Central Florida car accident attorney
I was Just in a Car Accident, What Should I Do?
In this section of my website I am going to go over everything you need to know after you are involved in an automobile accident.
Nobody ever plans to be in an automobile accident. Unfortunately they happen every single day, especially in Central Florida. Orlando grows every single day. As more people move to Central Florida the traffic continues to get worse and worse.
Couple the large expansion in Central Florida with the I-4 Ultimate Project, and you have a perfect recipe for disaster.
If you have been in a Central Florida automobile accident recently, this article should provide you everything that you need to know about making a claim. Feel free to read from top to bottom to get a comprehensive overview. You can also jump around to the individual sections to learn more about that topic.
What Should I do Immediately After a Car Accident?
The first thing that you should do immediately after a car accident is to take a deep breath and try to recognize if you are severely injured. It is normal after any car accident for it to take a few seconds or even a few minutes for you to come to your senses. Once you come to your senses, you want to figure out how injured you are.
Airbag deployment, blood, the worst headache of your life, blurred vision, and broken bones are all big signs that you need to go to the ER immediately. This, of course, always varies on a case by case basis.
After the initial identification of your injuries, check to see how the other people in your car are doing. Immediately call 911 to have a police officer dispatched as soon as possible to your accident.
If an accident is reported with injuries to 911, a police officer and ambulance should be dispatched as soon as possible. If there are no injuries reported, the call will be deemed a lower priority. This means that it could take a very long time for the police department or the Florida Highway Patrol to show up to the scene of the accident.
Finally, make sure that you are in a safe place. A lot of times after an accident there is the possibility of a second accident from oncoming traffic. This is especially true if you were hit on the interstate or if it is night time. If this is the case the number one thing that you need to do is get out of the way of oncoming traffic so that you do not get hit. YOU DO NOT WANT TO BE INVOLVED IN A SECOND ACCIDENT!
What Should I Tell the Police After a Car Accident?
After the police appear at the scene of the accident they will conduct their investigation. One of the first things that they will do after arriving at the scene of the accident is check to see if anybody is injured.
A lot of times after an accident your adrenaline is rushing so much that you don't realize that your neck or back may hurt. Regardless of how small you think an injury is, if anything feels off, you need to inform the police officer of this. This means if you feel the slightest tweak in your back you need to inform the police officer of this.
The reason why it is so important to inform the police officer of your injuries is because he or she is going to fill out an accident report. The accident report typically states whether anybody reports injuries. Because your adrenaline is rushing so hard after an accident, you may not realize that you are injured. You also may not think to tell the police about the little tweak that you feel in your neck.
Insurance companies will get a copy of this accident report and see that it says no injuries reported at the scene of the accident. They will use this information to fight your injury claim. This is why it is so important for you to tell the police officers about anything that you think feels even the slightest bit off. You would be surprised how often people say they are not injured at the scene of the accident, only to end up sustaining a very serious injury.
Should I go to the Hospital After a Car Accident?
This is one of the frequently asked common questions I get after car accidents. The simple answer is this: go to the hospital if you are severely injured.
If you are bleeding, have a broken arm, have severe confusion, or anything else serious, you need to go to the hospital immediately. The two major hospitals in the metro Orlando area are Orlando Regional Medical Center and Advent Health.
On the other hand, if you feel a little bit shaken up, it might make more sense for you to go to an urgent care. Urgent cares often times have a shorter wait and can be cheaper than a hospital emergency room.
Although hospitals serve their purpose for traumatic and life-threatening injuries, consider going to an urgent care for any injuries short of this. Remember, a hospital's job is to stabilize your condition and then send you on your way. Once stabilized, they will give you a recommendation to follow up with your primary care physician or an orthopedic doctor. Again, if you have severe injuries you absolutely need to go to a hospital to get checked out. If your injuries are not life threatening, consider the benefits of going to urgent cares.
Should I go to an Urgent Care After a Car Accident?
Urgent cares are great alternatives to the major hospital emergency rooms. As I wrote above if you sustained a life-threatening injury or something very serious you need to go to a hospital to get checked out.
