Get Compensated for Losses Due to a Car Accident
If you have been injured in a Florida car accident, the claims process to recover compensation for your losses can be complicated. You should contact a car accident attorney to help you file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company. If the claim does not settle out of court, then an attorney may be able to help you file a lawsuit against the insurance company. The legal team at Ortiz Law Firm has the experience needed to navigate these types of claims. keep reading to find out:
- If you are qualified for compensation, and
- How our Pensacola car accident attorneys can help recover compensation for your losses.
Do I Qualify For Compensation?
To qualify for compensation after a car accident, you must prove that the other party’s negligent driving was the cause of the accident. Even if you are found to be partially responsible, you can still receive damages if the majority of the fault was with the other party. Drivers can easily cause severe accidents by:
- Driving while drowsy,
- Not properly inspecting their vehicle (including regularly checking brakes, engine fluids, lights and mirrors),
- Tailgating, and
- Failing to pay attention to blind spots and other hazardous areas.
How Can A Pensacola Car Accident Attorney Help?
If you have suffered serious injuries or lost a loved one in a car accident, there are a number of parties – including the driver and their insurance carrier – who could be liable for your losses. If the other car involved was a commercial vehicle, the driver’s employer may be liable for your loses. However, these parties will often deny responsibility (fault or liability) for a crash. An attorney can assist you in:
- Proving liability for your crash,
- Collecting evidence to strengthen your claim in support of your “proof of loss”, and
- Obtaining compensation from all responsible parties.
If the car accident involved a commercial vehicle, the employer and its insurance company will immediately start an investigation. Most companies have specific and detailed investigative procedures that are designed to limit the recovery of those injured in a car accident. The employer and/or the insurance carrier will likely take recorded statements from witnesses, take detailed photos of the scene of the crash, and inspect the vehicles involved to determine the extent of damage caused by the accident. Local authorities from the state of Florida may also launch their own investigation into the car accident, which could prove beneficial for your claim. At the Ortiz Law Firm, our legal team will work with specialized experts to complement the official investigation. Our car accident lawyers can:
- Review any available camera footage of the car accident;
- Interview witnesses or hire an investigator to interview witnesses;
- Review mandatory police or Florida Highway Patrol accident reports;
- Review and analyze medical evidence;
- Interview attending physicians and perhaps take sworn statements; and
- Retain experts to reconstruct the accident scene and recreate the accident.
More often than not, the cost of medical treatment will exceed the amount of your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance coverage. After all PIP benefits have been exhausted, victims with injuries exceeding the “tort injury threshold” may pursue additional “non-economic” compensation for their “pain and suffering”. To collect compensation for losses that are not covered by PIP, as well as any other damages you are eligible to receive (such as lost wages), your lawyer may have to engage in extended negotiations with the insurance company. If the claim cannot be settled out of court, your attorney may need to file a lawsuit for additional damages.
Common Injuries in a Car Accident
Injuries commonly suffered in car accidents include (but are not limited to):
- Head trauma and/or brain damage (also called a traumatic brain injury or TBI);
- Spinal cord injuries;
- Broken bones;
- Cuts and lacerations;
- Paralysis; or
- Even death.
Proving Negligence in a Car Accident:
The majority of car accidents involve some sort of negligence. You must be able to prove that you suffered an injury and that your injury was caused by the negligence of another party to have a valid claim. To prove negligence, you must prove four elements:
- Duty of Care. The driver had a duty of care to other vehicles on the road.
- Breach of Duty. The driver breached this duty through some negligent action or failure to act (an omission).
- Causation or Direct Cause. The negligent party’s breach of duty caused the victim injury.
- Damages or Harm. The injured party suffered a monetary loss because of the other party’s negligence. Examples of financial loss include medical bills (past, present, and future), lost wages, and out-of-pocket expenses.
Proving Product Liability in a Car Accident
If your car accident was caused or contributed to by a defective car or one of its defective compenents, there may be grounds for an injury claim against the product manufacturer (or manufacturers). Product liability lawsuits based on manufacturer’s negligence will require the injured party to prove:
- The defective car or a particular part of the car was “unreasonably dangerous”;
- The car was being operated as the manufacturer intended it to be used; and
- The car’s performance had not changed since its initial sale.
Product liability suits may also be sought under a legal theory of strict liability where proof of negligence is unnecessary. However, claimants must prove the defect originated in the manufacturing process to prevail. This will require detailed analysis, testing, and testimony by experts.
Unfortunately, some car accidents are so severe that a victim does not survive the crash. If you have lost a loved one in a car accident, you may have the right to a wrongful death suit. In some cases, the surviving family may bring a claim on behalf of the deceased loved one to recover compensation for their losses. Hiring a qualified attorney can help ensure you recover the compensation you are entitled to. Wrongful death claims require the family to prove the same legal elements as the deceased, had the decedent survived, and pursued a claim on their own. An experienced wrongful death attorney can help family members recover economic and non-economic damages for the loss of their loved one. In certain cases, the attorney can help recover punitive damages.
What Compensation Can Be Recovered After a Car Accident?
Compensation for injuries and damages resulting from a car accident are typically separated into two categories: economic losses and non-economic losses. In some cases, punitive damages my also be available
Economic car accident damages compensate claimants for monetary losses such as:
- Current Medical Expenses: Such expenses may include medical fees for emergency room visits, hospital care, surgery, physical therapy, assistive devices, and appointments with approved medical professionals.
- Future Medical Expenses: In all too many cases, the injuries sustained in car accidents are so severe that they will require medical care well into the future.
- Lost Wages: Florida law permits the recovery of compensation for wages lost between the time of injury and the conclusion of the lawsuit.
- Loss of Earning Capacity: If the victim can demonstrate that his or her ability to earn a living has been negatively impacted, additional compensation may be available for this lost earning capacity. Past wages may be considered in determining the amount of this award, but the jury or insurance adjuster will also try to determine the amount a victim could have earned had the car accident never happened.
Non-economic damages compensate claimants for non-financial, intangible losses, including:
- Pain and Suffering: The nature of the underlying injuries, the intensity of the pain, and the length of time the victim is expected to suffer pain are all included in the calculation of this award.
- Mental Anguish: Mental anguish damages compensate the victim for fright, embarrassment, nervousness, worry, grief, and other forms of emotional distress caused by the accident.
- Loss of Consortium: The uninjured spouse may be able to recover damages for the loss of certain marital benefits due to the spouse’s injuries, including the loss of companionship, sexual relations, affection, and comfort.
Punitive damages may also be awarded if the defendant’s actions causing the injury were willful, malicious, or intentional. Punitive damages are intended to punish the offender and deter similar behavior in the future.
Car Accident Claims
If you are attempting to file a claim against the driver’s insurance company without an attorney, lookout for insurance company tricks:
- Never agree to give a recorded statement, since these can be manipulated into damaging evidence against your case. A written interview is all that should be necessary.
- It is usually unwise to accept the first offer of monetary settlement, as the insurer will typically start much lower than they are permitted to go. Only accept the first offer if it is equal to the damage caused.
Car Accident Attorney
Car accidents often involve traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, or paralysis, all of which are conditions that cause long-lasting disability and expensive medical treatment. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident through no fault of your own, you are entitled to monetary compensation.
If you have been injured in a car accident in Florida, you should hire an experienced lawyer to assist you with your car accident claim. Contact an attorney as soon as you can, as you only have a limited time you have to file an insurance claim and/or bring a claim against the responsible parties. To learn more about how our Pensacola car accident attorneys may be able to help with your claim, please contact us online, or call our office at (888) 321-8131 to schedule a free case evaluation.