What to Do if You Experience a Car Accident Personal Injury in West Palm Beach
Being in a car accident can be one of the most traumatic occurrences in your life. One of the first things that you will experience is a sense of confusion. What should you do? Who can assist you? If a car accident personal injury is involved, what steps do you need to take? In this article, we are going to present you with a comprehensive guide in order to answer these questions.
In West Palm Beach, according to a 2010 census, 99,919 people were living in an environment in which vehicle transportation is found everywhere. Needless to say, that number has increased, since then. Consider the fact that over 6 million car accidents occur in the U.S. annually, with West Palm Beach as a hotspot for vacationers and travelers. This boils down into a situation in which there are a large number of unfamiliar drivers in West Palm Beach, who are involved with automobile accident scenarios.
While most car accidents result in property damage, three million people in the U.S. suffer injuries in car accidents with two million experiencing permanent, life-changing injury. In addition, 20% of car accidents involving personal injury also involve fatalities. Here’s what you should do when you have become involved in a car accident.
- Stay Put! – No matter how minor the accident, never leave the scene until everything has been reported and officially documented.
- Keep the Scene Safe – Set up road flares, if you can. Leave your flashers on. During the dark hours, if your car lights are no longer working, use a flashlight to indicate your presence on the roadside.
- Contact the Police – No matter what the situation, you should contact the police. Police reports are essential when filing insurance claims. While waiting for the authorities, ensure that the vehicles are kept where they are. However, move them if they are in the way of traffic.
- Provide an Accurate Account – Be very careful to report exactly what happened to the officer who is investigating the accident scene. If you are unaware of certain facts, report that to the officer, as well. Don’t make anything up or guess at anything. When you are asked if you have been injured, always say that you’re “not sure”. The reason for this has to do with the fact that injuries may appear well after the accident has occurred (whiplash, back sprains etc.). In addition, the shock of being in an accident can have an effect on your perceptions. You should also ensure that the other part is making accurate statements, as well.
- Take a Good Number of Photos – Fortunately, these days, cell phones are often equipped with a camera. In any case, if you have a camera at your disposal, take a substantial number of photos from every angle of the accident scene. This includes the surrounding landscape and injuries as well as the vehicles, themselves. However, don’t get in the way of the investigating officer. If you don’t have a camera, take photos as soon as you are able to secure one.
- Exchanging Information – The investigating officer is tasked with obtaining the basic information for their report. However, you will want to make sure that they have questioned any witnesses to the car accident personal injury site, as well. It can be important that your attorney is able to contact any witnesses in the future. You will also want to make sure that you have been given the police report identification number
- Immediately Report the Accident – Your insurance company should be notifies as soon as possible. Determine if you have any medical coverage, as well.
- Seek Immediate Medical attention – As mentioned earlier, medical issues that are car accident personal injury related may not always be immediately apparent. Attorneys have reported that many car accident-related clients have reported feeling the greatest pain within 24-48 hours of the actual accident event. Therefore, you should seek medical evaluation and attention from either your family doctor or the local hospital emergency room. If an injury is not treated, serious medical complications may arise.
- Create a File for the Accident – Any information that you have, concerning your accident should all be kept in one place. This includes any expenses that have resulted from the accident, car rental receipts, claim adjuster information, attorney information along with all names and contact information of those involved with your accident.
- Make Sure to Protect Your Rights – Above all, you should consult an attorney. Before making any statements or signing anything for your insurance company, meet with an attorney. An attorney will try to ensure that an insurance company will not prevent you from receiving the maximum compensation that you are owed. Also, an attorney will work for you in order to try and obtain the best medical care and vehicle compensation. Since a personal injury attorney will work on a contingency fee basis, you won’t have to worry about a legal fee if no compensation is provided for your car accident personal injury.
It should be noted that Florida is considered a no-fault state, this means that it doesn’t matter who is considered to be at fault for a car accident when treating under your personal injury benefits “PIP”. Because of this, each individual’s own car insurance is generally required to pay personal injury benefits “PIP” for certain damages and injuries that may have resulted from an automobile accident. In Florida, each driver is mandated to carry an automobile insurance policy with PIP coverage. This policy is required to cover a minimum amount of $10,000 in PIP benefits per crash, per person.
For car accidents in Florida, you would normally file your personal injury claim using your PIP (personal injury protection) coverage. But for serious and/or permanent injuries, you may file a claim against the other driver. You also have the option of filing a lawsuit. Additionally, when it comes to personal injury cases, in most cases, you will have a period of four years (from the accident’s date) to file a Florida civil court’s lawsuit (see: Florida Statutes Annotated section 95.11(3)).
