If you have been injured in a car accident in Crestview or Fort Walton, what do you need to do first? Should you hire a lawyer? How do you know if the insurance company is offering a fair settlement for your personal injury claim?
If you are asking these questions, you are not alone. Protecting your rights after a car accident is not easy, and Florida has some unique laws when it comes to seeking financial compensation for accident-related losses.
Protecting Your Right to Just Compensation After a Florida Car Accident
1. You May Be Entitled to Compensation from Your Insurance Company.
Under Florida’s “no-fault” insurance law, your first option is usually to file a claim under your own personal injury protection (PIP) policy (this is mandatory coverage in Florida). If you were seriously injured and the driver who hit you was uninsured or underinsured, you may be entitled to coverage under your uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage as well.
2. You May Be Entitled to Compensation from the Other Driver’s Insurance Company.
If you suffered serious and permanent injuries, then you can file a claim against the other driver’s insurance company (assuming the other driver was at least partially at fault). While PIP only provides coverage for medical expenses and lost wages, you can seek full compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurer.
3. Dealing with the Insurance Companies Isn’t Easy.
Dealing with the insurance companies isn’t easy. Even when trying to obtain no-fault coverage under your own PIP policy, you will likely struggle to collect the benefits you deserve. While the insurance companies have an obligation to handle your claim in good faith, they are under no obligation to advise you of your legal rights, and they do not have to help you maximize your financial recovery.
4. You Should See a Doctor Promptly.
Regardless of how you feel, you should see a doctor promptly. The trauma from a car accident can cause lasting damage, and many accident victims do not begin to experience symptoms until several days after being injured. Seeing a doctor promptly is important to your health, and it is critical to protecting your right to just compensation.
5. You Should Not Accept a Settlement Too Soon.
If you have been seriously injured, the at-fault driver’s insurance company may offer you a quick settlement. If you accept a settlement before you know the true cost of your injuries, you may waive your right to seek additional compensation.
6. You May Have (or Be Able to Collect) Critical Evidence.
Evidence is the key to securing just compensation after an auto accident. If you have a fault-based claim against another driver or a claim for a road or vehicle defect, you will need evidence in order to prove both (i) the cause of the accident, and (ii) the extent of your financial and non-financial losses. For more information, we encourage you to read:
- I Was Injured in an Accident. What Now?
- What Types of Evidence are Available in Car Accident Injury Claims?
7. An Experienced Personal Injury Can Help You Collect Just Compensation.
Finally, the best way to protect your rights after a car accident is to hire an experienced personal injury attorney. Your attorney will be able to deal with the insurance companies and collect evidence for you, and he or she will be able to accurately calculate your current and future accident-related losses before you accept a settlement.
Schedule a Free Initial Consultation at Powell, Powell & Powell, P.A.
If you have been injured in an accident and would like to speak with a personal injury lawyer about your rights, we encourage you to contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation. To schedule an appointment at our offices in Crestview, please call (850) 682-2757 or inquire online today.