifference for public welfare that warrants punitive damages. However, punitive damages are relatively rare. A judge must first allow the victim to request punitive damages, and then a jury must decide whether to award them.
Get a Free Evaluation of Your Damages
If car accident injuries have impaired your quality of life and/or your finances, you may be able to recover compensation. For a free estimate of the types and amounts of compensation you could see, call Anidjar & Levine today.
What Happens to the Vehicles After a Car Accident?
What happens to the vehicles after an accident depends on the severity of the damage. If the damage is not too expensive to repair, the cars go into the body shop. If the repairs cost too much, then the cars go to the insurance company’s salvage yard.
After you have been in a collision, your car is a vital piece of evidence to show what happened. A skilled investigator can collect information from a wrecked vehicle that can make or break your case. Time is of the essence. Call the attorneys at Anidjar & Levine today at 800-747-3733 for a free case evaluation.
Who Will Want to Look at My Car After a Crash?
Everyone who has “skin in the game” will want to see your car; in other words, everyone who was in the accident, their insurance adjusters, and their lawyers. In some situations, we bring additional parties into the lawsuit, and they may want to take a look at your vehicle. For example, if we are alleging that your airbag was defective, the car manufacturer and the maker of the airbag will want to see the car to verify the facts. If someone might have to pay damages to a party, or they want someone to pay for his or her losses, they will want to examine the vehicle.
What Do Investigators Do When They Look at the Car?
Every side’s investigator will look for and document all evidence that will tend to prove their client’s case. If a car struck you from behind, our investigator would photograph the exterior and interior of your car to show the amount of damage to the vehicle. The point of impact photos will be important to show where the collision occurred on your car and the relative position of the vehicles.
If the other side denies that your car sustained damage, the photos will serve as proof for your case. Our investigator takes close-up photos to demonstrate the detail of any damage, as well as photos of the overall vehicle to place where the damage is relative to other areas of the car, whether the airbags deployed, and any other relevant information.
What Do Adjusters Do When They Look at the Car?
The adjusters have a different goal than our investigator has. Insurance adjusters determine what parts of the car sustained damage, and how much it will cost to repair the vehicle. Sometimes it would cost more than the depreciated value of the car to repair it.
The Insurance Company Wants to “Total Out” My Car. Should I Let Them?
If it would not be worth it to fix your vehicle, the insurance adjuster might declare the car a total loss, and offer you a check for its depreciated value. There are two down-sides to this situation. One is that a check for the depreciated value of your car will not buy you a new car. We will read your auto insurance policy to determine if you have any coverage that will provide you the full value of your car.
The second pitfall of accepting a check for your totaled vehicle is that, when the company pays you for your car, they then own it. It does no good for an insurance company to collect a bunch of junked cars, so they sell them, often as scrap metal. If our investigator has not yet had a chance to examine and photograph the car before the insurance company junks it, we will be missing significant evidence for your claim.
Will an Accident Reconstruction Expert Need to Take a Look at My Car?
Yes. When there is a dispute as to what caused the wreck, how fast vehicles were traveling, or any other facts of the case, an accident reconstruction expert can examine the cars and the scene of the accident. She can then calculate the path of each vehicle and plot out, point by point, what happened before, during, and after the impact. You should not let anyone destroy the car, in case we need to use an expert to reconstruct the accident.
Will We Need to Keep My Vehicle if it Had a Defect?
Yes. Many factors can cause a wreck. Driver negligence, adverse weather or road conditions, and vehicle defects can all contribute to accidents. If there is a reason to suspect that some part of your car may not have functioned correctly, we need to keep the vehicle as evidence of the defect. Sometimes it is possible to remove the alleged defective part, such as tires, without saving the entire car.
We can file a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the malfunctioning part if its malfunction either contributing to causing the accident or made your injuries worse than they otherwise would have been. For example, bad brakes can result in a collision, and an airbag that does not deploy in time can lead to more severe injuries that should have occurred under the circumstances. Without the vehicle or at least the part in question, we will have a hard time proving the liability of the manufacturer. It is best to keep the entire car, in case the defendant claims some other part was defective and caused the accident.
