Being injured in a car accident can be a traumatic experience, but if your accident was the fault of another driver, you deserve compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering. But what if the other driver is uncooperative? What if they deny liability in the case? Experienced car accident lawyers in Florida routinely deal with these challenges when pursuing damages for their clients.
If you've been injured in a car accident, you should contact a personal injury lawyer immediately! Your attorney will work on a contingency basis and can ensure that you receive compensation regardless of the other driver's willingness to own up to their responsibilities.
Dealing with an Uncooperative Driver
Frequently, an at-fault driver is reticent to admit responsibility in the accident. In some cases, they may not even believe that they're at fault. Regardless of whether they're ignorant of the traffic laws or lying to avoid the consequences, there are other ways to get at the truth. For instance, while responding officers are supposed to consider the testimony of all parties, they're usually able to determine fault by the physical evidence on the scene (i.e., the position of the cars, where the debris landed, skidmarks on the roadway, etc.). Sometimes, other drivers who saw the accident will stop and give the police their account of the story. Ultimately, the police determination of fault will depend on several factors, including the testimonies of the drivers involved.
Any attorney of record can issue a subpoena in an action. While they may have an attorney present, attendance is mandatory. The plaintiff's attorney — the lawyer representing the claimant — can ask questions of the witness. The defendant cannot usually refuse based on self-incrimination because they are not the subject of a criminal investigation. There are, of course, times when a driver can simultaneously be the subject of both a criminal and civil investigation, but the civil case usually stays until the criminal action is completed.
This is the time for your attorney to ask pertinent questions that can draw the truth out of the defendant. In addition to the defendant, your attorney may subpoena other witnesses for deposition, including the responding officers, paramedics, passengers, and other witnesses. The plaintiff is also likely to be deposed by the insurance company's attorney.
What if the At-Fault Driver Won't Respond to the Insurance Company?
Assuming that the at-fault driver didn't hit and run, and they have been identified, they may be able to avoid justice for a limited amount of time. If the other driver won't respond to the insurance company, their lawyers can serve them with a subpoena. If they fail to show up at the appointed time, the attorney can bring the matter before the court where the judge or magistrate can issue a bench warrant. Eventually, even the most recalcitrant drivers are going to have to testify.
Should I Talk to the Other Insurance Company After the Accident?
It's important that you speak to a personal injury lawyer before talking to any insurance company: yours or theirs. Florida's no-fault law means that your insurance company may be responsible for your injuries, but neither company is on your side. Both want to limit the number of their payouts, which means that your case is not their priority. Because dedicated personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis, you will not have to pay out of pocket for superlative legal advice.
Filing a Lawsuit Against the Other Driver
For most accidents in Florida, there is a four-year statute of limitations from the date of the accident. While that may seem like plenty of time, you shouldn't wait. Your attorney will need time to prepare the case. Additionally, evidence can be lost over time, and witnesses move or become unavailable. The sooner your attorney can get to work, the greater your advantage. Filing a lawsuit does not necessarily mean that you'll have to go to court. Most accident cases settle ahead of litigation.
What to Do if You're Involved in a Car Accident
What you do in the minutes and hours after a car accident with injuries can have a tremendous impact on the outcome of your case. The following tips can help you with your physical and financial recovery.
- Get to a Place of Safety – You shouldn't move your vehicle, but if you're in a dangerous spot, move your car. Check for traffic before stepping out.
- Call 911 – The dispatcher will need your location, direction of travel, a description of vehicles, the nature of the injuries, and some other details to convey to the responding units.
- Take Pictures and/or Video – The scene will change rapidly. If you're able to safely, take photos or a video of the accident scene. You should try to capture damage to the vehicles, debris on the ground, injuries, witnesses, other drivers, and a geographic indicator, like a road sign or business sign.
- Allow Rescue to Examine You – If there's any chance you're injured or in shock, allow the EMTs to give you a cursory examination. Follow their advice with regard to going to the emergency room. If they do not transport you, follow up with your doctor.
- Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer – If you call an accident attorney, you will usually be able to speak to them within minutes. They will provide you with professional legal advice, free of charge.
Do not accept an initial settlement from the insurance company. The initial settlement offer is invariably low, and to accept it, you have to sign a release of the claim. That means that if your bills exceed your settlement amount, you will have to pay out of pocket. A personal injury lawyer can ensure that you don't accept a low settlement amount. Call a personal injury lawyer to protect your rights and get you the compensation that you deserve.