Auto Accidents

While car accidents comprise a significant portion of personal injury and wrongful death claims, it would be wrong to think that they are always simple to resolve.

For Frequently Asked Questions, Click Here.

Auto Accidents FAQ’s: 1-12 | 13-21


1. STOP!
Accidents happen to even the most careful drivers. The immediate shock of an automobile accident may cause feelings of anger and panic. Get control of your emotions and act rationally to assess the situation. Leaving the scene of an accident in Florida can be a felony with a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $5,000.00 fine. There is seldom an excuse for leaving the scene of an accident.

After you determine whether you are injured check and see if anyone else is injured. If someone is seriously injured you have a duty to render aid and call an ambulance. Florida law requires that you to give reasonable assistance to any injured person. However, you should not attempt to provide treatment to someone unless you are trained in first aid. Even with good intentions you may make the injury worse if you do not know what you are doing. Do not move anyone who is badly injured unless there is a danger for greater injury by leaving them alone.

The police usually respond quickly to most accidents but not always to minor ones. They are more likely to be interested in filing an accident report if there were any laws broken, drugs or alcohol involved, injury to anyone, or substantial damage to cars or property. A written report is required by the State of Florida for every accident involving personal injuries or property damage in excess of $500.00. If the police do not come to the scene, you should file your own report by going to a police station or sheriff's office and asking for a "Drivers Report of Traffic Crash" form. The report is simple to fill out, and must be mailed to The Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles, Attention Traffic Crash Records, Tallahassee, Florida 32399. Filing a crash report is especially important if you need to make an uninsured motorist claim with your insurance company.

After the police and ambulance have been called, it is very important to preserve the evidence of exactly what occurred. Unfortunately, as time passes, memories begin to fade, debris and pieces of the wrecked cars may be moved or lost or valuable witnesses may leave the scene. Therefore, it is best to start preserving the evidence as quickly as possible.

This means doing the following:

  • A.

    Find Witnesses: As soon as possible get the names, addresses and phone numbers of anyone who has witnessed the accident. Ask them to write down what they saw or know, or at least have them tell you what they saw so that you can write it down and use the information later. Also try to record where the witnesses were located when the crash occurred. It is surprising and often disappointing to realize that memories fade over time; and if you do eventually go to court, written notes of what a witness said can sometimes make the difference in winning or losing your case.

  • B.

    Exchange Drivers’ Information: Florida law requires that you provide the other driver involved in the accident with your name, address and vehicle registration number, and that you show them your own driver's license. You also need to see their driver's license and record their name, driver's license number and address. It is also important to record their license tag number, registration number, the make, color and year of the other car and to obtain as much information as you can about their insurance. Find out who owns the car and get the names and addresses of all the passengers. They are likely to end up as witnesses to the crash, and they may be needed later for your claim.

  • C.

    Take Photographs: Use your phone to take photographs of the accident that include the damaged vehicles, the streets in all directions, skid marks and traffic signs. Also take pictures of the accident from the direction of travel of each of the cars involved. Video is even better and if someone has been severely injured, photographs of their injuries may be very useful.

  • D.

    Go To The Hospital: You need to see a doctor as soon as possible. Serious injuries do not always show immediate symptoms and it is better to be safe than sorry! By going to a hospital emergency room immediately after the crash, your injuries will be written down by a doctor. In addition, if you have permanent injuries that do not heal and you went to the hospital immediately following the crash, it will be easier for your regular treating physician, your insurance company and the other driver's insurance company to understand that your permanent injury was caused directly by the crash and not caused by another injury you may have suffered prior to or following the crash.

When The Police Arrive: Show the police officer your driver's license, registration and proof of insurance. Remain calm and answer the questions the police officer asks. Explain how the accident occurred, who was where, and what color the traffic lights were, etc. Do not admit fault and if you believe that the other driver was drinking, let the officer know why you think that alcohol was involved.

You will probably be asked if you were wearing your seat belt; therefore, make sure that the police officer includes this information in his report. Furthermore, if you have any injuries, be sure to tell the police officer so that he can include that in his report. Do not forget to write down the police officer's name and ask for the crash report number. Find out when the report can be picked up and always be polite.

Do Not Admit Fault.
Do not comment or volunteer information about the accident to anyone other than the police.
Do not agree to pay for any damages.
Do not sign any papers, especially a release from the insurance company.
However, if you are given a ticket, you need to sign it. This is not an admission of guilt, you are merely acknowledging that you received the ticket.