What Steps Should I Take to Protect My Rights After a Car Accident?
After a car accident, there are certain steps you should take to protect your rights. Preserving your rights—especially if someone else caused the accident—is the only way to ensure that you can pursue financial compensation for your injuries and damages.
In the moments, hours, days, and weeks after a car crash, you will encounter numerous threats to your legal rights. Although you need to be aware of all of these potential threats, the most important points to remember are:
- Seek emergency medical treatment on the scene;
- Do not admit fault or provide a statement to anyone;
- Protect and preserve as much evidence as possible; and
- Talk to a car accident lawyer to learn your options.
In South Florida, the car accident lawyers at the Law Firm of Anidjar & Levine can help preserve your legal rights after a crash. Call us today at 800-747-3733 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our attorneys.
After a Car Accident, What Should I Do at the Scene to Protect My Rights?
In the minutes after a serious car crash, your focus should be on your safety and that of other victims of the crash. You may experience shock and serious injuries that may not be obvious—such as a concussion or internal injuries.
Start by getting to a safe place well off the roadway. Do not stand on the shoulder, especially of a highway, as this can be especially dangerous. Next, call 911 to report the accident and request emergency responders.
Do not move your vehicle unless you have to for safety. Switch on your emergency flashers and grab any important paperwork from your car—such as your registration and insurance information.
Once you and the other victims are safe, turn your attention to the steps you should take to protect your legal rights. The information you collect on the scene can help us prove what happened during your wreck.
Take as many photos of the vehicles and the accident scene as you can while you wait for the police and the ambulance to arrive—including photos of the license plates of the other vehicles.
Request contact and insurance information from the other drivers involved in the crash. If you notice witnesses, try to get their names and contact information, too. You should also ask them to share any photos or videos they may have captured. Do not make any statements to anyone regarding the events of the accident.
Get Medical Attention
When the emergency medical personnel arrive, ask them to examine you and triage any potential injuries—even if you feel fine. This is critical for your health and for the preservation of your legal rights in the event of a serious injury. If the EMTs recommend that you go to a hospital, take their advice.
Talk to the Police
Once the police arrive, they will take your statement. Relate the basic facts as you recall them, but do not make any statements that might indicate responsibility on your behalf. Accident victims are often disoriented and in shock after a crash. They often get important details wrong. Take down the names and badge numbers of the officers on-scene and request a copy of the police report.
Have Your Car Towed
Unless the accident was truly a fender bender, call a tow service and have your vehicle transported to a collision damage repair shop. Request that the repair shop not do any work on your car until you give them the go-ahead.
What Should I Do Next?
In the days after the accident, there are additional steps you should take to continue protecting your right to compensation.
Get Follow-Up Medical Care
If you did not go to the hospital, you should see a doctor the day after the accident for a full medical evaluation. Follow all of the doctor’s recommendations for additional evaluation, testing, or treatment.
Start an Accident Journal
Use a notebook to accumulate all of the important information about the accident. Make notes about any conversations you have with your insurance company and other involved parties, making sure to include the date, time, and the name and contact information of the person you spoke to. Use your notebook as a pain journal, keeping careful track of any medical symptoms you experience.
Call Your Insurance Company
You must notify your insurance company of the accident as soon as you can do so. Your personal injury protection (PIP) insurance can help with your medical expenses and, if you have coverage, your insurance may pay for a rental car.
Call a Car Accident Lawyer
Before you get too far beyond the date of the accident, talk to one of our attorneys—especially if you have significant injuries or the cause of the accident is in dispute. If someone else’s negligence caused the accident, we can help you file a claim with their insurance company. However, you should never talk to the other driver’s insurance company without first talking to a lawyer, as this could compromise your legal rights.
How Can I Continue to Protect My Rights?
As we work on investigating your accident, documenting your losses, and building your claim, you can continue to protect your rights by:
- Continuing to seek medical treatment;
- Maintaining your pain journal;
- Saving all receipts for your accident-related expenses; and
- Obtaining a repair estimate for your vehicle.
