A catastrophic accident can change everything. One moment, everything is normal. The next, your entire life has been turned upside down.
When you suffer life-changing injuries in a catastrophic accident—or when a loved one suffers life-changing injuries or tragically loses his or her life—protecting your family’s rights is essential for mitigating the consequences. It is also vital for holding the at-fault party (or parties) accountable. Accident victims and their families will be entitled to substantial compensation awards in many cases, and recovering the financial compensation you and your family deserve can be critical for managing your financial and non-financial costs long term.
So, what do you need to do to protect your family’s rights?
Protecting Your Family’s Rights After a Catastrophic Accident in Florida
After a catastrophic accident, there are both steps you need to take and mistakes you need to avoid. This includes steps that you should try to take right away, and it also includes mistakes that you need to try to avoid in the immediate aftermath of a crash, collision, collapse, or other accident. For example, here are some key “dos” and don’ts” for protecting your family’s rights after a catastrophic accident in Florida:
DO: Prioritize Everyone’s Treatment Needs (Including Your Own)
Making sure you and your loved ones get the treatment you need should be your priority after a catastrophic accident. If you were injured in the accident, see a doctor promptly, and be sure to give your doctor as much information about the accident as possible. Not only will this help your doctor provide an accurate diagnosis, but it will also help ensure that your medical records reflect the cause and timing of your injuries—both of which are important for filing a claim.
Watching your child suffer or losing a family member unexpectedly can take an unimaginable toll. If you find yourself struggling to come to terms, it is important to know that you are not alone. It is also essential to know that help is available. Therapy can make a big difference, both in the immediate aftermath of a catastrophic accident and in the long term.
DON’T: Start Ignoring Your Doctor’s Advice
Once you start to feel better, it may become tempting to ignore your doctor’s advice. You need to resist this temptation. Following through with your treatment is important not only for protecting your health but also for protecting your legal rights. Attend your follow-up appointments, go to physical therapy, and rest if your doctor tells you to rest. While this can be frustrating in the short term, you will be glad you made the smart choice in the future.
DO: Try to Preserve As Much Evidence and Information as Possible
In the aftermath of a catastrophic accident, it is important to try to preserve as much information as possible. For example, if you have photos on your phone (or your family member’s phone), you should be sure to keep them. Likewise, if you have any physical evidence from the accident scene, such as torn or stained clothing or pieces of your vehicle after an auto accident, you should keep these in a safe place.
You should also write down everything you can remember about the accident—or everything you know from what your loved one has told you. Even after a life-altering event such as a catastrophic accident, the details can quickly start to get fuzzy. Taking notes while the details are still fresh in your mind will help ensure that you can provide your lawyers with as much information as possible.
DON’T: Try to Return to the Scene of the Accident
While you should preserve any evidence you have in your possession, you generally should not return to the scene of the accident. Not only can this potentially be dangerous, but it can also lead to evidentiary issues in some cases. Instead of returning to the accident scene yourself, you should contact a law firm, and then your law firm can send an investigator to thoroughly document the scene and preserve any evidence that is still available.
DO: Learn About What You Can Expect As You Move Forward
As you work to move on from the accident, it is critical to ensure that you are making informed decisions. This starts with learning about what you can expect as you move forward. Unfortunately, there is a lot of inaccurate information out there, and finding the resources you need to make informed decisions can be challenging.
Our blog contains a wealth of information for victims and their families. At Silva & Silva, we focus our practice on handling catastrophic accident cases, and we have handled some of the largest accident cases in Florida over the past several years. We have published articles with information about recovering from all types of catastrophic accidents, along with articles that provide general information about protecting your legal rights and maximizing your chances of a full financial recovery.
DON’T: Make Assumptions That Could Have Long-Term Consequences
The opposite of making informed decisions is making assumptions. When you are dealing with the aftermath of a catastrophic accident, you need to avoid making any assumptions that could have long-term consequences. When it comes to medical decisions, you should rely on your doctor’s advice. When it comes to protecting your legal rights, you should consult with an experienced attorney.
