The Tampa area is particularly beautiful this time of year, with spring and summer bringing peak tourism to our white sand beaches and family-friendly theme parks. Unfortunately, an influx of vacationers adds to traffic on already heavily traveled roads, and that increase can lead to a car or motorcycle accident for residents and tourists alike, sometimes to tragic effect.
If you’re involved in an auto accident, it’s important to know what to do immediately afterward to protect yourself. These are four essential steps to take:
- Check for injuries to others and call police — If you are in an accident, it’s important to check on injured drivers or passengers and then call the police. In seemingly minor accidents, drivers may contend it’s easier not to get police involved and promise that their insurance will cover your damages. But you don’t know what that person will say days or weeks later, when most of the evidence of what actually happened has been swept away. And injuries are not always readily apparent. The police can help document evidence, as can you (take photos, talk to witnesses and ask for their contact information).
- Get checked out by a doctor — You may feel uninjured after an accident, but symptoms may appear hours or days later, and internal injuries may not be readily apparent, so it’s important to be seen by a doctor as soon as possible. If you are here on vacation, don’t wait to get home to see a doctor after suffering an injury. Go to a local emergency room or seek out a doctor with experience treating car accident injuries to obtain a diagnosis as close to the date of the accident as possible.
- Don’t sign a release or talk to the other driver’s insurance company — It might seem counterintuitive, but your insurance company is not your representative. Although insurance adjusters may seem sympathetic and well-intended, their company’s bottom line is to minimize your claim. Meanwhile the other driver’s insurance company will want to protect the policyholder from a potential lawsuit. Don’t ever sign a release without a lawyer’s stamp of approval — your goal is to retain as many legal options as possible.
- Hire an experienced accident attorney — Florida is a no-fault insurance state, so your insurance company will cover your medical costs through your personal injury protection coverage, no matter who caused the accident. An attorney can help you obtain fair compensation from your carrier. If your injury is considered “serious” under Florida law (such as disfigurement, bone fractures, permanent or significant damage to organs or loss of use, or long-term disability), you may be entitled to override no-fault restrictions and file a liability suit for pain and suffering (but not property damage).
Even if your accident happened months ago, you can still fight for fair compensation. In Florida, you have four years from the date of your accident to file a suit. If you or a loved one has suffered a serious injury in a car or motorcycle accident, contact an experienced lawyer who has successfully handled accident and personal injury cases.
Frank Charles Miranda, P.A. represents clients who are hurt in Florida auto accidents and by other instances of negligence. Please call 813-902-3925 or contact us online to make an appointment at our office in Tampa.