Many people feel reluctant to make an insurance claim after they have been involved in a West Palm Beach car accident. They may feel that being overly protective of your rights makes you seem litigious and self-interested.
In truth, asserting your rights early and vigorously documenting evidence after a car accident is the difference between receiving adequate compensation for all of your losses and being left on the hook for them. You should always protect your rights where possible and without aggression.
You Have the Right to an Attorney
Never feel bad about exercising your rights in the wake of a collision in West Palm Beach. Know that other parties will do anything they can to take advantage of someone who is not aware and assertive of their own legal rights.
This applies doubly when you are up against insurance companies and other large corporations. One of the most important rights to assert is the right to an attorney.
You can secure an experienced West Palm Beach car accident lawyer to represent your case and assert your rights to the fullest extent of the law. In order to protect your rights following a car accident in West Palm Beach, you can take the following steps:
One of the most important steps to protecting your rights following a car accident is to call emergency dispatch. Reporting your accident is required in situations where there is an injury, death, or property damage of at least $500 (F.S. § 316.066).
Even if your collision may not fall under these guidelines, it’s always best to play it safe. Having an official record made by a responding law enforcement officer can prevent situations where someone disputes your account or denies the accident happened altogether.
Before calling in your wreck, first check in on the health and safety of everyone involved. Not only is this the ethically right thing to do, but failing to do so could constitute negligent behavior, allowing a defendant to paint your actions as questionable in the aftermath of the wreck.
Do Not Admit Fault
Your “right to remain silent” is really a right to not have to self-implicate in the commission of a crime. In other words, you have the legal right to avoid confessing fault in a situation, especially when fault is not immediately clear. Never admit fault following a collision.
Some people do this simply because they feel guilty, while others do it because they mistakenly believe they are to blame.
Fault can only be legitimately determined by a court of law or voluntarily assumed by someone. So don’t feel as if you need to admit fault just because you may have been distracted or may have committed a minor traffic violation, like failing to signal. At the same time, don’t make false or misleading statements to the police.
Answer questions truthfully and directly. Don’t speculate about whether your actions could have done this or that, though, and remember that you can always decline to answer a question if you feel like the matter needs to be investigated more. Protect your rights by saying as little as possible. You have a fourth amendment right.
Accept Medical Aid and Receive Prompt Treatment
One major way West Palm Beach car accident victims waive some of their rights following an accident is to refuse ambulance treatment or delay seeking medical care. Any refusal of treatment can be used as evidence that your injuries were not severe.
It can also be used to allege that you made your injuries worse by failing to seek timely treatment. Accept any care offered by EMTs, including consenting to medical transport if they feel you are too injured to be driven to the hospital otherwise.
Seek timely care if you aren’t transported, and follow all doctor’s orders closely.
Also, avoid taking actions that could be seen as harmful to the health of someone injured. If you are seriously hurt, limit movement until EMS arrives. After you have been diagnosed, avoid discussing your activities or posting about them on social media.
Document Accident Scene Evidence
One crucial piece to protecting your rights may disappear forever if you don’t take quick action, and that piece is evidence. Gather evidence at the accident scene as soon as you can. If you are able to move, take photos of the wreckage from different angles.
Document your injuries, and take pictures of key documents like other drivers’ licenses and insurance cards. Capture witness statements on video or with pen and paper, and record their contact information for follow-up.
Receive a Medical Opinion from a Trusted Doctor
The insurance company you file a claim with may request an independent medical examiner (IME), but you always have the right to seek an opinion from another doctor. This secondary exam can provide counter-evidence if the IME claims your injuries aren’t that severe or that certain standard treatments aren’t necessary.
Review the Police Crash Report, and Request Corrections
You have the right to request a police report and, if you see any factual inaccuracies, request a correction. Always review the police report because the responding officer may get confused about details, or they may omit important details key to establishing liability.
You Don’t Have to Accept the Insurance Company’s First Offer
Liability insurance companies will typically make you wait weeks before sending you a settlement offer, and this offer may only cover a portion of your total losses. The offer may be accompanied by language that scares you into thinking there is no guarantee of a second offer after your refusal, but don’t buy it.
In truth, a settlement protects the insurance company from lawsuits, so they will be eager to settle if it means avoiding court. Review your damages in full after your accident, which you can do with the help of an experienced West Palm Beach car accident lawyer.
If the insurance offer fails to adequately cover your losses, demand reasonable compensation rather than agreeing to settle.
Work with Experienced West Palm Beach Car Accident Lawyers
You have the right to appoint a legal representative who can communicate with insurers, calculate your damages, document evidence, and help you assert and protect your rights during every step of your West Palm Beach car accident case.