Gainesville Car Accident Attorneys

Car accidents can be extremely stressful experiences even when they’re minor. The emotional, psychological and physical distress can affect your work, your relationships, and your day-to-day responsibilities. And then, depending on the severity of the accident, there’s the stress from auto insurance companies, adjusters, police reports, witness statements — it all just piles up. In times like this, it’s best to consult a personal injury attorney. At Warner, Sechrest & Butts, a personal injury law firm in Gainesville, FL, our car accident lawyers can provide counsel to get everything taken care of — like how to pay your insurance bills, how to file your claim, and how to recoup significant losses from the accident.

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Car Accidents: What You Should Know

What Is Property Damage?

Property damage could mean your car or any piece of property that was damaged during the accident, like a private fence or residence. When it comes to your car, your insurance company will decide whether to cover the expenses (minus your deposit) to repair the vehicle or declare the car a total loss. Cars that are “totaled” are not worth fixing in the eyes of the insurance company.

When your vehicle is damaged in a car accident, you need to determine if your insurance policy will cover the damage. Generally, if you are at fault for the accident, you file a claim through your own insurance company for reimbursement. If you are not at fault for the accident, the insurance company of the other party reimburses you. Things can get tricky in no-fault states like Florida or hit-and-runs, but in these cases, you can generally seek reimbursement from your insurance company.

Once a company is determined, they will evaluate the vehicle. It is always a good idea to take pictures of an accident with your cell phone or camera. Once you drive away from the scene, damage claims can become less credible. You also want to take pictures of the other party’s vehicle and damages so that you can protect yourself against false damage claims. For example, a driver may try to claim pre-existing damage in the accident to get it fixed at your expense.

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Filing Car Accident Claims

When the damage has been examined, the insurance company will provide you with an offer. We have found that this offer is usually unfair and doesn’t cover all of the damage. And for many people who only have one vehicle, they are left stranded without means to get to and from work. Often, the insurance company will not provide rental car payment or additional funds in their initial claim.

Let us help you get the payment you deserve so you don’t have to worry about a loss of wages and rental fees.

What Should I Do If Someone Is Injured In A Car Accident?

If you or another person is hurt in a car accident, seek medical help immediately. If you do not have a cell phone, ask anyone nearby to call for an ambulance. If you are hurt, you should not leave the area of the accident unless under extreme conditions, which might include if you are in a completely secluded area and need to find help or if the area of the accident is not safe. Even if you just feel a bit jarred, you should see a doctor.

During an accident, your adrenaline spikes, and when seriously injured, you could go into shock. Those two factors can make you feel OK when really you are hurt. We advise our clients always to get a check-up after an accident, or if hurt badly or bleeding to go to the hospital.

Do I Need To See A Doctor After A Car Accident?

As time goes by, you’ll begin healing. Some minor car crash injuries may not heal correctly which could leave you with complications later. Other times, you might feel fine for a while and opt to skip the hospital. Another accident or even something small like bumping into a door could exasperate your pre-existing injury. In a situation like that, it can be almost impossible to definitively tie the injury to the accident, which means you may have to pay lasting medical bills out of pocket.

Who Will Pay For My Treatment?

If you are not found at fault for the accident, the other party’s insurance will likely pay for your medical bills. If you live in a no-fault state, like we do in Florida, your personal injury protection (PIP) coverage can be used to pay your medical bills.

Check your insurance policy to see if you have medical payments coverage which can help with bills. Uninsured motorist coverage is recommended for everyone — this coverage protects you when the other party is uninsured and at fault. In some cases, your medical insurance may cover your treatment, but you should check your policy and know this ahead of time. Filing a claim with the wrong insurer can cause major delays in payment.

Do I Need A Gainesville Personal Injury Lawyer?