Many injuries after an Orlando car accident do not require a trip to the emergency room. A trip to the emergency room could take two to six hours to be seen by a doctor (or even longer). The cost of the emergency room is very expensive compared to that of an urgent care. When you go to a hospital you will be charged a facility fee and a doctor's fee. You may also be charged for a radiology fee. Typically when you go to an urgent care there is only one charge and that is to see the doctor.
Urgent cares are staffed by medical professionals. The doctor will check you out to make sure that there is nothing serious going on that is life-threatening. If the doctor does find something that is life-threatening they can suggest that you go to the emergency room immediately. Some of the big urgent cares around town is Paramount Urgent Care and Centracare.
The total cost of your urgent care visit will be half of the cost of a hospital. It might even be a third of the cost of going to the hospital. I always recommend that people consider going to an urgent care if their injuries are not life-threatening.
Should I go to a doctor after a car accident?
After the immediate shock a car accident begins to fade, it is very important that you go get checked out by a doctor. Remember, the ER or urgent care will make sure that there isn't anything life threatening going on. After the ER or urgent care, get checked out by a general doctor, an orthopedic doctor, or neurosurgeon.
Oftentimes our adrenaline is pumping so hard after a car accident that it fights the inflammation that is building in our bodies. Because of this, your injuries may not begin to present until one day to two weeks after your car accident. It may take even longer than that. This is especially true for your soft tissues.
This was actually a trick that I used to use when I represented the insurance companies. I attempted to create doubt about an injury by showing that the plaintiff did not timely treat after their accident.
This is why it is so important for you to get to a doctor right away. Doctors are trained to know this and they can check your body to see what part might be injured. In addition to your complaints, a car-accident doctor knows what to look for. He or she will check out the other parts of your body and is well aware of the fact that not all injuries may present in the hours after a car accident.
You might be wondering who is going to pay for your doctor's visits. Florida requires "personal injury protection" coverage that will provide up to $10,000.00 in medical treatment. The catch with this insurance is that you must see a medical professional within 14 days after your car accident. If you do not see a medical professional with 14 days, you will forever lose the right to have this insurance coverage. A “medical professional” in this instance includes the following types of doctors:
Who is Going to Pay for my Medical Bills After a Car Accident?
After a car accident you may incur large medical bills because of your injuries. In an ideal world, you would not be responsible to pay these medical bills because you did not cause the car accident. This is where insurance should kick in and cover the cost of your medical bills. In this section I'm going to discuss the three types of auto insurance that can be used to pay your medical bills after a car accident.
What are Personal Injury Protection Benefits?
We touched on the personal injury protection benefits a little bit above. Every car insurance policy issued in the State of Florida includes personal injury protection benefits. These benefits are oftentimes referred to as "PIP" benefits.
PIP benefits provide $10,000 in coverage paid directly to your medical providers for medical bills that you incur as a result of a car accident. The doctors will bill the PIP insurer directly.
According to this statute, you only have 14 days from the date of the accident to see a medical provider.
What does that mean?
That means that if you do not see a medical provider within 14 days, then you will forever lose these benefits. That doesn’t seem fair, does it? This is one of the reasons why it is so important that you seek medical treatment as soon as possible after the accident. Simply put if you do not seek medical treatment within 14 days of a car accident you lose $10,000 in benefits that would pay for your medical bills.
Will the Person Who Hit me Have to Pay for my Medical Bills?
This is actually one of the most complex questions that I get asked. Let's try to give you a good answer.
When you are involved in a car accident that is not your fault, the person who hit you is the "at-fault driver." In Florida every motor vehicle is required by law to have insurance. However, this does not mean that every motor vehicle has full insurance coverage.
Many automobile insurance companies sell what they call "full coverage."
Full coverage in the State of Florida means that you have $10,000 in PIP benefits and $10,000 in collision coverage. Collision coverage pays for the property damage to the other vehicle. Read above to see what the $10,000 in PIP actually covers. Read below to see what the $10,000 in Collision coverage covers.
What does this mean for you?
This means that there is a possibility that the person who hit you does not have insurance coverage that will compensate you for your injuries. When this happens, you might have to pay for your medical bills and lost wages. That isn't fair, is it?
