It happens all the time—you are hurt in a car crash or injured on someone else’s property. Insurance information is exchanged, crash reports and incident reports are filled out, and you either go home or you are taken to the hospital. Then your phone rings and it is someone from the at-fault driver’s insurance company or maybe someone from the property owner’s risk management division. They are very nice and seem to really care about how you are doing and what happened to you. Most of all, they really seem to want to help you, and all they need from you is a statement. Say no thanks, and call your personal injury lawyer, Cory Chastang.
Florida Law Allows You 14 Days to Seek Medical Attention When You Have Been Injured in A Car Crash
Just as important as not giving an insurance statement is this key fact: If you have been injured in a car crash, you need to seek medical attention within 14 days. Not two weeks. Fourteen days. If you do not seek medical attention within 14 days, you will lose benefits under Florida’s Personal Injury Protection (PIP) law. In other words, just like in Monopoly, do not pass go, do not collect $200 dollars (or anything until you speak with a lawyer); do not sign anything at all. Go straight to the doctor. Do understand that people often suffer from soft tissue injuries or even slight head injuries, with symptoms that take a few days to surface. Should you notice pain, bruising, aching or any other symptom, go BACK to the doctor.
What to Do When the Insurance Company Wants to Take a Statement
Don’t do it! Politely say “no, I would like to speak with my lawyer first.” Be persistent, because you can bet they will be persistent in trying to get you to talk to them. Do not be deceived by the insurance adjuster’s nice attitude, (if they decide to have one). Their job is to protect their bottom line, not you. Their job is to provide you with as little compensation for your injuries as possible. They don’t know you; they don’t care about you, and they don’t actually care how you feel. Worse, if you give a statement to the insurance company they will use it against you, because it is their job to do so. It is easier to call me before you give the statement.
What Else You Should Know
Here are a few other suggestions of things to do immediately after your crash or your injury to help a potential claim. Take pictures and lots of them. Use your cell phone. Take pictures of your injuries, take pictures of your car, take pictures of the other driver’s car, take pictures of the crash scene, take pictures of the puddle of water you slipped in or the stair you fell from. Take pictures. It will be important to take a jury to the very place where you were hurt and show them what your injuries looked like, what the crash scene looked like or what the conditions of the property were like when you got injured.
Finally, a lot of times after a car crash, the insurance company will offer you a check for the property damage to your car. That’s pretty enticing stuff! Do not take the check, and don’t sign anything. If you already have already taken a check, do not deposit that check without speaking to me. It's a shame, but many times the insurance companies will have you sign a document in order to get the check for the vehicle damage. In that document is a hidden sentence where you waive any and all claims for personal injury. Call me first, and let's see what is in your best interest.
In closing let me remind you, if you’ve been injured in a car crash or hurt on someone else’s property,
1. Do not give a statement to the insurance company,
2. Go to the doctor within 14 days if you’ve been in a car crash,
3. Take pictures, and most importantly,
4. Call me, at 863-688-7038.
P.S. If you already gave a statement to the insurance company, it’s not the end of the world, and it probably is not the end of your claim. In part II of my blog “So You've Been Injured, What Next?” I’ll discuss what to do if you’ve already given a statement. I think you know what I am going to tell you.