According to the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Department, an estimated 200,000 car accidents occur in Florida annually, averaging 650 crashes per day. On top of that, in 2019, some 3,273 people died in automobile accidents in the state. If you were hurt in an auto accident caused by someone else's negligence, you are within your rights to seek fair compensation for your injuries and damages.
At the Law Office Of Mark A. Cornelius P.A., I have been helping victims of car accidents file personal injury claims for more than 25 years. I can lead you through the steps you need to take in order to get the compensation you deserve. Call me today for a free consultation. I proudly serve clients in Altamonte Springs, Florida as well as the surrounding communities throughout Central Florida including Seminole, Orange, Osceola, Volusia, Polk, and Lake Counties.
In the Navy, there’s a saying that “an accident at sea can ruin your entire day.” So too when it comes to automobile accidents. Once you get over the initial shock of being involved in a crash, you need to take several important steps to safeguard yourself and your passengers, and also to document the incident for any liability or injury claims.
The first thing to do when involved in an accident is to pull over to the side of the road, assess your injuries and those of any passengers, and call 911 to seek help. Personal safety comes first, so make sure the injured are fully taken care of.
Other immediate steps include:
Contacting the police and filing a report, which is required under Florida law – also, get a copy of the driver's exchange from the investigating law enforcement officer
Documenting the basic facts: date, time, and place of the accident
Taking photos of all vehicles involved and their damages - you cannot take too many photographs
Writing down or recording your own recollection of what happened
Obtaining the contact information of other parties involved, including name, driver’s license information, license plate number, and insurance verification
Procuring copies of and retaining any medical treatment records
Getting a personal injury/automobile accident attorney involved
The sooner these steps are taken, the easier it will be to obtain the information. With the passage of time, details are forgotten and documentation is more difficult to locate.
Florida automobile insurance requirements are quite low – each driver must carry a policy affording $10,000 in coverage for Property Damage Liability (PD) and another $10,000 for Personal Injury Protection (PIP). PD is for damage to vehicles and other personal property, while PIP is for injury and medical claims. PIP can also be used for wages and income lost as a result of the crash.
PIP is considered "no-fault" coverage. Regardless of who was at fault for the crash, your own insurance company will pay a portion of your medical bills under the PIP provision up to your policy’s limit. However, Florida allows you to file a personal injury claim, above what he PIP covers, against the at-fault driver. Additionally, if you suffer what the state deems a “serious injury” — Florida law will allow you to recover damages for any pain and suffering. Florida statute uses these categories to define serious injury:
Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function
Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, other than scarring or disfigurement
Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement
Florida also uses a system of “comparative negligence,” which assigns fault based on each driver’s percent of negligence in causing the accident. Therefore, even if you are partly at fault for the accident, you can still receive compensation for injuries and damages caused by the other party or parties over and above the PIP.
After being injured in an automobile accident, you need to consider your future as well as your present needs. Florida has a four-year statute of limitations for filing most automobile accident claims. While many want to wait it out and see if they get better, that will be used against you later. The insurance company will claim the injury is not from the accident. Also, if you do not seek treatment within 14 days of the crash you will not be able to recover any PIP benefits for which you paid good money. If you have any injury at all you should seek treatment early in order to maximize your chances at recovery and also to document the injury for the claim.
In addition to any immediate injuries that you may have been treated for, in the long term you may struggle with continuing pain and suffering, or even further medical attention to the initial injuries; your income might be lost or reduced because of the accident; and your social and family life may suffer.
Keep in mind that insurance companies protect their bottom line no matter what, so your initial settlement offer may be too low and not designed to protect you from any lingering or future damaging effects from the accident.
Don’t leave your fate in the hands of insurance companies. You have the right to compensation not only for your immediate situation after an accident but also for your future pain, loss, and suffering. If you’re in the Central Florida communities of Altamonte Springs, Seminole, Volusia, Osceola, Polk, or Lake Counties, contact me, Attorney Mark A. Cornelius, immediately for a free consultation. I can help you seek justice.