DO: Start Documenting the Daily Costs of Your (or Your Loved One’s) Accident
Holding the at-fault party (or parties) accountable after a catastrophic accident requires two key forms of proof. The first is proof of fault. The second is proof of how much you are entitled to recover for your family’s losses.
To help your family prove your family’s losses, you should start documenting the daily costs of your (or your loved one’s) accident. For example, in the weeks and months ahead, you should try to:
- Keep all medical records (including test results and scans), bills, and receipts
- Keep all prescriptions and receipts for medications and medical supplies
- Keep all employment records showing your (or your loved one’s) time missed from work
- Take photos or videos to document the recovery process
- Write down your (or your loved one’s) pain levels each day
- Write down events you miss, activities you are unable to enjoy, and all of the various other ways the accident impacts your life
These are just examples, and you should document your family’s costs in whatever way is easiest for you. The key isn’t to keep records in one particular format or another, but rather to make sure that you document the accident’s financial and non-financial costs as thoroughly as possible.
DON’T: Post Photos or Personal Information on Social Media
While it is important to document your costs and recovery, you should not post about the accident on social media. The insurance companies will most likely be monitoring your accounts—and, if you post anything they can use against you, they won’t hesitate to do so. The time will come when you can tell your story; but, for now, you must keep the details between you and your attorneys.
DO: Take Your Situation Seriously
Perhaps this could go without saying, as you may feel that you have no choice in the matter. But, after a catastrophic accident, it is crucial to take your situation seriously. The decisions you make now could truly impact the rest of your life—and your family members’ lives—so you need to make sure that you are making sound decisions.
Taking your situation seriously involves taking all of the steps we’ve discussed above—prioritizing your (and your loved ones’) medical care, preserving evidence, documenting your costs, and learning what you need to know to make sound decisions. If you take these steps to the best of your ability, you will put yourself and your family in the best possible position to recover the financial compensation you deserve.
DON’T: Let Yourself Get Overwhelmed
Although taking your situation seriously is essential, it is equally important not to let yourself get overwhelmed. While coping with the aftermath of a catastrophic accident presents many challenges, they are all challenges that you can overcome. If you start to feel overwhelmed, try taking it one step at a time, and don’t be shy about asking for help if you need it.
DO: Engage an Experienced Law Firm to Represent You and Your Family
After a catastrophic accident, engaging an experienced law firm is one of the most important steps you can take to protect your family’s legal rights. From investigating the accident to filing your family’s claim (or claims), and from dealing with the insurance companies to going to court if necessary, there are several steps you will need your law firm to take on your behalf.
Engaging a law firm to represent your family after a catastrophic accident costs nothing out of pocket. You can get the advice you need free of charge; and, if your law firm secures a settlement or verdict, your family’s legal fees will be deducted from the award. Your law firm will keep you updated and informed throughout the process; and, if a settlement offer is on the table, your attorneys will help you decide whether accepting the officer is in your family’s best interests.
DON’T: Try to Handle Your Situation on Your Own
Protecting your family’s legal rights isn’t easy, and it isn’t something that you can do on your own. Holding insurance companies and large corporations accountable requires decades of relevant experience and a commitment to doing what it takes to win. Trying to handle your situation on your own will almost certainly make the future much more difficult than it needs to be. At Silva & Silva, we’re here to help, and we can get to work protecting your family’s legal rights immediately.
RECAP: Making Informed Decisions is the Key to Protecting Yourself and Your Family
In summary, making informed decisions is the key to protecting yourself and your family after a catastrophic accident. If you learn what you need to know in order to avoid costly mistakes, seek treatment from qualified physicians and specialists, and seek advice from an experienced attorney, you will greatly improve your chances of recovery. Even if you may never fully recover from the accident, you owe it to yourself and your loved ones to do everything you can—and this starts with getting the help you need.
Contact Silva & Silva for a Free, No-Obligation Consultation
Do you need help recovering after a catastrophic accident in Florida? If so, we strongly encourage you to contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation. To speak with an experienced attorney at Silva & Silva in confidence, give us a call at 305-445-0011 or tell us how we can reach you online today.