Never give a statement to the at-fault driver’s insurance company or sign any documents. If you have a claim for injuries, the insurance company will do whatever they can to minimize your payout—including offering you a token settlement in the days or weeks after the accident. If you accept that settlement and later discover that you sustained more serious injuries than you originally believed, you will have no recourse to pursue compensation.
Can a Florida Car Accident Lawyer Help Protect My Rights?
The car accident lawyers at the Law Firm of Anidjar & Levine can provide invaluable service after an accident. We will protect your legal rights, help you get the medical treatment you need for your injuries, and help you pursue a fair financial settlement.
What to Do for Whiplash After a Car Accident?
Knowing what to do for whiplash after a car accident can help protect your health and prevent any complications or long-term disability.
What Steps Should I Take to Treat My Whiplash?
Left untreated, whiplash can cause chronic pain and other complications. Accident victims should take the following steps to protect themselves from further injury.
Step 1: Seek Medical Treatment
No matter how minor or severe your accident is, it is important that you seek medical treatment immediately after your collision. While it is best to get medical help at the scene of the accident, you can also visit the emergency room or schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible after your accident.
Because whiplash is a soft tissue injury, symptoms might not appear for hours or days, even weeks. It is best to go to a doctor as early as possible to begin treatment.
And because soft tissue injuries will not show up on an x-ray or other typical imaging scans, your doctor will need to perform other types of tests. However, if you go to the doctor and explain that you were just involved in a rear-end collision, he should know to check for injuries such as whiplash. This will inform him of the type of tests he should be performing.
Your physician can diagnose your injuries and come up with a plan to treat your whiplash symptoms. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Shoulder, neck, back, arm, or jaw pain and stiffness
- Tinnitus (i.e., ringing in the ears)
- Psychological issues (e.g., depression, anger, stress)
Step 2: Administer Home Care
If your symptoms are mild, your doctor may advise you to treat the symptoms at home. The doctor may advise you to rest, take over-the-counter pain medication (e.g., acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen), and wear a soft cervical neck collar for a few weeks to prevent additional injuries.
Your doctor may also suggest that you ice the injury to reduce inflammation in the first couple of days after the accident, and follow it with heat to relieve the pain.
Step 3: Do Range of Motion Exercises and Physical Therapy
Your doctor might also advise that you engage in range of motion exercises (rotational exercises) early in the treatment process, in addition to resting.
Some patients with whiplash symptoms may also benefit from physical therapy. Physical therapy can help strengthen your muscles and reduce pain. Patients who took some time off after an accident to recover may benefit from occupational therapy to help them return to work.
Step 4: Seek Chiropractic Care, Soft Tissue Rehabilitation, and Surgical Treatment
Whiplash can cause serious conditions such as:
- Joint dysfunction
- Disc herniations
- Nerve damage
- Sleep disorders
To treat these conditions effectively or prevent them from occurring in the first place, your physician may recommend the following:
- Chiropractic Care: Massage therapy, manual manipulation of the spine, trigger point therapy, electronic nerve stimulation, epidural spinal injections, and other treatments can help your neck and spine to move more normally and without pain after an accident.
- Soft Tissue Rehabilitation: Car accident victims may require soft tissue rehabilitation to treat their muscles, tendons, ligaments, spinal discs, and internal organs. Massage therapy, electro-stimulation, trigger point therapy, and strength-training exercises and stretches can help your muscles heal properly.
- Surgical treatment: Some accident victims who suffer from whiplash will suffer herniated discs and spinal fractures and may require surgery to readjust their spine and restore joint movement.
Step 5: Consult with a Mental Health Professional
In addition to treating the physical symptoms of whiplash, your physician may recommend that you seek treatment for any psychological symptoms you develop.
A doctor may recommend counseling and medication to deal with depression, anxiety, and other mental and emotional conditions that can result from whiplash. This can help prevent long-term problems and increase the likelihood of a full recovery.
Contact the Law Firm of Anidjar & Levine To Discuss Compensation Today
Whiplash injuries can be severe and require extensive treatment over the weeks and months following your accident. These treatments can get expensive, especially if your whiplash makes it difficult or impossible to work.
However, you may be able to recover medical damages from your insurer and the at-fault party’s insurer if you file a claim after your accident.
