The personal injury attorneys at Fine, Farkash & Parlapiano, P.A., have achieved positive results for thousands of clients who have been injured in auto accidents due to the negligence of others. We have tried auto accident cases to successful jury verdict in numerous counties within north Florida and have seen several recurring mistakes. Knowledge of these common errors will help you to prevent the following from happening.
1. Failing To Call The Police After An Accident
This may seem like a no-brainer, but sometimes people do not call the police after an accident; they merely exchange information with the other driver. This is a mistake because an accident report can be very helpful and Florida law does require the reporting of an accident. Furthermore, accident reports are privileged which means that for an individual who has been involved in an accident whatever he or she says to the police officer cannot be used against him or her in a civil case or hearing of any kind. But, if there is a criminal investigation, and the officer informs you of this, the privilege may not apply.
2. Failing To Preserve The Evidence
The location and the extent of the impact to your vehicle can be significant in the resolution of your case. Either take photographs or contact a friend or relative who can take photographs. If you subsequently hire an attorney, mention that you have taken photographs of the damage to your vehicle, and/or the location of your vehicle. Photographs of your initial injuries should also be taken. The contact information for witnesses should be preserved. One of the key reasons to contact an attorney as soon as possible after an accident is to aid you in preserving evidence that may prove vital to your case.
3. Failing To Seek Proper Medical Help Promptly
Insurance companies always try to hold it against the victim if he or she does not get prompt medical attention. Get emergency care if you are injured. Always seek follow-up care promptly if you are not doing well. A lapse or delay of weeks or months in treatment may hurt your case. Remember that under the revised Florida Personal Injury Protection (PIP) law, you have up to 14 days to report an injury to be considered for compensation.
4. Failure To Notify Your Insurance Company
Virtually all insurance companies require their insured to put their insurance company on notice. Therefore, it is important to promptly notify your insurance company of the accident. If you believe you have been injured in an accident, seeking legal counsel immediately is the wisest course of action.
5. Not Seeking Legal Help Promptly
Fine, Farkash & Parlapiano, P.A., offers telephone consultations and office or hospital visits at no charge. There is no reason not to discuss your case with an attorney who specializes in personal injury matters. You likely have questions and concerns and your energies should be placed on focusing on healing after the crash. Your insurance company may be in an adversarial relationship with you. A personal injury attorney is bound by provisions of confidentiality and will act in your best interest. As time passes witnesses may forget critical information, and evidence may no longer be available to evaluate; the sooner you hire legal counsel the better. Seek legal advice concerning how to deal with your insurance company and the opposing driver’s insurance company. Your case may involve many legal doctrines and provisions: Virtually all auto cases have some common issues about which the lawyer can advise you. These include the accident report privilege and your duty to cooperate with law enforcement, why it is important to cooperate with some insurance companies and not others, the presumption of negligence in rear-end collisions, product liability issues, seat belt defenses, punitive damages, and underinsured motorist coverage. No two cases are identical, and having a professional attorney review your case and give you advice specific to your concerns is the best course of action.
6. Not Selecting the Right Doctor
Once you are discharged from the emergency room, it is very important to be treated by a physician who has the expertise to care for your injuries. Some doctors refuse to treat automobile accident victims. Others tend to minimize these injuries. Your attorney can advise you about the role of the rehabilitation doctor, orthopedist, neurosurgeon, chiropractic physician, neurologist, osteopath, and physical therapist as well as other treating professionals. At Fine Farkash & Parlapiano, P.A., we do not interfere with your choice of treating physician, but we will have suggestions that may be helpful in this regard.
7. Settling Too Quickly
Do not settle with the insurance company too quickly. Sometimes an insurance company seeks a quick settlement before the accident victim has time to fully appreciate the extent of his or her injuries or consult with an attorney. Settling your injury case with an insurance company before you talk to an attorney or have a full assessment of your injuries is a bad idea because you may settle a case for less than it is worth since it is the insurance company’s goal to place a lowball offer. With the help of experienced personal injury attorneys, you are more likely to win the compensation you deserve.
8. Giving An Inaccurate Medical History To Your Doctor Or Lawyer
This is a problem that occurs primarily in litigation cases. It is almost always inadvertent. All people tend to forget things as time passes. The natural inclination is to be focused on the current problem. People often do not recall what their complaints or symptoms were when they visited a doctor many years before. Defense attorneys take advantage of this common human mistake. They try to make it seem as though the plaintiff is deliberately misleading his or her physician, the insurance company and the jury. It is therefore very important to give an accurate medical history, both to all treating physicians, and to your attorney. If you are not entirely sure about when or where you were treated you can let the person asking know and offer to review your medical records to find out the answer. If you had some prior neck or back treatment, you need to say so. We can always distinguish new injuries from old ones and the law allows damages for the exacerbation or worsening of a pre-existing condition.
9. Exaggerating Injuries
Individual plaintiffs should not exaggerate their injuries, either in reports to their doctors or in testimony. This is particularly important in litigation cases. Naturally, there are times when an injury is less symptomatic, but be sure you are accurate. Even if 99 percent of the time you cannot perform a certain task, describe your injuries and limitations accurately. Defendants will often hire private investigation services to conduct video surveillance of a plaintiff. Even if during the surveillance generally the person was observed unable to do something, the one time he or she is seen able to do the activity will be the time the jury will be shown. If the plaintiff says he or she absolutely cannot do certain activities, and this activity is shown on video, his or her case is weakened.
10. Understating Injuries
This is the opposite of the preceding section. Sometimes plaintiffs minimize or otherwise deny that they are seriously injured. They may delay seeking medical attention. This can have negative results on their case as it proceeds. Try to be as accurate as possible with your physician, with the attorney and with yourself. Do not say that you are 100 percent okay if you are experiencing pain or functional problems. The truth is always on the side of the individual plaintiffs. You cannot recover a fair amount of compensation for an injury you minimize or deny having.
At Fine, Farkash & Parlapiano, we will work for the compensation that you deserve in this difficult time in your life. We understand what you are going through and how frustrating it can be. To learn more about the ten things you can do following an accident, click here.