Automobile Accidents

What should I do if I am involved in a car accident?

The first thing to do is call 911. Once the police are on the way, and if you are capable, notify the other driver involved in the accident that the police are in route. Make sure you seek the necessary medical treatment immediately for your injuries.

It is usually best if you do not move the vehicles from their final resting position after the accident, so that the police are in a better position to observe and make out how the accident occurred.

Next, you should exchange driver information with the other person/people involved in the accident. If you have a camera, take photos of the scene, the vehicles, and the damage caused. Usually, once the police arrive, this is what happens, however if you are able to obtain information from the other person such as their driver’s license, registration, and insurance coverage, this will help ensure you are covered for your injuries and damage to your vehicle.

After the police arrive, make sure you give your side of the story and explain to the police officer why the other person was at fault and how they caused the accident. Once the police officer has completed his work at the scene, he or she will provide you with a Driver Exchange of Information. This piece of paper is an important document as it contains the information needed to file a claim with the at fault party’s insurance company.

To make sure you are properly compensated for your damages, and to receive the greatest settlement possible, contact a personal injury attorney who can investigate the accident and contact any witnesses before they forget what they witnessed and any evidence is lost.

I was in a minor accident and the other driver and I just exchanged insurance information without calling the police. My insurance company is now giving me a hard time for not having a report. Is a police report necessary for all car accidents?

A police report is always helpful since it gives the insurance companies something to refer to when initially evaluating a claim. However, a police report is not required, nor is it admissible as evidence in court of what took place at the time of the accident to make a claim against an insurance company. Police reports will work to provide each insurance company with a set of facts of what occurred. With that said, it is always best to have the police come to the scene and provide you with a driver exchange to ensure you get the other driver’s information, and have a documented record of the accident.

I was in a car accident and the other motorist's insurance company just called me for a statement. Am I required to provide one?

The short answer is NO! Statements provided to the other driver’s insurance company can be used against you while trying to recover for your damages. If the other motorist’s insurance company is calling you for a statement, chances are because they are having issues determining liability. One reason could be that the other motorist is claiming that you are at fault. Another reason could be that they have been unsuccessful in reaching their insured driver. Whether or not it is required depends on the circumstances of each case. Simply put, respectfully decline providing a statement and let them know to contact your insurance company directly. Nonetheless, hiring a firm with experienced personal injury attorneys will help you to identify whether it is necessary that you provide a statement.

Who is responsible for my medical treatment and expenses?

At the outset, your treatment and the expenses associated with your treatment will be covered initially by your insurance. In Florida, the owner/driver of a vehicle is required by statute to carry insurance coverage called Personal Injury Protection, better known as PIP coverage. However, in most cases, the at-fault party (or their insurance company) is responsible for covering your medical expenses, compensation for lost work and damage to your vehicle. Determination of liability varies on a case-by-case basis. As such, hiring an experienced personal injury attorney will help determine who is responsible and if you are entitled to recover for your losses and damages.

What happens if the person who crashed into me does not have insurance or bodily injury coverage?

This happens every so often. The best way to protect yourself is this type of case is to obtain from your insurance an additional type of coverage called uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. This is an additional benefit that you can elect to have added to your policy. This type of coverage will ensure you can seek coverage for bodily injuries if the at-fault driver does not carry bodily injury coverage on his or her policy, or if the at-fault driver does not have insurance coverage at all.

Traffic Tickets

What do I do if I get a traffic ticket in Florida?

If you get a ticket, you can always pay the fine. However, if you just pay the fine, you are effectively admitting that you are guilty, may have points placed on your driving record, and potentially incur increases on your automobile insurance.

Alternatively, you can hire an attorney who handles traffic tickets to represent you and work to have the ticket dismissed, or withhold adjudication.

When should I hire an attorney to represent me for my traffic tickets?

Typically, as soon as possible. Most tickets require a payment to be made within 30 days, or in some cases require a court appearance. Hiring an experienced attorney will ease the process in fighting the traffic ticket and dealing with any criminal charges.

If I hired an attorney, do I need to appear in court?

If you have already hired an attorney, the attorney will appear on your behalf, unless the court requires you to be present for a specific reason.

Negligence Cases

What kind of negligence cases does the Law Offices of Jermaine O’Neill Thompson, P.A. handle?

We handle a wide variety of negligence cases, such as slip and falls, dog bites, product defects, manufacturing defects, negligent security, wrongful death, and other general negligence cases. If you have suffered an injury, the reason could be that someone failed to ensure your safety. Contact our office for a consultation to go over your options.

Contract Disputes

What should I do if I have a contractual agreement with someone and they don’t keep up their end of the agreement?

If you are in a situation where, for example, you provided services or goods and the consumer has not paid, you should hire an attorney to draft a demand letter, providing a time frame within which the person who hasn’t paid, make the payment that is overdue. If, for whatever reason the person still does not pay, you may have to file a lawsuit to have a court order that payment be made as per the agreement. Contact our office today if you have any issues pertaining to contract disputes.

What should I do if I have a tenant who is not paying rent?

If you own property and are renting it out to someone who is not paying their rent, or has failed to make any payments at all, hiring an attorney to put the tenant on notice of the requirement to pay his or her rent by a certain date is the initial step. If rent is not paid, an eviction action will be filed if no payment is made. An experienced attorney will attempt to resolve the matter without going into any unnecessary litigation.

Attorney’s Fees and Retainer Agreements

How much does it cost for an attorney to represent me?

Paying an attorney comes in many forms. Some cases can be paid in the form of a contingency fee, where there are no upfront costs for the client and the attorney covers the costs associated with the case. The way the attorney collects his or her fee is by obtaining his or her fee once the case has been resolved and a settlement agreement has been reached. The attorney will obtain a percentage of the settlement (usually 33 & 1/3 % of the total settlement amount) and be paid directly out of the settlement. In other cases, you can retain an attorney and he or she will charge for legal services by the hour. Still, some other cases can be handled on a flat fee basis. Of course, the attorney client agreement will indicate how your attorney will collect his or her fees and the cost to retain that attorney.