What to Do After a Car Accident
October 30, 2021
There is no disputing that car accidents of all kinds can lead to severe injuries, including the need for medical treatment and rehabilitation. Many individuals involved in collisions do not know what they should do or where they should turn next. If you suffered injuries in a car crash, you might be eligible to pursue monetary compensation and damages from your insurance company. In some instances, you might seek additional coverage from the at-fault driver and their insurance company.
In addition to seeking prompt medical treatment at a hospital emergency room or urgent care center, one of the most important steps you can take following a Florida car accident is speaking with a knowledgeable attorney. Your lawyer can take over handling the legal aspects of your case while you concentrate on getting well and fully recovering from your car accident injuries. Your attorney can also explain all of your legal rights to you and work to safeguard those rights while your injury case is pending.
You want to consult with a car accident law firm that is ready to assist you with every aspect of your car accident injury case—from beginning to end. The right attorney can help you pursue monetary compensation from the insurance company through a settlement whenever possible. If the insurance company refuses to offer you the compensation that you deserve for the injuries you suffered, a lawyer can file a lawsuit on your behalf to escalate the matter to the court system.
Don’t wait to speak with a trusted law firm today to learn more about how they can help throughout every stage of your car accident legal claim.
Getting the Information You Need Following a Car Crash
Following a car crash, you should obtain contact and insurance information from all the other drivers involved in the collision whenever possible. It is vital to have this information in case you need to file a claim against someone else’s insurance company—especially following a serious car crash in which you suffered one or more permanent injuries. If you are too injured to collect information, you can access it later through the police report.
At the scene of the car accident, it is important that you not admit fault for the crash, even if you believe that you may have caused or contributed to it. Other parties can use any admissions or comments against you later on in the process.
Speak with the Police Officer Who Responds to the Accident Scene
After most car accidents, local law enforcement officers and other emergency responders should report to the accident scene. If a police officer responds to the accident scene, he or she can assist you with exchanging contact and insurance information with the other involved driver(s).
You should also speak with a police officer about how the accident happened. Likewise, you should insist on receiving a copy of any police report that the officer prepares. Police reports can be beneficial in motor vehicle accident cases since they typically describe how the accident occurred and mention whether any of the involved drivers received a citation. Citations might be for speeding, running a red light, failing to yield the right-of-way, or driving under the influence of alcohol, for example.
If a driver did receive a citation, the police report should note what the citation was for. Finally, police reports will also usually state who was at fault for the accident. All of this information can become important when you need to file a claim against the at-fault driver as part of your car accident case.
Seek Same-Day Medical Treatment for any Injuries You Suffered in the Car Crash
Car accidents can result in severe injuries, including:
- Various bone fractures
- Traumatic head and brain injuries
- Neck and back injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Soft tissue injuries
- Laceration and abrasions
After a car accident, you should seek medical treatment as soon as possible. You can seek this treatment at a local hospital emergency room or urgent care center.
You must receive emergency medical treatment after your accident, even if you don’t know if you suffered injuries in the collision. The reason for this is twofold. First of all, many injury symptoms do not become apparent until several days (or even weeks) after the accident. Therefore, you want to make sure that you get to a hospital emergency room or urgent care center so that the responding doctor can take the necessary x-rays and imaging studies.
A medical condition that goes undiagnosed might become much worse over time. At a local hospital or urgent care facility, the responding physician can determine your condition, and if necessary, recommend follow-up medical treatment with a primary care doctor or specialist (such as an orthopedic doctor in the case of a broken bone).
Same-day medical treatment is also important for any car accident claim or lawsuit that you might later file. By seeking emergency medical care, you demonstrate that you were injured in the accident and that you took your medical treatment seriously.
If significant time lapses between the date of your car accident and the date of your first medical visit, the insurance company will assume that you are not taking your treatment seriously and/or that you were not all that seriously injured in the car accident. The best way to avoid this potential problem is to start treatment as early on as possible for your injuries—and to treat continuously.
Continue all Necessary Treatment for Your Car Accident Injuries
Following your initial medical visit, abide by all treatment recommendations for the injuries you suffered in your car collision. This means avoiding gaps in treatment whenever possible, following all of your healthcare provider’s recommendations regarding follow-up treatment, and making sure to treat until your medical provider discharges you from care.
Insurance companies and their adjusters are extremely skeptical when it comes to long gaps in treatment. A significant gap in treatment is typically one that is several weeks or longer. If the insurance company adjuster sees numerous gaps in treatment, he or she will assume that you were not seriously injured in the accident and/or that you are not taking your treatment seriously.