To give yourself the best chance at recovering damages, make sure you seek treatment as soon as possible after the accident and keep track of your injuries and treatments you receive. We will use that information to prove that you are entitled to compensation for your medical expenses.
To discuss the specifics of your case, call the attorneys at the Law Firm of Anidjar & Levine at 800-747-3733.
When Do Lawyers Recommend Talking to An Insurance Adjuster After a Car Accident in Florida?
Florida’s “no-fault” car insurance statute requires you to file a claim with your personal automobile policy for the first $10,000 in medical bills, even if the other driver caused the accident. This means that you will need to report the accident to your insurance company. However, you should know that sometimes even your own insurance carrier will look for ways to delay paying on a legitimate claim or minimize the amount you receive.
That is why we recommend that you talk to a car accident lawyer in Florida before you speak with any insurance adjuster, whether they are from your insurance company or the other driver’s.
Why You Should Talk to a Car Accident Lawyer Right Away
You may not see the harm in calling your insurance company after an accident. After all, you pay premiums and expect that your insurance carrier will stand by you.
Unfortunately, this is often not the case. Many insurance companies try to save money by finding ways to avoid paying benefits to their own policyholders.
We strongly recommend that you call a car accident lawyer as soon as possible. If your insurance company finds out about the accident and calls you first, politely defer speaking with them until you talk to an attorney.
Insurance Adjusters Use Many Tactics to Avoid Paying Claims
Here is why we recommend that you do not talk to an insurance adjuster after a car accident in Florida before consulting a lawyer:
- You may still be affected by injuries or medication, and any recorded statement you make might be incomplete or have innocent inconsistencies.
- The adjuster may become aggressive or ask leading questions to get you frustrated and say something that could jeopardize your claim.
- Your insurance company may share your statement with the other driver’s insurance carrier, which could harm your chances of filing a claim if you have extensive medical bills and other expenses.
- The insurance adjuster might persuade you to sign a medical release form and use your medical history as proof of a preexisting condition and therefore deny you coverage.
If You Must Speak to an Insurance Adjuster Before Talking to a Lawyer, Say This
You may have to report your accident before you have a chance to call our legal team. If you cannot politely decline to speak with an insurance adjuster, give only the most basic information without adding any details. Do not sign any medical release forms or allow the insurance company to schedule a medical exam with their physician.
It is always best to let a car accident lawyer speak on your behalf. If you must report the accident before you talk to an attorney, we recommend that you say only:
- Your name.
- The names of the other people involved in the accident.
- The date, time, and location of the accident.
- The make and model of vehicles involved in the accident.
- The name of the other driver’s insurance company.
Remember, you have the right to decline giving them further information without first speaking to an attorney. We recommend that you tell the insurance adjuster that you will give them a written statement.
Please Refrain From Discussing Specifics With an Insurance Adjuster
The insurance adjuster may try to get you to talk about the specific circumstances of the accident, your injuries, or even ask you to submit to a medical exam. Sometimes an insurance company may seem as though they simply want to obtain an exact medical diagnosis for your claim, but they are often looking for reasons not to pay you the compensation you deserve.
A car accident lawyer represents you, not the insurance company. He or she is looking out for you. That is why you should discuss specific topics only with your attorney, including:
- What happened just before the accident.
- Your personal account of the collision.
- Your injuries and medical expenses.
The safest way to protect your legal rights is to let a car accident lawyer speak on your behalf. You should also have time to recuperate from your injuries without worrying about insurance adjusters and legal issues.
We Make Legal Representation Affordable
The car accident lawyers with the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine work on a contingency fee basis. You do not owe attorney fees unless and until we successfully recover the compensation you may be entitled to receive.
For more information, please call 1-800-747-3733 to request a free consultation.
What Can I Expect From an Insurance Adjuster after a Car Accident?
Insurance adjusters investigate claims on behalf of car insurance companies. They ultimately determine how much money the insurance company pays following an accident. In addition to vehicle damage inspection and injury evaluation, an insurance adjuster also reviews police reports, interviews witnesses, and may speak to you, the claimant.
