Guide to St. Petersburg Car Accident Cases
by Sean McQuaid on April 2nd, 2020 in Personal Injury
At Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, PA, we have been representing people injured in car accidents for over 60 years. There is not a single type of car accident case that we have not successfully handled over that time frame. We are dedicated to helping the citizens of St. Petersburg through the challenging times that may come after an unexpected accident.
Our personal injury practice is unique. We do not advertise on television, radio, or on billboards. The majority of our cases are referred to us by past clients, by doctors, or people that have found us online. This means that we are not a mill. We get to know our clients and work their cases so that there aren’t mistakes. Most importantly, we don’t have advertising bills to pay monthly, so we do not have pressure to settle your case for less than the full value. We guarantee that unlike the firms you might see on ads, we will resolve your case more efficiently and maximize the recovery that you will make.
What Should I Do After a Car Accident in St. Petersburg?
Because we have vast experience in handling car accident claims, we are able to put together certain recommendations that apply to most incidents as follows:
Get Immediate Medical Treatment After the Accident
Some people make the mistake by thinking that they have 14 days after the accident to get treatment. They do not understand that this rule only applies to their PIP or no fault coverage. It does not apply to your ability to recover money in the accident claim. If you have waited days, or even up to two weeks to be seen by a doctor, your injury claim will be significantly damaged. Therefore, it is extremely important to be seen as soon as possible after the accident. If you require emergency medical care, go to the hospital. Bayfront, St. Anthony’s, St. Pete General, Northside, or Palms of Pasadena are all close and should be able to service you. If your injuries do not rise to the level of requiring a hospital visit, then go to an Urgent Care or Walk-In clinic. Baycare has several urgent care clinics around town that should be able to see you.
After your initial visit, you will need to be seen with a specialist. Just because no broken bones were discovered in an x-ray does not mean that you do not have injuries. In fact, most soft tissue injuries can only be found through an MRI. Thus, try to find a doctor who specializes in car accident injuries. Do not waste your time setting up an appointment with your family doctor or general practitioner. If you need recommendations on who to go to, you can always ask your lawyer.
Always Call the Police to Report the Accident
Another mistake that people make is to trust the other driver to do the right thing. Even if that person is trustworthy, people simply have a hard time admitting they made a mistake. Additionally, the person’s insurance company is not bound by what the driver may have told you at the scene. Therefore, even in a minor accident, you should call the police. St. Petersburg Police Department is pretty good about getting to the scene promptly and writing good reports. Always be respectful to the officer and do not feel bad if he writes a ticket or citation to the other driver. The benefits of having an accident report that states that you were not at-fault will far outweigh any guilt you may have.
Get Witness Information and Take Pictures
Another important step for you to take at the accident scene is to get the name and phone numbers for any witnesses. The police officer will likely get all of the information for his or her report, but don’t rely on them to be the sole keeper of that information. I cannot tell you how many times an officer has either lost the contact information for a witness or wrote it down wrong, thus losing it forever. So, be proactive and take down the information in case your lawyer or the insurance company needs it.
Taking pictures is also important. You should take pictures of the cars at the scene. If you can take a picture of the other driver, that can also be helpful. Also, take pictures of any visible injuries. Abrasions and bruises disappear fast, so make sure you document them. Then, as the injuries heal, you should also take periodic pictures. Any scarring that is left is extremely important to show to the insurance company because that is a permanent injury that carries value.
How Much Do Car Accident Lawyers Charge?
Our car accident attorneys work on a contingency basis. This is unlike any other arrangement that you may have had with a lawyer. You do not need to put any money down or make any payments. The fee is paid to the lawyer as a percentage of the recovery in the case. And, if no money is recovered, you do not owe the lawyer anything. This fee arrangement makes it very attractive for people to hire the best lawyers to fight the insurance company. The percentage that is charged is normally 33.3% or 25% if the claim is against a state or government agency. The fee could go up if a lawsuit has to be filed. There are also some costs involved. Examples of costs are for photocopies, certified mail, etc. If the case is settled without a lawsuit, the costs are usually quite low. These costs are paid by the lawyer and then repaid out of the settlement money at the conclusion of the claim.
Who Will Pay for My Medical Bills After a Car Accident in St. Petersburg?
Florida is a no fault state, which means that every registered car is required to carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance. PIP insurance covers medical bills and lost wages up to $10,000 per accident regardless of who was at fault. PIP is the primary insurance after the accident. Once the $10,000 is exhausted, you have options. If you have health insurance, you can run your bills through it. You can also pay your bills in cash, if you desire. Or, you can have the bills covered under a letter of protection (LOP), which is essentially an IOU out of the settlement. An LOP is the most common way that bills are handled after an accident. However, you must have a car accident attorney before a medical provider will agree to an LOP.
How Long Will My Injury Claim Take?
The length of your claim depends on the severity of your injuries, your treatment, and sometimes, how much insurance is involved. For example, if there is only $10,000 in available insurance money available, you don’t want to run up big bills. In this scenario, your case needs to be settled quickly. But, in most situations, we can give you some general guidelines. If you only have conservative treatment such as chiropractic care or physical therapy, your treatment should be finished in about 6 months. If you then get injections, add a few months. If you have had surgery, add a few more months. This timeline applies to when the case is ready for us to send off a demand. It normally takes about a month to compile the bills, records, liens and draft the demand. Then, once the demand is sent, we give the insurance company 30 days to respond.
Contact a St. Petersburg Car Accident Attorney
At Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A., we are members of the St. Petersburg community. We live here and work here. We are not only involved in the legal community, but have deep roots throughout town. Because of our connections and ties to the area, we put our clients first. We want their case to resolve favorably and for them to be happy with the legal services provided. If you are researching law firms in St. Petersburg, I encourage you to view our website, introductory videos and our numerous five star reviews. But, the case is not about us, it is about you and your family. If you want help and trustworthy legal guidance, please contact us for a free consultation.