Getting hurt in a car accident is a very traumatic event. It changes your life because you experience pain, suffering, headaches, and lost time from normal activities, even work. It’s also hard for your friends and family to understand what you are going through. You didn’t expect this would happen, but here you are in this situation. Some of your immediate actions could hurt your chances of building a solid personal injury case. Also, you might be like some accident victims who begin to feel financial despair after their crash.
You aren’t alone. Accidents happen daily. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, there were over 111,000 guilty results for criminal traffic citations issued in 2018 alone, some of which resulted in crashes with injuries. More than 4,000 guilty results were from drivers leaving the scene of the accident. Remember, the legal process takes time, and you should avoid these mistakes so that you won’t inadvertently damage your case:
When you are one of the people hurt each year in the Sunshine State and believe you are a victim, you are the person with the burden of proof. Car accident victims must prove how the defendant was at fault in the case, especially how he or she could have prevented the crash by acting differently. Your explanation for the defendant’s negligence must be reasonable, and, sometimes, must be presented by a trial lawyer to a civil jury of your peers. If your injury claim is not reasonable, then you may not receive any compensation.
In Florida, you must also show that your injuries directly resulted from the crash and that your medical costs, pain, and suffering resulted from the crash. If there is any doubt that the other driver was at fault in the accident, or, worse, if there were mitigating circumstances based on your behavior during the crash, then your case could be harder to prove. Some accidents are partly or fully caused by the victim’s vehicle not being in proper condition.
When you are in an accident and leave the vehicle, it’s important to be careful what you say. Don’t admit that you are at fault or make statements that could later be used against you to dispute your injury claim. It’s easy for anyone who is at the accident scene or is near you while you are recovering to record you via photograph, an audio file, or video footage. Whatever you do that contradicts your story of unnecessary pain and suffering makes the case more challenging.
Negotiating at the Car Accident Scene
When you are in a car accident, you or the other driver may decide that it would be better to come to an agreement without involving law enforcement or insurance companies. If there is no damage to both vehicles and no injuries to any parties who were in the vehicle, then people may consider this course of action. However, this decision could hurt you in the near future. People don’t always have headaches, whiplash, or other effects of a car accident at the scene. Once they are removed from the daze that follows a crash, they feel aches and pains. If you are hurt or think that you could have aches and pains that show up in the next few days after the crash, negotiating anything other than reporting the accident and seeking medical treatment would damage your case.
If the defendant’s insurance company refuses to offer you a settlement based on your medical evidence, your claim, like many car accident victims, could be potentially heard at a mediation, which is a third-party arbitration, and/or at a jury trial. Both of these events could also occur in the same case. Remember, the credibility of car accident victims is always at stake. It doesn’t take many abusive or inconsistent things for you to say in front of witnesses, defendants, law enforcement, emergency responders, doctors, insurance personnel, or other parties to hurt your case. You don’t want to let your temper get out of control and acquire a reputation as a hothead or someone who can’t be trusted. It’s important not to make any statements that could be misconstrued by the defendant’s side of the case.
Contacting the Other Driver’s Insurance Company
Insurance companies are more profitable when they can pay out as little as possible per claim to car accident victims. They love to catch you making mistakes after a car accident. As the party to a vehicle crash, you have the right to talk to the other insurance company, but they may also take what you say and twist it later. Before making any statement, please realize that you may not be properly informed when your voice is being recorded during each phone call with an insurance company.
If your vehicle was damaged, you could ask your property insurance adjuster to deal with the other insurance company regarding rental car coverage and getting the vehicle fixed or asking for its current market value in the event of a total loss. You could also hire a personal injury attorney and ask him or her to have someone on their staff assist with resolving the property damage issue.
Why Car Accident Victims Should Not Give Statements to Any Insurance Company
Because you could be recorded, it’s important not to give any statements to your own insurance company before consulting with a personal injury attorney. It is more important not to give any statements to any other insurance companies. This includes health insurance companies, property insurance companies, worker’s compensation companies, and third-party claims adjusters, commercial liability policies, vehicle manufacturers, and other potential parties to the case. The purpose of hiring a personal injury attorney is to obtain legal representation and to seek compensation for your medical bills, pain, and suffering. A qualified attorney who is licensed by the Florida Bar will advise you of your rights and handle any insurance companies that are seeking recordings of your testimony.
It takes time to recover from this accident. Focus on your medical treatment and rely on your Boynton Beach accident attorney to handle the details of the claim. The attorneys at the Bodden & Bennett Law Group will help you get compensated for your damages. Contact us today if you have been in a car accident.