(AS HEARD DURING COLBERT COURT ON THE JIM COLBERT SHOW ON REAL RADIO 104.1)
- MAKE SURE YOU ARE IN A SAFE PLACE.
- CALL 911. They will ask if the call is an emergency or not. They will ask if anyone appears injured to know whether to dispatch Emergency Medical Services.
CALL A FAMILY MEMBER OR SIGNIFICANT OTHER FOR HELP.
- If you can, TAKE PHOTOS. Take photos of all cars involved, including the at fault vehicle license tag. If there is any interior vehicle damage take photos. If the seat back has broken take a photo. If safe, take photos of the collision scene. Make sure you preserve all photos and videos and any dash camera footage. If you hire an attorney, make sure you provide all to the attorney. The insurance companies handling the claim will also request copies of the photos and any video.
- WAIT FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT TO DO A POLICE REPORT. If you do not require emergency transport, wait for law enforcement to do a police report. If you are transported to a hospital, law enforcement will usually contact you at the hospital or later. MAKE SURE YOU TELL THE OFFICER ABOUT ALL OF THE PAIN YOU ARE FEELING BECAUSE THEY NOTE THAT IN THE REPORT. Insurance companies want to see police reports to support any claims being made.
- CONTACT AN ATTORNEY WHO SPECIALIZES IN INJURY CLAIMS.
My recommendation is to hire a local attorney. If the crash is in Central Florida, why would you hire a lawyer whose main office is in South Florida or Jacksonville, who may only have a virtual office in Orlando or a satellite office with no attorney who lives in the area?
The attorney should speak to you for free and agree to handle your case on a no recovery = no attorney fee basis. The attorney only gets paid when you receive money for your injury claim.
Look at the attorney’s reviews online and also consider the following:
Most attorneys who are dedicated to specializing in injury cases are members of the Florida Justice Association (www.myfja.org) and in Central Florida we are members of the Central Florida Trial Lawyers Association (www.cftla.org). These organizations have teaching seminars multiple times a year so your attorney keeps up on the latest in medical advances and legal issues that are important to your case. Also, check the Florida Bar website (www.floridabar.org) online to see if there have been complaints about the attorney or if there is a discipline record by the Florida Bar due to the attorney committing errors that harmed clients.
- GET MEDICAL ATTENTION ASAP. If you feel significant pain, go to an Emergency Room where you can be evaluated and receive necessary prescription medications. Minor Emergency clinics like Guidewell or Urgent Care facilities are another option to consider. If you have pain, get evaluated. If you have a primary physician who refuses to see accident cases, call your attorney to discuss recommendations. Attorneys who focus on representing injured accident victims usually know of medical providers in your area who provide medical care to accident victims. In almost all instances, you will have auto insurance available to pay towards the first $10,000 of your medical bills. To make sure your auto insurance pays for the medical coverage you have purchased, Florida law requires you to obtain medical treatment within 14 days of the accident.
Some primary care physicians will treat auto accident victims and some prefer to refer those patients to other health care providers. If you are referred to an “accident clinic” you should review their reviews online and if you have an attorney, you should discuss that referral with your attorney. Some accident clinics provide excellent care, while others may engage in a “one size fits all” treatment plan that may not focus on what is best for your specific symptoms and injuries. You always have the right to choose what medical providers you see.
- WHAT IS IN YOUR MEDICAL RECORDS IS CRITICAL TO YOUR INJURY CLAIM AND WHAT YOU TELL YOUR DOCTORS IS IMPORTANT FOR THE BEST MEDICAL TREATMENT THEY CAN PROVIDE. Make a list of all of your symptoms to share with your doctor every office visit. If you are asked to rate your pain on a 1 to 10 scale, please be truthful as your doctor needs this information to best evaluate your injuries. Keep in mind the insurance adjuster evaluating your injury claim will be evaluating your claim BASED ON WHAT IS IN YOUR MEDICAL RECORDS. If your medical records do not include complaints that you claim you are suffering, whoever is evaluating your claim may believe only what is in the medical records. You have the right to receive a copy of your medical records and you may ask your doctor’s office for copies.
- ASK YOUR DOCTOR ABOUT A REFERRAL FOR AN MRI SCAN. Injuries that may occur with auto accidents include damage to the discs in your neck and lower back. X-rays show bones, but do not show discs or nerves. If you have damage to a disc in your neck that disc may be pressing on a nerve that exits the spinal cord and that nerve travels down to your fingers and irritation of that nerve may cause numbness and tingling into the fingers. Damage to a disc in the lower back may cause irritation of a nerve that travels from the low back to your toes. The best tool to determine damage to spinal discs is an MRI scan. The technology for MRI scans has advanced to allow the scans to be conducted while you are in a sitting or standing position, without feeling claustrophobic. MRI scans and CT scans can provide excellent images of the inside of your body.
- IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR MEDICAL TREATMENT DISCUSS THEM WITH YOUR DOCTOR.
- IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTONS OR ISSUES ABOUT YOUR CLAIMS TALK TO YOUR ATTORNEY. You have the right to obtain answers from your attorney. There should be no fee for speaking with your attorney and getting answers to your questions, because most attorneys who pursue accident claims for clients do so on most cases on a contingency fee agreement, which means the attorney is not billing you by the hour and instead the agreement is the attorney receives a percentage of the money recovered for you.
SPEAKING TO YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY AFTER AN ACCIDENT: Your insurance policy requires you to cooperate with your insurance company, but you may first wish to consult with an attorney to determine if you require the attorney’s services before speaking with your insurance company. I prefer to be on a conference call when my clients are speaking with their insurance company.
If you have questions about a car accident claim, feel free to call me. If you are a client, you have my cell number.