You look up into the rear view mirror and you know it is going to happen, but there is nothing you can do about it. You are about to be rear-ended. And then it happens. In a split second your life can be altered in a drastic way because of an auto accident. Now what? The answer to that question will depend on whether you are injured and if so, the severity of your injury. Here are some tips:

If Possible Safely Exit Your Vehicle

Get Medical Assistance If You Are Injured  If you need emergency medical assistance call as soon as possible at the scene of the accident. I often speak with victims of automobile who may feel minor pain or not feel any pain at the initial scene of the accident. However, the next day they start to feel pain. If that is the case, get medical help as soon as possible.

Follow The Treatment Plan Of Your Medical Provider  If you are injured and seek medical treatment, follow your doctor’s treatment plan. Down the road an insurance adjuster or a defense attorney for the other party will be reading your medical records. If your records are replete with missed appointments, failure to follow the advice of your doctor, failure to get recommended diagnostic tests, etc, you can rest assured that you will hear about this later from the other side’s insurance adjuster or defense attorney.

Call The Police At The Scene Of The Accident  You want to police to respond and document what happened. They will help determine who was at fault and they will be able to get statements from witnesses.

Take Pictures Yourself  Assuming your physical condition allows it, take pictures of all of the cars involved – inside and outside; take pictures of any injuries you may have, cuts, bruises, lacerations, etc. take pictures of skid marks; take pictures of anything that appears relevant – the beer cans sitting in the at fault driver’s front seat for instance.

• Get Names, Addresses, Phone Numbers Of Any Witnesses  Even though you have called the police, you want to make sure that you have this information. You don’t want to be in a position later where you would have liked to have had a witness’ information; but now it is gone forever.

Don’t Make Statements To The Other Driver’s Or Witnesses  Florida Law requires that you provide information to law enforcement when they are investigating a crash. This information is privileged by law and cannot be used in a subsequent civil or criminal proceeding. However, if you admit liability to other driver’s or witnesses, these statements can be used in a subsequent civil or criminal proceeding.

Call An Attorney  Before you make any statements or sign any documents, it is important to consult an attorney about you claim. They will be able to advise you about any rights or obligations that you may have under your own insurance policy. The insurance companies (the other driver(s)’ and yours) will be investigating your claim as soon as possible. You attorney will also be able to investigate your claim and act in YOUR best interest. Your CLEARWATER PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER will be able to investigate who is at fault and determine whether there is additional insurance coverage which may cover your damages for personal property and personal injuries.

Notify Your Insurance Company About The Accident  Usually as a condition of your insurance policy providing coverage for your claim, you will be required to notify the insurance company.

Finally, although this is closing the barn door after the horse has left, it is important to be proactive with your insurance coverage. Make sure you have proper coverage BEFORE you get into an auto accident. If you have any questions about your policy contact your insurance agent or contact an attorney. For more information please see my blog posts, Uninsured Motorist Insurance in Florida: Are You “Fully Covered?” dated February 25, 2010, and Automobile Insurance Definitions dated February 26, 2010.

Comprehensive Coverage  Insurance designed to pay for the repair or replacement of the policy owner’s car in the event of damage not resulting from an accident.  Comprehensive insurance covers theft, fire, vandalism, weather damage, riots, missiles, and other similar circumstances which may cause damage to a vehicle.

Property Damage Coverage  An insurance policy which pays for damage caused to the property of others, including cars, as a result of a motor vehicle accident. Florida law requires minimum coverage of $10,000.00 property damage liability coverage.

Collision Coverage  Insurance designed to pay for the repair or replacement of the policy owner’s car in the event of an accident, no matter who caused the accident. Collision coverage usually requires the payment of a deductible when a claim is made and may be required to secure a new car loan.

Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Coverage (Sometimes Referred to as “No-Fault”)  Insurance designed to be paid without regard to “fault,” or more properly, legal liability. PIP is also called “no-fault” because, by definition, a claimant’s, or insured’s, insurance premium should not increase due to a PIP claim.  Florida law requires minimum coverage of $10,000.00 personal injury protection.

Bodily Injury Coverage  An insurance policy that pays for injuries caused to other individuals in the event of a motor vehicle accident.  Generally, insurance companys will only the allow purchase of UM/UIM coverage up to the insured’d current bodily injury limit.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage  An automobile policy option which covers one for property damage and bodily injury caused by another motorist who does not carry liability insurance.

Contact CLEARWATER PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY Joseph Montrone, Jr. for a free initial consultation regarding your accident case.

If I have heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times: I am fully covered. Fully covered means different things to different people. In cases involving automobile accidents with personal injury, unless you carry uninsured motorist coverage, you are NOT fully covered. In the State of Florida, with respect to having automobile coverage for cases involving personal injury, drivers are only required to carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) or “no-fault” insurance. PIP is insurance coverage provided by your own insurance company designed to pay for your own medical expenses and, in some cases lost wages. Florida Law requires this coverage up to $10,000.00 dollars. In other words, you are driving down the road and another driver runs a red light and hits your car injuring you. You then end up with permanent injuries and medical bills in excess of $100,000.00. Florida Law only requires that each driver have coverage from their own insurance company to pay for their own medical bills up to $10,000.00, regardless of who was at fault in the accident; hence, the term “no-fault.” Florida Law does not require drivers to carry liability insurance (bodily injury insurance) to cover claims of others who may be injured in an automobile accident. So when you are purchasing automobile insurance in Florida, and you are dealing with your agent, you are only required to get the PIP coverage. The agent may tell you that you are “fully covered” because you have complied with Florida Law. But nothing can be further from the truth.

In order to understand the importance of uninsured motorist coverage, it is important to distinguish it from bodily injury coverage. It is again important to keep in mind that neither uninsured motorist coverage; nor bodily injury coverage are required under Florida Law. Bodily injury insurance provides coverage to you in the event that you are at fault in an automobile accident and cause bodily injury to others. For example, you are the driver that runs a red light and hits another automobile injuring its occupants. Bodily injury insurance will cover you in the event that the occupants sue you seeking money damages for injuries they suffered in the accident. This is also very important insurance coverage to have especially to protect assets that you may have accumulated over the years. But what happens if you are driving down the road minding your own business and someone else runs a red light and hits your automobile and injures you and you end up with permanent injures and over $100,000.00 in outstanding medical bills? Guess what? That other negligent driver, like you, is only required to carry PIP coverage. He does not have to have bodily injury insurance so that you can make a claim against his insurance company for your permanent injuries and $100,000.00 in outstanding medical bills. In other words, if that negligent driver does not have enough assets to cover your medical bills; you are out of luck. The negligent driver has complied with the law. Do you feel “fully covered” now? That’s why uninsured motorist coverage is so important for the consumer to have.

You can purchase uninsured motorist coverage from your own company to provide insurance in the event that you sustain bodily injuries caused by another negligent motorist who does not carry any bodily injury insurance, or who does not carry enough bodily injury insurance to cover your damages from an accident. So in the example above, by having uninsured motorist insurance, you can make a claim against your own company to cover you for damages resulting from the negligence of other uninsured or under insured drivers. Moreover, the additional cost of this insurance is well worth the benefits that it provides. I urge you to review your automobile insurance policy to make sure that you have adequate uninsured motorist coverage. You should not consider yourself “fully covered” until you do.

Contact CLEARWATER CAR ACCIDENT LAWYER Joseph Montrone, Jr. if you have any questions about your uninsured motorist coverage.