What Are My Rights as a Car Accident Victim?
As an accident victim in a car crash, you have legal rights. The only way to fully comprehend those rights and protect them, however, is to hire an accident attorney to assist you with your case.
A motor vehicle accident leaves you with not only physical damage, but long-term emotional damage as well. Anyone suffering injuries from a motor vehicle accident, and the losses associated with that accident, have the right to seek compensation from the at-fault party.
However, if you are like most victims, you did not realize you had rights after a car accident. Knowing your rights is imperative, because exercising them is what ensures you receive compensation for your medical costs, lost wages, and more.
What Are an Accident Victim’s Rights Following a Car Accident?
Not only do you have the right to compensation, but how you are treated when you file a claim with an insurance company, defense attorney, and other parties involved fall under specific rules and protections.
Car Accident Victims Do Not Have to Provide a Statement
One of the first phone calls you will receive from the other party’s insurance company is a request for a written or recorded statement. You are not required to do so. Instead, you can deny this request and speak with an attorney instead.
The insurance company will tell you that, if you do not provide them with a recorded statement, it will delay them in processing your claim. While you will have a delay, you still should speak with an attorney before you give an official statement. Insurance companies are hoping that they can use what you say in that statement against you, putting a portion of the blame on you for the accident.
Seeking Damages for All Physical, Emotional, and Financial Losses
Car accidents are more than broken bones, lacerations, and bruises. They are traumatic physically, mentally, and emotionally. They can dramatically impact your quality of life, and you may even suffer from long-term emotional trauma as a result.
When a driver’s negligence causes an accident, you have the right to seek damages for all injuries, disabilities, loss of earnings and earning capacity, pain, suffering, hospitalizations, damage to personal property, and more. An attorney can review your case and tell you exactly what types of compensation you qualify for and the approximate amounts.
These damages are hard to calculate yourself, which is why you should always involve an attorney. Also, you may have future damages that you are not even aware of – such as future medical costs when you suffer permanent disability. These are something your attorney can calculate for you and ensure you get full compensation for the short and long-term effects of your accident.
The Right to Use an Injury Attorney
You also have the right to seek counsel when you are trying to recover compensation for your injuries. While not required, it is recommended that you work with an attorney. This is because an attorney often yields a higher settlement value than trying to negotiate with insurance companies by yourself.
Rights You Do Not Have
It is also important that you understand the rights you do not have after a car accident and things that may affect your ability to seek compensation.
You Cannot Pretend the Accident Did Not Happen
You are required to report the accident to the police in the State of Florida if there is more than $500 in property damage – which applies to most accident situations.
Also, if there are any injuries or indications of someone in discomfort, you must report the accident to the police. Likewise, you cannot leave the scene of the crash unless you are excused by law enforcement or emergency responders remove you from the scene.
You must also report the accident to your auto insurance company. All insurers have policies in place that require you to report an accident within a specified number of days. You should do it immediately (preferably within 24 hours) so that you do not violate any policy clauses.
Get Witness Contact Information, but Do Not Pressure
You have the right to ask witnesses for their contact information so that you or your attorney can follow up later and get their testimony, but you cannot pressure them. If they do not wish to be contacted later, you must leave it at that. You also cannot pressure or try to push a witness to testify in your favor.
You Do Not Have Infinite Time to Wait for a Claim
You have rights as the victim, which includes the right to seek compensation. However, the other party has rights, too. One right is to not face a lawsuit years after the incident. After all, this would leave most without access to witnesses or evidence to defend themselves. The law limits how long you have to file a claim with the court for compensation. Therefore, if you were to file a lawsuit after the time limit (known as the statute of limitations), you cannot seek compensation regardless of how compelling your evidence is against the defendant.
In the State of Florida, you have four years from the date of the accident to file your lawsuit, but it is highly advised you do not wait that long. Four years is a long time for a witness to remember precisely what they saw in an accident. Likewise, evidence disappears quickly, and the longer you wait, the less evidence you will have to prove your case.
Ideally, it would help if you spoke with an attorney as quickly as possible.
Contact a Florida Injury Advocate Today
If you or a loved one was seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident, you do have rights and you need an advocate who is ready to protect those rights. Speak with an injury attorney today from the Law Offices of David M. Benenfeld, P.A.
We offer free, no-obligation consultations. You can meet with an injury attorney now to discuss your case and see if you qualify for compensation. Call us now or request more information online.