AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENTS

Injury claims related automobile accident are the most common type of personal injury lawsuit filed in Florida.  However, despite the prevalence of such lawsuits, the pursuit and litigation of an automobile accident claim can be very complex.  Also, the proper diagnosis and care for injuries resulting from an automobile accident is crucial to achieving an appropriate and just resolution to the claim.  Some of the most often asked questions about automobile accident claims include the following:

What should I do immediately following an automobile accident?

Following an accident, the most important factor is your safety.  If you or anyone involved in the accident is in need of emergency medical assistance, you should call 911 immediately.  If no one is in need of emergency medical assistance, you should call the police to report the accident, and wait for the police in a location safe from traffic.  Do not discuss the circumstances of the accident with anyone other than a law enforcement officer.  Make sure the law enforcement officer provides you with a copy of the exchange of information form before leaving the scene of the accident.  Finally, once you are in a safe place, you should report the accident to your insurance company.  Even if you are not severely injured, you should not delay in seeking medical attention and legal advice.

If I am not injured, do I need an attorney?

If you are not injured, and the only consequence of the accident is minor property damage to the vehicles involved, you may not need an attorney.  However, if you have suffered a physical injury, you will most likely need the assistance of a personal injury attorney.  The biggest mistake someone can make following an automobile accident is to assume that they have not suffered any injury, and, therefore, not seek any medical care.  Even worse, any potential claim can be prejudiced by making a statement to an insurance company denying that you have been injured.  At the time of the accident, adrenaline may serve to mask pain associated with injuries.  Also, some people will ignore post accident aches and pains with the hope that their symptoms will resolve with time and rest.   However, ignoring your symptoms and/or delaying treatment could impact your claim, and, more importantly, limit your ability to recover medical benefits for your injuries.   It is always prudent to speak with a personal injury attorney about your claim.

What is PIP, and how does it affect my claim?

PIP stands for “Personal Injury Protection,” and it is the only type of insurance an owner of an automobile is required to have in the state of Florida.  PIP insurance is a form of “no-fault” coverage which provides the intended beneficiaries with up to $10,000.00 in medical benefits. An injured person’s right to recover PIP benefits is unrelated to his or her fault in causing the accident.  However, the amount of benefits an injured person may recover can be reduced if he or she fails to seek medical treatment, and be certified to have suffered an “emergency medical condition,” within 14 days of the accident.  In order to be eligible to seek maximum benefits under a PIP policy, it is imperative to seek competent and timely medical treatment for you injuries.

Do I have to pay anything upfront to my attorney?

In the vast majority of cases, a personal injury attorney will represent an automobile accident victim under a “contingency fee contract.”  Under such an agreement, the attorney shall only receive a fee from money recovered on your behalf.  Also, the attorney will cover all expenses associated with the claim, such as court mandated filing fees, which shall be reimbursed from any money recovered on your behalf.  The Florida Supreme Court has approved a fee schedule for injury cases that, generally, provides for an attorney fee of 33 1/3% for pre-litigation settlements, and 40% for any resolution during litigation.

If am issued a ticket for the accident, am I prevented from pursuing a claim?

Having been issued a ticket does not impact your ability to pursue a claim for injuries.  Under Florida law, the police report, statements made to a police officer about an accident, and the fact that a ticket was issued are all, generally, inadmissible in court.  Since the officer did not witness the accident, he or she will not be permitted to render an opinion as to who was a fault in causing the accident.  Any determination as to fault will be made by a jury after considering all the relevant and admissible evidence.  Also, even if you are at fault for the accident, you are entitled to up to $10,000.00 in personal injury protection (PIP) benefits from your own insurance company.

What is the time limitation for pursuing an automobile accident claim?

Florida statue §95.11(3) requires that any action arising from a claim of negligence must be brought within four (4) of the incident.  This includes any claim for injuries arising from an automobile accident.  Notwithstanding the filing deadline, there are other, more immediate deadlines, which can significantly impact an accident victim’s benefits.  In particular, recent changes in Florida law requires that an accident victim have their injury certified as an “emergency medical condition” within 14 days of the accident causing the injuries or their medical benefits under their personal injury protection policy (PIP) shall be significantly limited.  Under the new law, it is now imperative that an accident victim seek medical attention for their injuries as soon as possible in order to preserve their right to future medical benefits.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

If you have suffered an injury as a result of any type of motor vehicle accident, you should not delay in seeking immediate medical care and legal advice.  Mark A. Glassman, Esq., has over 20 years of experience in handling automobile accident claims, including accidents involving trucks, motorcycles and commercial vehicles.  Further, the firm has access to a network of experts, such as accident reconstruction specialists, to ensure an appropriate and thorough review of your potential claim.  Please contact Mr. Glassman toll free by phone (844-USA-LAWS) or by e-mail Mark@USALawsuits.com , to discuss your potential claim.