May 17, 2016

When to hire a car accident attorney in Tampa

Car accidents are not fun, and they often leave drivers in a position where they don’t know what to do, open to being mistreated by insurance companies. We understand that it can be complicated business – filing a claim with your insurance company, talking to the other driver’s insurance company about what happened, and taking care of your health and the finances of it all! Where the insurance companies are concerned, the first thing you need to understand is when to hire a car accident attorney.

The insurance company’s job: change the story

Unfortunately, car accidents are quite rampant in the Tampa Bay area – it’s not unusual for workday commuters to be stuck in the traffic resulting from an accident a couple times a day. Auto insurance companies have their work cut out for them, and a lot of that work involves doing their best to make sure they don’t have to pay out what the victim of a car accident really deserves.

Because Tampa is in a comparative negligence state, even if it seems the driver that caused an accident is 100% fault, a judge can find reasons to put a percentage of that fault on the innocent driver, meaning the at-fault driver’s insurance is not responsible for such an expensive payout. Examples of ways for a judge to put some of the fault on the victim include:

  • If the at-fault driver ran a red light into the victim, but there were no cameras, witnesses, or other evidence, a judge can easily land half of the fault on each driver. It’s difficult to prove a “he-said, she-said” story, and insurance companies can take advantage of that.
  • If the at-fault driver claims the victim was speeding, unexpectedly changing lanes, or driving in other risky ways, the fault of the accident could become muddled, and the fault committed unfairly.

Sometimes (even a lot of the time) insurance companies don’t need to muddle the situation for themselves. Instead, they find opportunities in resources like recorded statements, put you on the spot, and then find the smallest (albeit human) inconsistencies to blur your story. For example:

  • The at-fault driver’s insurance company asks you how quickly you were going. You might misspeak, or respond with a general estimate. If this number is above the speed limit, they can place blame on you for speeding, even if you know you weren’t.
  • In an initial interview, they will likely ask you which body parts were injured or otherwise affected by the accident. If you don’t start experiencing soreness until weeks after the initial incident, the insurance company may stick to your initial testimony, and refuse to pay for any “new” injuries.

The car accident lawyer’s job: keep your story straight

As you can see, it’s not difficult for someone who wishes to muddle the story and place unrightful blame on you to do just that. Car accidents are difficult, stressful situations, and you may be in shock even weeks after the incident, saying things that you don’t mean, but unfortunately cannot take back.

This is why it’s important to hire a car accident lawyer as soon as you can. A car accident lawyer will confirm that your side of the story is heard by the law, and that the at-fault driver’s insurance company does not purposefully misconstrue your statements or any other evidence that is available to them.

A car accident attorney’s job is to fight for your side of the story with the same ambition that the other guy’s insurance company will. They will conduct an investigation on behalf of you, the injured victim; this can include interviewing witnesses, finding and analyzing video footage, and examining the physical evidence at the scene, like the debris and skid marks left on the road. When the other insurance company tries to muddle the facts of the evidence, your car accident attorney will bring concrete, tangible evidence to light and fight against any attempts to talk the law out of giving you the settlement you deserve.

Make sure to hire a car accident attorney as soon as possible. The more time that lapses between getting a car accident attorney and the incident itself, the more opportunities for witnesses to lose memory of the accident, video footage to be lost, and any physical evidence to be removed.

You may also be interested in:

Leaving the Scene of an Accident
Aggressive Driving Facts
Jones v. Alayon: a Look into Seatbelt Laws
Someone Took My Car Without Permission and Had an Accident
Why Taking Pictures at the Scene of an Accident is Important
Houck v. Enterprise: Rental Car Laws
I Was Hit By a Drunk Driver – Can I Sue?