When it comes to “no fault” insurance laws that pertain to West Palm Beach, car accident injury claims can be complicated and a bit difficult to understand. The reason for this has to do with the fact that you are required to notify and cooperate with your own insurance company pursuant to your automobile insurance contract. We suggest you do this with the guidance of a Florida personal injury attorney. We have also seen issues arise regarding the seriousness of an injury and whether it falls outside of Florida’s PIP laws. This is also where a Florida personal injury attorney can assist.
First of all, the insurance company should generally start their investigation once they have received notice of your accident or loss.
When discussing legal matters, the term “fault” is often misunderstood. It translates into an individual that has caused harm through their own carelessness that can be considered “negligence”. This means that they will then need to be responsible for paying compensation for all injuries and other determined losses.
There are cases in which the individual that you are trying to blame for your car accident personal injury may decide to accuse you of causing the accident (or at least that you’re partly to blame). Should this be determined as factual, it can affect the amount of compensation that you will receive from the other no-fault parties.
In cases such as these, Florida has a "pure comparative negligence rule". This means that your compensation will undergo a reduction that is in line with the percentage of the accident that you have been determined to be responsible for.
An example would be a situation in which the other individual ran a traffic light and caused the accident. However, it was also determined that you were speeding, when the accident occurred. In this particular case, it was decided that you are 10% responsible for the fault of the accident. Therefore, it’s determined that you are ten percent responsible and the other party is 90 percent responsible. If the damages, in this case, add up to $7,000, then under the Florida comparative negligence rule, your compensation will be reduced by 10% (or, in this case, $700). Therefore, your total compensation will now be $6,300 (which is $7,000 minus the $700 that is 10% of the fault that you are responsible for).
This is an extremely important point to consider. Since Florida courts are obligated to adhere to this rule, you could be facing this situation from an insurance adjuster when settlement talks are underway. Because of this, it can be quite valuable to have an attorney represent you in this situation.
You’ve just been in an accident in West Palm Beach, Florida. At this point, you probably have a number of questions regarding your car accident personal injury. Is your injury a common one? Should you even consider pursuing a claim? Perhaps, your injury appears minor and you are reluctant to take the time in order to file a claim. You find that you have some pain, after the accident, but will it just go away? Here are some things to consider.
In many cases, the injury that you’ve suffered may take a number of days to truly reveal just how serious it actually is. Neglecting to receive treatment can cause these injuries to become much worse over time. For example, a small pain in your back may develop into a situation in which your range of motion is eventually affected. Suddenly, everyday tasks are now affected and you can no longer go to work. Or that small headache that you are experiencing is really the sign of brain injury obtained in your accident’s impact that will eventually affect you in many different ways.
There are also injuries that won’t readily appear on an x-ray and an insurance company will often try to dispute your claim if you haven’t sought out medical treatment immediately after your car accident. Imagine being told that you don’t have a medical claim while you are experiencing severe pain and suffering. A personal injury attorney can assist you in formulating strategies regarding your car accident-related injuries and attempt to connect them directly to the car accident itself. This can allow you to make a successful claim and receive the compensation that you need and deserve.
Here are some of the more common types of car accident injuries:
- Broken bones – These may not always be apparent, at first. This is especially true for some of the smaller bones in the feet and hands.
- Injuries to the spine – This can lead to a progressive level of pain and loss of mobility.
- Muscle and ligament injuries – When these are torn or stretched, the pain can become severe and debilitating.
- Neck and back injuries – These may include herniated disks and whiplash as well as spinal cord and muscle damage.
- Brain and head injuries – These can include concussions, skull fractures, internal bleeding and their effects may not be readily apparent until later.
- Bone and burn injuries – These can take years in order to heal properly and can require surgery, skin grafts and plastic surgery.
All-in-all, it’s important to consult with a personal injury attorney, in order to try to receive the best care and compensation that you rightfully deserve. Therefore, when you are involved in a West Palm Beach car accident, seek immediate medical care and contact a Florida personal injury attorney.
Discuss Your Case with a Car Accident Personal Injury Attorney Serving West Palm Beach Today! If you were injured in a car accident in West Palm Beach, turn to Frankl & Kominsky for comprehensive legal guidance. Call 561-800-8000 or use our Contact Form to set up a free consultation.