It’s not always clear what to do after a car accident in Tampa. This is particularly true if the accident wasn’t your fault. Florida is a no-fault auto insurance state, which means the rules for recovering compensation after a car accident are different than most states. The process for obtaining compensation doesn’t start with the at-fault driver, even if they are entirely to blame.
Not sure about your legal rights after an accident that’s not your fault in Tampa? Keep reading for tips from the knowledgeable injury attorneys at Brooks Law Group. You can also call or contact us anytime for a free consultation.
7 Steps to Take After a Car Accident in Tampa
If you’ve been hurt in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, take the following steps to protect yourself and your injury claim:
- Avoid apologizing for the accident. Even if you know you were not at fault for the crash, it’s human nature to want to offer apologies or sympathies after an accident. However, the insurance company may later use your apologies as proof that you were at fault for the accident. This will only come into play if you are filing a third-party claim after you have exhausted your no-fault benefits in Florida. As the name implies, no-fault benefits are provided regardless of who is to blame for a crash.
- Collect evidence from the accident scene. Take pictures of vehicle damage, traffic controls, skid marks in the road, and any visible injuries you may have sustained. Also, make sure to get the contact information of any eyewitnesses to the crash and the contact, license, vehicle, and insurance information from each driver involved in the accident.
- Notify your insurance company of the accident. Different insurance companies have different deadlines for reporting a crash. Do it promptly. You need to seek medical treatment within 14 days under the Florida Personal Injury Protection (PIP) rule. Miss the deadline, and you could find your request for no-fault benefits denied.
- Talk to a Florida car accident attorney. There’s no guarantee that your no-fault insurer will provide the full amount of benefits you deserve. A lawyer can discuss all of your available options for compensation after a wreck.
- Follow any treatment instructions or recommendations from your doctor. Sticking to a treatment plan shows the insurance company that you took every possible step to minimize the long-term effects of your injuries.
- Keep copies of all bills, invoices, and receipts. A record of your financial losses can help your car accident lawyer calculate your case value if you need to file a future legal claim.
- Avoid discussing the accident on social media. Anything you post that contradicts your official statements can be used to undercut your credibility.
Examples of Accidents That Are Not Your Fault
A few examples of car accidents that create a presumption that the crash was not your fault include:
- You are rear-ended by another vehicle.
- Someone backs into you from a parking spot or driveway.
- Another vehicle T-bones you after running a stop sign or red light when you had the clear right of way.
Keep in mind that these types of crashes only presume that the other driver is at fault. Evidence could end up showing that you or another third party caused the collision.
How Insurance Companies Assign Fault
Florida uses a no-fault insurance system that requires accident victims to look to their insurance companies for coverage. When drivers’ injuries, expenses, and losses exceed their coverage limits, they may be eligible to turn to the at-fault party’s insurance policy for compensation. Insurance companies look at several different factors and pieces of evidence to assign fault for a crash, including:
- The police accident report
- Any traffic citations or arrests from the accident
- Accident scene photos
- Traffic cam, dashcam, or surveillance camera footage of the accident
- Bystander statements
- Statements of the drivers involved in the accident
- Reports authored by accident reconstruction experts
When Should You Contact a Lawyer After a Car Accident That Wasn’t Your Fault?
Call a lawyer as soon as possible if any of the following apply:
- You suffered an injury or someone died in the crash.
- You need to miss work due to your injuries.
- The other motorist denies fault, or fault is not clearly established.
- The police report does not accurately describe what happened.
- The at-fault driver is uninsured or underinsured.
- The insurance company offers a low settlement or denies your claim.
- The insurance company questions liability or brings up issues you didn’t know about.
Contact Brooks Law Group today for a free consultation to discuss your legal rights and options for pursuing compensation for your injuries and losses. Reach us by phone, by filling out our online contact form, or through live chat.