The Orlando, Florida region is packed with beautiful national parks, stunning gardens, and several famous theme parks. If you are planning on traveling to one of these destinations this summer by car, we recommend brushing up on relevant insurance laws and the car accident settlement process. If you have the unfortunate experience of being in a car accident within the Sunshine State, you’ll be able to take the right steps towards obtaining a car accident settlement during what is a very stressful time.
The First Step: Filing a Police Report
The first step you should take after finding yourself in a car accident is to move to a safe spot on the side of the road. If the accident has resulted in the death of any persons, injury of any persons, or damage to vehicles or property that amounts to greater than $500, you must immediately contact law enforcement as per Florida Statue Sec. 316.065.
A police officer will respond to the scene and talk with all involved in order to submit an official report.
What About Minor Incidents?
If the car accident results in minor vehicle damage and no injuries or death, a police investigation may not be warranted. However, you still must file a crash report within 10 days of the accident [Sec. 316.066], if there is enough damage to warrant a tow truck, if it was a hit and run, if a driver was under the influence, or if a commercial truck was involved.
If there are injuries or death and law enforcement was not called immediately, then a crash report within 10 days is also required.
From here on out, you must provide reasonable assistance to anyone at the scene who is injured and exchange personal, vehicle, and insurance information with all drivers involved. It is a good idea to talk with witnesses and get their names and contact information, document both the road conditions and weather conditions, as well as take photographs with your smartphone of all vehicles.
Medical Attention: Seek It!
Seek immediate medical attention on the scene, even if you don’t believe that you are hurt, as shock and adrenaline can mask symptoms. If you are not transported to the hospital by the medical team responding to the scene, then seek follow-up treatment immediately for an evaluation. Florida’s PIP laws regulate that auto insurance must be carried and that you must seek medical treatment within 14 days after a car accident, otherwise, it is forfeited.
Do not assume responsibility to anyone. The facts may show that you are not at fault.
What Do Florida’s Insurance Laws State?
In Florida, a driver’s medical bills and all related expenses are covered first by their insurance carrier regardless of fault [Sec. 627.731]. This is Florida’s “no-fault” insurance system, which requires you to carry a minimum of $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. You must also carry a minimum of $10,000 in property damage liability insurance as well [Sec. 627.736].
If there is property damage, you can pursue a claim against the at-fault driver through their insurance.
The Second Step: Hire a Car Accident Settlement Lawyer
With Florida’s PIP laws in mind, once you are home safe from the car accident, it is highly recommended that you contact a car accident settlement lawyer. The professionals at Frank M. Eidson will discuss your options with you, take a detailed account of your injuries, and what type of damage was done to the vehicles involved. A detailed account of the car accident with a lawyer can have a major impact on how successful your car accident claim is, as lawyers can protect your legal rights, explain the complexities of the case, retrieve evidence, and deal with insurance companies so that you get a fair settlement.
The Third Step: Reporting the Crash to Your Insurance Company & Substantiating the Claim
Legally, you must report the crash to your insurance company as soon as possible. You should seek compensation from your personal injury protection policy after the crash and do not wait on medical attention. If another driver is at fault, you may pursue a liability claim against their insurer for additional compensation.
It is important at this stage to refer to a car accident settlement lawyer, as speaking with either insurance company may jeopardize your ability to collect a settlement.
To substantiate your claim, extensive documentation is required. This includes medical bills, towing expenses, income statements for lost wages, photographs of the accident, witness statements, expert testimony from doctors about future treatment, and projections on reduced earning potential from sustained injuries.
The Fourth Step: Negotiating a Fair Car Accident Settlement & Acceptance
It is common for insurance companies to make a “low-ball” offer in the hope that you believe that it is fair, as this is in the best interest of the company. Along with this offer, the insurance company will ask you to relinquish your right to seek further compensation, meaning that you will no longer be able to file more claims for the same accident.
It is important to not agree to a car accident settlement without considering the full amount of damages for all losses, expenses, and future medical treatment.
The Fifth & Final Step: A Fair Car Accident Settlement
Once a fair settlement offer has been made to you, you will need to file the paperwork to accept it. If you are using a car accident settlement lawyer like us at Frank M. Eidson, we can help you file the paperwork. The insurance company will then mail the cheque to us, fees and expenses will be deducted, and the rest will be sent to you.
While Florida’s no-fault insurance system can be confusing, scary, and draining after a serious car accident, obtaining a fair car accident settlement is possible. If you have any questions about your case, please contact us for a free case evaluation or email us at: email@example.com.