Florida is one of 12 no-fault states in the country. Florida requires drivers to carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) car insurance. PIP insurance offers certain benefits to drivers injured in accidents. For example, PIP insurance provides Florida drivers up to $10,000 in coverage. It covers 60 percent of lost wages and 80 percent of medical costs after deductibles.
So, if you were in a wreck, you might have to deal with a couple of adjusters: the PIP insurance adjuster from your insurance company and an adjuster from the at-fault driver’s insurance company who is handling your liability claim against the other driver.
How Does the Adjuster Determine Payments?
The insurance adjuster’s objective is gathering information and lowering costs for the insurance company. This applies to the PIP adjuster at your insurance company and the adjuster at the at-fault driver’s insurance company. So, as you field requests from the insurance adjuster to submit documents, we strongly recommend consulting a lawyer before you send any documents or okay the release of your records.
After you submit your claim to the insurance company, the adjuster reviews the written accident report and may call you directly for a firsthand account. However, adjusters may assume that not everything you say is factual, and thus investigate the accident, your injuries, and your damages.
You should prepare to produce the following:
- Police reports
- Medical records
- Lost income
But before you produce any documents, we recommend consulting a lawyer. Your lawyer will advise you regarding which requested documents you should send.
Florida state law requires filing accident reports following car accidents. And this may be the first thing an insurance adjuster retrieves when investigating your claim to confirm the accident and, in the case of the liability adjuster at the at-fault driver’s insurance company, to evaluate fault. The adjuster takes notes, measurements, and pictures and compares the findings to the accident report.
You may have to give the okay to send medical records to the adjuster. Pertinent documents include bills from ambulance service, hospital stay, and physical therapy. You may also provide documentation from your primary care physician as well. This demonstrates your level of health prior to the accident.
But again, please do not send any medical records to the insurance adjuster before you first consult a lawyer.
Florida’s PIP laws cover claimants for up to 60 percent of lost wages following an accident. And if you file a liability claim against the at-fault driver, you may qualify to recover all your lost wages. The adjuster may request pertinent information regarding employment and salary history as well.
If an accident leaves you unable to work, request a document detailing the following from your employer:
- Rate of pay
- Job title
- Hours worked per day or week
- Days of work missed
PIP covers your injury-related damages regardless of fault, so you won’t have to prove fault to your PIP adjuster. But the adjuster on the at-fault liability claim will require proof of fault.
While insurance adjusters often take their own photos, providing your own may be helpful. Photos increase your claim’s legitimacy beyond itemized lists of damages. Also, photos of your car prior to the car accident illustrate your vehicle’s damage. And if you suffered injuries, photos of your injuries may help too.
What Is the Difference Between a PIP and Liability Claims Adjuster?
The main difference between PIP and liability claims adjusters is that PIP adjusters do not have to investigate fault. PIP adjusters evaluate your claim to ensure it meets a few requirements such as:
- Did you get initial medical care within 14 days?
- Did you have an emergency medical condition? If not, you are limited to $2,500 in medical reimbursement.
- Are you claiming massage therapy and acupuncture? PIP does not cover these treatments.
The PIP adjuster is concerned about your damages alone, while a liability claims adjuster must evaluate your damages as well as fault for the accident. If the adjuster finds evidence you are to blame for the accident, it may jeopardize your liability claim.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Help Me Deal With an Insurance Claim?
There is no law requiring you to hire a lawyer. But we recommend it. We represent people hurt in car accidents caused by other parties, and we even help injured drivers with their PIP claims.
Insurance adjusters may attempt to contact claimants directly. The adjuster may try to extract damaging information from the claimant to hurt their case or reach a quick settlement. Adjusters often ask claimants to prematurely sign documents or make recorded statements.
Adjusters use recorded statements to suggest that a claimant’s story is contradictory their previous account. If filing a claim, decline to give a statement or provide documents and direct all correspondence to your lawyer or inform the adjuster that you must consult your lawyer before giving a statement or sending documents. Also, do not sign any documents without consulting your lawyer.
Who Decides Where My Car Gets Repaired After A Car Accident?
