You’ve Just Been Involved In a Car Accident – What do you do now?You’ve just been in an accident. You may have just been rear ended, sideswiped, hit it the front, ran off the road or maybe find yourself the victim of a vehicle roll over. The other driver may have not been paying attention. Maybe they were driving and texting, ran a red light, ran a stop sign, speeding or changed lanes illegally.

Your car is now damaged; you may be injured and are left in a confused state. Emotions may be running high, but you need to remain calm and avoid panic.

  • The first thing you need to do is stop your vehicle in a safe place and make sure the other driver is also stopping. Make sure to also read our section on drivers that flee the scene of an accident. The other driver may be incredibly apologetic, downplay the accident and then suggest you simply exchange information instead of calling the police. By doing this, you give the driver the ability to call their insurance company and make up any story they want – including blaming you for the accident.
  • Make sure you call the police. When they get there, have them fill out a report. This documentation of the accident is incredibly important for your case. Make sure you explain to the officers what happened and also see to it that they do issue a citation to the driver for the accident. A citation can be a large factor in the insurance company’s decision on if to pay out and how much.
  • Another thing you want to do is take pictures – lots of them! Make sure you take pictures of the car(s), damage, separated pieces, skid marks on road, damaged paint, road conditions, weather conditions, etc.
  • Your next step is to collect information from anyone who saw the accident. Get names, phone numbers and their side of the story.
  • It is also incredibly important for you to seek medical attention if you have been injured. Even if it does not seem too bad now, the severity of auto accident injuries can sometimes take days, weeks or even months to surface. Seeking medical attention will not just give you the peace of mind knowing you really are ok, it also gives you medical documentation if you are not. Without this, an insurance company can argue that the injuries you suffered were not from the accident.
  • Most importantly, you need to write everything down. What happened, what you saw and what the other driver said to you before the police arrived at the scene. You need to also write down anything the witnesses said to you when they were describing what they saw. People forget. Document it.

An insurance company will be quick in wanting to offer you an early settlement. Their goal is to pay out as little as possible. You should consult with an attorney before speaking to the other insurance company and agreeing to an amount that you may regret later when you realize how much you could have been entitled to.

The car accident attorneys at MADALON LAW offer free consultations and if we take your case, we will take care of all the expenses and not bill you unless we win your case. Contact our Fort Lauderdale office today and let us help you by answering your questions with a free consultation.

Personal Injury Protection Benefits

As a Florida driver, it is of the utmost importance that you be fully informed on how you are protected if you are injured in an automobile accident. Getting behind the wheel of a car has proven time and time again to be a very serious situation. With all of the distractions that keep other motorists from focusing on the road, driving can become extremely dangerous to our well being.

Most drivers know that it is the law in Florida to have Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage if you own and drive a motor vehicle. The importance of this coverage goes beyond simply obeying the law. If you are ever injured as a result of an automobile accident, this coverage is what will pay up to your first ten thousand dollars ($10,000.00) in medical bills. Florida is a no-fault state, which means that no matter who is at fault for the accident, your medical bills will be covered through your PIP coverage first.

In order to have your medical bills paid through a PIP claim, you must first be qualified by the insurance company. Here are some ways to qualify:

    • If you have auto insurance, regardless of being the driver or passenger of the vehicle that was driven in the accident, you must go through your insurance for the PIP coverage. It is extremely important to note that if you own a vehicle, or have a vehicle that is registered in your name, and that vehicle is uninsured (does not have PIP coverage); it is likely that you will be denied PIP coverage all together. This is why it is imperative to insure your vehicle.
    • If you do not own a vehicle and therefore do not have PIP coverage, then insurance companies will want to qualify you for PIP coverage through a person who you live with who does have insurance. Insurance companies refer to these people as Resident Relatives. Often times those persons who are in the same household as you may be reluctant to have a PIP claim filed under their insurance because they think it will raise their premiums. The fact is, an insurance company can raise your rates for many different reasons, and it is not certain that simply making a claim will increase their rates.
    • If you do not qualify under either of the first two scenarios, because you do not own a vehicle or have your own PIP coverage, and you do not live with someone who has PIP coverage, then you may qualify under the person’s vehicle you were in at the time of the accident. This scenario would cover you as either the driver or passenger of their vehicle.
    • If there is no way to qualify you for PIP coverage under the above three ways, then filing a claim for medical coverage can be done through the at-fault party’s insurance company. The insurance company for the other party will do its due diligence as to making sure that you do not qualify under any of the other ways before they will pay for your medical expenses. This makes it extremely important to go through each scenario in order as to making sure which way covers you.

The Fort Lauderdale and Miami accident attorneys of Madalon Law know what questions to ask you to make sure you are qualified to receive the benefits you deserve. Contact us today and speak with one of the legal representatives who will help you get the qualification needed to obtain your coverage. We offer free consultations and help victims throughout the state of Florida.

Physical Evidence Can Prove Who Is At Fault

Buck v. Lopez 250 So. 2d 6 (1971)

This side-swipe accident occurred in the City of Tampa between Joseph Lopez, the plaintiff, who as a result sustained injuries, and Austin Buck, the defendant, the operator of a semi-truck. This case came to the Florida Supreme Court on appeal from The Second District Court’s reversal of the jury verdict in favor of Buck, which found that Lopez was guilty of contributory negligence.

This side-swipe accident occurred when Lopez (plaintiff) and Buck (defendant) were both driving north on a 4 lane highway. Lopez was in the right lane when the accident occurred where he testified that immediately after releasing his break after being stopped at a red light, he was struck from the back as he was moving forward. The investigating officer testified that Lopez’s car was damaged on the left front, side and rear. Lopez’s car was 30-40 feet sought of the intersection where he claimed to be stopped at and the tractor truck was jutting in to right lane and damaged in the front right wheel. Buck testified that he was driving north in the center lane when he turned his right turn signal on, checked his rear view mirror, saw that there wasn’t anyone in the right hand lane and started to get over to turn at the intersection. Buck stated that as he eased in the right lane he didn’t know where Lopez came from but that he hit him with his semi-truck partially in the right lane. Further testimony indicated that the fender of the semi-truck has initially struck the front of Lopez’s car and that the damage to his car occurred in a side-swipe fashion (from the front to rear) contradicting Lopez’s testimony that he had been struck from behind.

The Florida Supreme Court reasoned that the conflicting testimony, the physical evidence that showed a side swipe away from the intersection and the fact that Buck did not see anyone behind him in the right lane just before he changed lanes allowed for the court to come to a reasonable conclusion that Lopez was right behind Buck. The court reasoned that from these facts, Buck had turned his signal on and started changing lanes when Lopez disregarded these warnings so that he could pass the defendants semi-truck before Buck could complete the lane change. Lopez was therefore guilty of contributory negligence (which in Florida has changed to comparative negligence) which barred Lopez from recovering damages.

Although, Florida no longer applies contributory negligence, this case has an important takeaway. The circumstances surrounding how your accident has occurred can either make or break your case no matter what you or your passenger may testify to, therefore careful, accurate documentation of your accident is vital in regards to you being compensated for the negligent acts of others.

If you have been involved in an accident due to someone else’s negligence, please contact the car accident attorneys of Madalon Law. We will gladly go over your case and answer your questions at no cost. Madalon Law is based out of Fort Lauderdale and handles accident cases throughout the state of Florida.