What can I do BEFORE an accident so that I am prepared when the time comes?
BEFORE AN ACCIDENT, know what your insurance covers. Don’t wait until after an accident to find out that your policy doesn’t automatically cover costs for towing or a rental car, or even worse, that you did not have uninsured motorist coverage. There is no such thing as “full coverage”! Often, “full coverage” is something told to policyholders when they are being sold the bare minimum of insurance to be on the road. Buy uninsured motorist (UM) coverage, and never sign a UM rejection form without understanding what you’re signing away.
The following is a checklist for things you should have so that you are prepared.
- Have copies of important documents in the glove compartment such as:
- Insurance company ID card;
- Valid vehicle registration;
- Medical Alerts: Personal allergy or health conditions may be needed if you are seriously injured; and
- List of emergency contacts.
- Keep an emergency kit in your vehicle including but not limited to:
- Road flares or warning triangles;
- Disposable camera;
- First-Aid kit;
- Fix-a-flat tire repair kit;
- Duct tape; and
- Pad of paper and pen.
With these in mind, you will be more prepared in the case that you are involved in a crash. Instead of scrambling to figure out what to do, you will have more time and energy to focus on everything else!
What types of information do I need to collect after an accident?
It is important to collect certain types of information directly after an accident so that it is easier for you to receive compensation for your damages and/or injuries. Make sure you take note of the following from the at-fault driver:
- Car insurance company name
- Car insurance policy information
- Photographs of the damages
- Photographs of the accident scene
These are some things you should take a note of to ensure that the process following your car accident runs smoothly.
Who should I contact following an accident and what will they do?
First and foremost, you will need to contact a police officer. This is extremely important because he/she will file a police report and will distinguish which driver is at fault. The at-fault driver will be ticketed by the police officer.
The at-fault driver is responsible for contacting his or her car insurance company to report the crash. However, you should contact your car insurance company regardless of if it’s your fault or not. Inform the at-fault driver’s car insurance company that you have been in a crash with its insured but be sure to only state the facts of the incident rather than your opinion about who is at fault. Many insurance companies have mobile apps that facilitate accident documentation for the insured.
The car insurance company will determine the at-fault driver after reviewing the police report, facts, and photographs for the crash. You need to verify that the at-fault driver’s car insurance company accepts liability by asking for it to be sent to you in writing. Remember that the at-fault’s insurance company may deny you payment.
What should I avoid doing after an accident?
Don’t come to an agreement with the other driver without contacting a police officer.
Sometimes drivers in an accident come to an agreement by simply exchanging their information or contacting their respective insurance companies without calling a police officer. This is critical because you will not have an official police report to back your side of the story up. In addition, only exchanging information could prove to be a bad decision when you find out that the negligent driver lied about his/her identity and insurance information. If you have damaged and/or injuries, you will not receive a means for recovery if you do not have any correct information of the at-fault driver.
Similarly, it is important to understand that, most of the time, insurance companies do not have your best interest at heart. Their goal following auto accidents is to pay as little as possible on claims so that they can save money. Meanwhile, you might incur large payments on your damages or injuries and will need more money to pay your medical bills. At Fine, Farkash, & Parlapiano, P.A., we have thorough knowledge and experience in personal injury and will be able to give you the advice you need before you release any statements to insurance companies.
Don’t Underestimate Your Injuries.
Often times, victims of auto accidents will downplay their injuries to save some money. If you need an ambulance, make sure you call one. If you are suffering from any type of injury that is causing you pain or discomfort, seek medical help as soon as possible. You need to make sure what parts of your body are injured and need medical attention so that you can file a claim against the at-fault’s insurance carrier after your PIP has exhausted.
Don’t wait too long.
When you are trying to seek compensation, you are limited in the amount of time you can wait to sue the at-fault for personal injuries. In the state of Florida, you must file a claim for your personal injuries within four years of the date of your auto accident. Wrongful death cases must be brought within two years of the person’s death. Contacting a personal injury attorney will ensure that this is taken care of before it is too late.
What can you do if the at-fault’s insurance company denies you payment?
If you make a claim with your car insurance company, it may dispute the at-fault’s insurer for payment if it determines that the other driver is at fault. You may also choose to dispute the driver’s insurer by hiring a lawyer, especially if you experience serious bodily injuries. At Fine, Farkash, & Parlapiano, P.A., we have handled hundreds of cases over insurance companies denying our clients proper payment for the damages and/or injuries they sustained from an auto accident. If you are in need of a lawyer, call our office at (352) 376-6046.