After a car accident in Florida, take immediate action. When accidents result in injury or $500 or more in damage, inform law enforcement. Since this is a fairly low damage threshold, it stands to reason most accidents will require police notification.
Another important note is that insurance companies have different requirements for reporting accidents. After a car accident, review your policy to determine your insurer’s requirements so you do not jeopardize your claim. You can also hire a car accident lawyer.
No two accidents are the same. Victims may be children, college students, or senior citizens. Every person will have different injuries, face different physical recovery times, and face different challenges when filing insurance claims. Across Florida alone, more than 12,000 victims suffer serious injuries annually on our roadways. These victims are often unaware of what they will go through following a car accident.
Recovery Periods Following a Car Accident
There are three different recovery periods that you will go through after a car accident. They are physical, mental, and financial. Each of these recovery periods is dependent on the other, although many victims of car accidents are unaware of how they tie together. Let’s look at the stages of recovery that most victims will experience.
Physical Changes Following a Car Accident
While some car accident victims know the extent of their injuries immediately, this is not always the case. Some accident victims will not know how seriously they are injured for days or even weeks following an accident.
A car accident victim should watch for:
Unexplained neck, back, or shoulder pain
Difficulty sleeping or restlessness
Dizziness or blurry vision
Lack of concentration
Unexplained mood swings
These symptoms could demonstrate that you have an undiagnosed injury because of a car accident. Because of the stress your body undergoes during the accident, it is common for your system to flood with adrenaline to protect you from pain. This is one of the reasons all car accident victims need to seek medical attention immediately and watch for changes to their bodies following an accident.
Do Not Ignore Emotional Issues After a Car Accident
We seldom think of the emotional and mental aspects of being involved in a car accident. Yes, it is highly stressful; after all, you are uncertain about your injuries, probably late getting somewhere, and concerned about your family. However, many people do not realize that there are victims who go through serious emotional issues following a serious car accident.
Post-traumatic stress disorder, difficulty sleeping, and unusual fears can often result from the trauma suffered in a serious car accident. These are serious issues that can lead to depression, anxiety, and additional stress, which can hamper physical recovery from an accident.
Seeking Help Following an Accident for Physical and Emotional Trauma
Victims often seek medical attention following a car accident. There are some important things to be aware of following the initial visit with a doctor.
Some of these include:
Being aware of unexpected changes, especially new or unexplained pain
The importance of following a doctor’s instructions
The importance of following up on all visits and recommendations
Emotional issues are more complicated to deal with. While some things are common following a car accident, such as reliving the experience, having nightmares, and feeling fearful about being in a vehicle, these should wane in the days following an accident. If they do not, it is always a good idea to reach out to a mental health professional for guidance about what steps to take to heal emotionally.
While most accident victims are tempted to file their insurance claim immediately following an accident, this could potentially mean they will not be able to claim full recovery for their injuries. Contacting a Florida car accident lawyer before filing a claim could prevent a costly mistake.
Financial Recovery Following Car Accidents
Florida has specific rules about what types of insurance drivers must have before it is legal to operate on our roadways.
Liability coverage for bodily injury – $10,000 per person and $20,000 per crash
Property damage liability – $10,000 per crash
Personal injury protection (PIP) – $10,000 per person, per crash
Because Florida is considered a no-fault insurance state, the victim will have to file a claim with their own insurance company. The advantage of no-fault insurance is that, in most cases, the car accident victim will get compensated quickly based on their coverage.
No-fault coverage typically covers:
Medical expenses – PIP coverage includes payment for up to 80 percent of medical expenses associated with the accident. Treatment must be considered necessary and reasonable, and amounts cannot exceed the policy limits.
Wages lost – Victims may recover up to 60 percent of their wages if they are injured and unable to work. This coverage will be based on a victim’s income during the 13 weeks before the accident resulting in their injury. Coverage may also be provided if a victim is required to miss work for doctor appointments or treatment related to their injury.
