Fort Lauderdale Car Accident Attorney
Car accidents account for over 60,000 injuries year in Florida. The injured victim may face emotional distress, lost income, pain and suffering, property damage, and medical costs. Auto insurance companies may lead you through a complex process – a maze it may seem — that may make it difficult to know what compensation you are entitled to for your losses. If you have been severely injured in a car accident, our experienced trial attorneys can help you receive the full and fair compensation you are owed. After a car accident, we strongly recommend that you do the following:
- Check on all involved in the accident to see if they are “okay” or injured;
- If anyone is injured, call 911 right away;
- Protect your rights by contacting your attorney;
- Wait for the police to arrive, unless you feel you need to go in an emergency vehicle to the hospital
- Give your report on the accident to the police or trooper; and
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible, and most certainly within 14 days from the date of the accident
Seek Medical Attention as Soon as Possible
Often, motor vehicle accidents result in injuries that are not immediately apparent. Generally, people involved in a car accident report feeling the most pain a day or two following an automobile accident. Or maybe even weeks or a month after the automobile accident. However, by law, you must seek medical attention within 14 days of the accident, to have a solid case. Unless you are certain you were not injured, you should seek medical attention at your local emergency room or with a physician. Even in minor accidents, you can sustain serious and permanent injuries. If you lost consciousness or were dazed for a short period of time following the collision, you may have suffered a concussion and have a brain injury. This can cause cognitive and behavioral changes if left untreated.
File a Crash Report with Police
Even if there are no serious injuries, it is a good idea to call the police. You may need a police report to file a claim with your insurance company, even if it is just to make a claim for damage to your vehicle. If you are involved in a car accident in Florida, call police to the scene of the collision immediately. Florida Statute §316.066 requires that a police report be filed within ten (10) days of an accident if:
- Anyone in either vehicle is injured or has died;
- Either vehicle is seriously damaged;
- Either vehicle requires towing;
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol played a role in the accident; or
- A commercial vehicle was involved.
In addition to filing your crash report with authorities, it is also important to collect valuable information regarding the accident such as pictures of each vehicle involved in the collision, pictures of the scene, pictures of any visible injuries you may have, and witness contact information if any, in order to protect your rights.
What Is the Average Car Settlement in a Car Accident In Fort Lauderdale, FL?
Every car accident involves a different set of circumstances resulting in varying settlement values. Because so many variables can impact the value of a car accident settlement, it is difficult to state what an “average” settlement would be in the state of Florida. However, the following factors may impact the value of your settlement:
- The Extent and Severity of Your Injuries: This is sad to say, but if you have a permanent injury, the higher the value of the case. The length of time it takes you to recover, if at all, is a major factor in car accident settlement values. If you need surgery to attempt to recover, the higher the value of the case. The settlement amount may be worth more if a full recovery is not possible.
- Car Damage: We can pursue the responsible party and the insurance company for compensation to pay for the damage to your car. The more severe the damage, the more money we can demand for settlement purposes. Perhaps your car should be totaled, even though the insurance company will still want it repaired, to save a thousand dollars or more. Frequently, we can recover the lost value of your car in addition to the value of a comparable replacement vehicle. Even if your car can be repaired, there is, in some instances, the ability to get damages for the loss of the value of your car (Carfax will show your car was in an accident)
- Personal Property Damage: If valuable personal property, like electronic equipment or jewelry, was damaged at the time of the accident, we may be able to help you recover compensation to pay for these items.
Insurance Company Adjusters
Many insurance adjusters have an incentive to settle your claim as fast as possible while making you a relatively small settlement offer when you first file your claim. Adjusters generally have no medical or legal training and are busy handling hundreds of claims at the same time. You may do yourself an injustice if you settle for the first offer the adjuster makes; therefore, it is best to hire an attorney to represent and protect your rights.
Insurance Company Settlement Offers
Adjusters also take into account the following factors:
- Your actual current expenses and possible future expenses;
- Your lost wages or ability to earn a living;
- Pain and suffering;
- Past jury verdicts and settlement for a specific injury;
- Was there a gap in getting medical treatment;
- Are you married and do you have children;
- Do you have pre-existing injuries;
- The type of health insurance you have; and
- The time it takes to settle your case.
What is a PIP Lawsuit?
