It’s good to have questions after getting into a car accident in Tampa, Florida. After all, the legal process of recovering compensation can be complicated, and an insurance company won’t go out of its way to make things easy for you.
The more you know about your legal rights and the laws that might affect your car accident injury claim, the better your chances of making a full financial recovery.
Our Tampa car accident attorneys have addressed some of the questions we’re asked most frequently by prospective and current clients, alike. The answers can help you understand what to do after a car accident, what not to do, and why it can be important to hire a lawyer.
If you have additional questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to Roman Austin Personal Injury Lawyers. Read on for more questions to ask a lawyer after a car crash. Our legal team in Tampa, FL is always available to take your call and set up a free consultation at (813) 686-7588.
What Steps Do I Need to Take After a Tampa Car Accident?
These simple, but important, steps are what you should do after an auto accident. They can help to keep you safe and increase the odds of a meaningful financial recovery:
- Stop and remain at (or near) the scene of the accident and exchange information with other parties.
- Check to see if anyone requires immediate medical attention.
- Call 911 or the local police in Tampa to report your accident. Police officers and emergency medical professionals will be dispatched to provide help.
- Resist the urge to say you’re sorry or apologize for the accident. The things you say can be taken out of context and used to hurt your chances of a full financial recovery.
- Take photographs of the scene of the accident, property damage, and your injuries, if possible.
- Seek medical treatment at a local hospital in Tampa as soon as you can. Sometimes signs and symptoms of an injury aren’t apparent right away. If you let these injuries linger, you might experience complications or worsening symptoms. Prompt care can help to keep you safe and limit the extent of your car accident injuries.
Once you’ve received medical treatment, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced car accident attorney near you in Tampa for help. At Roman Austin Personal Injury Lawyers, a member of our legal team is available to help 24 hours a day.
The Insurance Company Wants Me to Give a Recorded Statement – Should I?
No, at least not until you’ve spoken with a Tampa car accident lawyer. Remember, the insurance company isn’t on your side. They don’t have your best interests at heart. The adjuster’s job is to find a way to deny your claim or limit your payout.
This can be confusing, especially when the adjuster seems concerned about your accident and your financial situation. However, they’re going to ask you questions that are designed to elicit responses that can be used against you. If they can get these responses on the record, it’s even better for them.
Insurers will use manipulative tactics to get you to say something to hurt your case. When you hire an attorney, you shift the balance of power in your favor. Your attorney can help you navigate the insurance company’s questions and find the best answers.
If you haven’t spoken with an attorney, decline to speak with an insurance company representative.
How Does Florida’s Car Insurance System Work?
Florida is one of a few states to operate under a “no-fault” car insurance system. All drivers are required to secure car liability coverage and Personal Injury Protection (PIP) before they can legally drive in the state of Florida.
When you get into a car accident, you’ll submit a claim to your insurance company to recover these benefits. We can help you even if the other driver doesn’t have insurance. PIP benefits cover the costs of your medical bills and some of your lost wages. However, you can only receive compensation up to your policy limits.
If you opted for the minimum benefits required by law, you might find that the costs of your car accident are more than what your insurance company is willing to pay.
You may have the right to pursue additional compensation from the person who caused your accident if your injuries are serious.
Under Florida Statute 627.737, a serious injury can be defined as any of the following:
- Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function
- Permanent injury
- Permanent disfigurement or scarring
- Wrongful death
Traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, severe burns, amputations, and broken bones often satisfy the serious injury threshold. If you’ve suffered one of these or another type of catastrophic injury, you reserve the right to seek additional compensation for your emotional trauma, pain and suffering.
What is Comparative Negligence and How Could It Affect My Car Accident Case?
Car accidents can be complicated. Sometimes they happen because one person makes a mistake. Other times, multiple factors – and parties – play a role in causing a wreck. In Florida, anyone who contributes to a car accident will be liable for resulting damages.
Under the state’s modified comparative negligence statute, sharing the blame for a Tampa car accident will also affect a victim’s ability to recover compensation. If you share more than 50% of the responsibility for a collision in Tampa, you’re barred from recovering compensation.
If someone is 50% or less responsible, their damages are reduced proportionately to account for their negligence.