In addition, you should refrain from discharging yourself from medical treatment. Instead, wait until the healthcare provider discharges you. When it comes to car accident cases, self-discharge from active medical care and/or physical therapy is almost always a bad thing. When an insurance company adjuster sees that a patient discharged himself or herself, the adjuster will become skeptical of the medical treatment and the seriousness of the alleged car accident injuries.
Be Mindful of Your Postings on Social Media
In this day and age, people are constantly glued to their phones and have a habit of posting pictures on social media sites, such as YouTube, TikTok, Facebook, Twitter, and similar platforms. If you were in a motor vehicle accident, always be mindful of what you post on these sites, specifically regarding your activities and whereabouts.
Many postings on these social media websites are accessible to the public, and you can be sure that insurance companies and their adjusters will be actively looking on social media platforms for potentially damning evidence in your car accident case. For example, if a car accident victim is claiming that he or she suffered back or lower extremity injuries and a social media posting depicts the accident victim running in a race or jumping up and down on a trampoline, then the adjuster is going to become extremely skeptical as to the validity of the accident victim’s claimed injuries and damages.
Seek Prompt Legal Advice from a Car Accident Lawyer
In addition to seeking follow-up medical care and treatment—and following through with that treatment—you must speak with a knowledgeable car accident attorney as soon as possible after your accident. Your attorney can assess the facts and circumstances of your case and determine whether or not you are eligible to assert a car accident claim arising from your accident.
While you are still treating your injuries, your lawyer can begin to gather all of your medical records and bills and obtain a copy of the police investigation report. That way, once you have finished treatment, your attorney can submit a claim with the insurance company as soon as possible on your behalf.
You must retain a knowledgeable car accident attorney because of the Florida statute of limitations for car accident cases. In Florida, a car accident victim typically has four years from the date of the accident to file a claim or lawsuit seeking monetary compensation and damages for his or her injuries. Absent the most extraordinary of circumstances, failing to file a claim within the proper deadline can have devastating consequences.
If you fail to file your injury claim or lawsuit by the deadline, a Florida court will bar you from seeking monetary compensation and damages for the injuries you suffered. A car accident attorney can file your claim or lawsuit on time, preserving your right to collect damages in the case.
Your attorney can also help you pursue monetary compensation by way of a monetary settlement, favorable jury verdict, or arbitration award. Car accident victims often suffer injuries that require medical treatment, including hospitalization, surgical procedures, and physical therapy or chiropractic care. All of this medical treatment can cost a significant amount of money.
Your attorney can assist you with pursuing compensation for all related medical treatment by filing a claim with the appropriate insurance company and working to negotiate a favorable settlement offer. If the insurance company does not fully and fairly compensate you for your injuries, then your attorney can file a lawsuit on your behalf. However, even once they file a lawsuit in the case, your lawyer may continue negotiating a favorable settlement offer for you.
In the event the insurance company still refuses to compensate you appropriately for your car accident injuries, your attorney could litigate the case to a conclusion in the Florida court system. While only a small number of car accident cases make it all the way to trial, there may be other options that are available to you.
For example, at a mediation proceeding, your attorney can advocate for you and work with a neutral mediator to reach a favorable agreement with the other side. At an arbitration proceeding, your lawyer can present your case before a neutral, third-party arbitrator and work to recover the compensation that you deserve. These alternative dispute resolution methods might work in your favor to avoid litigation and still receive full compensation.
As part of your car accident claim, you might be eligible to recover damages for your medical expenses, lost wages, and out-of-pocket costs. In addition, your lawyer could pursue non-economic damages on your behalf, including compensation for all of the inconvenience, pain and suffering, mental distress, loss of the ability to use a body part, and loss of life enjoyment that you suffered because of your accident.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer About Your Legal Matter Today
Car accidents can lead to devastating personal injuries and other consequences. Fortunately, many of those injuries and damages are legally compensable. The right legal team will work hard to help you recover the monetary compensation that you need to make you whole again after your car accident.
If you are wondering whether the help of a lawyer is necessary, the answer is usually yes. While you have the right to file a claim on your own, doing so can often present challenges and stress that a lawyer can avoid. When you are dealing with serious injuries, keeping up with your treatment, and trying to do everything else following a crash, you should put your injury claim in the hands of a trusted legal professional.
“These lawyers are not only very efficient, but caring as well. I would not hesitate to refer them to anyone.”
MATTHEW T. / FORMER CLIENT