Personal Injury FAQs
What Should You Do After an Automobile Accident?
- Obtain the name, address and telephone number of the all drivers involved in the accident.
- Obtain each driver’s car insurance company’s name and telephone number, and the policy number, if available.
- Report the accident immediately to the police and your insurance company, regardless of who is at fault.
- Cooperate with the police in preparing an accident report.
- Photograph the vehicles involved in the accident.
- See a physician without delay if you are experiencing pain. Unfortunately, most times the pain will not subside without some treatment.
- Get legal advice before filling out insurance documents or giving recorded statements to any insurance company (even your own company), or meeting with any insurance company representative.
- Photograph your injuries. This will support the magnitude of your injury as bruises and cuts may heal, but tissue beneath the skin may not completely heal.
- Gather all insurance policies in your household for evaluation by an attorney. You may be entitled to insurance coverage for a separate insurance policy.
- Get legal advice before signing any check or document from an insurance company.
- Too often, victims of auto accidents are unaware of what they need to do to protect themselves. They place their trust in the insurance companies to guide them through the process. However, most insurance companies do not have the best interest of their insureds in mind. Speak to an attorney experienced in the area of personal injury and maximize your compensation while minimizing frustration, delay and confusion that almost all accident victims suffer.
Too often, victims of auto accidents are unaware of what they need to do to protect themselves. They place their trust in the insurance companies to guide them through the process. However, most insurance companies do not have the best interest of their insureds in mind. Speak to a Clearwater personal injury attorney and maximize your compensation while minimizing frustration, delay and confusion that almost all accident victims suffer.
Okay, I have chosen and retained an attorney. What happens next?
Most attorneys are careful about making promises or estimating the value of a case in the early stages. That is because the analysis of value of a case involves many variables.
Here is a list of some of the factors that may affect your case:
- Liability: It is a hallmark of our judicial system that the plaintiff (the injured party) has the burden of proving that the other party is at fault. The fact that the other party was cited for an automobile accident is certainly helpful, but it is not dispositive. In other words, you still have to prove that the other party ran the red light.In slip and fall or other so-called “premises liability” cases, proving liability can be more involved and may involve the concept of “comparative negligence.”
- Comparative Negligence: This is the concept in the law that says that for some reason the injured party should bear some percentage of the fault. For instance, if the injured party tripped over a faulty step, but the defendant can show that the injured party knew of the existence of the faulty step and was not watching where he or she was going, then a jury, judge or insurance adjuster could apply a percentage of the total liability for the injuries to the injured party.
- Injuries: A case is not usually ready to move to the demand phase until the injured party’s medical situation has stabilized to the point where it can be said that he has reached maximum medical improvement (MMI). Once you are at MMI, the attorney can work with you to establish the worth of your case.
- Economic Impact of Injuries: Insurance adjusters like to see “hard numbers” before they will write large checks. Examples of “hard numbers” (versus “pain and suffering” numbers which are more subjective) are as follows:
1. Doctor Bills
2. Surgical Bills
3. Missed Employment/Wages Lost
4. Property Damages
This is why it is very important that receipts be provided to your lawyer.
- Pain and Suffering: This is potentially the largest and most difficult part of your case to quantify. That is why a consistent course of medical treatment is important. An insurance adjuster or jury can very justifiably ask, “If the pain was so bad, how come your client only went to the doctor three times?”There are many factors to pain and suffering that impact the value of a case. An avid golfer who can no longer play the game has shown, in a definable way, how the pain has affected his or her life.That is why we recommend that our clients keep a diary detailing how the pain and suffering is affecting them on a daily basis.
- Permanency and Future Damages: In order to recover for pain and suffering, the client generally must establish that the injury is permanent in nature. This is usually proven by a doctor’s letter or testimony at trial. Future damages are then considered and can be affected by the future surgeries, future lost income, future loss of enjoyment of life, etc.
- Pre-existing Injuries: This aspect can really complicate an otherwise simple case. The law is clear that if someone has a condition that makes them more susceptible to injury, then those injuries are awardable. If, however, you have been receiving lower back treatments for years, the lower back injuries sustained may become more of an issue. The question becomes where would the client be but for the accident.
Why should I retain a lawyer right away?
The primary reason to involve an attorney immediately is to protect your rights. For instance, an attorney can promptly dispatch an investigator to document the facts quickly before memories fade and evidence disappears. Further, an attorney can help you wade your way through the medical/legal minefield from the very beginning.