So, if you are assigned 10 percent of the blame for a car accident because you were speeding, your financial recovery will be limited to 90 percent. If your case was worth $100,000, you’d be able to recover $90,000 after shared responsibility was taken into account. If you are assigned 51% or more of the blame for the crash, you’re entitled to nothing.
Expect the car insurance company to try to shift the blame in your direction. The more fault you share, the lower your financial payout will be.
An experienced Tampa personal injury attorney can help to protect you from these (and other) insurance company tactics.
How Do I Get a Car Accident Report in Tampa?
If you were involved in a crash that caused $500 in property damage, injury, or death, you’re legally required to report it to the police. An officer will be dispatched to the scene to conduct a preliminary investigation, assess traffic violations, and speak with involved parties. The evidence they gather will be detailed in a police report.
These are a few of the most common scenarios of auto accidents:
- Distracted driving
- Drunk driving
- Unexpected lane changes
- Left turns
- Road defects
- Self-driving cars
- Intersection crashes
- Improper U-turns
The police report can be incredibly helpful as your car accident attorney works to build a strong claim for damages on your behalf.
Under Florida Statute Section 316.066, police reports are released into the public record 60 days after a collision.
To obtain a copy in the first 60 days after your accident, you or your attorney will need to gather the following information:
- Photo ID
- Proof of exempt status (e.g., you’re a party to the accident or a party’s legal representative), and
- Completed “Sworn Statement for Traffic Crash Report Information,” Form TPD 503 (if your attorney or insurance company submits your request for you).
You can submit your request online, mail your request to the Tampa Police, Records Section, 411 N. Franklin Street, Tampa, FL 33602, or request the report in person at the Tampa Police Headquarters, Records Section.
How Long Do I Have to File a Property Damage Claim?
Sometimes car accidents in Tampa don’t cause physical injuries to the driver or passengers. However, these crashes can do considerable damage to vehicles and other property.
In Florida, you’ll have four years from the date of your Tampa car accident to file a property damage claim.
What is the Statute of Limitations For Fatal Car Accident Lawsuits in Florida?
In 2022, there were 218 fatal car accidents reported in Tampa and surrounding cities in Hillsborough County, Florida. At least 227 people were killed in these deadly collisions.
When a family member dies in or as a result of a Tampa car accident, surviving family members often reserve the right to seek compensation for their loss.
However, wrongful death lawsuits are subject to shorter timeframes than property damage claims. In Florida, wrongful death lawsuits must be filed within two years of the date of a victim’s death.
Similarly, personal injury lawsuits in Florida are now subject to a two-year statute of limitations. The deadline used to be four years for personal injuries, but the state revised its law on March 24, 2023. Accordingly, if your car accident in Florida occurred after that date, you’re subject to the two-year timeframe. Accidents occurring before 3/24/23 will typically fall under the four-year deadline.
How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Car Accident Lawyer in Tampa?
Nothing upfront. At Roman Austin Personal Injury Lawyers, we know that a car accident can be expensive. Our law firm doesn’t want you to forego asking for legal help because you’re afraid of the added cost. We represent car accident victims in Tampa on contingency. You only pay if we win your car accident injury case.
Our fee comes directly out of your settlement or jury award, so there’s no out-of-pocket cost to you.
Typically, you can expect to pay between one-third and 40 percent of your financial recovery in attorney’s fees. However, every situation is different. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our legal team in Tampa, Florida to learn more about the benefits of working with our award-winning litigators.
Other Car Accident Claims We Cover
At Roman Austin Personal Injury Lawyers, we handle all types of car accident claims in Tampa, including:
- Head-on crashes
- Highway crashes
- Multi-vehicle accidents
- Parking lot accidents
- Rear-end accidents
- Red and yellow light crashes
- Recreational vehicle accidents
- Rollover accidents
- Single-vehicle accidents
- Uninsured motorists claims
Additional Car Accident Resources
- Do I Need a Lawyer After a Hit-and-Run Accident in Tampa?
- Can I Be Compensated for Pre-Existing Conditions After a Car Accident in Tampa?
- Car Color & Crash Risk in the Tampa Bay Area
- Common Car Accident Scenarios in Tampa- Causes & Determining Fault
- Most Dangerous Roads and Intersections in Tampa
- Tampa Car Accident Statistics