Getting into a car accident is one of the most difficult and stressful events anyone can face — in Florida or any other state. After making sure everyone is safe, there are also property damage and long-term medical issues to contend with. Due to these and other causes, you may have been given the advice to always “lawyer up” after an accident, but is it really always necessary?
Especially if you have been in a minor accident, it can be easy to think that filing a police report, making an insurance claim, and seeing a doctor are things you can do on your own without consulting with a lawyer.
While there are some situations where you may want to go it alone, in many more cases, having an experienced attorney in your corner is your best bet after an accident. The following guide will explain the benefits of hiring an attorney after a car accident in Florida for different situations, so you can make an informed and confident choice.
5 Reasons to Get a Lawyer After a Car Accident in Florida
When in doubt, call a personal injury attorney and get your questions answered. Any lawyer should provide a free consultation so you can know if your case needs legal representation. Here are some of the primary reasons why people end up working with a lawyer after a car accident.
1. An Attorney Can Help Ensure Full Compensation for Medical Costs
Florida requires auto insurance policies to include Personal Injury Protection (PIP). The great news is that your own insurance would cover 80% of your medical bills and a portion of your lost wages, up to $10,000.00. This is the case regardless of who was at fault for the accident.
The bad news is that you only have 14 days to file a claim. This means that if you feel OK right after the accident, but start getting neck pain 15 days later, you can’t receive coverage from your own policy. You’d have to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party if there was one. In any event, your attorney will conduct an investigation into the case and work to ensure you receive the medical coverage you deserve.
2. An Attorney Can Help Protect You
If you have costs that exceed the $10,000 PIP, you may be able to file a personal injury claim against the person who caused the accident. A personal injury attorney has experience gathering the necessary facts, including preservation of evidence, deposing witnesses, and subpoenaing information from the other parties involved in the accident.
You would also have someone watching out for your own interests when the attorney from the at-fault party’s insurance company tries to minimize your damages or make it seem like you may be exaggerating things.
3. Attorneys Have Experience Working with Insurance Companies
Sometimes, a legitimate claim may get denied by an insurance company. Other times, the at-fault party’s insurance will accept the claim but will undervalue it. A personal injury attorney will likely know the reasons for the denial or undervaluation and will know the next steps to take to ensure that you still have a chance at collecting an adequate amount of compensation.
4. An Attorney Can Focus on the Case While You Focus on Life
If you do things on your own, you’d probably be thinking about the present: your current medical condition or the costs of repairing your car. A lawyer will also take into account future loss of wages, and pain and suffering caused by your injuries. They can focus their considerable knowledge and expertise on investigating the case while you are dealing with these stressful life events. Having an attorney means peace of mind that you will be covered.
5. An Attorney Will Walk You Through Your Full Options for Settlement or Court Proceedings if Needed
The majority of accidents are settled out of court, but once you take a settlement offer, it will limit or prevent you from taking further action. Having an experienced attorney in your corner will help you understand the full implications of any settlement offer and whether it is fair compensation for your case.
If a case ever does need to go to court, it is extremely important to have an attorney at your side. The other side can prevent or seriously delay any lawsuit with motions and countersuits. By having a lawyer you know and trust, you can ensure that your case will be represented fairly and accurately before the judge.
Are There Instances When You Don’t Need a Lawyer?
Florida law doesn’t require you to hire an attorney after a car accident. In fact, there are several instances when hiring one may not be necessary. These include:
- Accidents of a minor impact, with no apparent damage
- When the other party admits fault and pays for damages
- When the damage is minor and you filed a claim with our own PIP insurance
The Benefits of Working With an Experienced Accident Attorney
Once again, when in doubt, always consult with an attorney. If there was a significant impact and you feel like you weren’t injured, you may still have internal injuries, delayed onset injuries, or you may have aggravated an existing issue, such as herniated discs or muscle spasms. And if that is the case, it’s crucial to file your claim as early as possible to ensure maximum recovery for your medical costs and potential lost wages.
In addition, even if you thought the accident was minor, the other party may still file a claim against you. In that case, don’t make any statements to the other party, their insurance company, or their attorney. As soon as you get notification of litigation, schedule a consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney and have the other party contact the lawyer once you hire them. This is the best way to ensure that nothing you say is used against you later on as a partial admission of fault.
An experienced personal injury attorney will know which questions to ask as well as how to move forward. For example, if the other party is claiming injuries after the accident, your lawyer can request medical records and statements from anyone involved. The goal is to get the compensation you are entitled to for any sustained injuries or property damage, limiting your liability.
Contact St. Petersburg Car Accident Attorneys at Clark Law for a Free Consultation
No matter how much you read online about how the legal system works, every case is different. A particular set of circumstances may allow one party to recover more than another.
The only way to know is by talking about your case with an experienced personal injury attorney. At Clark Law, we’ll know the best course of action to take. Contact us to find out how to move forward. When dealing with potential medical costs, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney/client relationship.