3000 Gulf to Bay Blvd #200 Clearwater FL 33759
“Choosing the right lawyer is no accident.”
Margaret Swope is a managing member of the firm. She is admitted to practice in all state courts in Florida and the Federal District Court for the Middle District of Florida. She is a member of both the Clearwater Bar Association and the St. Petersburg Bar Association. She has successfully represented hundreds of accident clients.
1. Take Pictures. Take lots of pictures. Take pictures of all cars involved in the accident. Take the pictures from multiple angles and multiple distances. Take pictures of the roadway, skid marks, and debris on the roadway. Take pictures of applicable street signs such as stop signs, no-turn signs, etc. If you have bruising, cuts, scrapes, or abrasions, take pictures of them every day until they go away.
2. Get the Names of Witnesses. Independent witnesses could be your only way of proving who was at fault for the car accident. The insurance company will almost always claim that you were at fault, or at least partially at fault. Get the witnesses’ name, address, and telephone number.
3. File a Police Report. Sometimes the at-fault driver will ask you not to call the police. Don’t listen to them; call the police! Insurance companies look at car accidents without a police report as being very minor, and thus not worthy of a reasonable settlement. Besides, Florida law requires an accident report on all car accidents that involve injuries.
4. Take Notes. If the person who caused the car accident apologizes or admits his wrongdoing, write it down. It’s best if you can take down his exact words. A person’s apology or admission of fault can be used against him or her in the future.
5. Go to the Right Doctor, Right Away. Don’t delay. Timely documentation of your injuries is critical. If you don’t go to the doctor within 14 days after an accident, you may lose $10,000 in PIP benefits. Not all doctors are created equal. Most doctors are excellent clinicians and do wonderful work for their patients. However, not all doctors know how to properly handle and document treatment arising from a car accident. Many primary care physicians who routinely handle colds, checkups, cholesterol monitoring, and other general medical treatment are ill-equipped to handle car accident injuries. There are many doctors who specialize in treating people who have been injured in car accidents. Those doctors include chiropractors, orthopedists, neurologists, and pain management specialists. We prefer doctors whose practices are a blend of car accident victims and managed care patients. We do not recommend treating with doctors who only handle car accident claims. Also, be cautious about going to the emergency room. Hospital emergency rooms are extraordinarily expensive and can use up most or all of your available personal injury protection insurance benefits in a single visit. Obviously, if you have a life threatening injury you should go to the emergency room. For a list of some quality doctors we have worked with, click here.
6. Use Your Health Insurance. Although your PIP coverage is the primary insurance used to pay for your medical bills arising from a car accident, if you have health insurance you should use it as well. PIP insurance only covers 80% of your doctors’ bills up to $10,000 (and maybe only $2,500). You can use your health insurance to pay medical bills that are not covered by PIP. Make sure you provide your health insurance card to each doctor, MRI facility, and other medical provider you treat with. In most cases, your medical providers will have a contracted rate with your health insurance company, which means that your medical bills will be lower. Your health insurance company will be entitled to be paid back from your settlement, but it’s still better than having to pay outstanding medical bills that would otherwise be much higher. Additionally, if you have health insurance and you fail to use it, the car insurance company will claim that you failed to mitigate your damages.
7. Hire the Right Lawyer, Right Away. “Choosing the right lawyer is no accident.” Virtually all personal injury lawyers will handle your claim on a contingency fee basis. Just because a law firm has lots of billboards and television commercials, does not mean they are the right lawyer for your claim. You have the right to know your lawyer’s education, training, and experience. Don’t be afraid to ask your lawyer if he or she will go to court to protect your rights if necessary. The lawyers at Swope Law, P.L. have successfully handled more than 1,000 auto accident claims over the last 15 years. To find out why you should hire Swope Law, P.L.,