According to studies, Americans spend an average of 294 hours driving in their car every year. This equates to over seven 40-hour work weeks per year that a person spends in a car. Based on these statistics, the auto insurance industry estimates you will be involved in a collision that results in an insurance claim every 17.9 years. On average, there's a good chance you will be involved in a car accident three to four times in your lifetime.
Anyone that has ever been involved in an accident knows that gut-clenching feeling at impact. Your heart immediately races as you try to gather your bearings and process what just happened. Your mind starts spinning and you're not sure what to do. These matters are only complicated when you're injured as a result of the accident.
I was just in a car accident. What now?
- Call the police and obtain a police report. This is a crucial step to document important facts about the accident. Details like the date, time, location, weather and roadway conditions, vehicle descriptions (make, model, year, and color), vehicular damage, injury, and any eye witnesses should be recorded immediately. Take pictures of the scene of the accident and the vehicles involved. Make sure to get names of insurance companies and policy numbers of everyone involved in the accident.
- Safely move your vehicle from the roadway. If the accident is minor, and you can drive your vehicle, move it out of the lanes of travel to a safe location.
- Seek medical treatment immediately. It is important to seek medical treatment immediately after an auto accident to document your injuries. Pursuant to Florida Statute Section 627.736, "an insurance policy will pay eighty percent of all reasonable expenses for medically necessary medical... if the individual receives initial services and care pursuant to subparagraph 1. within 14 days after the motor vehicle accident."
- Contact an experienced personal injury attorney. It is necessary to contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible to assist you through the legal process. A personal injury attorney will be able to answer all of your questions and handle your claim from start to finish, allowing you to focus on your health and recovery.
Who pays my medical bills after a car accident?
You may have heard that Florida is a "no-fault" state or maybe you have heard of Personal Injury Protection (PIP). That means whether you or someone else is at fault for an accident, your own auto insurance company is the primary payor of your medical bills and will pay the first $10,000 of that cost. Personal Injury Protection pays 80% of medical bills and 60% of lost wages up to $10,000. Under Florida's "no-fault" law, you must seek treatment within fourteen (14) days of the accident or your auto insurance company can deny payment of your medical bills.
If you purchased Medical Payments Coverage (MPC) as a part of your auto insurance policy, that provision of your policy can pay your medical bills. However, be aware. Unlike Personal Injury Protection benefits, if your auto insurance carrier pays any of your medical bills pursuant to your medical payments provision, your auto insurance carrier is entitled to reimbursement if you make a recovery.
Ultimately, you are responsible for paying your medical bills. If the at-fault party has auto insurance and has bodily injury liability on their policy, you may be able to make a recovery to cover your medical bills. Your medical bills will be paid out of the proceeds of any settlement you receive. However, Florida is one of only two states that does not require bodily injury liability insurance coverage. If there is no bodily injury coverage available, you may be able to make a recovery against your own auto insurance carrier to pay your medical bills if you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage on your policy.
I was in a car accident, but I don't have car insurance. Who will pay my medical bills?
If you were involved in a car accident in your own car and you don't have auto insurance, it's okay. If you have health insurance, health insurance may cover your medical bills.
If you were involved in a car accident in someone else's car and you don't own your own car and also don't have your own auto insurance, then you can get Personal Injury Protection benefits through the vehicle owner's auto insurance carrier.
I was in a car accident. Who will pay to fix my car?
If you were not at fault for the accident, the at-fault party's insurance company will pay to fix your car. If the at-fault party does not have insurance, your own insurance company may be responsible to pay for the damage if you have collision coverage on your policy.
I was in a car accident. I'm injured, but do not have health insurance what should I do?
When you are injured and a car accident and do not have health insurance, the thought of expensive medical bills can be daunting. Do not let this deter you from seeking the proper medical treatment that you need. If you have auto insurance, Personal Injury Protection as mentioned above covers the first $10,000.00 of medical bills. For medical bills above this amount, an attorney can create a letter of protection with a medical treatment provider. This means that the treatment provider agrees to accept payment upon a recovery of your car accident case. This allows you to focus on your health and well being without the worry of a pending medical bill.
Should I hire a personal injury attorney to represent me for my car accident?
Yes. An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to guide you through the entire process from making a claim to settling your claim, allowing you to focus on what matters—getting better. Your attorney will investigate your claim, obtain all official emergency reports, inspect the scene of the accident, take witness statements, gather your medical records and bills, communicate with all insurance companies involved, and give you legal advice to help you make the best decisions for your future.
An experienced car accident attorney can be the difference in whether you make a financial recovery in cases where there is disputed liability. In other words, where an accident occurs and more than one person may be at fault in causing a car accident a skilled attorney can illustrate the party that is more at fault for causing the accident. If is a common occurrence for an insurance company to deny that their insured(driver) was at fault only to reverse course once an attorney is involved and later settle the case for money. Often times, insurance companies base their decisions in car accident cases the belief that most an unrepresented person will not contact an attorney.
Insurance companies will even attempt deny coverage in some circumstances. However, insurance companies have to follow regulations required by statutes. A car accident attorney can carefully examine these requirements and force the insurance company to provide coverage even after an initial denial. It is important to remember that just because an insurance company tells you one thing, it does not mean that it is accurate or that they are treating you justly. Insurance companies are in the business of saving money on claims, not paying out claims fully and fairly.
How much does it cost to hire a personal injury attorney?
Attorneys in the state of Florida are governed by the Florida Bar Association. Rule 4-1.5, Fees and Costs for Legal Services outlines the types of fees that attorneys can charge. Personal injury attorneys work on a "contingency fee" agreement, meaning you don't owe your attorney a dime unless they make a recovery for you.
If you have been in a car accident, contact us now.
The attorneys and staff at Keller, Melchiorre & Walsh, PLLC have the experience, resources, and reputation to take on the insurance company and get you the compensation you deserve. Click here to read what our clients say about us and click here to see our recent results.