When to Get a Lawyer After a Car Accident

A shocked man reads a court letter

Victims should get a lawyer after a car accident as soon as they are able. Florida car accident victims may be left wondering how to begin the claims process. Hiring a car accident attorney allows a victim to focus on the recovery process without the added stress of negotiating a claim. The victim’s attorney will ensure that he or she receives the maximum amount of compensation available for his or her case. 

A shocked man reads a court letter

The sooner a car accident victim starts the claims process, the better. Various witnesses at the scene of the accident may offer statements. The information released is viewed as more reliable when provided closer to the time of the accident. As more time passes, witnesses may be more hesitant to give a statement. How car accident victims navigate post-accident can greatly impact the amount of compensation they are eligible to receive.

The Statute of Limitations for Car Accident Claims in Clearwater, FL

Considering how long a car accident settlement takes, victims should get a lawyer right away. Florida accident victims need to be aware that the state imposes a statute of limitations on injury claims. This means claimants have an allotted amount of time to file their claims. The statute of limitations varies based on the nature of the claim being filed. 

Waiting to file a claim can be harmful to a victim’s case, and may also lead to missing the filing deadline.  Florida laws state that car accident victims can file a personal injury claim up to two years from the date of the accident. Claims filed after the statute of limitations will leave victims ineligible to receive any settlement, unless exceptions apply.

What to Do After a Car Accident

A Clearwater car accident victim should follow key steps post-accident to ensure maximum compensation. Victims should contact the police, seek medical treatment, take photographic evidence and document details of the accident, contact their insurance provider, and reach out to an experienced car accident lawyer.

To receive damages via PIP coverage, accident claims must be reported within 24 hours of the accident. Medical treatment must be sought within 14 days of the accident. Victims must provide any evidence and relevant paperwork to support their claim within 35 days from the date of the accident. Finally, follow-up care and services require an (M.D., D.O., DMD, DC, PA, and ARNP) referral. 

Contact Law Enforcement

When involved in a car accident, it is important for victims to remain as calm as possible. It is crucial for accident victims to stay at the scene of the auto accident, as fleeing the scene could be considered a hit-and-run. After a quick initial assessment of the situation, victims should contact police. Paramedics should also be contacted if injured victims require immediate medical care. 

Once law enforcement arrives, they will execute a prompt and brief investigation to develop a written report. A car accident police report makes a preliminary determination of fault, as well as compiles witness information and key crash details. After the immediate situation is handled properly, a victim can request the police report for evidence in his or her case.

Seeking Medical Treatment

Car accidents can cause injuries ranging from mild to severe. Anyone injured in an accident should seek medical attention immediately. Many victims may believe they are in good health post-accident due to adrenaline or shock. This means less obvious injuries may be overlooked, and later become life-threatening.

Medical professionals are able to detect the hidden injuries or harmful symptoms a victim may have. Prompt medical care helps deter injuries from worsening and assists in hastening the healing process. Physicians are also able to establish direct links between a victim’s injuries and the auto accident. It’s essential for victims to retain copies of medical records from the examiner and readily provide them to their attorney as evidence.

To be eligible for compensation, an initial diagnosis must be provided in a hospital/medical facility owned by a hospital, or given by a list of qualified medical professionals. These professionals may include a licensed medical doctor (M.D.), Doctor of Osteopath (D.O.), Dentist (DMD), Doctor of Chiropractic (DC), Physician Assistant (PA), or Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner (ARNP).

Document Details and Photographic Evidence

If no immediate medical attention is required, victims should collect as much evidence as possible. When physically and mentally able, victims should document the relevant details of the accident scene. Important accident details include the time and place of the accident, the weather conditions at the time of the accident (if they influenced the crash), the make and model of the vehicles involved, the names and contact information of involved drivers, passengers, pedestrians or cyclists, and any roadside debris.

Victims should also take pictures of the scene of the accident. Photographs can provide evidence of any conditions that may have contributed to the accident. They can also provide the positions of the vehicles involved and proof of the injuries sustained by the victims. 

