Car, truck, and motorcycle accidents are one of the leading causes of death in the United States. According to statistics from the National Highway Transportation Administration, there were more than 6.3 million vehicle crashes in the U.S. during 2016, the latest year for which national statistics are available. The National Safety Council estimates that more than 40,000 people were killed in wrecks during 2018. Millions more were injured.
The number of deaths and injuries caused by accidents in Florida is equally devastating. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reports that the 401,114 wrecks that occurred in the Sunshine State during 2018 resulted in 3,097 deaths and 254,104 injuries. Sadly, but not surprisingly, residents of the Tampa/St. Pete area aren’t immune from the carnage. Here are the local accident statistics for 2018:
Along with death and injuries, car, motorcycle, and truck accidents can also cause financial devastation. Victims unable to work may lose their homes, savings, cars, college funds and their dreams for the future if they accept a settlement from an insurance company that does not cover the cost of medical care, psychological distress, property damage, and lost wages.
That’s why you should contact the experienced legal team at Betras, Kopp & Harshman if you or a family member has been involved in a wreck. BKH has helped hundreds of Valley families rebuild lives shattered by vehicle accidents. The key to our success: we’re the local law firm big enough to take on the giant insurance companies that do everything possible to pay victims less—far less—than they deserve. While some attorneys say quickly say “yes” low-ball offers from insurers, our legal team isn’t afraid to say “NO” until our clients and their families get the money they need and deserve.
Here are some important facts you need to know:
FACT: You and your family have the right to seek a financial settlement that will pay for your injuries, lost wages and other damages.
FACT: Many insurance companies will do whatever they can to convince you to take a settlement that’s less than you and your family need and deserve.
FACT: Accident victims represented by attorneys receive settlements that are up to 40% larger than those who do not retain counsel.
FACT: Dealing with an insurance adjuster before you call Betras, Kopp & Harshman could cost you and your family thousands of dollars.
Why is it important for you to call us before you talk to an insurance adjuster or sign any form sent to by an insurance company? Because after an accident the real mayhem begins when the smoke clears and the insurance companies appear. To preserve your right to fight for the money you need and deserve, don’t make these mistakes:
DON’T: Make any statement to an insurance adjuster after your accident, especially about your injuries.
DON’T: Sign any papers given or mailed to you by an adjuster or an insurance company.
DON’T: Forget that your interests and those of the insurance company are in conflict.
DO: Contact Betras, Kopp & Harshman, the LOCAL attorneys who have won more than $16,000,000 for Valley families in the past 18 months.
And remember: WE DON’T GET PAID UNLESS AND UNTIL YOU GET PAID.
What to do After an Accident
In order to protect your rights and ensure that you preserve the ability to obtain justice and the fair monetary settlement you deserve, we’ve put together a list of steps you should take before and in the immediate aftermath of a car, truck or motorcycle accident.
1. Be Prepared. Keep an Emergency Kit in Your Glove Compartment. Drivers should carry a cell phone, as well as pen and paper for taking notes, a disposable camera to take photos of the vehicles at the scene, and a card with information about medical allergies or conditions that may require special attention if there are serious injuries.
2. Move to a safe area. If it’s safe to do so and you aren’t seriously injured, move your car out of further harm’s way, like to the shoulder of the road. If moving your car just isn’t possible, flip on your hazards to warn other drivers that your vehicle isn’t going anywhere any time soon.
3. Stop your vehicle and get out. Make sure your car is no longer moving, turn off the engine, shift into park, or set the hand brake if you drive a manual. Take a moment to catch your breath. Check to make sure it’s safe to get out of your car before opening the door. If you have flares or similar road safety items, consider using them.
3. Check on others involved. Check on all the other parties involved, including drivers, passengers, and pedestrians, to make sure no one is hurt. Call 911 if anyone may be injured. Even a seemingly minor symptom like dizziness should be checked out by a health care professional.
4. Call the police to the scene. Even in minor accidents, a police accident report can prove invaluable when dealing with your car insurance company and other drivers. Cooperate fully, but avoid admitting fault or blaming others while at the scene. Let the police objectively judge events and determine who, if anyone, is at fault in the crash. If the police can’t make it to the scene you can file an accident report through your state’s DMV.
5. Gather info. Write down as much info as possible in the accident aftermath and keep it in a safe place. You should obtain the name of the other driver or drivers, and all passengers, license plate numbers, insurance info, makes and models of all vehicles involved, contact info for any eyewitnesses, location of the accident, the name and badge number of any responding police officers.
6. Document the scene. Use the still camera/video feature of your phone to record the scene of the accident. The pictures/video will provide important evidence during civil and criminal legal proceedings that may be triggered by the accident.
7. Contact Betras, Kopp & Harshman. Contact us by calling 813-333-9420, 800-457-2889 or via our contact form. And remember: in order to protect your rights you should call us before you speak to an insurance adjuster or sign any papers an insurance company sends to you.