The insurance coverage that covers somebody when they cause a car accident is called "bodily injury coverage."
Florida DOES NOT require drivers to have bodily injury coverage. That is not a typo. This is an issue that is continually brought up every single year when the Florida Legislature is in session.
What does this mean for your medical bills? Even if you did not cause a car accident, you are liable for the medical bills incurred. Of course, the person who caused a car accident is still legally responsible for your medical bills, but you are the one who could be sent to collections. Many times people are “judgment-proof.” This means that any judgment entered against them is not worth the paper that the judgment is written on.
This is why it is so important for every single driver in Florida to carry uninsured motorist coverage. This topic is discussed below in great detail.
Going back to the person who hit you.
There is also the possibility that they do have bodily injury coverage. After you retain Dunmire Law to represent you, I will send a letter to either the at-fault driver to get their insurance policy information. In the state of Florida a person is required to disclose their insurance coverage within 30 days of a request pursuant to Florida Statute 627.4137.
Once we figure out what amount of insurance the person who hit you has, we'll have a good idea how to proceed.
This means that if the person who hit you does have bodily injury insurance we can make a claim against them. Essentially, we will argue that they should be responsible to pay the medical bills and lost wages that you incurred after your car accident. This is what is referred to as making a claim.
Simply put, the value of your claim is based on the severity of your injuries, your past and future medical bills, and your past and future wage loss. Other factors include liability, preexisting injuries, and whether the accident caused your injuries. Keep reading to see what happens if the person who hit you does not have bodily injury insurance.
What is Underinsured Motorist Coverage?
So what happens if the person who hit you does not have bodily injury coverage as we discussed above? Then we start to look at your automobile insurance policy.
We want to know if you have uninsured motorist coverage (also referred to as "underinsured motorist coverage"). Anybody who has ever spoken to Brian about motor vehicle insurance knows how important this coverage is.
Why? Because uninsured motorist coverage covers you when the at fault driver does not have an insurance policy to pay for your injuries. Uninsured motorist coverage works in two different ways.
First, we find out what insurance the at-fault driver has and what the coverage limit is. We also see what insurance you have and whether you have uninsured motorist coverage. This means that there could be two levels of insurance to cover the injuries from your accident. You have the ability to buy an insurance policy that steps in the shoes of the person who hits you that can cover your injuries.
This means that when at-fault driver does not have enough insurance coverage, your insurance coverage can step in their place. This provides you with insurance coverage for the injuries that you sustained.
Think about that - you have the ability to ensure that the person who hit you has insurance coverage by purchasing underinsured motorist coverage.
Unfortunately many Florida drivers reject this coverage because they assume that the person who causes a car accident will have bodily injury coverage. This is false. This is why uninsured motorist coverage is the most important insurance coverage that you can buy for yourself.
Give me a practical example please.
To put this in perspective let's say that you have a catastrophic collision and have surgery on your shoulder and your lower back. The at fault driver only has $10,000 in coverage which is not enough to pay for the surgery. If you have uninsured motorist coverage in an amount of $500,000, you can place that coverage on top of the $10,000. This makes a total of $510,000.00 in insurance coverage.
Similarly, if the at fault driver does not have bodily injury coverage, you can make a claim directly against your insurance company. This is why uninsured motorist coverage is the most important insurance for you to have. It covers you in the instance that you are hit by somebody who does not have insurance or enough insurance.
If you are reading this and have not been involved in a car accident, you need to immediately check your insurance policy and make sure that you have underinsured motorist coverage. If you do not have underinsured motorist coverage, call your insurance policy immediately and add it. You do not want to drive without that coverage.
Will my Health Insurance Pay my Medical Bills After a Car Accident?
Health insurance can be a big help after a car accident. There is the possibility that the health insurance may cover some of the medical expenses. If you do have health insurance, it is very important to provide this information to the hospital or urgent care.
Health insurance will help to reduce the amount of out-of-pocket expenses that you are required to pay for your injuries after a car accident. Any payments made by your health insurance company will be subject to subrogation.