Florida automobile insurance laws require vehicle owners to have a minimum of $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. Florida follows a motor vehicle “no-fault” law (Florida Section 627.736) that makes PIP coverage mandatory for car owners. This means that, in the event of a vehicle accident, both parties make claims to their own insurance providers, regardless of who is at fault. PIP covers necessary medical procedures, as well as reasonable expenses related to treatment and rehabilitation following a vehicle accident. Florida Section 627.736 states that PIP covers up “to a limit of $10,000 in medical and disability benefits and $5,000 in death benefits resulting from bodily injury, sickness, disease, or death arising out of the ownership, maintenance, or use of a motor vehicle” Florida law limits PIP coverage in the following ways:
- If you do not seek medical treatment within 14 days of the accident, your PIP provider may deny your claim for benefits;
- You must be treated by a medical professional (hospitals and EMS services, doctors, osteopaths or chiropractors);
- You can only claim up to $2,500 unless you are diagnosed with an emergency medical condition;
- PIP will only pay for follow-up treatment for the original condition diagnosed as an emergency medical condition (“EMC”); and
- PIP does not cover acupuncture or massage therapy.
Florida law defines EMC as an ailment that requires immediate medical attention and could reasonably be expected to result in serious jeopardy to the patient’s health, serious impairment to bodily function, or serious dysfunction of any bodily organ or part. If you have been seriously injured, $2,500 may not fully cover the cost of medical treatments. For costs beyond $2,500 or if you sustain serious injury, emotional trauma, or loss of future earning capacity, you may need to file a PIP lawsuit against the at-fault party in order to seek additional compensation.
Is it Worth Hiring an Auto Accident Attorney?
You are not obligated to hire an attorney after a car accident. However, it is in your best interests to hire an attorney for your accident claims for your rights to be protected and to receive the compensation you deserve. Insurance companies employ insurance adjusters working to protect them as they have a vested interest in offering the lowest possible settlement to you regarding your car accident and your injuries, instead of prioritizing your best interests. With a strong personal injury attorney in your corner, we will work to protect your best interests and make sure you receive the maximum compensation you deserve. An attorney will explain to you your rights as the laws surrounding car accidents. An experienced attorney may also conduct an independent investigation of your car accident case, obtain the official police report, interview witnesses, hire expert witnesses, and build your case in order for you to receive the compensation you deserve. A thorough presentation of your case – in the best possible light for you – is important to negotiate with an insurance company or to try the case toa jury in a court of law. Below are some additional reasons why you should consider hiring a car accident attorney.
- The insurance company is not looking out for your best interest as you may think they are: While we like to think that insurance companies have our best interests in mind, their first aim is to keep their own costs down and reduce overhead. This means that your interests and those of insurance companies may not always align. Hiring an attorney is one way to ensure that you have an advocate on your side to protect your rights.
- You may not understand all of the damages you’re entitled to: There are a wide array of damages that you might deserve. Not only will you be able to receive compensation for your medical bills, but you should be able to recover your lost wages. Pain and suffering and emotional distress are other damages you might be able to claim.
- The settlement options can be confusing: One of the most important benefits of hiring an attorney is their ability to negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf. Your attorney can handle all communication with an insurance company and negotiate to recover all the compensation you deserve. Sometimes, an insurance company will attempt to delay a settlement or procrastinate on negotiations with a victim. Insurance companies have also been known to offer low settlements.
- Filing a lawsuit is very complex: If you decide that your best option is to sue the other party for compensation, it isn’t as easy as it may sound. There are complex rules that you must follow and deadlines that you must meet. Having an attorney on your side will ensure that you are following all the rules and deadlines so you don’t miss out on the opportunity to file your lawsuit.
What is the Statute of Limitations for a Car Accident?
A statute of limitations is a deadline by which you must file your lawsuit in a court of law. Florida allows four years to file a lawsuit for a car accident under Florida Statute §95.11. If you fail to file your lawsuit before this deadline, you may be precluded from recovering the compensation you deserve. If you lost a loved one, you have only two years to file your wrongful death lawsuit.
Can You Sue for a Rear End Collision?
