If you were injured in a car crash, the first step in filing an insurance claim successfully is finding an experienced Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyer and understanding your legal options. Our law firm offers each new client a free car accident case review, which allows our lawyers to evaluate the merits of a claim at no cost to the injured person.
The purpose of this initial consultation is to learn as much as possible about what happened during the incident and evaluate the value of the potential claim.
Thus, you should make sure that you offer the Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyer the opportunity to look over the most relevant documents and evidence you have. After all, this is your chance to start the legal process as soon as possible and receive the compensation you deserve within a reasonable time frame.
For this reason, you should make sure that you bring the following to your free car accident case review.
1. The Police Report
The accident report prepared by the police is extremely important during negotiations with the insurance company or during a personal injury lawsuit. First of all, this is an unbiased summary of the findings at the accident scene.
Secondly, police officers are trained to observe and note various aspects such as:
- The speed of each vehicle before the collision based on skid marks
- The placement and nature of the damage on the cars, indicating the direction of impact
- The road conditions, which could have played a role in causing the accident.
Last but not least, the police report contains the names and contact details of the eyewitnesses who can give valuable statements supporting your claim.
You can obtain this document from the Police Records department of Fort Lauderdale Police after you fill in an affidavit and pay a fee.
2. Photos and Videos
You should give the lawyer the photos and videos you took at the accident scene during the free case evaluation. Despite the fact that the police made an investigation, you should not rely only on their observations.
As any Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyer can tell you, there is always the chance that the police officers overlooked something. Moreover, from the moment of the crash, and until the police officers arrive, the other driver may try to hide various incriminating aspects such as:
- The mobile phone they were using while driving
- Tire tracks indicate the fact that they were swerving
- Food wrappings and drink bottles prove they were distracted by eating or drinking at the wheel.
Ideally, you should start taking photos and videos moments after the crash. These images will also capture the exact position of both vehicles after the accident, before you and the other driver move them to get them out of the way of oncoming traffic.
3. Medical Records
Your Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyer will explain to you that the medical records are critical pieces of evidence in proving that you suffered the injuries and related economic damages as a result of the crash, and not in an unrelated accident.
Anyone can reason that if you suffered a car accident at 1 p.m. and then a doctor saw you at 1:30 p.m., the injuries for which you received emergency care were caused in the accident. However, if the date of the initial medical examination is the next day after the crash or even several days later, an insurance adjuster can easily argue that you cannot prove that you suffered the injuries in the respective accident.
4. Correspondence With the Insurance Company
In many cases, by the time you schedule your free case review, your insurance company has already been in contact with you. You should save and bring with you any type of correspondence:
- Documents handed in person
These documents will allow the Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyer to understand the stance the insurer takes on your case and whether they are likely to settle quickly or put up a fight.
5. Bills, Receipts, and Recent Pay Slips from Work
One of the purposes of the free case review is to allow the lawyer to estimate the value of your case. If your total economic damages are very high, the lawyer will prepare for the possibility that the insurer will refuse to settle. Thus, it is likely that your case will go to court.
If, on the other hand, your damages are in the range of hundreds or a few thousand dollars, the lawyer will know that the claim will settle quickly and with less effort.
Therefore, you should bring the following to your car accident case review:
- Hospital bills, including ambulance ride cost, if applicable
- Estimate for repairing your damaged car
- Receipts from medical check-ups, prescriptions, and other medical costs
- Cost to rent a car while yours is fixed or replaced
- Pay slips indicating your recent weekly wages
- Other receipts for pocket expenses related to the crash.
How Much Can You Recover after a Car Accident?
One of the first questions a potential client asks during the car accident case review is: “how much is my case worth?” The documents you bring with you will help the lawyer determine a fair estimate of your claim.
The actual value you may collect from the at-fault driver’s insurance company depends on several factors:
- The total amount of your economic damages
- The impact of the injuries on your life, which translates into non-economic damages
- Your own contributory fault.
As your Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyer will tell you, Florida is a no-fault state. This means that you don’t have to prove that someone’s fault caused your injuries and economic damages and file a claim against their insurance policy. Instead, each driver will file a claim with their own insurer.
However, the total amount of your damages will be reduced by your percentage of fault. Thus, you are theoretically allowed to file a car accident claim if you were 90% at fault for the crash, but you will only collect 10% of your total damages.
Also, if your property damage costs exceed $10,000, in addition to other economic and non-economic damages, you may file a claim against the other driver’s insurance policy.
A Fort Lauderdale Car Accident Lawyer Will Explain Your Legal Rights in Detail!
If you were injured in a traffic accident, get in touch with our Fort Lauderdale injury lawyers. We will analyze all the available documents during the free case review and give you an honest and realistic explanation of your rights. We will not give you false hopes and promise you a huge compensation amount if your damages do not match that number.
Remember that, even if you will mostly deal with your own insurance company, it does not mean that they will treat you fairly. Thus, your best chance of financial recovery is scheduling a car accident case review as soon as possible!