Contacting Insurance

Regardless of the accident’s severity, victims should begin communicating with insurance providers as soon as they are able. Victims shouldn’t hesitate in contacting both their insurance company and the liable party’s insurance provider. Insurance providers will need to be kept up to date on any changes in the accident claims case. Insurance company adjusters might attempt to use tricks and arguments to deny or lower settlements. 

Once initial contact is made, victims should direct further communication through an attorney. Reaching out to legal representation increases the victim’s probability of receiving a larger payout. 

Legal Representation

Having knowledge of the law makes a monumental difference in the amount of compensation a victim receives. Victims filing personal injury claims should not accept any offers given by insurance adjusters before consulting with their personal injury lawyer. An attorney is able to assist with any communications needed between the involved parties in the claims case. While a Clearwater car accident lawyer is managing communications and collecting/organizing evidence, the victim is able to focus on the recovery process. Legal representation is there to lessen the financial and mental hindrance of satisfying the burden of proof.

Damages Available After a Car Accident

There a multiple damages that victims may be able to claim after a car accident. Attorneys can assess accident claims to calculate the amount of compensation for which a victim is eligible. Damages commonly claimed after an auto accident include medical bills, lost wages, property damage, pain and suffering, and wrongful death

Receiving medical treatment for car accident injuries is often expensive. A victim may be unable to work due to his or her injuries. The combination of medical treatment costs and lost wages frequently leads to victims acquiring large debts. The inability to make ends meet or afford day-to-day activities causes large amounts of stress to accident victims. These losses can be recovered through an insurance claim to prevent undue financial hardship.

To calculate pain and suffering, the level of physical pain and emotional anguish a victim experiences due to an accident is examined. In fatal accident cases, funeral costs and other debts are compensable through a wrongful death claim. Losing someone due to a car accident is often devastating, and having to manage the legal claims process only makes things harder. Attorneys  focus on the claims process, while victims take the time needed to heal injuries and mourn the losses they may have suffered.

Reasons to Hire a Lawyer After a Car Accident

Auto negligence impacts accident victims in unimaginable ways. A personal injury lawyer can navigate the difficult legal processes to insure victims have the best quality of living after a car accident. Personal injury lawyers will handle all aspects of a case, including:

  • Ensuring maximum compensation for medical costs
  • Providing evidence for all damages eligible
  • Communicating with all involved parties
  • Keeping the victim current and informed on any changes or progress 
  • Reviewing all sources of compensation, from PIP insurance to claims against an at-fault driver

To maximize a victim’s claim, his or her lawyer will manage communications with the involved parties. The amount of stress an accident victim suffers can be limited by an attorney’s ability to weed out unfair settlement strategies. An attorney can explain the laws and legalities of a victim’s claim. This ensures the victim comprehends any settlement offers and the full implications involved to agreeing with them. Having legal representation will greatly increase a victim’s chance of being offered fair compensation. 

If a settlement involves a court proceeding, a personal injury lawyer will protect the victim from other parties trying to prevent or delay any lawsuits with motions and countersuits. An accident attorney will assure a victim is represented fairly and accurately before the judge, should the claims process need to be settled in court.

James (Jim) Magazine is a Florida Board Certified Civil Trial lawyer who has spent his career helping injured victims. Jim is licensed to practice law in the State of Florida since 1990 and is also admitted to practice at the Appellate level and admitted to the United States Supreme Court.

Years of Experience: More than 30 years
Florida Registration Status: Active
Bar Admissions:
Clearwater Bar Association
West Pasco Bar Association

James (Jim) Magazine is a Florida Board Certified Civil Trial lawyer who has spent his career helping injured victims. Jim is licensed to practice law in the State of Florida since 1990 and is also admitted to practice at the Appellate level and admitted to the United States Supreme Court.

Years of Experience: More than 30 years
Florida Registration Status: Active
Bar Admissions:
Clearwater Bar Association
West Pasco Bar Association