Yes, you may sue for a rear end collision; however, you must establish that the other party acted negligently. Identifying who can be responsible for your losses is one of the key elements of a successful case. You must be able to prove that because another party breached their duty of care, you have suffered economic damages. If you suffered losses in a rear-end collision, you may be able to recover, but not limited to, the following damages:
- Medical expenses;
- Loss of income due to your recovery period;
- Diminished earning capacity if you are unable to return to the same job you had before the accident;
- Pain, suffering, and inconvenience; and
What Happens If the At-Fault Party Doesn’t Have Car Insurance?
Car accidents can become complicated if the at-fault party does not have car insurance or if you are the victim of a hit and run where the driver cannot be located. However, there are a few options that are available to you if you were involved in a car accident with an uninsured driver. These options include:
- Filing your PIP claim and a claim based on your collision coverage;
- Filing a claim based on your Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage, if you carry this type of policy; or
- Filing a personal injury lawsuit and attempting to recover a payout from the at-fault driver.
UM coverage is provided by your own car insurance company. It is an optional coverage, but most drivers have it unless they specifically opted out while buying their policy. UM coverage helps pay for your damages if you are hit by a driver without insurance or who wasn’t carrying the minimum insurance requirements. If you do not have UM coverage, you can file a private lawsuit against the driver who hit you. To recover compensation in a private lawsuit, you must be able to prove the driver was negligent. Proving negligence requires establishing the following:
- Duty of care: the other driver owed you an obligation to drive safely.
- Breach of duty: the other driver breached this duty by behaving negligently.
- Causation: this breach caused your accident and your injuries.
- Damages: you suffered damages, such as medical bills and lost wages.
If you are facing medical bills and attempting to obtain compensation for your claims through insurance companies that did not cover the entire cost of your injuries, you do have the right under the law to sue someone personally after a car accident. It is helpful to have your attorney investigate the driver in order to determine if they have assets that we can recover.
Important Car Accident Laws
It’s important that you are aware of the important car accident laws in Florida because they may affect your compensation for damages. Below are some significant laws:
- Florida is a “no-fault: insurance state;
- Florida also uses the comparative fault model for determining accident responsibility and reimbursement. Pure comparative fault allows those who have been in a car accident and suffered accident damages compensation by percentage of attributed fault. The actual percentage of compensation you may receive is limited by the degree to which you and the other party have had in causing the accident;
- The statute of limitations, or deadline, for filing a claim regarding an auto accident is four years. The statute of limitations for seeking medical attention, however, is only fourteen days;
- Drivers involved in car collisions are required by law to report the accidents to authorities if damages exceed $500.
How can an attorney help me after a car accident?
A car accident is a stressful event and it can be difficult to know what the next steps are. Whether you are facing complicated negotiations with an insurance company to suffering from serious injury and significant property damage, you may benefit from an experienced trial attorney.
Compensation after a car accident
Under Florida Law, death, disability, and medical benefits must be provided in the auto insurance policy’s personal injury protection (PIP) plan. The PIP provides coverage to the policy holder, relatives living in the same household, persons driving the insured motor vehicle, passengers in the motor vehicle, and other persons struck by a motor vehicle and suffering bodily injury. However, the insurance company may not provide you all the information you need or the compensation you deserve after a car accident. Our experienced attorneys can communicate with the auto insurance company and negotiate on your behalf to ensure you recover the full amount of settlement you are legally entitled to.
Car Accident Lawsuit in Florida
In the event that another party was negligent, the insurance company may be unable to provide you with the adequate amount to cover the emotional and financial devastation caused by the car accident. In this situation, you may file a personal injury legal claim against the at-fault party. While the at-fault party may be the individual driving the vehicle that caused the crash, other car accidents are due to defective products or hazardous roads. The manufacturer of a defective product, such as a faulty seatbelt, brake, or accelerator could then be liable for the pain and suffering you have endured as a result of the car accident. If hazardous road conditions caused the car accident then you may be able to file a legal claim against the public or private entity responsible for designing and constructing the road. In many instances, a personal injury lawsuit is settled before trial. In the case that your personal injury lawsuit goes to trial, our attorneys have vast litigation experience to help you obtain the compensation you deserve.
Why choose Clayton Trial Lawyers for your Personal Injury Lawsuit
Clayton Trial Lawyers can protect your rights and make sure valuable evidence is not destroyed. Often, insurance companies want to take statements immediately after an accident; therefore, it is important that you have received legal advice before providing such a statement. Your attorney can advise you on issues ranging from how to make sure you are fully compensated for your vehicle to how to make sure you are getting the best medical treatment available.