You decide where your car gets repaired after a car accident in Orlando, FL. Some insurance companies will attempt to persuade you to use their preferred auto repair shop to get your car repaired after a car accident. Other companies may require that you provide them with a certain number of bids from different car repair shops. Ultimately, you have the authority to determine where to get your car repaired after a car accident.
Using the Insurance Company’s Recommendation
If you choose to use the insurance company’s recommendation for a car repair shop after an accident, the benefit may be that the shop is familiar with working with that insurance company and can get your repairs done faster. The repair shop is interested in keeping the insurance company satisfied, so they will typically repair the car quickly and efficiently.
If you need your vehicle returned to you quickly, this may be a good option for you. Additionally, the car repair shop is likely to be a reputable one, since an insurance company is recommending it, and they want to provide quality repair service. The services provided are also likely to be guaranteed. If you need a rental car while your car is being repaired, and the car repair work takes longer than originally expected, the insurance company may extend your ability to have a rental car if you use their preferred car repair recommendation.
Finally, if you choose a repair shop from the insurance company’s preferred list, it will likely entail less paperwork. However, if you know of a reputable car repair shop, and want to use them because you trust their service, you have the option to go to whichever car repair shop you prefer.
Using Your Own Car Repair Shop
You have rights as a consumer to decide where your car gets repaired after a car accident in Orlando, FL. However, an insurance company will often require that the repairs to your vehicle are fixed for the same price as their recommended car repair shop. Since their recommended shop will be lower in price due to their working relationship, you may not be able to get the same amount of work done on your car at a different repair shop. Also, if you choose your own repair shop, the paperwork for the insurance company will be substantially more, and the repairs are not guaranteed.
Additionally, you may have to provide bids from three different car repair shops for the work you need to be done to your vehicle to provide to the insurance company. The insurance company will then likely approve a median amount of those bids for your repairs. After the amount of compensation is determined, they will issue you a check, and you can take your car to be repaired any place you choose. However, if you choose your own car repair shop, you will likely be choosing a shop that you know and trust. With complex cars becoming more costly and difficult to repair, it is important to always choose someone you trust.
Who Pays for Your Medical Bills After a Car Accident You Did Not Cause in Florida?
Your first action after any car accident is to seek medical care. If you were severely injured, you may have been taken to the nearest emergency room by ambulance. Even if your injuries were not life-threatening, you should see your doctor or healthcare provider as soon as possible.
There are a few potential parties who could be liable to pay for your medical bills after a car accident you did not cause in Florida.
Medical Bills and Florida’s No-Fault Insurance Regulations
Florida is a “no-fault” car insurance state. Even if you did not cause the car accident, the first $10,000 in medical claims will be paid by your personal auto insurance. However, “no-fault” does not limit your legal rights if a reckless driver severely injured you. A car accident lawyer in Florida can seek compensation beyond the $10,000 benchmark depending on your injuries and medical bills.
A Car Accident Lawyer Can Pursue Compensation From the Liable Party
Because some car accidents result in expensive, life-threatening injuries, you may qualify for added compensation from the other driver after the $10,000 coverage is exhausted. You could file a claim or a personal injury lawsuit against the liable party if you suffered:
- Significant, permanent scarring or disfigurement.
- Significant, permanent loss of a bodily function.
- Permanent injury.
As you can see, this “serious injury” threshold can be broadly interpreted. That is why you should contact a Florida car accident lawyer to find out who pays for your medical bills after a car accident you did not cause.
Basic Car Insurance Requirements in Florida
All licensed drivers who drive a vehicle with at least four wheels must carry the minimum “no-fault” car insurance that includes:
- $10,000 maximum coverage for bodily injury liability per person in one accident.
- $20,000 maximum coverage for bodily injury liability for one accident.
- $10,000 maximum coverage for property damage liability for one accident.
This minimum insurance is also known as “10-20-10” coverage. While $10,000 coverage may be enough for minor to moderate injuries, it is inadequate if you or a family member sustained permanent injuries that need lifelong care.
You Have a Limited Time to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Florida has a statute of limitations on personal injury lawsuits. You have four years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit. This may seem like plenty of time, but you should consider that many personal injury lawsuits are the result of a stalled insurance settlement negotiation.
