Small Firm, Big Results
If you've been injured in a car accident in St. Petersburg, you deserve to be represented by an attorney with demonstrated experience in helping injured victims recover. At Heyman Law Firm, our attorney has handled hundreds of cases involving auto accidents. In addition, he's received training from the National Traffic Institute in accident reconstruction and, as a result, he understands the critical importance of conducting a thorough investigation of all the circumstances of your auto accident case in order to represent your interests and prepare your claim against the party at fault.
What to Do After a Car Accident
There are steps to take immediately after you have been in a motor vehicle accident, they include:
- First: ensuring your safety and the safety of your passengers. While it can be helpful to document the positions of the vehicles after the crash, if your vehicle is in a position where it is endangering the occupants or others and can be safely moved from the roadway, drive the vehicle to a position of safety. If necessary, an accident reconstruction expert can later identify the point of impact and any other necessary calculations from the markings in the roadway, damage to the vehicles involved, and witness statements. Our team has retained a number of highly experienced accident reconstruction experts for use in settlement negotiations and at trial.
- Second: While at the scene, you should cooperate with law enforcement personnel who have responded to the scene. Florida law requires that you provide the police officer with a statement of your version of the accident as soon as is practicable. This statement is covered by the “accident report privilege” and cannot be introduced as evidence in any subsequent legal proceeding.
- Third: If you have been injured, seek the assistance of the rescue personnel who have responded. This is especially crucial if you believe you have sustained a head injury, regardless of how minor you believe it to be. The paramedics have received extensive training in determining whether further diagnostic testing, such as X-rays or CT scans, should be performed. Even if you do not feel injured, the paramedics will probably want you to sign a release that you refused medical treatment at the scene. This document protects them, not you. Remember, you are under no obligation to sign anything, especially any document which might later be used to claim that you were not injured in the motor vehicle accident, when in fact you merely did not feel it necessary at the time to be transported to the hospital by ambulance.
- Fourth: If possible, document whatever you can while at the accident scene, such as damage to vehicles and roadway conditions. Cellular phones and cameras are good for this purpose. This information may prove critical in supporting your version of the automobile accident. You cannot rely upon the police investigators to take photographs of the scene unless the injuries are critical or criminal charges are possible.
- Fifth: Other than police officers, do not make any statements to anyone regarding the accident or any injuries you may have sustained.
When You Go to the Hospital
When you go to the hospital after an injury, you will be required to present proof of insurance. This should include your PIP insurance under your automobile insurance policy and any additional health insurance coverage you may have.
Give the treating physicians as full a medical history as possible regarding any prior injuries to the same part of the body that is being treated. Failure to report any obvious prior injuries and/or treatment may impair the doctor's ability to give proper treatment and may be used against you later by the opposing insurance company (as though you were hiding a prior injury in order to increase the responsibility of their insured driver for your damages).
Do not minimize or fail to report all of your symptoms to the treating physicians. Hopefully many of your symptoms may resolve in time, but if you fail to disclose an injury and it worsens thereafter, the insurance company and their lawyers will argue that those symptoms were caused by something other than the motor vehicle accident. With proper and timely documentation of your treatment, we can effectively rebut any such tactics, whether in settlement negotiations or at trial.
Our St. Petersburg car accident attorney has over three decades of experience helping clients throughout Florida and can help you when you call us at (727) 822-3700.
When Do I Need to File a Claim?
Once the extent of your injuries and other damages has been determined, a claim will be presented to the other driver's insurance company and a demand for settlement will be made. In the vast majority of cases, negotiations with the insurance carrier result in a settlement wherein you receive a monetary settlement to reimburse you for your past and future medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Should the insurance company not offer you a fair settlement amount, you can decide to file a lawsuit and proceed with the litigation process. Once a lawsuit has been filed, each side can obtain additional information regarding your claim through the taking of witness depositions and requesting documents relevant to your medical treatment, wage losses, and other damages.
While many attorneys handle auto accident cases, you should always inquire as to whether the attorney's practice will refer your case to another attorney should you decide to reject the insurance company's offer to settle as inadequate. If you decide to file a lawsuit, our attorney can continue to represent you through trial, if necessary. While most cases do settle prior to trial, we can seek the compensation that you deserve, not merely what the insurance company may offer to avoid a trial.