As you can see, putting your life back together after a car accident can be difficult. There are a lot of steps in the process, and hiring a Gainesville attorney can give you confidence that other parties or insurance companies are not taking advantage of you. A personal injury attorney can help you get a fair offer from your auto insurance company (or someone else’s insurance company) as well as figuring out if you can file a claim against the other party for damages or injuries sustained during the accident.

If you feel overwhelmed, or if you don’t think you’re getting a fair offer, contact our office. The personal injury attorneys at Warner, Sechrest & Butts can help you get a fair deal after a car accident.

Frequently Asked Questions About Car Accidents

Car crashes in the state of Florida can often be difficult to unravel after the fact. Competing versions of events are common and evidence can evaporate quickly. Because of the complex Florida personal injury law, it is never a good decision to attempt handling a car accident case personally. There will almost always be an insurance provider involved that is attempting to divert negligence away from its client. In addition, because of Florida’s personal injury protection (PIP) insurance requirement, the insurance company you stand against first could be your own. Personal injury attorneys in Gainesville, FL, understand this predicament well and understand how to craft your case for a minimal comparative negligence rating for fault.

If you’ve been involved in a car accident in Florida, you probably have a lot of questions. Here are some of the questions that car accident victims commonly ask our law firm:

What do I do after a car accident?

The first step after a car accident is to take inventory of the situation, call the police if necessary, and take pictures when possible. If anyone is injured, it will be necessary to call the police, especially if someone is trapped in a vehicle.

How soon after an accident should I contact a lawyer?

As soon as possible, but it is OK to contact the responsible insurance company first when the accident is a minor accident with minimal personal injury. Even seemingly simple accidents can get complicated when evidence is overlooked, and your attorney can begin an investigation immediately.

What is PIP insurance?

PIP stands for personal injury protection and is provided by your personal insurance company. This is also commonly termed as Florida No-Fault insurance.

How can I protect myself against uninsured drivers?

You will be offered the option of carrying uninsured and underinsured protection as a policy rider when you purchase car insurance. Always request your insurance quote to include this extra coverage.

What are my legal rights after a car accident?

You have a legal right to damage recovery for personal injuries and property damage to the extent that you did not cause the accident, along with lost wages. Each driver is assigned a comparative negligence percentage for adjusting total damage claims.

Can passengers make a claim to recover damages for injuries?

Yes, but if they own a vehicle in the state of Florida, they must turn to their personal insurance policy first.

Can my lawyer assist with an insurance claim after an accident?

Yes. As a matter of fact, it is always a good decision to retain an auto accident law firm as soon as possible following an accident. Your personal injury attorneys will be invaluable when the insurance company wants to increase your percentage of comparative negligence.

I’m not hurt. Do I still need to see a doctor after a car accident?

Yes. Always seek medical treatment immediately after an accident because medical issues can manifest later, and you will need accurate time documentation of involvement and injury.

Who pays for my medical bills if I’ve been injured in a car accident?

Your initial medical bills are covered by your PIP protection and the remaining bills are covered according to the fault findings of the court.

The insurance company is disputing my injuries. What should I do?

Retain a personal injury law firm immediately.

What if I was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of my accident? Can I still recover damages?

Yes, but the amount is limited by whatever percentage the court establishes. All passengers are also assessed for the assumption of risk.

What if I believe the accident I was in was at least partly my fault?

In Florida, even if you are partly at fault, you may still recover money damages. Your damages may be reduced by a sum to account for your contribution to the accident.

Can I still win my case if my memory of the accident now conflicts with things I might have said at the time of the accident?

Maybe, based on the percentage of fault. Never admit any fault at any time to anyone following an accident. The statement can and will be used against you in the form of a reduced settlement. Let your injury attorney handle this situation.

I was in a car accident and the airbags in my car didn’t deploy. Do I have a case against the car manufacturer?

Yes, if your attorney can prove this was a component of the accident. In addition, defective products and faulty manufacturing claims can be filed when airbags deploy without impact, such as was claimed in the recent Takata airbag recall. It is not necessary for your attorney to prove negligence on the manufacturer’s part.

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