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What to do After a Car Accident in Miami

on  Car Accidents

After experiencing a car accident, you may find yourself trapped in a financial whirlwind. Suddenly, you’re facing mounting medical bills, costly car repairs, and potentially, a loss of income. These financial burdens, coupled with the stress of recovering from injuries, can be overwhelming. During this vulnerable time, it’s common to feel pressured by others about the steps you should take next. However, navigating the path to compensation for your losses can be a manageable task, especially with the guidance of a skilled Miami car accident attorney on your side.

Prosper Shaked can help lift the legal burdens off your shoulders. We are committed to delivering top-tier legal services, focused on helping you recover both physically and financially. With Prosper Shaked in your corner, you can confidently navigate the complexities of your car accident claim and walk away with the compensation you need to recover fully.

Step One: Call 911 & Get to Safety

Your immediate actions are critical in the chaotic moments following a car accident. The confusion and shock can be overwhelming, but you must prioritize your safety. 

The first step should be to call 911 and alert them to your accident. While you wait for emergency services to arrive, assess your physical condition and that of any passengers. Even if you feel fine, be aware that the adrenaline rush from the accident can mask pain or injury. If it’s safe and you’re physically able, move your vehicle to a secure location away from traffic flow. This could involve pulling to the side of the road, using an emergency lane, or finding a nearby parking lot. The goal is to minimize the risk of additional collisions or traffic disruptions.

When assessing your surroundings for potential dangers, pay special attention to factors like oncoming traffic, the stability of your vehicle, and any hazards such as leaking fluids or exposed wires that could pose a threat. If you smell gasoline or see smoke, it’s crucial to evacuate the vehicle as quickly as safety allows. On the other hand, if your vehicle is stable but movement isn’t possible due to injuries, vehicle damage, or traffic conditions, make your presence known to other motorists. Activating your hazard lights alerts oncoming drivers, especially in low visibility conditions or busy roadways.

Remember, while moving to a safer area is important, you should never compromise your safety or that of others. If injuries are apparent or movement exacerbates pain, it’s best to remain still and wait for emergency services. During this time, try to stay calm and avoid panicking. Deep breathing or focusing on a calm image can help manage shock and disorientation. Your calm demeanor can also reassure passengers or other involved parties who might be distressed. In these first critical moments, your actions can significantly influence the safety and well-being of everyone involved in the accident.

Step Two: Seek Medical Attention

After a car accident in Miami, you must seek medical attention, even if you don’t think you’re injured. The importance of this action cannot be overstated. In the immediate aftermath of an accident, adrenaline and shock can often mask the true extent of any injuries you may have sustained. This means that what might seem like a minor ache could be a more serious injury that isn’t immediately apparent. It’s not uncommon for certain types of injuries, such as whiplash or internal bleeding, to show delayed symptoms. Therefore, obtaining a timely medical evaluation is crucial for your health and providing necessary documentation in case of insurance claims or legal actions.

For those with minor injuries, such as bruises, minor cuts, or sprains, it is advisable to visit an urgent care center or see your physician. It’s essential not to underestimate these injuries and to follow all recommended follow-up appointments. Even minor injuries can develop into more significant issues if they are not properly treated and monitored over time.

In cases of major injuries, the situation becomes more critical. If you have sustained major injuries like fractures, head trauma, or severe lacerations, emergency medical services (EMS) will typically provide immediate care and may transport you to a nearby hospital. Hospitals are equipped to handle serious injuries and will provide the necessary care. Recovery from such injuries may involve a range of treatments and could require the involvement of specialists, physical therapy, and numerous follow-up appointments.

Some of the hospitals in Miami where you may seek medical help after an accident include:

  • Mount Sinai Medical Center – 4300 Alton Rd, Miami Beach, FL 33140
  • HCA Florida Aventura Hospital – 20900 Biscayne Blvd, Aventura, FL 33180
  • Baptist Health South Miami Hospital – 6200 SW 73rd St, Miami, FL 33143 
  • Jackson Memorial Hospital – 1611 NW 12th Ave, Miami, FL 33136
  • Jackson North Medical Center – 160 NW 170th St, North Miami Beach, FL 33169
  • Doctor’s Hospital – 5000 University Dr. Coral Gables, FL 33146
  • North Shore Medical Center Emergency Room – 1100 NW 95th St, Miami, FL 33150
  • Hialeah Hospital – 651 E 25th St, Hialeah, FL 33013

Seeking Medical Attention is Important for PIP

An important aspect to consider regarding car accidents in Florida is the state’s 14-Day Personal Injury Protection (PIP) rule. This rule is part of Florida’s insurance laws and mandates that you must seek medical attention within 14 days of a car accident to be eligible for PIP benefits. 