A death benefit is also associated with PIP coverage, and covers up to $5,000 should you lose a loved one in a Florida car accident.
Accident victims should be aware that if they do not seek medical treatment within 14 days of an accident, they may not be eligible for compensation under their PIP policies.
Even Your PIP Insurance May Deny Your Claim
Most auto accident victims believe that if they were involved in an accident and they file a claim, the insurance company will simply pay the claim. This is not accurate in any manner. Even with PIP coverage, insurers will search for ways to deny claims.
Some reasons for PIP denials include:
Treatment is not reasonable or necessary
The deadline passed to file a claim
Injuries were not an emergency and therefore did not qualify for compensation
Resulted from a preexisting condition
The policy did not cover damages
Anyone who has had a claim denied by their insurance company should immediately contact a personal injury lawyer to find out what legal options they have. This is important because the time to appeal an insurance denial may be shorter than you think.
When Financial Losses Exceed Policy Limits
When someone has suffered a serious injury in a car accident on Florida roadways, the expenses and losses they incur may be higher than their policy limits. It may be possible to file a third-party claim against the other driver’s policy in some cases.
These instances include:
When the injury is permanent – When a doctor informs a car accident victim that their injury will not get any better regardless of how it is treated, it may be possible to file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurer.
Irreparable bodily function damage – Victims who have suffered an injury that results in loss of a bodily function may also file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
Permanent scarring or disfigurement – Some victims may be forced to live with facial scarring or may lose a limb due to the injury they suffered in a car accident. These cases may allow them to pursue a claim outside the no-fault coverage in Florida.
Every injury case is unique. Victims can seek guidance to determine if their injuries meet the serious injury threshold from experienced car accident lawyers.
Understanding Third-Party Car Accident Claims
To file a third-party claim against an at-fault driver, one must first be able to demonstrate that the third-party was at fault for the accident.
Obtaining any available video, either at retail establishments or traffic cameras
While it may be possible for an accident victim to secure this information on their own, in some instances, it may not be possible. In those cases, it would be more helpful to have an experienced lawyer working for them to help them obtain the information they need to demonstrate the other driver was at fault.
Why Liability Matters in Car Accident Cases
While no-fault coverage does offer an accident victim the ability to file a claim with their own insurance company, not every accident victim will have sufficient coverage to cover their losses.
In addition, there are areas where a victim cannot collect compensation through their insurance, including:
Compensation for pain and suffering
Expenses associated with necessary home renovations to accommodate their accident related injuries
Required future medical care due to injuries
Lost future income because of injury
As you can see, the need to demonstrate liability is important to a victim attempting to get their life back on track and make sure their family is not suffering financially because of their injury.
Proving Liability in Car Accident Cases in Florida
Proving liability requires proving that another party was responsible for the accident and that the victim suffered financially.
Here are the basics of liability:
Duty of care – The first rule is that the driver owed the victim a duty of care. This is straightforward because every driver on the roadway owes other drivers, pedestrians, and passengers in other vehicles a duty of care. Drivers must control their vehicles and follow traffic, safety, and speed rules.
The driver breached their duty of care – A driver who operated a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs, while distracted, or violated traffic rules breached their duty to others.
Proximate causation – If not for the at-fault driver’s breach of their duty of care, the victim would not have suffered an injury. One of the reasons for seeking medical attention immediately after an auto accident is to ensure that the victim does not suffer any additional injury but also to document the injuries.
The victim suffered damages – Medical records, medical bills, and other financial losses must show the victim suffered damages due to the car accident.
Car Accident Victims Need a Strong Advocate
When a car accident injures someone, the more serious the injury, the more they need an advocate on their side. Contacting an experienced personal injury lawyer committed to ensuring that victims understand their legal options and rights following a car accident can help victims recover financially after an accident.
Because of the complications associated with no-fault insurance, the best time to reach an attorney is as soon as a victim is physically able to do so following an accident.
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