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If you or someone you know has been injured or killed in an auto accident due to the negligence of another, you need to contact an experienced car accident lawyer immediately. Negligence on the road is unacceptable, especially when it leads to the injury of another.
At the DeWitt Law Firm we understand the time following an auto accident can be worrisome for most people. Auto accidents are unpredictable, many times unavoidable and can often have devastating consequences for those involved and their loved ones. While those injured may be eligible for benefits under Florida law, including benefits for lost wages, medical expenses and even pain and suffering; the process for recovering these damages can be difficult and confusing for those unfamiliar with it.
If you or a loved one has been involved in an auto accident, it is important to avoid allowing an unfortunate event to turn into a disastrous one by failing to inform yourself of your rights. Most people will be unfamiliar with the process of making an insurance claim following a car crash and can easily be taken advantage of by insurers. Many times, even low impact accidents can cause serious, lasting injuries. All too often those suffering from these chronic injuries do not realize the nature of the injuries and prematurely enter into a settlement with an insurer that fails to provide for future medical care and treatment that may be necessary.
Recent changes in Florida’s No Fault laws now require that you seek medical care and treatment within 14 days of being involved in an accident, or risk losing benefits you would otherwise be entitled to under your own policy. Even the medical care provider you choose may have an impact on your available benefits. When you contact our firm, you will have the opportunity to speak directly with one of our auto attorneys who can guide you through the initial process and help you avoid potential pitfalls that insurers may use to deny your claim, as well as answer any questions you may have.
Our experience dealing with insurance adjusters and insurance defense lawyers will help ensure you are fully and completely compensated for your injuries. We will investigate your claim and represent your best interest in dealing with insurance companies on your behalf while you focus on your recovery. Our dedicated auto accident attorneys provide free consultations to discuss your case and provide answers to the many questions you may have. We will guide you through the process, provide you with advice and assist you in recovering all the money you are entitled to.
After you have been involved in an accident, you should seek medical treatment as soon as possible. Florida Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage requires that you receive initial treatment from a physician, nurse practitioner, or clinic within 14 days from the date of your accident. Unless you have received critical or serious injuries that require emergency treatment, your natural instinct is probably to make an appointment with your family physician. Unfortunately, most primary care physicians will not see patients if it is for treatment related to injuries from an automobile accident, even if you have been a longstanding patient with their practice.
Primary care physicians typically won’t see auto accident victims because:
1. Most primary care physicians are not accustomed to treating auto accident injuries. Your primary care physician handles a lot of illnesses and injuries every day, but probably not the kind of injuries sustained in car accidents. Whiplash, bulging discs, and soft tissue injuries require proper diagnosis, care, and documentation. It’s crucial to get the proper diagnosis and treatment of your injuries from someone who is specifically qualified to do so.
2. Some doctors cannot properly bill for the visit. When you are injured in a car accident your medical treatment is covered by your insurance policy’s Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. PIP billing can be complicated, which means many primary care physician offices often choose not to see patients who will be covered by PIP. In addition to the fact that accident injuries may not be their primary area of focus, it makes sense to seek treatment from a car accident specialist.
An insurance company could hire a private investigator to follow you, if they believe that you are exaggerating your injuries or not being truthful about your injuries. If you are caught on camera playing sports or engaging in activities that negate your claim, the video could be admissible in court and may significantly hurt your case. The best policy is to always be open and honest with both your doctors and your accident lawyer regarding your injuries and your treatment. It is important to not over exaggerate or under exaggerate your injuries. If you have any pain or discomfort, you must convey that information to the doctor. As long as you are being honest with your doctor and accident attorney, you should have nothing to worry about. However, you never want to be in a situation where the defense attorney is able to impeach your credibility by showing a video of you doing an activity that you previously testified you were unable to perform because of your injuries. When it comes to any injury or accident case, honesty is always the best policy.
After being injured in a car accident it is important that you speak to an attorney who takes the time to evaluate your case and walk you through the process. Being injured in an auto accident can be a confusing and stressful time. Hiring an attorney to help assist you with your case should help alleviate some of the stress. When speaking to an attorney regarding your car accident, he or she should be able to speak intelligently as to the type of compensation you may be entitled to receive from the at-fault party. However, the attorney will not be able to give you a proposed monetary number until he or she reviews the medical reports, the recommendations of the treating physician, and the policy limits of the at-fault driver. Once the attorney receives the medical records, he or she should keep you informed with the status of your case and advise you of the status of any demands that are submitted to the insurance company.
It is important to discuss the fee structure with your attorney, so that there are no surprises down the road. Typically, most personal injury attorneys receive 33 1/3 % to 40% of the settlement or judgment proceeds up to the first million dollars recovered. The percentage varies depending on whether the opposing party admits liability and at what point during pre-suit or litigation the case is resolved. While this fee structure is standard, as a client, it is important that you also understand that the attorneys will also be reimbursed for any costs that he or she expends. For example, if the attorney pays to receive a copy of your medical records, hire an expert witness, or pay a filing fee, these costs will be deducted from your proceeds.
Additionally, other companies may have a subrogation lien against your settlement proceeds. For example, in car accident cases, a chiropractor, doctor, health insurance provider, disability insurance provider, or other company may have a lien against the proceeds you receive from your settlement or judgment. These liens typically originate from a doctor or chiropractor who provided services to you or a third party company, such as a health or disability insurance company, that provided payments on your behalf. Your attorney must negotiate and pay off the outstanding liens as part of resolving your claim.
When considering whether to accept a settlement, you should always request a proposed settlement statement from your attorney, so that you can see the costs and subrogation liens that will be deducted from your settlement. This will allow you to see an estimate of the net proceeds that you are to receive. There is nothing worse than receiving an unexpected surprise at the end of your case.
Unfortunately, not all attorneys have the skills and experience to handle an auto accident case. Many attorneys do not actively litigate cases. Additionally, many attorneys may not have the resources to take a case to trial, as litigation can be expensive and time consuming. When seeking the best car accident attorney for your case, it is important that you ask whether the attorney is a litigator and whether he or she would be willing to take your case to trial, if necessary. While most cases are resolved prior litigation, typically, the client gets the best result when the insurance company knows that your attorney is willing and able to take the case to trial.
If an attorney makes any promises, it should always be a red flag to seek a second opinion. While an experienced attorney should be able to discuss the type of compensation that you may be entitled to receive, it is unethical for an attorney to guarantee a result to a prospective client. If an attorney makes a guarantee or promises that he or she will get you a certain amount of money, it should always be a red flag to seek a second opinion. Further, when selecting an attorney it is always important that you chose someone you feel comfortable with. Make sure he or she promptly returns phone calls, answers emails, and is willing to help guide you through this process. While being injured in a car accident is never a pleasant experience, having an experienced advocate by your side will help ensure that the process is as smooth as possible.