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What Every Car Accident Victim Should Know

A serious Florida car accident can be confusing and traumatic, and many car accident victims have no idea where to turn. That’s why you need skilled, aggressive, and knowledgeable legal representation on your side throughout your case, from beginning to end.

The New Port Richey car accident lawyers at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA have the legal knowledge and experience to challenge insurance company liability disputes, negotiate settlement offers with insurance companies, or, if necessary, litigate your case through the Florida court system to a favorable conclusion.

Do Not Admit Fault at the Scene of the Accident

Although you should always exchange insurance information with the other driver(s) who were involved in any collision, never admit full or even partial responsibility to the other driver(s) at the scene of the accident. Such an admission could be used against you later in the litigation process—especially at deposition or trial.

Be Thorough When Describing Your Current Symptoms

When a police officer or EMT asks you how you are feeling at the scene of the accident or asks whether you are injured, completely and concisely describe all of your current symptoms, complaints, and injuries. Your responses to these questions may be noted in the police report or in your emergency room records, which the insurance company and defense counsel can later review. After your initial emergency room treatments, describe your pain levels, injuries, and symptoms completely to your primary care physician and treating doctors.

Seek Medical Treatment

Immediately after your car accident, seek follow-up medical care and treatment at a New Port Richey emergency room or urgent care facility. This initial medical treatment is necessary because symptoms oftentimes do not manifest themselves until well after car accidents occur.

Failing to seek same-day emergency medical treatment also sends a message to the insurance company that you were not injured to the extent you may later claim in a personal injury case. Following your ER treatment, you should follow up with a primary care doctor or specialist for subsequent treatments, begin a physical therapy regimen at a rehab facility, complete an at-home physical therapy regimen, or seek follow-up care at another medical facility. It is essential that you thoroughly and consistently treat your injuries—and that you avoid long gaps in treatment.

Finally, you should always wait for a health care provider or physical therapist to discharge you from treatment, rather than discharging yourself from a medical facility.

Never Agree to Provide a Recorded Statement

Soon after you file your personal injury claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, an adjuster may ask you to provide a recorded statement under oath. Although they may seem nice, insurance adjusters are not working for you, and they have no interest in compensating you for your injuries. Therefore, you should never agree to provide a recorded statement without having an attorney present. Contrary to what the adjuster might say, you are under no legal obligation to provide a recorded statement to an insurance adjuster.

Never Accept the Insurance Company’s Initial Offer

In almost every case, the insurance adjuster’s initial settlement offer is low, since adjusters want to settle personal injury claims for as quickly and as cheaply as possible. During settlement negotiations, adjusters will usually increase their settlement offers incrementally. In some cases, to provoke insurance company reactions, accident victims may need to file lawsuits.

Filing Suit in a Car Accident Case

If the insurance company refuses to place a favorable settlement offer on the table, your attorney can litigate the case for you through the Florida court system. Litigation begins by filing a lawsuit. Filing a lawsuit, however, does not necessarily mean that your case will go to trial—most personal injury cases settle at some point along the line. Filing suit merely gets the ball rolling and ushers in the discovery process.

Evaluating a Personal Injury Case

To prove damages, you must show that the accident caused all of your injuries. A good personal injury lawyer may argue that the car accident aggravated any preexisting medical conditions or injuries, thereby making these preexisting injuries compensable.

An injured plaintiff may recover financial compensation for some or all of the following types of economic and non-economic damages in Florida car accident cases:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Emotional distress
  • Permanent injuries
  • Loss of companionship

Attending Independent Medical Examinations (IMEs)

In order to gauge the permanency of an injury, an insurance adjuster or defense attorney may ask you to undergo an independent medical examination (IME)—more appropriately known as a defense medical examination. The IME doctor will explain to you that the exam is for litigation purposes only, rather than for treatment purposes.

During the exam, which generally begins with a brief physical, you should be as complete and concise as possible about your injuries and symptoms and simply answer the IME doctor’s questions. It is not necessary for you to volunteer any information during the exam.

Understanding Contingency Fee Agreements

A contingency fee agreement—or CFA—is a contract between yourself and your attorney. The agreement spells out the attorney’s fee that will be subtracted from your gross recovery at the end of your personal injury car accident case. Before signing the agreement, make sure that you understand it fully and that you ask questions.

Most lawyers charge a one-third (or 33 1/3 percent) contingency fee if the case settles before a lawsuit is filed and a 40 percent contingency fee once suit is filed. After you sign and return the CFA, your lawyer can take on your case and begin representing you. A personal injury lawyer may assist you with the following:

  • Referring you to a medical specialist
  • Negotiating with the insurance company
  • Filing suit
  • Pursuing alternative dispute resolution
  • Litigating your case through the court system

Contact a New Port Richey Car Accident Lawyer Today for a Free Initial Case Evaluation and Consultation

If you have sustained injuries in a Florida car accident, time may be of the essence. The car accident lawyers at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA can review the facts and circumstances of your accident and may provide you with legal representation. To schedule a free consultation or case evaluation with a New Port Richey car accident lawyer, please call us today at (727) 477-9660 or contact us online.

Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA 5435 Main Street New Port Richey, FL 34652 (727) 477-9660 https://www.dolmanlaw.com/new-port-richey-auto-accident-attorney/