Recover Compensation for Your Losses in a Car Accident
If you or a loved one has been injured in a Florida car accident, an attorney may be able to help you file a claim with the car driver’s insurance company to recover compensation for your losses. 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 claims process to collect damages from the party responsible for causing your accident can be complicated. However, The Ortiz Law Firm has the experience needed to navigate these types of claims.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a Florida car accident, you may have a legal claim for damages. To learn how our Pensacola car accident attorney may be able to help you recover compensation for your losses, please fill out our no cost case review form today.
Qualified For Compensation?
To be qualified for compensation for a car accident, you and your lawyer must be able to prove that the other party’s negligent driving was the cause of the incident. Even if you are found to be partially responsible, you can still receive damages if more of the fault was with the other party. Some of the ways drivers can easily cause severe accidents is 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 Me?
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 company – who may 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, it is common for these parties to deny responsibility (fault or liability) for a crash. An attorney can help you prove liability for your crash, collect evidence to strengthen your claim in support of your “proof of loss”, and help ensure compensation is sought and obtained all responsible parties.
Following a crash involving a commercial vehicle, the company and its insurance company will immediately start an investigation of the scene. Most companies have specific and detailed procedures to handle commercial car accident claims. These policies and procedures are designed to limit the recovery of those injured in the crash. The employer and/or the insurance carrier may take recorded statements from witnesses, take detailed photos of the scene of the accident, and inspect the damaged vehicles to determine the extent of damage caused by the crash. Authorities from the state of Florida may also launch their own investigation into the accident, which could prove beneficial for your claim. At the Ortiz Law Firm, Mr. Ortiz will work with specialized experts to complement the official investigation. Mr. Ortiz can:
- Review camera footage of the accident (if available);
- Interview witnesses or hire an investigator to conduct the interviews;
- Review mandatory police or Florida Highway Patrol accident reports;
- Review and analyze medical records;
- Interview medical providers and perhaps take sworn statements from attending physicians; and
- Consult and retain experts to reconstruct the accident scene and recreate the accident.
The cost of treating your injuries may exceed the amount of your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance coverage. To collect compensation for your losses that are not covered by PIP, as well as any other damages you are eligible to receive, your lawyer may have to engage in extended negotiations with the insurance company. If such out-of-court negotiations are unsuccessful, your attorney may need to file a lawsuit for additional damages.
If you have lost a loved one in a car accident, you may have the standing and right to a wrongful death suit. Hiring a qualified attorney can help ensure you recover the compensation to which you are entitled.
Types of Injuries in a Car Accident
Injuries suffered in car accidents can be severe, including (but not limited to):
- Head trauma;
- Brain damage, also called Traumatic Brain Injury or TBI;
- Spinal cord damage;
- Broken bones;
- Cuts and lacerations;
- Paralysis; or
- Even death.
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”.
Elements of Car Accident Negligence:
Most personal injury cases involve some sort of negligence. To have a valid case, you must be able to prove that you suffered an injury and that your injury was caused by the negligence of another party. To prove negligence, you must prove four elements:
- Duty of Care. The negligent party had a duty or obligation to act prudently (reasonably) to avoid injuring the other party.
- Breach of Duty. The negligent party knowingly exposed the injured party to a substantial risk of injury or should have realized that there was a significant risk of harm.
- Causation or Direct Cause. The negligent party’s acts or omissions (lack of action) caused the victim injury.
- Damages or Harm. The injured party suffered a financial loss because of the negligent party’s negligence. Examples of monetary loss include medical bills (past, present and future), lost wages, out-of-pocket expenses, and more.
To succeed in a negligence lawsuit, the injured party has to prove the following elements:
- the driver had a duty of care to other vehicles on the road;
- the driver breached this duty through some negligent action or failure to act (an omission);
- an injury was suffered; and
- the breach of duty caused the injury.
If a defect in the car itself or one of its components contributed to the accident, there may be a viable 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 one or more of the victims does not survive the crash. In some cases, the surviving family may bring a claim on behalf of the deceased loved one to recover compensation for their losses. 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, 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?
Compensation for injuries and damages from a car accident is typically separated into two categories: economic losses and non-economic losses. As previously stated, punitive damages may available, in some cases.
Economic car accident damages compensate the injured victim and/or the victim’s family for their monetary losses, including:
- Current Medical Expenses: Such expenses may include fees and medical bills 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 extended future medical attention and care.
- Lost Wages: Some injuries are so severe that they prevent the victim from returning to work – either temporarily or permanently. Florida law permits the recovery of compensation for the 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. While past wages may be considered in determining the amount of this award, the jury or insurance adjuster will try to determine the amount victim could have earned had the car accident not occurred.
Non-economic damages attempt to compensate the victim and/or the victim’s family for non-financial, intangible losses, including:
- Pain and Suffering: This includes compensation for having to endure the physical pain suffered as a result of injuries sustained in the crash. 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: Car accident victims can also be awarded for emotional pain suffered as a result of the car accident. 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 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
During your attempts to file a claim against the driver’s insurance company, you should watch out for some of the tricks the insurance company could possibly pull. 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. Also, it is usually unwise to accept the first offer of monetary settlement, as insurance companies will typically begin much lower than they are allowed to go. Only accept an early settlement if it is equal to the damage caused.
Car Accident Attorney
Car accidents can be severe, often resulting in traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries or paralysis, conditions that can cause long-lasting disability and expensive medical bills. If you or a loved one has experienced personal injury, including physical and mental pain and financial impairment due to medical wages and loss of work, you are entitled to monetary compensation.
If you have been in a car accident in Florida, you will need an experienced lawyer to handle your claim. Contact an attorney as soon as possible. There is a limited time you have to file an insurance claim and/or bring a claim against the responsible parties. To learn how our Pensacola car accident attorney may be able to help you, please fill out our no cost case review form today, or call our office at 850-898-9904 to schedule a Free Case Evaluation.