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I Was in a Car Accident That Wasn’t My Fault – What Should I Do Next?

I Was in a Car Accident That Wasn't My Fault - What Should I Do Next?

A car accident is always challenging to deal with, but it’s even worse when you know you weren’t at fault. When a careless driver leaves you stuck with a damaged car and unable to work while you’re recovering, you may be unsure what to do. 

Here are the steps to take after your accident to protect yourself and recover the compensation you need. 

Steps To Take at the Scene of the Accident

Immediately after an accident, the first thing to do is stay safe. Don’t leave your vehicle unless it’s safe to do so. When you can, check on anyone else involved in the accident. 

Call the police as soon as possible after your accident. Florida law requires drivers to immediately report a crash involving injury or at least $500 in estimated property damage. You can dial *FHP (347) for the Florida Highway Patrol or 911 if it’s an emergency. The non-emergency number for the Miami Police Department is (305) 579-6111. 

While you wait for the police to respond, get the names and contact information of other people involved and the insurance information of other drivers. If possible, take pictures of the scene of the accident, including the position of the vehicles and damage. 

Seek Medical Care Right Away

As soon as possible, it’s critical to seek medical attention. A new law requires that you seek medical care within 14 days of your accident to pursue compensation through a Personal Injury Protection (PIP) claim. 

If you delay medical treatment, you may be barred from recovering compensation even through your own insurance policy. Prompt medical care is also important to make sure any injuries you suffer are documented and treated appropriately. 

Report the Accident to Your Insurance Company and Law Enforcement

Florida is a no-fault insurance state. That means the claims process generally begins with your own insurance policy. Your insurance company covers your damages and injuries up to your policy limits. 

Your personal injury protection (PIP) insurance covers 80% of medical expenses, 60% of lost wages, and a death benefit of up to $5,000. With an “emergency medical condition,” you can receive the maximum payout. 

You must also file a written crash report within 10 days if the accident involved property damage, injury, death, or a commercial vehicle. You can do this online through the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV).

What To Do if Your Claim Is Denied

Unfortunately, sometimes, rightful car insurance claims are denied. If you receive a denial letter, review it carefully. There should be a reason for denial listed that you can compare to your policy terms. 

A claim may be denied if it includes property damage to your vehicle, a common mistake. Florida’s no-fault system only applies to injuries, not vehicle damage claims. You must make a claim against the at-fault driver’s policy for damage to your car. 

Sometimes, claims are denied if the insurance company believes your statements do not match the evidence. It’s even possible for mistakes or incorrect conclusions in the police report to cause your claim to be denied. 

You have the right to appeal a denied insurance claim. Sometimes the issue is easy to fix by submitting additional documentation or clarifying details. A car accident lawyer can help you appeal the insurance company’s decision and have your claim reopened. If a fair resolution still can’t be reached, the next step may be filing a lawsuit.

You May Be Able To Pursue Additional Compensation From the At-Fault Driver

PIP coverage might not fully compensate you for your losses, particularly if you suffered serious injuries. If you meet a threshold related to the severity of your injuries or if another exception to the state’s no-fault rules applies, you can step outside the no-fault system and sue the at-fault driver. This allows you to recover compensation beyond your policy limit and non-economic losses like pain and suffering. 

You can sue the at-fault driver if you meet one of the following injury thresholds:

  • Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of certainty
  • Disfigurement or “significant and permanent” scarring
  • Loss of an important bodily function
  • Death

Proving a permanent injury usually involves expert testimony by medical professionals. Injuries that may qualify include everything from loss of limb and spinal cord injuries to traumatic brain injuries, nerve damage, and back injuries

Filing a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver will likely require proving negligence. This means establishing the other driver owed you a duty of care, breached their duty, and caused your accident. 

It’s a good idea to contact a lawyer after just about any car accident. A personal injury lawyer can help you navigate the complex legal landscape and gather the evidence necessary to prove the other driver’s negligence. A lawyer can also help you if your claim was wrongfully denied or you are being offered an unfair settlement. 

If you suffered serious injuries, Shaked Law Personal Injury Lawyers is here to help. Call our law office today to schedule a free consultation with a car accident lawyer and explore your options.

Shaked Law Personal Injury Lawyers
20900 NE 30th Ave Suite 715
Aventura, FL 33180
(305) 937-0191