Auto Accident Attorney in Ocala, FL
serving Marion County & The Villages
It takes seconds for a car accident to occur, but the helplessness felt during that short time frame leaves a lasting impression. Besides damage to your vehicle, injuries can affect you, your passengers and the other people involved in the accident.
Auto accident victims experience concern and anxiety over medical costs, lost wages, expensive car repairs, and/or complicated insurance claim disputes.
At Slonaker Law Firm, we empathize with your car accident-related stress, and we look forward to working on your behalf. We are experienced in helping people involved in car accidents navigate insurance regulations, negotiate and deal with insurance companies, and determine whether compensation beyond that is available.
Don’t wait another minute to get your life back on track, contact Slonaker Law Firm for a FREE CONSULTATION today!
You’ve Just Been in a Car Accident, Now What?
Don’t Leave the Scene
No matter what, stay put if you are involved in an accident. Leaving the scene of an accident is a serious crime, and you will face criminal charges for your involvement in a hit-and-run. The penalties increase in severity if you leave the scene after injuring or killing another person.
Take Account of All Drivers and Passengers
If you are involved in a car accident and did not sustain any injuries, determine if anyone else involved needs help. Call 911 to get medical personnel on the scene as soon as possible. If you encounter a person who is unconscious or has neck or back pain, don’t move them; leave their transfer to the experts. The only time you should handle an injured person is if they are in imminent danger.
Call the Police
If there’s significant vehicle or property damage, physical injury, or death, you need to call the police. Once the police arrive on the scene, request their names and badge numbers, and ask them to file a report about the accident.
Make sure to get the following information from all drivers and passengers involved in the accident:
- phone numbers
- drivers’ license numbers
- license plate numbers
- basic insurance information
Never admit to wrongdoing to the people involved in the accident, because it may not be clear from your perspective.
Talk to Witnesses
If you are able, ask every person on the scene about what they witnessed. Get their names, phone numbers, and addresses, if possible.
Call Your Insurance Company
As soon as you can after the accident, call your insurance company to let them know what happened and the extent of your injuries. Always be truthful to your insurance company; if they find any discrepancies, they could possibly deny coverage for the accident.
Keep Track of Your Medical Treatment
Start a medical file specific to the car accident. Include notes from your doctor or other medical professionals, including your treatment process and medications prescribed. Save copies of all medical reports and bills, in order to prove your expenses related to the car accident.
Keep a record of how your injuries have impacted your daily life. Include any missed workdays, list any interference with daily activities and describe how the injuries have affected your family life.
This insight will help build a case for the pain and suffering you endured because of the accident.
Take photographs of your vehicle’s damage as soon as possible. Photos help your insurance adjuster determine how much you should be compensated for the damage to your car, and they can be used as evidence in court.
Get a Property Damage Valuation
Obtain your insurance company’s damage valuation. If you aren’t satisfied with the value placed on your vehicle from your insurance company, get two independent repair estimates or replacement quotes. Make sure you let the adjuster know your concerns.
If you can’t agree on your car’s value, consider mediation or consult an attorney.
Use Caution in Discussing the Incident
Don’t talk to anyone about the accident other than your lawyer, your insurance company and the police. Don’t talk to a representative of another insurance company without the knowledge of your attorney or insurer.
If called by the other insurance company, be polite, but ask them to call your attorney or insurer to arrange an interview.
Be Wary of Early Settlement Offers
Don’t jump on the first offer of a settlement from an insurance company. It’s unwise to settle a claim before the extent of your injuries are confirmed.
Don’t settle a claim until you know you’ll be compensated for all your injuries and consult an attorney before signing any settlement documents.
How Badly Were You Hurt?
Auto accident injuries can range from minor to serious and may include the following:
- Brain injury
- Head injury
- Broken bones
- Soft tissue injuries
- Organ damage
- Loss of limb
- Blood loss
- Spinal cord injuries
- Wrongful death
Whether you suffered from physical injuries or property/vehicle damage, you may deserve the maximum financial restitution possible.
Fault and Liability
Several factors determine liability for damages or injuries resulting from an automobile accident. Here are the most common fault claims.
- Negligence: Overall reckless driving, speeding, failure to obey traffic laws, texting or talking on phone, failure to maintain control of the automobile (sudden stops, stopping over the line at an intersection, swerving).
- Drunk or Drugged Driving: Impaired judgment, dulled reflexes and slow reaction times.
- Manufacturer Liability: Vehicle is defective in some way (e.g. worn-out tires, defective steering column or brakes, etc.).
- Road Design: Defective highway, broken traffic signal, steep embankment, poorly designed barriers/guard rails/speed bumps, medians and curbs, to name a few.
Florida is a “No-Fault” Car Insurance State
Florida follows a “no-fault” rule regarding the payment of auto insurance claims after a car accident. In a no-fault state, drivers are required to carry auto insurance that pays personal injury protection (PIP) benefits.
When the policyholder suffers an accident, the PIP benefits in the policy pay for any medical expenses, as well as other accident-related costs, including lost wages.
Auto Insurance Requirements in Florida
Florida drivers are required to carry the following minimum insurance:
- $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) benefits, and
- $10,000 in property damage liability (PDL) benefits.
After a car accident in a no-fault state, each driver and passenger will contact their own insurance provider to pay the costs of medical care and other losses, regardless of who was at fault.