Tampa is considered the fourth worst city for motor vehicle accidents in the USA, closely following Miami in the third-place position. For people from Tampa who drive on a daily basis, this should come as no surprise. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, there were 25,218 crashes in Hillsborough County in 2021 (as of 12/02/21), which included 16,744 injuries from all crashes.
It’s essential to refresh yourself on what to do if you are injured in a car accident. Many people wonder if they should hire a car accident attorney following an accident in Tampa – the answer is always “yes,” especially if you have been injured. Here’s why.
One of the most important steps to take following an accident is seeking medical attention. When you experience a car accident, your body becomes flooded with adrenaline, protecting you from feeling your injuries while you’re still in perceived danger. The problem with this natural state is that it may prevent you from understanding the extent of your injuries right away; just because you don’t feel pain now, doesn’t mean you won’t later.
In the hours or days following the accident, you may be unaware of what’s happening in your body. Bouts of insomnia and lower back pain are caused by PTSD, and experiencing whiplash after you’ve accepted a settlement is not ideal.
Hiring a local lawyer will allow you to open a case file in case any hidden or unexpected injuries related to the accident become apparent later on.
It’s important to remember that insurance companies offer settlements with their own interests at heart. In other words, they’ll often propose a low-ball offer to see if you’ll take it — especially if you don’t have an attorney to advocate for you.
As a rule, it’s best practice not to accept the first settlement offer. Generally, insurance companies will offer a higher settlement if you have a knowledgeable attorney working with you. Furthermore, an attorney will have the knowledge and data to argue why you deserve a higher settlement, with an acceptable number in mind.
Because getting in car accidents isn’t an everyday occurrence, it’s not expected that you’ll have a reasonable estimate of what your settlement should be.
Protecting Yourself From the Other Party
Sometimes when an accident takes place, it feels as though both parties are at fault. You assess that the damage isn’t severe, exchange information, and agree to forgo the legal drama and put it under your own insurance. You part amicably and go on with your day.
Then, you get sued.
Unfortunately, this happens all too often. In this scenario, both parties have left the scene without an official report, which means it’s your word against theirs regarding what happened.
While there’s nothing wrong with trying to go the altruistic route, you should still remember a few key things:
- Document the scene with photos
- Get the other person’s information
- Don’t reference fault or insurance limitations
- Call a Tampa car accident lawyer immediately
Calling a car accident lawyer doesn’t mean you’re going to sue the other person, but it does protect you if your roadside agreement doesn’t hold up.
Sometimes you can’t reach a settlement through insurance providers, and you end up taking your case to court. If you’ve navigated the negotiation process yourself, it’s time to hire an attorney who has experience with trials. Representing yourself is a surefire way to lose.
Finally, most people avoid working with an attorney because of the misconception about fees. Most Tampa car accident attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, taking a percentage of your settlement in return for their services. In other words, you have no upfront costs, and they don’t get paid unless you do. Furthermore, initial consultations are often free.
If you’re one of the thousands of people who experiences a car accident in Tampa, do yourself a favor and hire an attorney as soon as possible following the accident, to protect yourself and your assets.