Tampa Car Accident Attorney
There are a number of important steps to take after a crash to create the best outcome for your case. In addition to seeking medical care, filing a police report, and notifying your insurance company about the car crash, your next step should be contacting an experienced Tampa car accident attorney for legal representation. Working with an experienced auto accident attorney is highly advised, even if you think that your case is straightforward and that you are guaranteed a settlement.
Florida is a no-fault insurance state. That means that every driver is required to carry personal injury protection insurance (PIP) and when an accident takes place, they make a claim on their own policy. The question of fault does not enter into the payment of this policy, but it could affect your insurance costs and it could prevent you from recovering damages in a couple of different situations. When that happens, it helps to have a skilled Tampa auto accident attorney on your side who will advocate for your interests. Here, we’ll talk about some of the limitations of Florida’s no-fault insurance rules, when you can file a lawsuit against another driver, and what you should do immediately following an accident.
Why You Should Work with a Tampa Car Accident Attorney
Many people hesitate to contact a Tampa car accident attorney after a crash, wondering whether or not working with an attorney is really necessary. While you have no legal obligation to contact a lawyer, doing so can improve your chances of recovering the maximum amount of money that you are owed, and can also provide you with a sense of confidence and comfort throughout the process. Here are some vital ways that our Tampa car accident attorney helps you after a car accident:
- Investigating your accident. Fault in a crash is not always clear, and even when it is, the right evidence must be collected to prove it. Fault, or negligence, can have a big impact on the amount of money that you receive in a settlement offer, and unless you prove the negligence of the other driver (or other at-fault party), you may be unable to recover compensation at all. The investigation starts as soon as we learn around your accident, collecting all evidence. This includes physical evidence, pictures of the accident scene, police reports, video footage, witness statements, and more.
- Filing your claim. Filing can be confusing. You may not know how to file your claim after an accident, or against whom. This is especially true if the accident was caused by a party other than another driver, such as the manufacturer of a defective auto part. Our Tampa car accident attorneys help you file your claim against the appropriate party in a timely manner.
- Proving damages. If you are injured in a crash and suffer losses, you may assume that the insurance adjuster responsible for processing your claim will recognize this and you’ll be compensated. Unfortunately, you will need to prove the complete extent of your losses in order to recover any compensation. Our Tampa car crash attorneys can assist you in gathering medical bills, working with experts, and proving damages.
- Negotiating for a fair settlement offer. Frequently, insurance adjusters offer claimants less than they deserve, hoping that the claimant will take the money in desperation and frustration. When your settlement offer does not address the full amount of damages you have suffered, we will aggressively negotiate for a more suitable settlement amount.
- Taking your claim to court. When a settlement cannot be reached, our Tampa car accident attorneys will be prepared to take your case to court.
Types of Car Accident Claims
Most car accidents happen because of negligence, which is the failure to exercise a certain level of caution while operating a vehicle. The Tampa car crash attorneys, along with your insurance company, will conduct a preliminary investigation to identify whether you were negligent or not.
To have the best chances of winning the case, the experienced Tampa car crash attorneys must prove that the defendant’s negligence caused the accident. Some examples are negligent drivers, reckless drivers, intoxicated drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and those who text and drive.
If your vehicle, or the defendant’s vehicle had a defect contributed to the accident, the injured party may have a claim against the manufacturer of the vehicle or one of its many parts. If the car had a faulty manufacturing issue, the manufacturer can be held responsible regardless of who was actually at fault for the accident.
The Tampa car accident attorneys must prove that you were not at fault for the accident, and that the defect happened due to the manufacturing process. Usually they bring in expert testimony and analysis as evidence to prove that the defect caused or contributed to the accident. Successful lawsuits will require the plaintiff to show:
- The defective car or part was “unreasonably dangerous”
- The vehicle was being operated safely
- The vehicle’s performance had not changed since purchase
Then there’s faulty construction, design, or maintenance of roads. This can contribute to car crashes and have nothing to do with the drivers. This type of claim will prove the plaintiff and defendant not guilty due to circumstances beyond their control.
What Should I Do If I’m in an Auto Accident?
If you’re able, you should stop the car, pull over, and call the police. You can take pictures of your vehicle, the other person’s vehicle, and pictures of witnesses who may be at the scene. The police will take a report on the accident including who is at fault. For the most part, they do a good job. But their reports can’t always be trusted.
How Does Florida’s No-Fault Insurance Work
Each individual driver is required to carry at least $10,000 in personal injury protection. This policy covers 80% of their medical expenses and 60% of their lost wages from missed time from work. As you can plainly see, those who have been injured by a negligent driver don’t get the better end of this arrangement. In fact, many have argued that a lack of accountability has factored into why Florida has some of the most dangerous roads in the country.
However, “no fault” doesn’t mean that a negligent driver can never be sued. There are two scenarios in which an injured driver can sue a negligent driver. Those include:
- When the injured party’s medical expenses are in excess of $10,000;
- When the injured party has sustained permanent impairment or disfigurement.
If either of those is true, you can sue an at-fault driver for your injuries.
In addition, Florida drivers should (but are not required to) carry Bodily Injury Liability and Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage. Bodily Injury Liability protects those who have caused an accident from being bankrupted in a lawsuit for negligence while Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage protects you from those who are driving around without any auto insurance of their own.
The Insurance Claims Process
When you file a claim against your PIP coverage it is important to have yourself checked out by a doctor as soon after the accident as possible. Failing to do so will be interpreted by the insurance company as a sign that you were not very badly injured. In instances where you have a concussion, symptoms may not present themselves until hours or even days after the accident. Having a doctor assess your injuries preserves both your health and your claim if you need it.
Types of Car Crash Injuries and Compensation You May Be Entitled To
The extent and severity of injuries suffered will be different with each individual case. In some cases, treatment for injuries will not be covered by insurance. The Tampa auto accident attorneys help cover costs of injuries that include:
- Burns and scars
- Loss of limbs
- Spinal cord injuries
- Head injuries
- Joint, muscle, back, neck, and bone injuries
- Knee damage
- Permanent disability
If you are seeking further compensation for damages, your attorney will approach the negligent party’s insurance company in an attempt to recover compensation to cover your remaining costs. Your claim will be submitted for approval to the insurance company, which will have led an investigation of its own.
The success of your claim will likely depend on the ability of your attorney to collect, analyze, and present evidence. It can be particularly challenging considering the opposing insurance company will clearly want to minimize their disbursement.
Providing your attorney with as much information as possible can help your odds of winning the case. If your attorney and the insurance company cannot agree on a settlement, often the case may proceed to trial.
In addition to these, our experienced Tampa car accident attorneys can help you obtain compensation for the following:
- Medical expenses
- Future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of consortium
- Punitive damages
- Wrongful death
Tampa Car Accident Attorneys Assist with Wrongful Death Claims
If you have lost a loved one in a car crash, you can file a wrongful death lawsuit. In these cases, the family or survivors of the victim must prove that their loved one was killed as a result of another’s negligence. You can gain economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.
Contact Our Experienced Tampa Car Accident Attorney Today
The experienced Tampa car accident attorneys are always here for you. To schedule your free consultation with our team today, call us directly or fill out the form on our website with your information and we will be in touch.