I have been amazed at how many of my clients are late bloomers. They were all in accidents and it took them a long time to come see a lawyer. One of them came in for the first time 44 months after their accident, and had hardly seen a doctor. Another was in a roll over accident on I-95 and had not seen an attorney for 11 months. Because of their lack of understanding of Florida no-fault law, they did not promptly apply for benefits and had both “gone without” necessary medical care. So much for the lawsuit crisis.
So maybe a checklist may be helpful to you so you can understand what makes a good auto accident case.
1. Promptly report the accident to your insurance company and ask them to open a claim file for you. This enables you to get PIP benefits which will pay for the doctor of your choice.
2. Start treating with a good doctor and follow his advice. Do not skip appointments or create gaps in your care.
3. Keep a journal for your lawyer about your problems. It’s human nature to forget some of the aggravation and inconvenience you have to go through. One of my clients had 107 trips to the therapist, about 1,300 miles of driving. That’s enough to drive to Maine from Florida.
4. Take pictures of your injuries and your car, before the injuries heal or the car gets fixed. Insurance companies take photos but will not share with you.
5. Do not discuss your case with anyone but your lawyer. One of my clients smartly figured out that a new acquaintance was really a private detective hired by the insurance company.
6. Florida law requires a serious injury, defined by statute as a significant scar, death or permanent injury, to have a claim for loss of the important damages: quality of life losses, like the inability to have fun because of pain, headaches, or physical restrictions from the accident. Medical bills and loss of income are recoverable even without a permanent injury.
7. Clear causation is a must. This means that the doctor must agree in writing that your injuries are due to the accident. This is easier said than done. Some local doctors are not used to having to tie a car accident to an injury and may be unwilling to cooperate with your lawyer. I had a client who suffered a heart attack at the scene of an accident and her doctor was reluctant to blame the crash for her heart attack.
So I hope to see you sooner than later! Delays in treatment are likely going to prolong the pain and complicate resolution of an injury claim.