Many of us take it for granted: the ability to hop in the car, drive to work, run errands, go for a weekend road trip. Until we’ve been in a wreck. Then that freedom feels threatened; normal, everyday activity can become an experience filled with pain, fear, and anxiety. This is particularly true if you were affected by someone else’s negligence, recklessness, or carelessness. After a car accident, it is essential that your rights are protected. The first step is knowing what, exactly, those rights are.
After A Car Accident, You Have the Right To
Thanks to cop shows on virtually every channel, most of us are familiar with Miranda warnings. We know we have the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. But when it comes to car accidents, the rights to which you are and are not entitled can be a little less well-known. Keeping a clear head is the most important way you can safeguard them, however.
After a car accident, you have the right to protect yourself against adverse legal consequences. You have no legal or moral obligation to admit fault at the scene. Say, for example, the other driver complains of an injury. You may blurt out without thinking, “I’m sorry.” You may think you’re just expressing sympathy – or it may just be an automatic reaction. But he may use it as an admission of fault.
Do not admit fault or apologize for an accident. The police will take statements and photos and gather other evidence. Liability and fault will be determined after this has been analyzed. Never lie to law enforcement, but keep your account to the strict facts of the incident (e.g. “I had my signal on and turned left. I was struck by an oncoming vehicle.”)
You also have the right under Florida law to be treated for injuries. Florida is a no-fault state; the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage you carry is intended to pay for medical costs associated with your accident, regardless of who is at fault.
Drivers are required to have $10,000 minimum in PIP coverage. What happens if your medical and associated expenses are greater than that? In Florida, if you meet the state’s threshold for “serious injury,” you can take further action.
If your injuries were caused by negligence, carelessness, or recklessness on the part of another party and meet the state’s requirements, you have the right to seek full compensation from the at-fault party’s insurance company or file a lawsuit against them.
In some cases, you can negotiate with a third-party insurance company. Here’s why we suggest you seek the counsel of an experienced Florida personal injury attorney though: insurance companies are profit-generating entities. They want to minimize their risk – and your compensation. They will find any and every loophole and utilize any and every tactic to reduce the payout.
LaBovick Law Group has over 30 years of experience fighting insurance companies on behalf of our clients. We can help you stand up for your rights by developing a compelling case and filing within the allowable statutes of limitation. We believe you also have the right to dedicated, expert counsel. Get a free case evaluation of your car accident claim.
Rights – And Responsibilities After A Car Accident
While these are your rights, it is up to you to safeguard them. After a car accident, you must take action to ensure that you lay the foundation for a strong case (if it comes to that – if you choose not to pursue legal action, then that’s your choice. You’ll have the evidence you need to leave your options open).
In other words, get your ducks in a row by:
- Calling 911. Even if you do not believe you are injured, call for emergency responders. You may have internal issues or adrenaline may be masking injuries. Also, when there is extensive property damage (e.g. your vehicle), police need to be informed.
- Documenting the scene. If you are able, take photos of the scene, including your vehicle, the other party’s vehicle, street signs and lights, road conditions, obstructions, and anything else that may have played a part in the accident.
- Talking to witnesses. Again, if you are able, talk to witnesses. Ask for their names and contact information, and if they agree, ask them to write down what they saw/heard.
- Seeking medical help. After a car accident, it is essential that you receive a thorough medical assessment. The first priority is to ensure you are safe and healthy. But you will also need copies of your treatment records, bills, and referrals to specialists (e.g. physical therapists, neurologists, orthopedic surgeons, reconstructive surgeons, etc.) if you decide to pursue legal action.
Rights You Do Not Have After An Automotive Accident
After an accident, you do not have the right to:
Florida law requires that you report the accident if it meets one of the following criteria:
- There was $500 or more in property damage.
- There were fatalities, injuries, or “indications of pain or discomfort.”
- There was a vehicle or vehicle that needed to be towed.
- A commercial vehicle was involved.
- There was an intoxicated driver involved.
While statutorily, you have 10 days to report the accident to the police, it is strongly recommended by personal injury attorneys that you do so immediately.
Leave the Scene
Leaving the scene of an accident could land you in legal trouble. You must remain on scene if there is property damage, injuries, or fatalities. If there was property damage, you must stop as close to the scene of the incident as safely possible and provide your name, address, and registration number to the other driver. You must also provide your license, registration, address, insurance information, and other data to investigators.
If there are injuries or fatalities, you must do the same. You must also report the accident to the police immediately. Again, if you leave the scene, you could be found guilty of misdemeanor or felony charges.
In order to document the scene, you should try to talk to witnesses. You cannot, however, compel them to speak with you. You do not have the right to their information. You can respectfully request their names, contact details, and accounts of the accident. If they decline, that is their right.
Take Legal Action If…
As mentioned, to pursue legal remedies, your injury must meet the state’s definition of “serious.” Otherwise, your PIP coverage will be used to pay for your medical treatment.
However, do speak with an experienced Florida personal injury attorney who can help you interpret the law correctly and pursue a case if it is warranted. We will fight with and for you every step of the way.
Need more information? Here are some additional tips on what to do after a car accident and information about how the police determine who’s at fault in a car accident.
If you have been injured in an accident, contact LaBovick Law Group; we can help!