Under Florida law, every driver must have at least $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance. This provision ensures that the driver can access funds from their policy to cover damages in a car accident. These damages typically include medical expenses and any loss of income resulting from the accident. Florida operates under a no-fault insurance system. This means that regardless of who caused the collision, drivers are entitled to claim benefits from their insurance policies.

PIP policies are structured to cover 80% of medical expenses and 60% of lost wages, with a cap of $10,000. However, there’s a crucial requirement for drivers seeking to claim these benefits. Injured drivers must seek medical attention within 14 days of the accident to qualify for reimbursement under their PIP policy. Failing to adhere to this 14-day window can lead to a denial of the claim. This makes it all the more crucial to get a comprehensive medical check-up immediately after an accident, even if you feel fine.

Step Three: Gather Evidence & Exchange Information

After ensuring your safety and seeking medical attention following a car accident in Miami, the next step is to gather evidence and exchange information with the other parties involved. This step is crucial for any insurance claims or legal proceedings that may follow.

It helps determine who was at fault for the accident, which is essential for insurance claims and legal proceedings. Insurance companies will use the information and evidence you collect to process your claim. Having detailed and accurate information can expedite this process and improve your chances of a favorable outcome.

If you need to pursue legal action, either for damages beyond what insurance covers or if there’s a dispute over the accident, the evidence will be crucial for your attorney to build a strong case.

As soon as you are safe and have addressed any immediate medical concerns, begin collecting evidence from the accident scene. This includes:

  • Photographs: Take clear photos of the accident scene from various angles, capturing the positions of the vehicles, any visible damage to the cars, skid marks, road conditions, traffic signs, and signals. Also, photograph any injuries you or your passengers have sustained.
  • Detailed Notes: Write down or record a voice memo detailing your recollection of the event. Include the time, date, weather conditions, and any other factors you think might be relevant. Memories can fade over time, so doing this ensures accuracy.
  • Eyewitness Contact Information: Gathering information from eyewitnesses at the scene of a car accident can provide crucial independent accounts of the event. Their statements can help establish a clear picture of the accident, which is invaluable for insurance and legal purposes.
  • Other Driver’s Information: Exchanging information with the other driver(s) involved in the accident is essential. This should include:
    • Name
    • Address
    • Phone numbers
    • Insurance company names and policy numbers
    • Vehicle information, such as make, model, and color of the car
    • License plate
    • Driver’s license information

What If I Can’t Take These Steps?

If you’re severely injured in a car accident and unable to take steps like gathering evidence or exchanging information, don’t worry. The police investigating at the scene will compile information that your attorney can use. They gather statements, document the scene, and may determine preliminary fault. This is all valuable for your case. 

When you are injured, your Miami car accident lawyer will work to take this burden off your shoulders. They may visit the accident scene, engage accident reconstruction experts, and examine the wreckage to gather critical evidence on your behalf. They can also obtain and review the police report to help them build a strong compensation case.

Step Four: Keep Detailed Records

After a car accident in Florida, maintaining detailed records is crucial. These documents are essential for your personal injury claim. The better your records, the easier it will be to build your case and negotiate with the insurance company after an accident. 

The first thing you should do is to contact your insurance company and notify them of the accident. This is often a requirement in your policy. Provide them with the collected evidence and information. Remember to be factual and avoid admitting fault or liability during these conversations. Document your interactions with your insurer in a notebook or on your phone. Note the time, reason for calling, and who you spoke with. If you have a case number, include that as well. This documentation is crucial for tracking your claim’s progress and your insurer’s responses.

Next, you’ll want to request a copy of the police report from the local police department or their online portal, as it serves as an authoritative account of the accident. Determine which law enforcement agency responded to the accident. This could be local police, the county sheriff’s office, or the Florida Highway Patrol. Many agencies in Florida offer online request forms for police reports. If online services are unavailable, visit the agency’s office in person.

Medical documentation is also vital after a car accident. Keep copies of all medical records, bills, medication receipts, and payments for any treatments related to the accident. These documents prove the medical expenses you incurred due to the accident. Consider keeping a diary or journal to document your emotional health and well-being after an accident. Note your physical, emotional, and mental state after the accident, including pain ratings and quality-of-life reviews. This can help your attorney obtain compensation for medical expenses, as well as pain and suffering. 

For those who have missed work due to the accident, gathering evidence of lost wages is important. This can include pay stubs, employer letters, and other records showing the financial impact of the accident on your earning capacity. 

What If I Can’t Take These Car Accident Steps?

Hiring an attorney quickly becomes invaluable if you cannot keep detailed records after an accident. An experienced personal injury lawyer can manage the collection and organization of essential documents for your case.

