Frequently Asked Questions - Top Things To Do After a Car Accident
If you have been involved in an auto accident, you are probably wondering what you should be doing about it. The best thing you could do is consult with an experienced personal injury attorney who can explain your rights and benefits to you. By hiring an attorney to represent you after an auto accident, you can rest assured that your claim will be handled in a professional and expert manner. If you do not hire an attorney for your claim, you may be missing out on benefits you did not know were available to you.
After an auto accident, you will need to contact all applicable insurance companies involved in the accident to report the loss. Your claim will be assigned to an adjuster who will contact you to discuss your claim. It is common for the insurance adjuster to request a recorded statement immediately after contacting you. If you plan on hiring an attorney or have already hired an attorney, it is advisable to never give a recorded statement to the at fault insurance company. Anything you say to the insurance company may be used as evidence if your claim has to be litigated in court and can be played for a jury to hear. If your vehicle was damaged in the accident, the at fault insurance company will arrange for a field adjuster to come out to inspect the vehicle or you may be requested to take the vehicle to a body shop for an estimate. If your take your vehicle to a body shop which the insurance company recommends, the repairs are usually guaranteed for as long as you own the vehicle.
If you were injured in the accident and require medical treatment, upon your first phone call with the adjuster, you should ask what the available bodily injury coverage is for the at fault vehicle. In the State of Florida, bodily injury coverage is not required to be a mandatory coverage that you are required to purchase in order to have a valid insurance policy. The only required insurance coverage in Florida is personal injury protection which covers you, your immediate family members, anyone insured on your policy, or anyone in your vehicle at the time of an accident if they do not have their own source of personal injury protection, and property damage which covers any damage to any vehicle or property you cause during an accident. The minimum coverage is $10,000.00 for both personal injury protection and property damage. If you are injured by someone who does not carry bodily injury coverage on their policy, you can turn to your own insurance policy if you carry uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. This is a very valuable insurance coverage to purchase as if you are injured by someone with no insurance or a very minimal bodily injury policy, unless you have your own uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, you are limited by the at faults minimal policy limits or you may be unable to file a claim altogether without one or the other coverage. If you do have uninsured or underinsured coverage, your own insurance adjuster will be able to open an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim depending on which one you need. It is very important to know both the bodily injury and uninsured or underinsured limits prior to seeking any medical treatment. Of course, without both coverage, you can still treat with a medical doctor and your personal injury protection coverage will pay the first $10,000.00 of your medical bills, but you must keep in mind that they only pay 80% of your bills so you will always have a 20% balance which you must pay out of your pocket. If you have an attorney representing you for your claim, it is likely that your doctor will not charge you the 20% up front but will wait until your attorney is able to settle your claim and your attorney will pay your remaining 20% out of your settlement funds.
After obtaining policy limit coverage, you should always seek medical treatment with a licensed physician as soon as possible if you are injured. If you do not seek medical treatment within the first fourteen days of your auto accident, your insurance company will only pay $2,500.00 towards your medical bills instead of the full $10,000.00 which is why immediate medical treatment will benefit you in the long run, especially if you are severely injured and will require the full $10,000.00 for your medical bills. In the State of Florida, the only way to obtain a settlement a settlement for pain and suffering is if you have sustained a permanent injury. The only way to prove you have sustained a permanent injury is through your medical records. At your first doctor appointment, you should always make sure to notify your doctor of all of your injuries, no matter how minute they may seem. Time and time again people do not think to mention a small injury that becomes worse over the next few weeks to months and when it comes time to settle the claim, the insurance adjuster will refuse to acknowledge that injury as part of your claim since you waited so long to mention it. Every ache, pain, twinge or tingle should be documented immediately in case of the need for further treatment of that area.
If you have been receiving continuous medical treatment and your provider has yet to send you for MRI testing, you should ask them for a referral to rule out any internal damage. MRIs are able to rule out any spinal pathology but if your tests come back abnormal, you will likely require medical treatment from a specialist such as an orthopedic doctor or neurosurgeon. If your surgeon opines that you require surgery for your injuries, if there is enough insurance coverage, you should always think long and hard about having the procedure done because once you settle your claim with the insurance company, you are forever bared from re-opening that claim ever again. If your injuries become worse with time, you will have no choice but to pay for the surgery out of your own pocket or go through your health insurance company which comes with hefty co-pays.