Frequently Asked Legal Questions:
What should I do if I am involved in an accident?
If you are involved in an accident, there are some important steps you should take immediately:
- Stop your vehicle and provide assistance to anybody who is hurt. However, if possible, you may wish to avoid moving seriously injured people. You should call an ambulance or ask someone to call an ambulance.
- Notify the police, sheriffs, or other appropriate authorities of the accident.
- Try to obtain the names of the other driver(s), any witnesses as well as the names and badge numbers of the investigating police officers. In auto accidents in Florida, the police officers will usually assist by filling a Florida Driver Exchange of Information form, but often this form will not include the witness names and contact details.
- Exchange driver’s license and insurance information with the other driver. Try to note whether any drivers, passengers, or pedestrians were injured and take their information.
- Take photographs of the vehicle damage, the scene, and your injuries.
- Seek medical attention for your own injuries as soon as possible. In Florida, if you don’t seek medical care within fourteen (14) days you risk your own PIP insurer denying your claim.
- Report the accident to your own insurance company.
Major “DON’TS” after a serious accident:
- If the accident is serious and you believe you may be responsible, DON’T make any statements to the police or anyone. It is your right to consult with a lawyer.
- If you were the not-at-fault driver, DON’T accept any money for your injuries or damage to your vehicle from the person who caused the accident.
- DON’T discuss the case with insurance adjusters or accept a quick money settlement from them. DON’T sign a release or any other paperwork without speaking with an attorney. Be very careful when giving a statement to your own insurance company. These statements may later be used against you.
Should I seek medical treatment after an accident?
Often times at the scene of an accident your adrenaline will be running very high. You may be very upset and emotional. You might feel like the best thing to do is to go home and calm yourself. Certainly, in some very minor accidents, there are no bodily injuries. But, if you are in doubt, it is always good to be checked by the emergency room, urgent care or your family doctor. Even “small” accidents can result in hidden injuries that you are not aware of immediately. A strong jolt can result in soft tissue injuries to your neck and spinal cord, even though you don’t have broken bones. A bump on your head could be a more serious skull fracture. Cuts and abrasions can become infected. When in doubt, it is best to be on the safe side. Vehicles and property can be replaced, but your life and health cannot.
What does Homeowners Insurance Cover?
Homeowners insurance (historically known as “fire insurance”) is one of the most important insurance coverages you will purchase. Of course, if you have a mortgage, this insurance will be mandatory and the bank may even insist that they collect and pay the premiums directly to ensure that their collateral is protected.
While fires are still an ever-present risk for your home, your homeowner’s insurance policy covers much more than just fire. Usual named perils in a homeowners insurance policy include: fire; lightning; windstorm; hail; explosion; riot or civil commotion; aircraft; vehicles; smoke; vandalism or malicious mischief; theft; falling objects; weight of ice, snow or sleet; accidental discharge or overflow of water or steam from within a plumbing, heating, air conditioning or sprinkler system or household appliance; sudden and accidental tearing apart, cracking, burning or bulging of a steam or hot water heating, air conditioning or sprinkler system or water heating appliance; freezing of a plumbing, heating, air conditioning, sprinkler system or household appliance; sudden and accidental damage from artificially generated electrical current; volcanic eruption.
Additionally, in Florida insurers must offer you coverage for catastrophic ground cover collapse. Insurers can issue a policy without the peril of “sinkhole coverage” but must issue the policy with the peril of catastrophic ground cover collapse that is more limited than sinkhole coverage.
In addition to protecting your dwelling (Coverage A), your homeowner’s insurance may cover Other structures on your property like a shed or attached garage (Coverage B). The covered perils would be the same as for your main residence.
Most homeowners also take Liability cover (Section II) when purchasing homeowners coverage. While the coverage grant may initially seem quite broad (ie. “up to the limit for the damages for which the insured is legally liable”), the exclusions are the key to understanding what is covered under a homeowners policy (ie. Business pursuits excluded, Motorized Land Vehicles excluded, watercraft of certain size excluded, etc.)
Importantly, one type of claim that may affect you are claims where a homeowners family dog attacks, bites, or even knocks over someone causing injury. Assuming no specific exclusion, you should usually be covered for these types of animal injuries under a homeowners policy.