Frequently Asked Questions About Car Accidents
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, you may be left reeling, both physically and mentally. We understand that. We know that accident victims often don’t know the cause of what happened – and don’t know what they need to do next. You’re left to deal with the insurance companies, try to rebuild your life, and find a way to get the medical care you need.
You don’t have to go through that process alone. The experienced car accident attorneys at The Law Firm of Pajcic & Pajcic can help guide you down the road ahead. These questions and answers are based on our more than four decades of experience helping accident victims throughout the Jacksonville area.
- What should I do at the scene of a car accident?
- If I believe the driver who hit me was texting, do I have a case?
- How much is my claim worth after a car accident?
- Who can I hold responsible for my accident?
- How can I get my medical bills paid?
- Can I still recover if I was partly to blame for the accident?
- What if the other driver doesn’t have insurance?
- Do I need to talk to the insurance company?
- How do I get a copy of the police report?
- Should I see a doctor after an accident?
- Do I need a lawyer for a minor accident?
- Can you help me if I was hit by an out-of-state driver?
- How long will my case take to resolve?
If you don’t see your question answered here, or even if you do, you need to contact us right away. Remember, every accident is unique, and these answers are intended as general information, not legal advice on your individual case. That’s why we strongly encourage you to contact our law firm as soon as possible and schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys. We can help you understand your legal rights and start the process of moving forward.
What should I do at the scene of a car accident?
First, unless you need to leave to seek emergency medical care, remain at the scene. Leaving the scene of an accident before you’ve exchanged insurance information with the other driver is a serious crime in Florida. It could also affect your ability to recover compensation for your injuries.
Your top priority is to make sure the scene is safe. Call emergency services and assist if you are able and trained to do so. Once the scene is safe, you need to exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver. In addition, get names and contact information for any witnesses and the badge number of the investigating police officer.
Keep your comments at the scene brief and don’t say anything that could be seen as admitting fault for the accident. Remember, determining fault is a complex process and at the scene, you aren’t in a position to judge.
Take pictures of the accident scene, including skid marks, damage to your vehicle and any other property, and any visible injuries. That evidence will play a critical role if you need to file an insurance claim following the accident.
Finally, contact Pajcic & Pajcic as soon as possible, before you speak to an insurance company. The sooner you have an experienced attorney on your side, the easier it will be to protect your legal rights and recover fair compensation for your injuries.
If I believe the driver who hit me was texting, do I have a case?
Very likely, but we will need to prove it. Civil cases based on texting and driving can be surprisingly difficult because the carrier may not produce cell phone records without a subpoena. Our attorneys are adept at finding other means of proving that the driver who hit you was distracted, such as eyewitness accounts, traffic light camera video or even that defendant driver’s own statements.
In addition to proving that the at-fault driver was texting, we need to prove the extent of your losses due to his or her negligence. This can be a challenge because texting drivers often cause rear-end collisions at low speeds. However, even a low-speed collision can cause serious injuries, and our attorneys know how to prove just that.
How much is my claim worth after a car accident?
Every claim is unique, and there is no single answer to this question. However, damages (financial compensation) in car accident cases are divided into two categories. Most are compensatory damages, which are intended to make you whole again by compensating you for the losses you sustained in the accident.
Compensatory damages are further divided into two categories. Economic damages are compensation for objectively verifiable losses that can be tied to a specific dollar amount, such as:
- Medical expenses for injuries sustained in the accident.
- Lost wages if you were not able to work while recovering from your injuries.
- Replacement services, such as yard work, home maintenance and childcare, that you needed to hire someone to provide while you were recovering.
- Lost earning potential if you now need to work a “light duty” job or work fewer hours.
- Modifications to your home or vehicle to accommodate an injury.
- Repair or replacement of your vehicle or other property was damaged in the accident.
Other types of compensatory damages are known as non-economic damages. These damages compensate you for losses that are not tied to a specific dollar amount, such as pain and suffering or emotional distress. Although these losses are somewhat subjective, they still have a real impact on your life, and our attorneys will include that impact as we build your case for compensation.
Some injury cases also result in punitive damages. These are additional financial payments designed to punish the at-fault party for particularly reckless or intentional actions. We can often seek punitive damages following accidents caused by a drunk driver, for instance.
Who can I hold responsible for my accident?
The general rule is that if you were hurt in an accident, any person or company whose negligence contributed to your injuries can be held liable for the losses you have sustained. The most obvious example is the at-fault driver. However, the other driver is not always the only responsible party.
Pajcic & Pajcic has handled many cases that involved pursuing defendants other than the motorist who caused the accident. For instance, we have pursued “crashworthiness” claims against manufacturers of defective vehicles and “dram shop” cases against bars and restaurants that served alcohol to drunk drivers. We’ve even handled cases against utility companies, civil engineering contractors and others who were responsible for the maintenance and lighting of our roads.
How can I get my medical bills paid?
Because Florida is a “no-fault” insurance state, your first option to get your medical bills paid is called personal injury protection (PIP). This is a type of coverage on your own policy that pays for your medical expenses and income loss up to the policy limit. PIP also covers your children and other members of your household, as well as any passenger in your vehicle who does not own a car and does not have his or her own PIP insurance. Your PIP insurance covers you if you are injured in any car accident, even if you are walking, on a bicycle or a passenger in someone else’s car.
However, if you have medical expenses in excess of your PIP coverage – which is quite common, as PIP is very limited in terms of what it actually covers – getting those bills paid can be difficult. Your employer-provided health insurance may cover some of the costs, but health insurance companies are often reluctant to pay medical expenses for injuries sustained in car accidents. We can help you take legal action against the at-fault party or parties, but they normally won’t settle until after you have completed your treatment, and your medical providers will want to be paid before then.
The bottom line is that you need to contact an attorney as soon as possible. Florida law gives you an extremely short window of time in which to seek medical treatment. Getting an attorney from our firm on your side is the best option to protect your legal rights.