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Were You Injured in a Car Accident in Florida?
A Florida car accident lawyer will help auto accident victims seek compensation for injuries and damages sustained in an accident.
Car accidents are the number one reason that people file personal injury claims and lawsuits. With 15 million drivers on Florida’s roads, it isn’t surprising that approximately 250,000 collisions occur each year in this state. When this happens to you, you must follow Florida’s rules for obtaining monetary compensation for an accident that was caused by someone else.
Florida Car Accident Overview
In order to ensure that the person who injured you pays for your medical treatment and pain and suffering, you must first establish negligence. Every Florida driver has the legal duty to drive his or her vehicle with reasonable care. If a motorist fails to do this and injures you, the motorist will be held liable for the accident and your injuries. By law, this negligent driver can be ordered to pay you compensation that is commensurate with the driver’s responsibility for the crash.
When you decide to hire an attorney, he or she will investigate your accident in order to demonstrate that the other driver caused the crash that resulted in your injuries. This will require that the lawyer study the medical reports, police reports, photographs and witness statements.
The Tort Threshold
In Florida, victims of car accidents must follow the requirements under the tort threshold. This means that you will only be able to recover monetary damages from another driver if you are experiencing one of the following:
- Significant or permanent loss of a body part or a bodily function
- Permanent injury
- Significant or permanent scarring
- The victim dies
These injuries are known as “threshold injuries.”
In Florida, each driver is required to purchase what is known as “PIP insurance.” PIP stands for “personal injury protection,” and each driver must have at least $10,000 in coverage. In order to receive payment through the at-fault driver’s PIP insurance policy, you must have a threshold injury. When you have a threshold injury, the plaintiff’s insurance company may be required to pay you a sum of money for pain and suffering, inconvenience or mental anguish.
With this system, obtaining a sum of money for pain and suffering is often extremely difficult and is one reason that a car accident attorney is necessary in these cases.
A motorist can be determined to be negligent in a car accident for several reasons, including the following:
- The motorist was driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- The motorist was driving without regard for the conditions of the road
- The motorist was driving above or below the speed limit
- The motorist failed to signal before making a turn
- The motorist disobeyed the traffic signals or signs
- The motorist was driving recklessly
- The motorist was making excessive lane changes
Sometimes, the accident wasn’t caused by another driver. In these cases, the automobile may have a defect that caused the crash. This would fall under “product liability,” and the manufacturer or the supplier of the defective part may be held responsible for the crash.
Florida Auto Accident Frequently Asked Questions
How will I know whether I need to hire a lawyer or not?
This isn’t a question that you have to answer right away. When you have your initial consultation with an accident attorney, you will be able to tell her what happened the night that the accident occurred. Then, she will tell you whether or not you have a case that could possibly win in court. You may also be able to obtain a fair settlement without having to file a lawsuit.
Do I have to be in a lot of pain to hire a car accident lawyer?
You may need to hire a lawyer even if you didn’t feel any pain at the scene of the accident. You may have been injured, but you didn’t feel any pain because your body experienced an adrenaline rush at the time of the collision. After the adrenaline rush wore off, you may have noticed pain or other symptoms. The best thing to do is have a medical exam because you could be seriously injured even though you didn’t feel any pain when the collision occurred.
Do I have a chance of winning my case?
Every personal injury case is different, so no one can predict whether or not you will win your case. Our attorneys make sure that their clients have realistic expectations by being honest with you at all times. They will explain to you when your case has strengths, but they will also let you know when your case has weaknesses. If they believe that the case has significant weaknesses, they will advise you to take a settlement rather than take a chance in a court of law.
Should I accept an offer from the at-fault driver’s insurance company?
It is not a good idea to agree to anything that the at-fault driver’s insurance company offers you. First, you need your own attorney. Your attorney has the experience needed to keep the at-fault driver’s insurance company from taking advantage of you. When insurance companies make offers to victims, they are often very low, and they aren’t anywhere near the amount that you may be able to receive if you have an experienced attorney working on your behalf. Your auto accident lawyer will work to ensure that you receive an amount of money that will help you put your life back together again.
How to select a car accident attorney?
Your accident attorney will need to have a practice that focuses on personal injury cases. The attorney must also have extensive experience litigating auto accident cases. It’s also a good idea to choose a lawyer with a great reputation amongst other lawyers and past clients. If an attorney has obtained significant monetary awards for his or her clients, this is also a very good sign. You also want your attorney to be dedicated to your case.
Common Types of Car Accident Cases in Florida
The most common types of car accidents are the rollover, the head-on collision, the rear-end collision, the side-impact collision, hit-and-run accidents and sideswiping accidents.
The Rollover: Rollovers are very serious car accidents. Any type of vehicle has the potential to roll over, but some vehicles are more likely to do so. These include SUVs, pickup trucks and vans because they are taller and narrower than other vehicles. If the vehicle is speeding, it is more likely to roll over than one that is involved in a crash with another vehicle while driving at a slower speed. Approximately 40 percent of these crashes occurred when at least one of the drivers was speeding. Another telling statistic informs us that 75 percent of these crashes occurred in areas where the speed limit was at least 55 miles per hour.
The Head-On Collision: In a head-on collision, two vehicles driving in opposite directions crash into each other. These collisions are highly dangerous because they can cause injury to the people in either vehicle; they are also likely to cause fatalities. In 2017, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that 58 percent of head-on collisions resulted in fatalities. More head-on collisions occur in rural areas than in urban areas with 13 percent of rural crashes being head-on collisions; only 7 percent of collisions in urban areas were head-on collisions.
