Due to the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, Thanksgiving and Christmas is not only the time of “giving” but of car crashes. In advance of the holidays, and back by popular demand, here is my list of top 10 mistakes car accident victims make before hiring a personal injury attorney.
Top 10 mistakes (in no particular order):
Signing up with a runner
In Florida, it is against the law to solicit car or motorcycle accident victims within 60 days following a crash. “Runners”, however, routinely break the law and contact accident victims – sometimes the same day of the crash.
Runners get your information from crash reports, police scanners, tow truck drivers, ER nurses, etc.
They will contact you under the guise that they are associated with not-for-profit organizations or an insurance company. Runners are professional con artists. Runners are hired by unethical and shady law firms and chiropractors.
Runners receive “kickbacks” from the lawyer and/or doctor after they pillage your PIP benefits. Runners, and the lawyers and doctors that hire them, are feeding off you nativity and stress from the crash. You should run far away from these scumbags.
You should never, ever, ever sign any paperwork provided to you by a runner.
2. Calling 411-PAIN
Every wonder why 411-PAIN advertise so aggressively?
411-PAIN is a group of chiropractors, not attorneys.
411-PAIN’s chiropractors refer out cases to “their” attorneys because they know “their” attorneys will do what’s best for 411-PAIN’s interests – sometimes to the detriment of the client. Do you want to hire an attorney that works (in essence) for the chiropractor?
I didn’t think so.
3. Signing up with an attorney who “dabbles in personal injury … amongst other things”.
Would you go see a podiatrist or proctologist if you needed heart surgery?
Of course not.
Then why would you hire a bankruptcy or immigration attorney to handle your car accident case. Attorneys handle accidents cases on a contingency fee basis. In Florida, almost all attorneys charge identical contingency fees (because the Florida Bar dictates what we can charge).
We only get paid if you get paid. If every attorney charges identical fees, shouldn’t you hire a specialist in personal injury as opposed to an attorney who only knows “the basics”.
Check your attorney’s website.
If the first or second practice area doesn’t say “personal injury”, then your attorney is not equipped to handle your case.
4. Not calling the police
After a car crash, you should ALWAYS call the police.
The police officer secures the at-fault driver’s insurance information and prepares a report. This report memorializes the crash. Vehicle 1 on the report is almost always the “at-fault” driver.
If you do not call the police you are rolling the dice that the at-fault party will accept liability at a later point in time.
This concerns the property damage claim as well as any injuries you sustained (bodily injury claim) as a result of the crash. Remember, many accident victims do not realize the extent of their injuries until days following the crash.
As a result, you should never tell the at-fault driver that you are “ok” as “ok” can mean different things to different people.
After a car crash one of my clients once told me he was “ok” even though he was in the hospital with a neck brace (because he wasn’t paralyzed). I also hear the same sob story at least a few times a year where an accident victim learns that the actual at-fault party told his/her insurance company that YOU were the at-fault party.
In some cases, the at-fault driver tries to collect from you!
In rare cases, the at-fault driver will even deny ever being involved in a crash! Always – ALWAYS call the police.
5. Telling the at-fault driver “you’re ok”
See #4 above.
6. Delay in treatment
Car crashes are no fun.
Unexpectedly you now have a million things to worry about, including whose going to fix your car, how are you going to get to work, is my insurance going to go up, etc. Many car accident victims move their physical well-being / health to the back of the queue.
Loading up on Aleve and sleeping on bags of ice is not the best course of action for your health or your personal injury case, however. As soon after the crash as possible, you should make an appointment with a doctor.
Typically, but not always, car accident victims begin to realize something is “wrong” 48-72 hours post-crash.
Usually a chiropractor is the most readily accessible and the best medical provider to evaluate your neck and spine for traumatic injuries.
The sooner you treat the sooner you can determine the extent of your injuries. Additionally, chiropractors will begin to provide real relief – which should alleviate you new-found stress.
Your auto insurance will pay for 80% of the 1st $10,000.00 in medical treatment. You have no excuses not to see a doctor.
7. Not using your PIP coverage
In Florida, you are required to use your auto insurance (via your PIP benefits) to pay for the first $10,000.00 in medical treatment.
Make sure your medical providers (especially the hospital or primary (if you make the mistake of going to your primary)) know that you were involved in an automobile crash and insist they bill your PIP coverage as the primary coverage with your health insurance as the secondary coverage.
In Florida, you are required to pay back any health insurance benefits paid out as a result of a car crash.
This is not the case with PIP benefits.
8. Not providing your PIP information
See #7 above.
9. Not taking pictures of the property damage / accident scene
This is a common mistake. Take pictures of the property damage to your car and the at-fault’s car. Take pictures from all different angles.
Take pictures from different distances.
These pictures will help your medical providers and attorney to gain a better perspective of the extent of your injuries and to reconstruct the crash.
10. Treating with your primary
Primary doctors serve a purpose (like checking for high blood pressure, shortness of breath or prescribing a Z-pack).
After a car crash, seeing your primary is (for the most part) a waste of time. You would be much better served spending your time (and money) treating with a chiropractor, physiatrist (interventional pain management) or possibly an orthopedic surgeon.
These doctors focus on your neck, spine and extremities (i.e. shoulders/knees) – the most common injury locations following a car crash. If you concerned that you have an urgent medical condition, go to the hospital.
These are just some of the mistakes victims make following a car crash.
There is no reason to make any mistakes, however.
Personal injury attorneys offer free consultations. Remember, we only collect if you collect so we have incentive to make sure you limit mistakes. Call today for a free consultation.