Frequently Asked Questions - When Should I Get an Attorney For a Car Accident?
If you have been involved in an auto accident, you may have several questions or you may be wondering if you can pursue your medical claim on your own. Some people opt to pursue their claim without the help of a personal injury attorney and some are successful, but there may be benefits that you miss out on or money left on the table which you could have pursued for your pain and suffering. An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to obtain all of your benefits and explain your rights to you which is why hiring an attorney for your claim as soon as possible is the best thing you can do after an auto accident.
In the State of Florida, insurance laws are somewhat different than most other states. Did you know that in order to have what is considered full insurance coverage only means maintaining the state minimum? The minimum insurance coverage required in the State of Florida to have a legal insurance policy on your vehicle is personal injury protection at $10,000.00 and property damage at $10,000.00. Personal injury protection covers your medical bills at 80%, your lost wages at 60%, prescriptions you pay out of pocket and reimbursement for mileage back and forth to the doctor. Property damage covers reimbursement to the owner for any vehicle or property damaged in an accident which you caused. If you find yourself arguing with an insurance company about rights you believe you are entitled to but the insurance company is refusing to pay, your next call should be to a personal injury attorney who can fight with the insurance company on your behalf. The last thing you need after suffering injuries from an auto accident at the negligence of someone else is the hassle of having to get the insurance company to do their job. Insurance companies are in the business of saving themselves as much money as possible so they will find any minute detail to either diminish your damages or refuse benefits on a technicality. Personal injury attorneys will know exactly what to do to get the insurance adjuster to overturn their decision or they will simply file a lawsuit against the insurance company.
After hiring a personal injury attorney for your claim, they will likely inform you that the only thing you are able to discuss with the insurance company is your property damage. Personal injury attorneys general only represent you for the medical and injury side of your claim, leaving the property damage for you to discuss with the insurance company as it is much easier for you to arrange inspections, rental vehicles and repairs around your schedule. If you are having a tough time trying to get the insurance adjuster to cooperate with your property damage claim, your attorney will be able to make some calls and assist you in that department, but at the end of the day, your attorney will likely not have any legal way to force the insurance company to cooperate unless they decide to file suit. Your attorney will never file suit on just your property damage alone. If they do decide to file a lawsuit against the insurance company for your injuries, your property damage claim may be able to be rolled into the same claim if you have not be able to resolve it at that point.
When involved in an auto accident, you are most likely going to have sustained some type of injury. If so, you will need to seek medical treatment with a licensed physician as soon as possible. Some people do not realize that in the State of Florida, you must treat with a physician within the first fourteen days of your auto accident or you will lose some important benefits. Personal injury protection is designed to pay up to $10,000.00 of your medical bills at 80%. If you do not treat with a licensed physician within those first fourteen days, your insurance company will deny the entire $10,000.00 and afford you only $2,500.00. This is a very large chunk of money to be losing out on, especially given the extreme cost of medical bills. If you have hired a personal injury attorney right away, your attorney will inform you of this law and will be able to make sure you are treated right away by a licensed physician in order to not lose out on these important personal injury protection benefits. Your attorney will also be able to make sure you are seeing the correct doctors for your injuries.
Once you have completed your medical treatment, your attorney will discuss with you the best way to advance your claim. This is usually the point where you will have more interaction with your attorney as they will likely want to sit down with you to make sure all of your injuries have been addressed as once you settle and close your claim, you will never be able to re-open it should your injuries worsen. If your doctors have opined that you would require surgery for your injuries, your attorney will inform you to think long and hard about having the procedure as if you do not have it done under your claim, the insurance company will not take the procedure into consideration when making their settlement offer. You and your attorney and possibly your doctor can all sit down to discuss the medical and legal side of undergoing the surgery and you can then make your informed decision as to whether you feel you should go through with it or if you want to take your chances and settle the claim. The good thing about having an attorney on your side during a time like this is that they are able to give you their legal opinion about how much your type of claim is worth and if the insurance company has decided to make a much smaller settlement offer, your attorney will likely discuss with you the option of filing a lawsuit against them. It is much easier for a personal injury attorney to bring about a lawsuit against a large insurance company than the average person.