The Rear-End Collision: When a vehicle runs into the back of the vehicle in front, this is a “rear-end collision.” The second car is almost always determined to be liable for the accident. If the person in front is liable, the person behind is usually assigned a portion of the blame as well. There may be instances when the car in front will be found negligent in a rear-end collision. For example, the brake lights may be inoperable in the automobile in the front.
The Side-Impact Collision: The side-impact collision is also known as a “T-bone collision.” It occurs when one vehicle crashes into the side of another vehicle. A total of 25 percent of these crashes result in injury to the passengers and the drivers. In 40 percent of these instances, these crashes cause serious injuries that result in death. Each year, 13.8 million side-impact collisions occur on American roads, and 9,400 people die because of them.
Hit-and-Run Collisions: A hit-and-run collision is one in which the driver hits an object, pedestrian or another vehicle and leaves the scene of the accident without offering his or her information to the victims. This action is illegal in Florida.
Sideswiping Collisions: A sideswiping accident occurs when one vehicle fails to remain in his or her lane. These collisions happen when one vehicle moves into the other lane when it isn’t safe to do so. Neither motorist is aware when a sideswiping collision is going to take place because both vehicles are traveling in the same direction, so they can cause very dangerous accidents.
Florida Car Accident Statistics
In the 402,385 collisions that occurred in 2017, 42.13 percent of these accidents resulted in an injury that needed to be treated by a doctor. A total of 3,116 victims died in these collisions, and 20,380 people received incapacitating injuries. The most common type of incapacitating injury was paralysis.
In Florida, 403,626 car accidents occurred in 2018. This averages out to 1,106 crashes each day. A total of 152,067 crashes resulted in an injury with 236,157 injuries being reported. A total of 19,196 of these injuries were incapacitating injuries. The amount attributable to property damages was equal to $233,490.
Young people 21 years of age to 24 years of age form the largest group of car collision victims. This one group of people was involved in 66,378 crashes in 2017. These people also experienced 17,433 injuries in those crashes, and 188 people died. Another frightening statistic tells us that young drivers are even more likely to be involved in a car collision than an adult under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Older Americans are even more susceptible to being involved in a car crash than young adults. The number of people above the retirement age is higher in Florida than in any other state, and this is contributing to the increased number of collisions.
Collisions caused by impaired drivers also increased each year. In 2017, drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol were responsible for causing 6,148 collisions. These motorists were driving with a blood alcohol content or BAC level of at least .08 percent, and it is illegal in Florida to operate a vehicle with a BAC of that amount. These collisions resulted in 3,900 injuries and 986 fatalities.
March was the most dangerous month with 37,395 collisions taking place. The people most likely to be involved in a car collision were between the ages of 24 and 35. More traffic accidents occurred on Friday than on any other day, and 67.86 percent of these crashes happened during daylight hours. Most of these collisions took place between 4:00 and 5:00 in the afternoon.
Hiring a Florida Car Accident Attorney
If you have been injured in an auto accident, you need to hire an auto accident attorney. Your lawyer has experience obtaining monetary compensation for victims of auto accidents. Choosing not to hire an attorney could mean the difference between receiving a fair settlement for your injuries and receiving an amount that doesn’t cover all of your medical bills, lost wages, and the money you will need for present and future expenses.
It is true that Florida is a “no-fault state.” This means that every driver is required to purchase PIP insurance. When two or more motorists are involved in a collision, each person is required to file a claim against his or her own PIP insurance policy. It doesn’t matter who caused the collision.
In some cases, injuries are particularly egregious, and the injured have the right to sue the at-fault motorist for monetary compensation. The times that it is possible for Florida residents to do this were listed above.
The Statute of Limitations for Car Accident Injuries
If you are able to meet the threshold, you will be able to hire a car accident lawyer and sue the at-fault driver for damages, but this must be done within Florida’s statute of limitations.
The statute of limitations is the time that an injured person has to file a lawsuit against an at-fault party in a court of law. In Florida, the statute of limitations is four years from the date that the collision occurred. If you do not file your lawsuit within this time period, it will not matter that you can meet the threshold. You will not be able to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. An attorney knows when all of the important dates are, and he or she will not allow these dates to pass without filing the appropriate action.
The At-Fault Driver’s Insurance Company
It is not easy for car accident victims to negotiate with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. These insurance companies have one objective, and it is to make sure that they pay out the least amount of money. These companies work to keep their costs down, and they do this by paying car accident victims as little as they can. By hiring an attorney, you can ensure that your payout will not be the least amount of money possible.
Settling Out of Court
Sometimes, you have to file a lawsuit, but this isn’t always the wise thing to do. You are unfamiliar with the system, and you aren’t aware of the factors that make it impossible to carry a lawsuit forward. Your attorney has experience deciding when it is right to file a lawsuit and when it is not. Your attorney will know the right thing to do from the beginning until the end and will be by your side advising you on these important steps. Your attorney’s knowledge and expertise will be invaluable to you when you need to negotiate with the at-fault driver’s lawyers.
How a Car Accident Attorney Can Help
In some cases, an attorney isn’t necessary because the injuries and property damages are not that severe. When the injuries are severe, an attorney is needed to help you obtain monetary compensation for your medical bills and property damages. An auto accident lawyer has the experience and is in the best position possible to obtain payment for your medical bills, lost wages and other expenses.
According to Florida’s law, you are only obligated to purchase PIP insurance in the amount of $10,000 for bodily injuries. This sum must be enough to compensate you for 80 percent of the cost of your medical bills. Your injuries may be very severe, and $10,000 may not be enough to cover all of your medical expenses, lost wages, and daily living expenses. If you can meet the threshold, you will be entitled to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party, and you will need an attorney to help you do this.
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If you or a loved one were injured in a car accident due to someone else’s negligence, speak with a Shiner Law Group car accident lawyer today by calling (855) 462-6878 or filling out our free online consultation request form.