What Steps Should I Take After I Have Been Injured And Need To File A Personal Injury Claim?
At the scene of the accident, the first thing an injured individual should do is get the medical care they need. Calling 911 and the police while at the scene of the accident is highly recommended, even if it is a minor accident and the individual does not feel injured at the time. In Florida, there must be a police report for any case involving over $600 of damages. On the recorded 911 call, individuals should provide as much information as possible, as this will strengthen the credibility of their version of events. If possible, they should document the damage to all vehicles involved (not just their own vehicle), the scene of the accident, the details of anything that the at-fault party said (this could be especially helpful if they admit fault), and the contact information for everyone involved in the accident, as well as all available witnesses. Many people believe that the police will collect contact information from witnesses, but they generally do not, and if they do, it will typically only be from one witness. The more witnesses that corroborate the claimant’s story, the stronger the claimant’s case will be.
In order to trigger PIP benefits in Florida, an injured party must be seen by a doctor within 14 days of the incident; failing to do this effectively waives a right to those benefits. PIP benefits cover a portion of the injured party’s medical expenses regardless of whether they are at fault. This 14-day time limit is very strict, so it is very important to seek care within those 14 days. The at-fault party’s insurance company will contact the injured party almost immediately after the accident. The main reason for this is to obtain a recorded statement, which the injured party does not have a duty to and should not provide. This is because the insurance company may try to use anything the injured party says against them. For example, if the insurance company calls the morning after the accident, before the injured party begins to feel pain from the accident, then the injured party might report that they feel okay. The insurance company will use this as evidence that the party was not hurt in the accident. When the party’s neck, back, or head starts to hurt a few days later, the insurance company will already have a defense against the claim.
One of the attorneys I work with had a client who was also an attorney but who did not practice personal injury law. After hitting his head in an auto accident, the client was not feeling himself and was not thinking normally. The insurance company called him right after the accident and obtained a recorded statement of him saying he was not hurt and immediately sent him a release to sign. Unfortunately, he agreed to accept a very small amount of money in exchange for releasing the at-fault party during the phone call. The reason he was agreeing to this was because he had hit his head and was not in his right mind. This all could have been avoided if had not provided a recorded statement in the first place. The best practice is to not speak with the at-fault party’s insurance company, or to only report the claim to them and not discuss anything about injuries. An individual is under no obligation to discuss their injuries, and insurance companies’ representative should respect those wishes.
In accordance with auto insurance policies, injured parties have a duty to cooperate with their own insurance company, which means they need to report the claim to them. The injured party can still request not to discuss their injuries at that time; they can simply give the very basic details of what occurred, say that they are going to hire an attorney, and say that they do not feel comfortable discussing their injuries at that time. The insurance company will give the claimant a claim number, and the claimant can then meet with their attorney to determine whether to proceed with the claim. Anyone who has been injured and needs to file a claim in Florida should have a consultation with an attorney to discuss their case and move forward in an informed manner. Most consultations of this nature are free of charge.
For more information on Steps Prior To Filing A Personal Injury Claim, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (727) 900-7324 today.
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