You are driving down the road in Broward County, wearing your seatbelt and obeying all traffic signals and laws. The last thing you thought would happen is a car running a red light and striking your vehicle at the intersection. You advise the Officer at the scene of your statement and the other driver is cited at fault for the accident. You are injured so you go to the ER. You are waiting to be seen and so many things are running through your mind…am I going to be OK…what about my car…how am I going to get to work…etc… These are questions our South Florida firm answers everyday when we speak with our prospective clients for the first time. In an effort to help our prospective clients we have compiled a checklist of sorts that can be used by anyone who is injured in an accident in the State of Florida.
1. Be truthful to everyone about any physical limitation you now have. In order for your doctors and attorney to help you with your case we need to know about all of your symptoms.
2. Don’t accept a check or sign a release from an insurance company for your property damage claim unless you are sure you know exactly what it covers. Sometimes insurance companies will attempt to get you to release “any and all claims” – including your personal injury claim when you are only settling your claim for property damage. Please check with your attorney if you’re not sure.
3. Do not hide past accidents or injuries from your lawyer. Insurance companies have access to accident information in a central database, so the other insurance company will more than likely find out about your prior medical history and accident.
4. We find that it is extremely helpful when clients keep a record of how they feel. A diary is an excellent way to organize this information. The diary should contain notes of their doctor and therapy appointments, medications, and inability to work and enjoy any of the activities that were enjoyed and participated in before the accident. In real life there are few “cant’s” after an accident. Most people recover the ability to perform most activities, unless they are bedridden. But generally, if they have limitations, it’s because they can’t do the activity as long, as hard, or as strongly as they used to. A diary which reflects these limitations is important to your injury case because they can really show the adjuster how you have been affected on a daily basis as a result of the accident.
5. Do not try and deal with pain. See a doctor or go to the ER immediately after your accident. Tell your doctor everything: about how the accident occurred, and advise him or her of any past accidents or medical conditions.
6. Video cameras can be hidden anywhere. You may not know you are being videotaped and it could be at anytime or in any place. We have seen this many times. You will lose all credibility if you claim you cannot perform a certain way and then are caught “on tape” doing those exact things or something similar. If you are honest and truthful about your injuries and limitations this invasion of your privacy will only bolster your case. Go on as usual if you see someone following you and let them record for all to see how your injuries have affected your ability to perform your normal everyday functions. This will be your best evidence.
These are just a few of the things we routinely go over with our clients so they can be educated on what they can do to help us to obtain the maximum recovery possible for their individual case. Insurance companies are for profit businesses and in order for us to obtain fair, speedy and just compensation to persons injured through the fault of another (the insurance company’s policyholder) we have to do everything we can do to present a case in the light most favorable to our clients and convince the Insurance Companies that our clients are entitled to be paid a fair, speedy and just settlement as a result of their insured’s negligence. If you want to read more about what not to do after you are in an accident you can read an article in our blog : “Florida Auto Accidents: The Mistakes People Make” dated June 26, 2008.