Sarasota Edition

IN AN AUTO ACCIDENT? NOW WHAT?

By Carl Reynolds Attorney at Law –

car accidentChances are you have been involved, either as a driver or a passenger, in an automobile accident (maybe more than one) in your lifetime. In Florida alone, there are, on average, 250,000 traffic accidents each year – that’s 685 each day or 29 each hour.

With these odds, the likelihood of you being involved in an auto accident is reasonably high. Knowing what the law requires you to do in the event you are involved in an accident can benefit you both emotionally and financially. Review and remember the following steps (more than once if needed) so that you can easily recall what you should do if you ever find yourself involved in one of the 685 automobile accidents that occur in Florida each day.

1. STOP YOUR VEHICLE. The law requires that you stop at the accident scene. You could be criminally prosecuted for leaving the scene of an automobile accident.

2. REPORT THE ACCIDENT. Call 911. Also, ask for emergency medical assistance. It is always a good idea to ask for medical assistance at the scene, just to be safe and sure. In addition, recent changes to Florida No-Fault Law require medical treatment within fourteen (14) days to qualify for PIP insurance coverage. Furthermore, unless an “Emergency Medical Condition” is diagnosed, insurance coverage is capped at $2,500 instead of $10,000.

3. GATHER INFORMATION AND WRITE IT DOWN. Exchange contact info (names, addresses and phone number), get the year, make, model, license plate number, insurance carrier and insurance policy number for all vehicles involved. Identify any witnesses to the accident and gather their contact information.

4. TAKE PICTURES. If you have a camera in your possession (or a mobile device that has photography capabilities), take photos of the damage to the vehicle, accident scene (traffic, weather, road conditions) and people involved. Also, take pictures of any injuries you have suffered, including cuts, abrasions (scrapes) and contusions (bruises).

5. CONTACT AN ATTORNEY. You should seek legal advice to find out what your rights and potential liabilities are and to determine if it is in your best interest to hire an advocate who can negotiate on your behalf with the insurance companies involved. Remember, insurance companies are in business to collect premiums, not to pay claims. By hiring an attorney, you are not being litigious—you are simply protecting your rights.

In fact, in a majority of the claims we handle, a lawsuit is never required. Many claims settle via skilled and aggressive negotiations.

You may not be aware, but the Florida No-Fault Law indicates that if a resident of Florida is injured in a traffic accident, the injured victim’s own insurance company pays medical expenses and lost wage benefits, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. That is to say, with basic No-Fault coverage, termed Personal Injury Protection (PIP), your insurance company pays medical expenses at 80% and compensates you 60% of your average gross wages should you be unable to work because of injuries, no matter who is at fault for the accident. However, there are time constraints regarding when treatment is administered and the severity of the injuries sustained.

If you have any questions or if you or a loved one has recently been involved in an automobile accident, call our office at 747-3300 today. Don’t wait until it is too late! You will meet face-to-face with us, personally, at your home, doctor’s office, hospital or place of business. We will come to you. Call us at 747-3300 to set an appointment for a free consultation.

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