In layman's terms, this means that the health insurance company will want to be paid back for the claims that it pays. If your health insurance company pays $100 towards your medical bills, they will want to be paid back that $100 from your settlement. If this seems complicated, it is. This is why you will want to speak with Dunmire Law as soon as possible after your accident.
What if I do not Have Health Insurance After a Car Accident?
If you do not have health insurance after your Central Florida car accident, then you might be responsible for the medical bills that you incur as a result of the car accident. This means that you might need to pay out-of-pocket for the medical treatment that you need because you were injured in a car accident.
As discussed in detail above, there are multiple types of insurance coverage available to cover your injuries and the cost of medical care. Dunmire Law will help to identify all available insurance coverage after your Central Florida car accident.
It is important for you to speak with an attorney as soon as possible after a car accident. This is to identify quickly any and all sources of insurance available to pay your medical bills. The last thing that you want to do is rack up a ton of medical bills that you are not able to pay. This could cause to you to file bankruptcy if you can’t afford your bills.
Who is Going to Pay for my Property Damage After my Car Accident?
This is often the first question that I am asked after somebody is involved in a car accident. Florida requires that all drivers have a policy with $10,000 in property damage coverage. If you are hit by a driver who has insurance, then the insurance company for that driver should pay to repair your vehicle.
However, working with the at fault driver's insurance company can become very difficult. This is because the at fault driver's insurance company does not have an incentive to treat you well since you are not a customer. They have no incentive to because you are not a policyholder.
I suggest that my clients go through their own insurance to fix the property damage part of the automobile accident. Your own insurance company should try to do right by you after the accident and might be easier to work with.
After your insurance company fixes your vehicle, they will go back and try to get paid by the at-fault driver's insurance company. The downside of going through your insurance company is that you may be responsible to pay for your deductible. However, you will most likely get that back when your insurance company gets paid by the at-fault driver's insurance.
What About the Decreased Value of my Vehicle?
After a car accident you can make a claim for diminution in value of your vehicle. These types of claims have become very popular in the last couple of years. There are companies out there that will help you with a diminished value claim. I would stay away from these companies as I believe that you can handle the claims on your own.
Essentially you make a claim against the insurance company for the decreased value in your vehicle. This applies if your vehicle is not a total loss and you own the vehicle or are making payments on it.
A diminution in value claim states that because your vehicle was damaged in a car accident, it is not worth as much as it was before the car accident. Dunmire Law can help guide you through the diminished value claim process while we are handling your personal injury case.
Who Should I Call After a Car Accident?
The first person to call after a central Florida car accident is the police. No matter how big or small your automobile accident is, you want to get a crash report. Even if you can't get a crash report, then you need to do everything that you can to do a driver's information Exchange. If the police are not willing to do a driver information exchange or a crash report, then you fill out a Florida self-report crash report.
After you contact the police you need to determine whether you need to go to the emergency room. If you don't need to go to the emergency room, then you should consider getting checked out by an urgent care doctor as soon as possible.
After the police have cleared the scene, a report has been given, and you have been checked out by a doctor, you should call Dunmire Law as soon as possible. Retaining an attorney as soon as possible after an accident can help bring a sense of comfort in a trying time. It will also help you to protect your legal right to pursue a claim against the at-fault party.
Does the Person who hit me Have Insurance?
In the State of Florida all vehicles and all licensed drivers are required to have insurance. As we discussed above this does not actually mean that all drivers do. More drivers seem to not have any insurance or have only the very minimal required coverage. Because of this it is very important that you carry a good insurance policy that covers you if you are involved in an accident that is not your fault.
After retaining Dunmire Law for your Central Florida car accident, we will contact all interested parties and try to identify any and all insurance policies there are to help pay for your injuries and property damage. Retaining an attorney as soon as possible will help to identify the insurance policies.
Will my Insurance Rates go up After a Car Accident?
The honest answer is that your insurance rates may go up after a car accident even if the accident was not your fault. Only the insurance companies and their underwriters know how they adjust premiums. It is very hard to know whether your rates will go up immediately after an accident.
The insurance company will be aware that you were in an automobile accident even if you do not report a claim directly to them. This is because the insurance carriers are in tune with one another and know when various claims are reported. Because of this there is no reason for you to not report a motor vehicle accident to your insurance carrier.
