Don't make a costly mistake! By doing the right things (and not doing the wrong things), you can protect your rights and maximize the value of your car accident claim.
Car Accident Do's:
1. Hire the Right Lawyer, Right Away. "Choosing the right lawyer is no accident." Just because a law firm has lots of billboards and television commercials, does not mean they are the right lawyer for your claim. You have the right to know your lawyer's education, training, and experience. Don't be afraid to ask your lawyer if he or she will go to court to protect your rights if necessary.
2. Go to the Right Doctor, Right Away. Don't delay. Timely documentation of your injuries is critical. Not all doctors are created equal. Most doctors are excellent clinicians and do wonderful work for their patients. However, not all doctors know how to properly handle and document treatment arising from a car accident. Many primary care physicians who routinely handle colds, checkups, cholesterol monitoring, and other general medical treatment are ill-equipped to handle car accident injuries. There are many doctors who specialize in treating people who have been injured in car accidents. Those doctors include chiropractors, orthopedists, neurologists, and pain management specialists. We prefer doctors whose practices are a blend of car accident injuries and managed care. We do not recommend treating with doctors who only handle car accident claims. Also, be cautious about going to the emergency room. Hospital emergency rooms are extraordinarily expensive and can use up most or all of your available personal injury protection insurance benefits in a single visit. Obviously, if you have a life threatening injury you should go to the emergency room.
3. Take Pictures. Take lots of pictures. Take pictures of all cars involved in the accident. Take the pictures from multiple angles and multiple distances. Take pictures of the roadway, skid marks, and debris on the roadway. Take pictures of applicable street signs such as stop signs, no-turn signs, etc. If you have bruising, cuts, scrapes, or abrasions, take pictures of them every day until they go away.
4. Get the Names of Witnesses. Independent witnesses could be your only way of proving who was at fault for the car accident. The insurance company will almost always claim that you were at fault, or at least partially at fault. Get the witnesses' name, address, and telephone number.
5. File a Police Report. Sometimes the at-fault driver will ask you not to call the police. Don't listen to them; call the police! Insurance companies look at car accidents without a police report as being very minor, and thus not worthy of a reasonable settlement. Besides, Florida law requires an accident report on all car accidents that involve injuries.
6. Take Notes. If the person who caused the car accident apologizes or admits his wrongdoing, write it down. It's best if you can take down his exact words. A person's apology or admission of fault can be used against him or her in the future.
Car Accident Don'ts:
1. Don't Give a Recorded Statement to the Insurance Company. Many insurance companies will try to get you to give them a recorded statement about the car accident. Don't do it! They will use your own words against you in the future. Insurance adjusters are trained to ask questions that will benefit them, not you. Obviously, you should never admit wrongdoing.
2. Don't Settle without Consulting a Lawyer. Many insurance companies will offer you a few hundred dollars for the "inconvenience" you were caused by their insured. Don't take it! The insurance company will require you to sign a release that will prevent you from recovering money for your injuries. Many people who are seriously injured in car accidents do not realize how badly they are hurt for many days or weeks after the accident. Only after you have consulted with a qualified doctor who has performed all appropriate tests on you - and you know the full extent of your injuries - should you consider settling your claim.
3. Don't Stop Going to the Doctor. You should continue going to the doctor as long as your doctor recommends that you continue treating. Significant gaps in treatment, missing doctor's appointments, failing to undergo recommended procedures, and failing to take prescribed medications can reduce the value of your claim. A negligent defendant is not obligated to pay damages if the damages were caused or made worse by the injured person's failure to follow the doctor's recommendations.
4. Social Media Posts. Don't post things about your car accident on your Facebook page or Twitter feed. Also, don't post pictures of yourself until you have consulted with a lawyer. We've seen relatively innocent pictures come back to haunt our clients' claims.
For more information, visit the Swope Law, P.L. website at http://www.PinellasAccidentLawyers.com/What_to_do_car_accident.html