Your Florida car accident attorney can be responsible for gathering and maintaining records related to your accident. This includes obtaining the police report, medical records, and insurance paperwork. If certain documents or receipts are missing, your attorney has the resources and knowledge to track these down. They can contact medical providers, employers, and insurance companies to acquire necessary documentation.

Step Five: Contact an Experienced Miami Car Accident Lawyer

Let’s face it. Navigating the aftermath of an accident can be overwhelming. Many difficult and complex legal, medical, and insurance-related issues exist. An experienced Florida car accident attorney can step in to alleviate these burdens, allowing you to focus on your recovery.

Your attorney will advocate on your behalf, ensuring your rights are protected and your voice is heard. This is especially vital in Florida, where specific statutes and regulations can significantly impact your case.

Moreover, dealing with insurance companies can be challenging. An experienced lawyer at Prosper Shaked Accident Injury Attorneys, PA., has the skills to negotiate with these companies, often achieving higher car accident settlements than individuals can on their own. We understand insurance companies’ tactics and are prepared to counter them effectively. This can lead to better compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and other accident-related expenses.

The process of hiring a lawyer is simpler than many might expect. At Prosper Shaked Accident Injury Attorneys, PA, our attorney is very responsive and understands the urgency of your situation. We offer free initial consultations and work on a contingency fee basis, meaning you don’t pay unless we win your case. This makes accessing legal assistance more feasible for many accident survivors.

Lastly, our injury attorneys will take on the time-consuming task of gathering evidence, organizing documentation, and preparing your case. This includes obtaining police reports, medical records, and witness statements, ensuring a well-supported claim. By handing these responsibilities to a lawyer, you’re freed from the immense pressure and can devote your energy to physical and emotional healing.

Understanding Florida’s No-Fault Insurance Law After a Car Accident in Miami

Personal Injury Protection (PIP) is mandatory insurance coverage for all drivers in Florida. Its primary objective is to provide immediate coverage for medical expenses, thereby reducing the need for litigation in the aftermath of a car accident. 

PIP covers 80% of medical expenses up to a limit, usually around $10,000. Additionally, 60% of lost wages are covered, subject to the same monetary cap. PIP extends to offer a death benefit in case of fatalities and may also cover immediate relatives living in the same household.

However, there is a threshold for legal action under Florida’s PIP law. While PIP covers substantial expenses, it doesn’t account for 100% of the losses. In cases of serious or permanent injuries, such as the loss of vital bodily function, significant scarring, or death, individuals can file a lawsuit. This is particularly relevant when economic damages exceed PIP limits or in non-economic damages like pain, suffering, and emotional distress.

A key aspect of Florida’s PIP is that your insurance pays first for your injuries, irrespective of who was at fault in the accident. This system significantly limits the ability to sue the other driver unless the injuries are significant or permanent.

File a Personal Injury Lawsuit

If your PIP insurance does not cover all medical expenses or a claim expires, you could be forced to pay for medical bills out of pocket.  This is especially true if you do not have health insurance or have health insurance with a high deductible amount. This can become very expensive, especially if the injuries are severe. 

If your injuries are severe and catastrophic, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit in Florida against the at-fault party. An experienced Florida motor vehicle accident lawyer at our law firm will walk you through the process of filing a claim. 

If your injuries are severe, you may be able to file a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver based on the theory of negligence. There are three essential elements that your legal team must prove to succeed. These elements are:

  • The defendant owed a legal duty of care to the plaintiff;
  • The defendant breached the legal duty of care and
  • As a result of the breach, the plaintiff suffered damages

But what if I’m partly to blame for my accident and the injuries I suffered?

 The State of Florida follows the modified comparative negligence doctrine, which states that plaintiffs partially at fault for accidents can still recover damages. The modified comparative negligence law in Florida follows the “50 Percent Bar Rule.” According to this rule, you can recover damages if your fault does not exceed 50 percent. If the courts determine that you are 50 percent or more to blame for the crash, you cannot recover any damages.  However, your recovery will be proportionately reduced if your fault is less than 50%.

For example, suppose you recover $100,000 in damages for injuries sustained in a car accident. The judge, however, determined that you were 30% at fault for the accident. In that case, your damages will be reduced by $30,000. You would only recover $70,000 in total damages.

Contact Our Florida Car Accident Lawyers Today

Given the rising number of vehicle accidents in Miami-Dade County, Florida, understanding and managing your car accident claim is becoming more important.  At Prosper Shaked Accident Injury Attorneys PA, we have a team of experienced attorneys who are well-versed in Florida car accident laws and auto insurance matters. For a FREE consultation and to learn more about how we can assist you with your car accident, please contact us at (305) 694-2676.