Additionally, as discussed above there is a coverage where you can have up to $10,000 in medical bills paid by your automobile insurance carrier. If you do not timely report your automobile accident to your insurance company, they may try to void the $10,000 in medical bills.
When you retain Dunmire Law to represent you, we will take care of reporting your claim to your insurance company. All you need to do is just focus on getting better.
Should I Call a Lawyer After my Car Accident?
After calling the police and after being seen by a doctor, you will want to contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible to discuss your case. I have had many clients who called me directly from the scene of the accident before they even called the police or an ambulance.
Speaking with an attorney as soon as possible after a car accident can help to bring a successful claim. This will also protect your rights as an injured victim. Dunmire Law does not charge any fees or costs to speak with an attorney after an automobile accident. If you have been involved in an accident, call Dunmire Law to speak with an attorney about your claim.
Can I Handle a Car Accident Case Myself?
This is a question that I'm often asked - can I handle a car accident claim by myself. Just like I did in my slip-and-fall section, I'm going to give you an honest opinion on it and it might not be exactly what you think.
The best way to answer this question is to break it up into two sections. First will be the property damage claim second will be the personal injury claim.
It's important to understand that personal injury claims are different from property damage claims. This means that your property damage claim will be handled by a property damage adjuster and your personal injury claim will be handled by a bodily injury adjuster.
Most of the time there's no reason why you would need an attorney for the property damage portion of an automobile claim. In my experience most individuals are able to resolve the property damage portion on their own.
The benefits of doing this is that you don't owe any attorney fees or cost and you get 100% of the recovery (meaning you won't have to come out of pocket for repairs). I always offer to help my clients with their property damage claims, but I often find that they're able to do it without having to hire an attorney.
On the flip side is the personal injury claim. If you've read this far then you probably know at this point that there are a lot of different parts of a personal injury claim. The insurance company for the at-fault driver will look at your medical bills, records, and possibly your previous medical records to figure out how much they're going to pay for the claim. They will also look at any surgery notes or recommendations that you have received.
An attorney's job is to gather all that information, bundle it up in a nice neat package, and send it to the insurance company for them to review. The goal is to show the insurance company for the at fault driver the extent of the injuries that you sustained.
Although you can certainly try, I would suggest NOT doing the personal injury claim on your own. I would also suggest that if you do not hire my firm that you find an attorney who ONLY practices personal injury. By trying to handle a personal injury claim on your own you may fall victim to some of these pitfalls. The same is true if you hire an attorney who is not equipped to handle personal injury claims or only handles personal injury claims "on the side.”
Personal injury law is very complex and there are many pitfalls that can occur. Just like I would not suggest hiring a personal injury lawyer to handle your divorce, I would not suggest hiring a divorce lawyer to handle your personal injury case.
There is the possibility that you could handle a personal injury claim yourself, however the risks outweigh the benefits. This is only my opinion, of course.
Additionally when you use an attorney to handle your personal injury claim, they should do their best to identify the bills and liens that you are responsible for after a car accident. Although attorneys cannot change the amount of insurance coverage available after a car accident, hiring the right attorney can help you maximize your recovery.
Do I Really Need a Lawyer After a Car Accident?
I think that it is very beneficial for anybody involved in a car accident to reach out and speak to a personal injury attorney about their claim. If you suffered catastrophic injuries and there is a low insurance policy, you might be able to get the full amount of the insurance policy. However you are still liable for the subrogation interest that insurance companies or medical providers may have.
An attorney can bring value to a case and identify the subrogation interest and liens asserted against the claim. An attorney can also file a lawsuit if needed to maximize the value of the claim.
How Much Will I Get for my Car Accident Case?
How much is my car accident case worth is one of the most common questions people wonder after a car accident. The answer to the question isn't as simple as it may seem. I know that people hate legal speak, but it is true that each case is unique and different. I want to break that down a little bit though so you can understand why you always hear attorneys say that.
First, nobody is the same as you. You could be in your young twenties, perfect shape, and just ran a marathon when you break your leg in an accident. Or you could be older and a little overweight with some pre-existing orthopedic issues. The area of law that I practice in is very complex and different things are weighted differently by the insurance companies and juries.
