Car accident claims can be time-consuming and frustrating. When you combine Florida’s no-fault insurance requirements with personal injury laws, they can also be confusing. As a result, many people choose to hire a car accident lawyer instead of handling a personal injury case alone.
Can I File a Car Accident Claim Without an Attorney?
You are not required to hire a car accident lawyer to handle your insurance claim. You can file a claim with your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance provider on your own. In many cases, accident victims handle no-fault insurance claims without a lawyer.
However, some factors complicate a car accident case. Therefore, it can be best to hire a car accident lawyer to handle your case in these situations.
You Sustained Serious Injuries
Florida’s car insurance laws require that accident victims file claims with their no-fault insurance provider. No-fault insurance (PIP coverage) pays up to 80 percent of medical bills and 60 percent of lost wages. You will not receive more than your policy limits for your claim.
However, if you sustain serious injuries, you might have a personal injury claim against the other driver. You have the burden of proving negligence, fault, and damages.
An attorney has the resources and experience necessary to evaluate your claim, gather evidence, and pursue a claim. You may need to file a lawsuit to recover compensation in some cases.
The Other Party Disputes Liability
If the other driver says he did not cause the accident, you must have evidence proving fault for the driver to be liable for your damages. Also, the driver or insurance company may accuse you of contributing to the cause of the crash. If so, your compensation could be reduced by your percentage of fault.
It is wise to hire a lawyer to handle the case in these situations. Your lawyer is prepared to argue questions of liability and has the resources to investigate the cause of the crash.
The Accident Involves a Commercial Truck or Government Entity
Accidents involving a semi-truck, commercial vehicle, government vehicle, or government employee can be extremely complex. In addition, there are specific laws that apply in these cases that might not apply in typical car accident cases.
The average person is unaware of the requirements for filing claims against the government. Likewise, most people are unaware of trucking regulations that could affect their personal injury cases.
More Than Two Vehicles Were Involved in the Crash
Determining fault in multi-vehicle car accidents may require hiring experts and accident reconstructionists to help with the case. Each party may try to blame the other parties for causing the accident to avoid liability. Without an attorney, you could be caught in the middle and forced to battle two or more parties with unlimited resources to fight the claim.
Your Child Was Injured in a Car Accident
Childhood injury cases may include future damages for developmental delays. For example, an injury could cause a child to develop emotional, cognitive, and physical impairments. These injuries cause future damages that should be compensated.
However, you may need medical experts, financial professionals, and other expert witnesses to provide opinions and evidence proving the extent of your child’s injuries and damages. Furthermore, if you agree to a settlement, you may need court approval before finalizing the settlement, and the settlement funds may need to be held in a trust account until your child is 18 years old.
You Are Not Familiar With How to Calculate the Value of Damages
Accident victims are usually familiar with economic damages. They assume that they can receive reimbursement for their medical bills, lost income, and out-of-pocket costs related to the accident and their injury.
However, you could also be entitled to non-economic damages. These damages include:
- Physical pain and discomfort
- Emotional distress
- Scarring, disfigurement, and impairment
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Decrease in quality of life
Valuing these damages can be difficult. There is not a standard formula for calculating the value of pain and suffering damages. Furthermore, you could be entitled to future damages if you sustained a disability because of the car accident.
Dealing With Other Legal Issues Related to Your Car Accident Claim
In addition to the above factors, there could be other legal issues that you must address. For example, if you handle your claim, you are responsible for calculating the deadline for filing lawsuits and claims. Missing the deadline means you cannot hold the at-fault party legally liable for your damages.
You can look up the Florida statute of limitations online. However, some factors could shorten or lengthen the deadline for filing a car accident lawsuit. Unless you understand the law, you could make a costly mistake.
Most personal injury lawyers offer free consultations. Therefore, it does not cost you anything to discuss your case with an accident attorney before you decide whether to pursue a car accident claim without an attorney.
Paul Brannon is a senior partner at Brannon & Brannon Personal Injury Attorneys, a law firm based in Northwest Florida. They have two locations in service: Fort Walton Beach and Destin, FL.