The first thing an Attorney does is stop the insurance adjusters from calling and harassing you. We call them and tell them not to call you anymore, but to call us.
An accident claim adjuster can sometimes be like have a debt collector chasing you for payment. This is so because in Florida, you normally are dealing with at least two insurance companies following an auto accident, yours for PIP benefits and the other party’s for at least Property Damage, and usually Bodily Injury claims. Usually, adjusters react quickly to reports of any type of accident claim. They do so for two reasons.
First, they want to get your claim open and started as soon as reported. They do so to mitigate what they will have to pay for loss of use damages and rental car reimbursement. But secondly, they want to get to talk to you before you obtain legal representation or see a doctor. There is one insurance company in Central Florida that is even famous for having vans drive around to accident scenes, and talk to accident victims right there at the scene of the accident. What they are trying to do is to offer you a little money, usually around $500.00, to settle your personal injury and bodily injury claim right then and there. Doing so is very dangerous and often a disastrous proposition.
Once you settle, it is nearly impossible to get a Court to overturn your settlement contract, known as a release(That’s the piece of paper they make you sign to get a check!). Insurance companies know that often times, acute injuries from an auto accident take time to manifest. They also know that it usually takes several months, as explained above, for the full extent of the damage to be uncovered. What if therapy fails? What if you need surgery? If you sign that paper, it does not matter – You could have the worse injury in the world, and there would be nothing you, or someone like me, could do about it.
Therefore, please avoid rushing to speak to an insurance adjuster at the scene of an accident. I recommend calling an attorney instead. Now yes, I am biased. However, think of the analogy of being detained by the police. Who is the first person you want to call? An Attorney! Why? To get legal advice on the situation. Well, when you are in an accident, you will be involved with police. There will be an investigation. And important decisions, which could significantly affect your ability to be fairly compensated for your injuries are about to occur. Some legal advice on what to do couldn’t hurt.
After an initial consultation, your attorney should engage in an investigation of all the facts and circumstances surrounding how the accident occurred, and also, they will investigate all available insurance coverage which may provide a source of recovery for your injuries.
Under Florida law, an insurance company has thirty (30) days to provide the attorney with a full copy of all insurance policies that the person has that may provide coverage for the accident, and, the insurance company has to tell the attorney its position as to whether or not there is coverage. This means they have to tell us whether or not they would be denying coverage for any reason.
Your attorney will also obtain the full police report and will look into and investigate any witnesses to the accident, and how they state that accident occurred.
Secondly, at this point the majority of the work is on you, because you need to get to the doctor and to treat.
The time it takes for you to complete your Medical Treatment is highly variable, and depends on the type and nature of your injuries. In a typical neck or back strain case, you will typically need at least twenty-three (23) visits for the doctor to certify your injuries and place you at Maximum Medical Improvement. This can take anywhere from three to six months. However, you need to realize that if your injuries are more severe, you could require treatment for years, even the rest of your life.
Usually, you will also be referred out for an MRI during or near the end of your treatment. You may also be referred to or seen by an orthopedic physician. Again, these tests and second opinions are to confirm your diagnosis and to see if surgical intervention or further treatment is needed and necessary.
When your treatment is finalized, we will receive final narrative reports from the doctors. This allows us to move to the Demand Phase of your case and see if a settlement short of filing a lawsuit is possible