That means that an injury sustained by person A might be worth X from insurance company Y, but that very same injury suffered by person B is worth less because there is a different insurance company calling the shots.
On top of the differences in humans and the differences in the injuries, there is always a question of insurance coverage. Since you do not know what kind of car is going to hit you, it is impossible to accurately predict the amount of available insurance coverage. This means that the at fault driver could have anything from no insurance coverage to a commercial policy that has a million dollar limit.
This is why I spoke above about how important uninsured motorist coverage is. Uninsured motorist coverage covers you when you are hit by somebody who does not have a sufficient amount of insurance.
If you have any questions regarding the valuation of your case, please feel free to reach out to Dunmire Law and I will give you an honest assessment of what I believe the value of your case to be.
Will I Have to go to Court After a Car Accident?
As I discussed in my slip and fall section of my website, there are essentially two components to a claim. The first section of the claim is called the presuit claim. This is when we make a claim against the insurance companies. It is always my goal and is usually in everyone's best interest to attempt to settle the claim amicably in the presuit period. The reason for this is because costs should be lower than litigation and the time frame moves a lot quicker when a claim proceeds to court. A presuit claim is between my office and the insurance adjuster and typically operates in periods of days and weeks.
If we are not able to successfully resolve your automobile accident claim with the insurance companies, it may be necessary to file a lawsuit. Filing a lawsuit should be the last resort, however this does not mean that you need to be afraid to file a lawsuit. A lawsuit is filed when we are not able to agree upon an amount and to settle with the insurance companies. At that point we file a lawsuit and proceed to court.
How Long Does a Car Accident Case Take?
This all depends on the specific facts of your case. There are very few personal injury cases that will last less than 2 to 3 months. Those types of cases would be high damages with low insurance policy limits in no issues of liability. The vast majority of cases last anywhere from 9 months to 2 years, although the length of time for cases vary greatly depending on the facts of the car accident.
What Damages can I Claim After a Central Florida Car Accident?
- After a car accident in Central Florida you can claim the following damages:
- Past medical expenses
- Future medical expenses
- Medical expenses that you are reasonably expected to incur
- Loss of services of a spouse
- Future lost wages
- Past lost wages
- Future loss of earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Aggravation of a preexisting injury
- Reactivation of a preexisting injury
- Nursing care
Who is a Non-Sleazy Plaintiff’s Attorney?
I get this question all the time. I don't blame anybody for asking me this. The media portrays personal injury attorneys as ambulance chasers. The sad part? I don't think personal injury attorneys have done a great job at trying to fix this reputation.
I also get the question who is the best car accident attorney in Orlando?
I have clients from all walks of life and it's something that I pride myself for. I love representing my clients. Part of this is showing my clients respect and empathy. After meeting with clients, I'll hear "this wasn't exactly what I thought it would be" or " I feel much better after meeting with you." This is because the most important thing I can do is be professional and give you an honest opinion.
With that being said, on the other end of the spectrum I think a lot of people have a view of attorneys as being very cold or intimidating. One of my goals with every client is to get to know them on a personal level so that I can better understand their case. This is something that sets apart my firm from other large law firms. Every bit as capable, even more personable. I have a small and selective caseload that I handle personally along with my staff.
Dunmire Law: Fighting For YOU
Contact Dunmire Law as soon as possible to discuss your Orlando car accident case.
Because chances are the insurance company for the at-fault driver will call you shortly to take a recorded statement. Should you give it to them? ABSOLUTELY NOT.
Should you speak with the insurance company? ABSOLUTELY NOT. Why? The law is highly technical and anything that you can say can be used against you later in court.
Speaking with a me as soon as possible after your car accident could be the difference between a large recovery that can be used to pay your medical bills and lost wages or there not being a case.
At Dunmire Law, we want to represent you! We have a successful track record in the Central Florida area and take pride in being a local law firm in Winter Park and the Orlando community. We take immense pride in giving quality representation to each of our clients. When you work with us, there are no upfront fees or costs and we only get paid if we are successful in bringing your claim. Contact Brian today to discuss your case.