What to Do After a Car Accident
Car accidents are completely unexpected, which means you probably feel like your life is turned upside down when tragedy hits you. However, during this crisis, it is important to remember the necessary steps you need to take in the minutes, days and months after a crash. Safeguard your legal rights by following these post-accident tips:
- Seek medical attention. Even if you feel fine after an accident, you should always get a professional health evaluation from your doctor to ensure you aren’t injured. People often experience an adrenalin rush in the moments following a collision which masks pain that crops up later.
- Gather information. While still at the scene of the accident, try to collect as much information as possible – including eyewitness accounts and contact info, photos of the accident scene, name and insurance company of the other driver, vehicle parts that broke off, etc. In the coming months, be sure to keep all documents and receipts pertaining to the accident or your medical treatment from the crash.
- Notify your insurer. Inform your insurance company about the accident. They will likely ask you some questions and assign you an adjustor to handle your claim.
- Dial 911. Your number one priority following a car wreck is the safety of you and your passengers. Call the police if someone hasn’t done it already, and find out if anyone involved in the collision – including the other driver – is injured and needs an ambulance. When the police arrive, be cooperative and ask them for a copy of the police report to keep for your records.
- Never admit fault. At no point should you admit liability to bystanders, police, the other driver or insurance agents. Such an admission of guilt could hurt your future car accident claim. It’s best to leave all correspondence to your attorney.
- Consult a car accident lawyer. In addition to looking out for your legal rights, a skilled personal injury attorney with the right background and experience in car crash cases can expertly navigate you through the complex and tedious legal process of filing an injury lawsuit in Florida.
Common Causes of Car Crashes
Although the term car “accident” is widely used, the reality is auto collisions all have an instigator – meaning that most crashes aren’t accidents at all, but rather the result of someone’s negligence, a product malfunction, or other external factors. The most common causes of car crashes in Tampa include:
- Dangerous roads. Government entities can sometimes be held partly liable for accidents and injuries caused by improperly maintained or dangerous roads.
- Driver error. A majority of accidents can be blamed on a driver’s negligence while behind the wheel. Whether speeding, running a red light or driving while intoxicated on drugs or alcohol, a driver who puts others at risk by failing to act responsibly can be held liable for injuries they caused.
- Weather/Low Visibility. Poor road conditions caused by rain, hail, fog or wind can reduce driver visibility or control, leading to an accident.
- Mechanical Failure. Accidents resulting from a defective vehicle part can lead to a product liability lawsuit in which the manufacturer is held liable for injuries and damages.
Car Accident Injuries
There are several types of damages you can claim in a personal injury lawsuit – one of which is medical expenses for treatment of injuries sustained during the car crash. Injuries can range in scope from moderate to severe, and most commonly include:
- Head and Back Injuries. Trauma to the head and spinal cord are one of the scariest and most serious car accident injuries. Skull fractures, herniated disks and paralysis often leave victims unable to work and in tremendous pain.
- Brain Injury. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) can range from a mild concussion to a coma, and have long-lasting physical, psychological and emotional scars. Medical treatment for these injuries are complicated and costly, leaving victims financially injured as well.
- Whiplash and Neck Injuries. A sudden and violent jerk of the neck can often result in serious injuries. Whiplash is the most common car accident injury, and occurs most frequently in rear-end collisions.
- Broken Bones. The blunt force of a high-speed collision can fracture or snap bones in a moment. These injuries can take months or even years to recover from, and prevent a person from being able to work.
- Wrongful Death. A fatality might be considered the ultimate injury a victim of a car crash can experience. When such a tragedy occurs, surviving family members and loved ones may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible driver or party.
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Types of Car Accidents
Car accidents can come in many shapes and sizes. In Tampa, the most common types of crash cases we handle are:
- Rear-end accidents – one of the most common types of car accidents that can lead to chronic injuries requiring long-term treatment
- Side-impact crashes – another common vehicle collision that occurs when the side of a vehicle is hit by another car; often also called a “t-bone” accident
- Head-on collisions– a frequently fatal accident that occurs when the front-end of two vehicles collide, often at high speeds
- Multi-vehicle wrecks – most common on busy roads and interstates, especially in the Tampa area, these accidents involve 3 or more vehicles; also known as “pile-ups”
Should I Sue?
With the help of a car accident attorney, the full benefits available under your PIP policy can be used to partially compensate your financial losses due to a car accidents, such as medical bills, property damage and lost wages. However, in order to file an additional claim for personal injury, the plaintiff must have suffered serious and/or permanent injuries as a result of the collision, such as the car accident injuries listed above.
A driver may also be able to file a lawsuit against a third-party, not including the other driver, if the third-party contributed to the accident. For instance, if a defective car part was a factor in the collision, the plaintiff may choose to sue the manufacturer. Other occasions when third-party lawsuits occur is when an employee of a government agency is responsible for a wreck or when dangerous road conditions contribute to a serious crash. In such cases, an individual may be able to seek compensation from the at-fault party.
After determining liability, a car accident attorney will calculate how much your case is worth. A number of factors are taken into account when estimating the value of your case, including:
- Medical Costs – both current and future expenses related to treatment of the injuries sustained in an accident, such as hospitalization, rehabilitation, medicine, etc.
- Lost Wages – compensation for past and future missed time at work as a result of injury recovery/rehabilitation
- Pain and Suffering – mental and emotional trauma caused by the accident, such as depression, anxiety, fear and other non-physical injuries
- Loss of a Loved One – financial costs associated with the death of a loved one in a fatal car accident, such as funeral expenses, loss of consortium and other wrongful death damages
How You Can Recover Financially from your Florida Car Accident
Ascertaining the compensation to which you are entitled to in your Tampa car accident case depends on numerous factors, including whether you followed all the proper steps after the collision, what caused the crash, what injuries you or your passengers sustained and who was at-fault. With so many influential components, it is essential to discuss your case with an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible.
Another factor in Florida vehicle accident cases is Personal Injury Protection (PIP), which all Florida drivers are required to have. In the event of a crash, PIP will cover a percentage of the damages. While meant to provide insurance benefits for drivers, PIP may restrict your ability to file a personal injury lawsuit. For instance, if you don’t seek medical treatment within 14 days of the accident, your PIP benefits may be voided. In addition, most PIP policies only cover 80 percent of medical bills, 60 percent of lost wages, and have $2,500 cap.
Why Hire a Tampa Auto Accident Attorney?
In addition to ensuring you receive the maximum benefits possible under your PIP policy, a skilled car accident attorney will help you file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver by proving that your injuries are severe enough to warrant additional compensation.
If your insurance claim is denied or inadequate, a car accident attorney can also negotiate with insurance adjustors on your behalf for the maximum payout. If your attorney and the insurers are unable to reach an agreement, the lawyer may have to file a lawsuit against the insurance company and other parties involved in the accident to ensure you get the compensation you deserve.
When disaster hits, call us to speak with an expert Tampa car crash lawyer at Lorenzo & Lorenzo. We are experts in personal injury and car accident cases. During your FREE consultation, we’ll show you how our family is committed to fighting for you.
We are available 24/7 to take your call. Schedule your free consultation today.