A. General Questions

You must feel comfortable with your legal counsel. Your lawyer works for you. Most lawyers claim to be ‘aggressive’ and they promise to get you the ‘money you deserve.’ But these lawyers may not be available when you call them on the phone, or they may not keep you fully informed of your options, or they may simply be unpleasant to deal with.

While honors and past results can be important, they are only a part of the story. If your lawyer does not have a helpful and friendly staff, if you cannot get your lawyer on the phone personally, or if your lawyer rubs you the wrong way, they may not be your best choice.

In order to recover money damages after an accident you must prove that somebody else was at fault. You cannot sue yourself, so you cannot recover money for injuries or damages that you suffer due to your own fault.

However, regardless of fault, many insurance policies contain coverage for medical bills following an accident, no matter who was to blame. In Florida, automobile insurance policies provide "no-fault" coverage (called "personal injury protection" or "PIP"). In the event of a slip and fall or trip and fall accident, many store owners have "MedPay" coverage that will pay a fixed amount of your medical bills, regardless of fault.

Most people don’t realize that whenever they talk to an insurance company they are being recorded. Remember, insurance companies are in business to make money. They do that by reducing the amount that they pay out in claims. By taking your recorded statement insurance companies are often able to exploit loopholes in your words to their advantage. Be very careful before giving a recorded statement to any insurance company. Although you may think it is obvious that you are entitled to help from the insurance company, they may seek to use your own words against you.

It is best to contact a lawyer to discuss your case before giving any recorded statement to an insurer. Furthermore, once you have given a recorded statement to the insurance company, it is very important not to give multiple statements.

Your health should be your top priority. It is best to be seen by a healthcare professional promptly after any accident whenever you feel discomfort.

In most situations, the cost of your medical bills will be paid by insurance or through a liability settlement.

Under Florida law you must receive medical attention within 14 days after a motor vehicle crash, or your automobile insurance won't pay your bills.

B. Motor Vehicle Questions

It is best to contact law enforcement to write a crash report at the scene of the accident. While you do not forfeit your legal rights without a crash report, it becomes much more difficult to convince insurance companies to pay a claim that was not properly documented. Next, if you are seriously injured, go to the hospital emergency room via ambulance. However, be aware, ambulance rides and ER visits are very expensive. Typically, unless you need lifesaving medical assistance, it may be best economically to avoid the hospital and, instead, get evaluated at an urgent care or walk–in clinic first.

Next, hire a lawyer. A good personal injury lawyer will be able to direct you to competent medical providers; assist you in protecting your rights regarding liability (who was at fault for the accident); and assist you in recovering proper compensation for your vehicle repairs and medical bills. Ultimately, your lawyer will be able to pursue a claim that should provide compensation that will give you justice.

Florida is a no-fault state. Every automobile insurance policy in Florida is required to provide no-fault coverage (“personal injury protection” – “PIP”).

PIP insurance pays the first $10,000 of your medical bills @ 80% after a car accident, no matter who was at fault. Therefore, 20% of your medical bills, and all bills over $10,000, will not be paid.

You may use health insurance to pay the balance. Otherwise, a liability claim against the person at fault for the accident often allows for the recovery of any unpaid medical bills.

C. Premises liability questions

After falling in a public place you are usually embarrassed. You are not thinking about documenting a legal case. However, if you are able, it is best to remain on the ground until a manager or representative of the property owner arrives. Make an incident report. Be sure to describe in detail the problem(s) that caused you to fall.

In order to be entitled to money for your medical bills and your injuries and damages, you must prove that the store or property owner was at fault. If you do not recall the condition or the problem that caused you to fall, you may be unable to prove that you are entitled to compensation. When possible, take photographs to document the condition and also any bruising or blood on your body.

Seek immediate medical attention. If you do not have a life-threatening condition, you may wish to seek treatment at an urgent care or walk-in clinic, rather than the hospital emergency room. Contact a lawyer promptly. Your lawyer should advise the store or property owner to preserve any videotape evidence of the incident and should provide a buffer between you and the insurance company so that they do not take a recorded statement from you that may be harmful to your case.

Hiring a lawyer is a good idea whenever you have been injured in an accident caused by another person. While you can certainly pursue an insurance claim without a lawyer, it is usually the case that insurance companies will not be fair with you.

After an accident, you are typically sore, confused, you have great inconvenience, and the last thing you want is to be dealing with paperwork, elevator music ‘on hold,’ and insurance nerds.

Insurance companies are not likely to take your claim very seriously unless you have a lawyer that can threaten litigation and “bad faith” insurance liability.

Finally, studies have shown that insurance claims are typically paid at a higher rate when a lawyer is involved.

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