A car accident lawyer in Florida will first seek compensation from the other driver’s insurance coverage. This typically takes less time, which means faster compensation for you.
A successful car insurance settlement will look to recover for damages such as:
- Ambulance and emergency room services
- Hospital stays
- Doctor’s visits and other medical expenses
- Lost pay
- Lifecare costs
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
Who Pays for Medical Bills and Other Damages for a Loved One’s Passing
If you lost a family member in a car accident you did not cause in Florida, you could be entitled to compensation from the other driver’s insurance. A car accident lawyer in Florida may file a wrongful death insurance claim or lawsuit. Unlike a personal injury lawsuit, Florida’s statute of limitations on a wrongful death lawsuit is only two years from the date of passing.
A wrongful death lawsuit may seek damages for:
- Medical bills for your loved one until passing.
- Funeral and burial expenses.
- Pain and suffering.
- Loss of consortium, protection, guidance, and support.
- Lost income had your loved one lived a normal life expectancy.
- Mental anguish.
How a Car Accident Lawyer in Florida Seeks Compensation for You
A car accident lawyer will talk to your doctor (with your written permission) to get a correct evaluation of your injuries, medical bills, and expected prognosis. This information will be sent to the other driver’s insurance company or used as evidence in a personal injury lawsuit. At the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine, we believe that you should recover the maximum compensation you may be entitled to receive.
In addition to speaking with your healthcare provider and getting copies of your medical bills, a car accident lawyer in Florida will also:
- Review police accident reports.
- View available photos or videos of the accident site, your damaged car, skid marks, road debris, and other photographic evidence.
- Read witness statements and if necessary, ask more questions.
- Consult accident recreationist experts if appropriate.
Do I Need To Go To The Doctor After A Car Accident If I Don’t Feel Hurt?
It would be wise if you go to the doctor after a car accident even if you do not feel hurt. Whether you should go to your doctor’s office, an urgent care center, or the emergency room will depend on the facts of your situation. Any of these locations can help treat your injuries.
Delayed Onset of Symptoms
Signs of some injuries can show up right away, or the indications can take hours or days after the injury to appear. For example:
- Concussions can have delayed symptoms like sensitivity to light and sound, sleep disorders, and problems with memory and concentration.
- An undiagnosed spinal cord injury can become critical during the days and weeks after the injury as fluids accumulate around your spinal cord, along with bleeding, inflammation, and swelling.
- It can take 24 hours or longer for the signs of whiplash to appear.
- If you experienced a forceful blow to the left side of your chest or abdomen in the collision, your spleen could rupture days or weeks after the crash. The internal bleeding from the rupture can be fatal.
Also, the adrenaline that can rush through your body immediately after a car accident can mask the sensation of pain, making it hard for you to detect whether you are hurt. Whenever you have been in a significant collision, you should let a medical expert perform a trauma evaluation. These professionals know how to discover hidden injuries.
Linking Your Injuries to the Accident
Another reason to get medical attention right after a car accident is to connect your injuries to the crash. If you delay in going for medical care, the person who caused the accident can deny that your injuries came from the collision. The longer you wait to go to the doctor or emergency room, the harder it might be for us to prove that the accident caused the harm you suffered.
We will have to prove all four of these factors to hold someone responsible for your losses:
- The defendant had a legal duty of care. Drivers are obligated to drive with caution and to obey the traffic laws.
- The defendant was negligent. If the at-fault driver was careless and did not live up to the legal standard of the duty of care, they were negligent.
- The negligence must be the thing that caused the wreck and your injuries. This is why it is so important to see a doctor after an accident. By getting a medical examination directly after the accident, a doctor will tie your injuries to the crash and the negligence that caused it.
- The defendant’s negligence must cause you to sustain harm. Physical injuries satisfy this final element. Your medical records are one way to prove this factor.
How Long After A Car Accident Can You Go To The Hospital?
Many wonder how long after a car accident you should go to the hospital in Orlando, FL. You should go to the hospital right away. Your injuries will heal best with prompt medical attention. There are several additional reasons why you should go straight to the hospital after a car accident.
