Unfortunately, car accidents happen every day. There are approximately six million automobile crashes each year in the United States, which breaks down to between 16,000-17,000 a day.
According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, Florida ranks high on the list with over 400,000 in 2019. The West Palm Beach area is in better shape than most metro areas in the Sunshine State, with a little over 29,000 a year. Understandably, most people may not remember what to do or avoid after an accident.
But they should – one mistake or an error in judgment can adversely affect any chance of receiving compensation for the injuries you’ve suffered. A West Palm Beach car accident lawyer can help you build a strong case accounting for all of your damages.
Reach out by phone or go online to schedule a free consultation today. In the meantime, here are the top ten things you do not want to do after a car accident in the West Palm Beach area.
Top Ten Things to Avoid After An Accident
1. Leaving the Scene of An Accident Without Reporting It To the Police
This seems like a no-brainer, but it happens. Leaving the scene of a car accident is not only a dumb idea, it’s against the law. All traffic accidents must be reported to law enforcement officials as soon as possible.
If you have injuries severe enough to require immediate medical attention, you should follow the directions of emergency medical technicians at the scene. Either way, just leaving without reporting the accident to anyone is illegal and could easily sink any chances of filing a successful suit down the line.
2. Failing To Gather Evidence At the Scene
Gather statements from the other driver and/or passengers, talk to anyone who might have seen the accident, and above all, take pictures if you can.
This includes the state of both vehicles, road and weather conditions, the scene itself, and, if possible, document how you were seated when the crash occurred.
3. Admitting Fault
Being in a car accident can be very stressful. In talking to the other driver or the police, you might be inclined to admit some fault in the accident. This is an extremely bad idea, and anything that could be taken as admitting fault could severely hurt your chances for any type of settlement.
Keep your conversations after a collision short and to the point, only discussing the basic facts. At the same time, do not speculate about what the other driver might have been doing unless you have solid evidence, such as a direct observation.
4. Not Seeing a Doctor
You might feel fine immediately after the crash, but you should still go see a doctor as soon as possible. Long-term injuries might be hidden by adrenaline and only surface after everything’s calmed down.
Make sure to report all injuries to the medical professionals and, if possible, find a doctor who has experience dealing with the type of injuries sustained in automobile accidents.
5. Not Taking Advantage of PIP
Unlike most states, Florida mandates drivers get Personal Injury Protection (PIP) with their required car insurance.
What this means is that if you have an accident, regardless of who’s at fault, your insurance must pay 80% of your medical expenses up to $10,000.
Eligible claims include:
- Medical services and medication
- Surgical services and hospital expenses
- Rehab costs
- Diagnostic services
- Ambulatory services
If the injury isn’t considered an emergency, PIP insurers will usually only pay out $2,500 maximum for your treatment.
PIP will also pay out 60% of lost wages due to injury, potentially including fees due to services you are unable to perform, like home repair, yard maintenance, etc. However, you have 14 days from the accident to file a PIP claim in Florida. Once it’s gone, it is usually gone forever.
6. Failing to Understand Insurance Companies
Insurance companies, even your own, want to pay the least amount of money in a settlement as possible. Always report the accident to your insurance company but, again, keep the statements short and to the point.
Many companies have phone apps. If possible, use that, as it will give you time to collect your thoughts. Again, do not speculate on what the other driver might have been doing or how the road conditions might have influenced the accident.
As friendly as the insurance adjuster might seem, their job is to save their company money. The same goes for talking to the other driver’s insurance company. Above all else, do not make a recorded statement to anyone before talking to a lawyer.
This could be used against you should you file for damages or seek compensation.
7. Not Reviewing the Police Report
After being summoned to the scene, the police make a report of the accident. It’s in your best interest to review that report in preparation for a possible damages claim or suit. For one, it allows you a chance to check your version of the accident to what goes into the official record.
Being human, the police often make mistakes in writing or filing the report. These can be a benefit or detriment to your attempts to seek compensation. Either way, it’s a good idea to know what the official record says.
8. Taking the First Settlement Check Offered
A car accident is a stressful event. Navigating insurance company claims or the legal system in seeking compensation might be even more stressful. Beyond just wanting it to be over so you can move on, bills might be piling up, and you likely have to get back to work, so it’s tempting to take the first settlement check.
Do not do this without consulting a professional automobile accident attorney. Damages, especially the costs of your medical injuries, could be more than you initially expected. Once you’ve taken that check, there is usually nothing else you can do.
Always consider talking to a car accident lawyer in West Palm Beach before making a decision.
9. Trying to Settle Your Own Case
Put simply, you are probably not a lawyer or a professional insurance adjuster. The byzantine nature of both the insurance game and the legal system is probably too much for most people to handle.
Again, the insurance adjuster’s job is to make sure their company pays out the least compensation possible and you will need help getting the best results possible.
10. Not Hiring a West Palm Beach Area Personal Injury Lawyer
This may be the most important thing to consider. A West Palm Beach area personal injury lawyer can help you navigate the system and receive the best result possible from either a lawsuit or insurance claim.