You need to contact an attorney first and then with the guidance of your attorney, contact your insurance company after the on scene investigation has been completed, usually within 24 hours. You will need to call your insurance company and let them know about the accident and the extent of the damage to all cars, any other property damage and the extent of any known injuries. If you do not report the accident promptly, your insurance company may not honor your policy and may try to deny your claim.

Auto Accidents FAQ’s

Types of Insurance Coverage:

7. What is "PIP"?
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) is Florida's version of No Fault insurance. PIP will pay for your medical bills and/or your lost wages after your deductible has been met. Therefore, even if the accident was completely the other driver's fault, your PIP coverage will still be responsible for paying your medical bills. Likewise, the other driver who caused the accident will also have his medical bills paid by his own insurance company.

The minimum coverage that must be carried to comply with the law is $10,000 of Personal Injury Protection and $10,000 of property damage liability. Personal Injury Protection insurance will pay you a portion of your lost wages and medical bills if you are involved in a motor vehicle accident, regardless of who caused the accident. That is why this law is sometimes referred to as the no fault law.

Under the Personal Injury Protection law, your insurance company must pay 80% of your reasonable and necessary medical bills incurred as a result of a motor vehicle accident. The law also provides that you may recover 60% of your lost wages. The medical benefits cover all reasonable expenses for necessary medical, surgical, x ray, dental and rehabilitative services, including prosthetic devices. Your insurance company will also pay for necessary ambulance, hospital and nursing services. If a death results from the accident, the personal injury protection insurer may have to pay a death benefit under this policy.

When involved in an automobile accident, individuals seeking PIP medical benefits are required to receive initial services and medical care within 14 days after the motor vehicle accident. Initial services and care are only reimbursable if a lawfully provided, supervised, ordered or prescribed by a licensed physician, licensed osteopathic physician, licensed chiropractic physician, licensed dentist, or must be rendered in a hospital, a facility that owns or is owned by a hospital, or a licensed emergency transportation and treatment provider. Follow up services and care requires a referral from such providers and must be consistent with the underlying medical diagnosis rendered when the individual received initial services and care.

The current law requires that if you do not receive medical treatment for your injuries within two weeks after an incident, by any of the providers listed above, you could be precluded from receiving any PIP benefits. Therefore, it is imperative that if you are injured in an automobile accident that you receive medical treatment within the 14 day time frame. In order to receive the full $10,000 PIP of benefits, you must have an "Emergency Medical Condition"

Emergency Medical Condition: In addition, if you do not have an Emergency medical condition,@ you will not be able to receive more than $2,500 in benefits. Florida law defines Emergency medical condition@ as a medical condition that requires immediate medical attention and could reasonably be expected to result in serious jeopardy to the patient’s health.

8.What is liability coverage?
Liability coverage is the portion of your automobile insurance that protects you if another driver or a pedestrian makes a claim against you as a result of a car accident.

9. What is Uninsured Motorist Coverage?
After you exhaust your PIP coverage, if the other driver has no other insurance or if the other driver has insufficient coverage to compensate you for your injury, your uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage will cover the damages caused by the negligent party. If the negligent party was underinsured, your insurance will cover the difference between your losses and the amount you received from the other party=s insurance company.

Attempting to collect compensation through your uninsured motorist coverage can be complicated, and will likely require the assistance of an experienced attorney. Your insurance company will likely try to limit your payout amount, based on their own investigation of the accident and how much they believe your claim is worth. If you receive an amount that you believe does not properly cover your losses, your attorney may be able to file a lawsuit against your insurance company in an attempt to recover additional compensation. For a FREE consultation, call Michael Winer Injury Attorney- (813) 224 0000.

10. What is Property Damage Insurance:
Property Damage Insurance is another mandatory coverage each car must carry, although you can purchase more property damage insurance than is required by law. This covers damages to another vehicle when you are at fault. However, it is very important to remember that Florida law does not require car owners to carry insurance for any bodily injuries. Somehow the legislature has decided that it is more important to repair vehicles than it is to compensate people who have received life long injuries.

11. What is Comprehensive Insurance?
Comprehensive Insurance covers loss or damage to your car resulting from perils such as fire, theft, vandalism, glass breakage, etc.

12. What is Collision Insurance?
Collision Insurance pays for damage to your car caused by impact with another automobile or object.

Next List of Auto Accidents FAQ’s: 1-12 | 13-21

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