I was involved in an auto accident in Florida, what is the first thing I should do?

There are numerous things you should do following an auto accident with injuries; the following are a list of the most important:

  1. Call the police. This is important so that there is a documentation of what happened, and the officer can collect valuable insurance information that can be used at a later date.
  2. Take photos if you can. Inspect the car and take pictures of all of the damage to both vehicles and pictures of the scene in general. Also, if you are injured and have noticeable injuries, take photos of those as well.
  3. Call EMS and get looked at. If you feel like you were injured, and quite frankly even if you don’t feel the effects immediately, you should get examined by EMS. Adrenaline is high following an accident and if you are injured, sometimes you don’t feel it right away. Bottom line is, always get checked out after an accident by a physician. 
  4. Do not speak to anyone about what happened other than the authorities and EMS. You should not approach the driver of the vehicle and try to speak to them about what happened. 

Should I hire a Florida auto accident attorney? 

Not everyone needs an attorney, but those who hire an attorney typically end up with a better outcome than had they tried to do it themselves. In Florida, it is true, you are entitled to $10,000.00 in PIP benefits if you were involved in an auto accident and have an auto policy that covers you. But often times, the medical bills far exceed the available PIP benefits and you need to tap into the bodily injury policy of the other driver to fully compensate you for the injuries you sustained. If you feel as though your injuries and the treatment you received is going to be higher than the PIP it would be best to get an attorney involved.

What is prelitigation and what happens in prelitigation auto accident cases? 

Prelitigation is what happens before an auto accident is filed. So, before any lawsuit is filed, an attorney will attempt to get your case done and settle it with an insurance adjuster. All of your medical bills, lost wages and any other damages you suffered will be sent in to the insurance company in a demand packet, and the hope is that after the insurance company reviews that demand packet, they will give an offer that both sides can agree on and your case will settle. But, the flipside to that is that if after your attorney sends everything in the insurance company does not agree to pay what your case is worth. If that happens, then you move into what is called litigation.

What is litigation and what happens in litigation in an auto accident case? 

Litigation happens the moment a complaint is filed on your case. So, if you were not able to reach an agreement in prelitigation, this lawsuit is filed. Litigation is a much slower process, and everything is done within the court system. It is different than prelitigation. In prelitigation, you rarely consult with a judge, and all negotiations are done outside of the courtroom with an insurance adjuster. After your complaint has been filed, defense counsel for the at fault driver will have an opportunity to answer the complaint and then discovery begins. In the discovery phase, both sides will send out interrogatories to each other, which are written questions meant to be answered by the other party. Depositions will also be taken. Depositions are in person questions which are asked in front of a court reporter. After all discovery has been completed, the next step is a mediation. A mediation is a last attempt before trial to try and settle the case. If both parties cannot agree to settle the case at that point, then a trial will usually occur.   

How does my attorney get paid in an auto accident case?

An attorney gets paid in an auto accident case by what is called a contingency fee. A contingency fee is a percentage of the ultimate settlement, usually 33.3% if the case gets resolved in prelitigation, or 40% if the case gets resolved in litigation. The client never pays any money upfront and they only owe an attorney the fee if the attorney is able to get a settlement for the client. There are no flat fees, or retainer agreements in personal injury. 

How long does a personal injury auto accident case last?

Usually in prelitigation, a case can last anywhere from 4-12 months. This is enough time for you to treat and for your attorney to get copies of your records. If your case has not reached a resolution and needs to go into litigation, it can take an additional 1-2 years to reach a resolution if it goes all the way to trial. If your case is taking longer than 12 months in prelitigation, you should begin to question the reasons for the delay. 

Contact Us Today!

The attorneys at the Lopez Law Group have the experience necessary to handle your auto accident claim. Auto accident law can be confusing for someone who is trying to do it alone, but if you have an experienced attorney on your side, it can make the process much easier. Consultations at the Lopez Law Group are always free and we will be able to tell you whether you have a valid claim. Call us today at 727-933-0015 for a free consultation. Our personal injury attorneys are standing by today and are ready and willing to assist.