Personal Injury Protection Deadline for Medical Care
In Florida, your personal injury protection insurance (PIP) mandated by FL § 627.736 can pay for some of your medical expenses up to the legal limit, but only if you get the initial medical care within 14 days of the car accident. If you wait longer than 14 days, your PIP coverage will deny your request for reimbursement of those costs.
PIP coverage can pay 80 percent of the reasonable costs for health care that you need because of the collision. The expenses reimbursed can include:
- Medical attention
- Dental services
- Rehabilitative treatment
- Nursing care
- Prosthetic devices
The initial medical attention can be at your doctor’s office, a hospital, emergency room, or other approved medical facility.
Another reason to get prompt medical attention is to uncover injuries you might not have discovered yet. Sometimes, injuries from trauma do not show signs for several hours or days. You might have fractures that do not provide signs until the swelling gets to a certain point, which can take a day or two.
If you took a blow to the chest or torso, you might have a ruptured spleen or other internal injuries. You could be bleeding internally and not realize it until you are in critical condition.
Head, neck, and back injuries can have delayed symptoms. Prompt treatment is essential for a favorable outcome with these injuries.
Whenever you have been in a significant car accident, you should get a thorough trauma examination from a medical professional. People trained in emergency medicine know how to find many hidden injuries.
Medical Records are Valuable in Your Car Accident Injury Claim
We will use your medical records to link your injuries to the accident. If you wait several days to get medical care, the defendant may claim that you were hurt from some other event, not from the collision. Going straight to the doctor or emergency room will provide the most persuasive evidence that the crash caused your injuries.
Also, your medical records will show the extent and severity of the harm you suffered. Rather than trying to tough it out at home, if you were hurt in a car accident, the information in the medical records will support your claim of the harm you sustained in the car accident.
I Haven’t Been Able To Return To Work After A Car Accident, How Can I Afford A Lawyer?
You can still afford a lawyer in Orlando, FL, even if you haven’t been able to return to work after a car accident. Car accident lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, which means that you do not pay any fees upfront for an attorney to work on your car accident case.
How Contingency Fee Arrangements Work
Many people fear hiring an attorney after a car accident because they are concerned that they cannot pay attorney fees out of pocket to represent them. But most injury attorneys work on what is called a contingency fee.
A contingency fee is only paid if there is a favorable result. This means that you owe no money to an attorney, unless and until you receive monetary recovery. The amount you will pay your attorney will be a previously agreed-upon percentage of the amount of the settlement that you would receive if you win your case in court.
Whether you settle your case, or it goes to trial, your attorney’s payment will be “contingent” upon you winning your car accident case and receiving monetary compensation for your injury and losses. This type of arrangement gives an attorney an incentive to work hard to obtain the highest settlement possible for your case. It also allows the victim to have legal counsel without having to pay upfront for legal services.
Costs of Litigation
Every personal injury lawsuit involves substantial costs, which can include the following:
- Filing fees and court fees
- Document fees (medical documents, legal documents, etc.)
- Expert witnesses (both medical witnesses and/or accident reconstruction witnesses, etc.)
- Miscellaneous (document production, driving to witnesses, etc.)
FL § 16.0155 limits the amount in which your lawyer can charge you. This helps protect you and your damages.
Contingency Fee Agreement
Carefully read your contingency agreement with your attorney. Your attorney should explain all fees for which you may be responsible. The Florida Bar recommends that both the attorney and the plaintiff understand the agreement. Visit with your attorney and ask about any terms or conditions you may not understand. Always keep a copy of your contingency agreement for your records.
Benefits to Contingency Fee Agreements
There are many benefits to hiring an attorney under a contingency fee agreement. For instance, you do not need to pay your attorney upfront for their work on your car accident case. The benefit for an attorney is that they will work diligently on a case where they are only paid if they win.
Contact a Car Accident Attorney
You can afford a lawyer even if you haven’t been able to return to work after a car accident. We offer a free consultation and charge no upfront fees for your case. We collect fees only if and when you win your case. Contact the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine at 1-800-747-3733 to learn more about our fee arrangement and how we can help you recover the compensation you need today.