Florida Auto Accident Lawyer

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According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) there are an average of 1,098 automobile accidents in Florida every day, not including the numerous accidents that go unreported. The FLHSMV has seen this number steadily increase over the last several years, due in part to an increase in distracted driving.

Car accidents can be devastating, and even minor accidents can be difficult to sort out.  If the accident results in death or serious injury, life will never be the same for the survivors. In these instances, an auto accident attorney may be necessary to file claims and help you recover as much as possible.

An auto accident attorney can assist you with your claim in two ways. First, an attorney can make sure you get the full benefits you are entitled to from your insurance company. Second, an attorney can file claims to recover losses that are not covered by your own auto insurance company, such as pain and suffering or lost wages.

PIP Insurance & Your Car Accident Settlement

All drivers in Florida are required to carry $10,000 in property damage liability (PDL) insurance and $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. PIP, also called Florida No-Fault Insurance, ensures that injured parties can receive the medical care they need regardless of who was at fault for the accident.

In order to receive full coverage from your PIP insurance, there are specific criteria that must be met. For instance, you must receive initial medical treatment for your injuries within 14 days after the accident or your accident-related medical expenses may not be covered. An experienced auto accident lawyer can explain other important, time-sensitive requirements of the statute, so be sure to contact a lawyer immediately if you have been in an accident.

When to File a Car Accident Lawsuit

If you have been seriously injured, $10,000 will likely not be enough to cover your medical expenses. Fortunately, an auto accident lawyer may be able to help you recover additional losses that you can use to pay for the medical care you need. If the negligence of another driver, an auto manufacturer, or another responsible party caused an accident and you suffered physically, financially, and emotionally, an auto accident attorney can file a lawsuit seeking compensatory damages from any responsible parties.

These losses might include:

  • Medical Bills (for initial treatment)
  • Medical Bills (for continuing treatment)
  • Lost Wages (while you were out of work)
  • Lost Earning Potential (if you become disabled)
  • Pain and Suffering
  • Mental Anguish
  • Loss of Consortium

A bad car accident can be very stressful physically, emotionally, and financially. You should certainly be able to get treatment for your injuries without having to worry about going into debt or wasting countless days getting the runaround from insurance companies.

If you have been involved in a minor accident then you may be able to handle the aftermath without the assistance of a lawyer. But when witnesses must be questioned, accidents reconstructed, reports reviewed, and facts debated and determined, having experienced auto accident lawyers working for you can help you focus on making a full recovery and living your life.

For instance, you must file a claim with the particular agency that you believe is responsible for your injury and have that claim denied prior to initiating a lawsuit. In addition, there are caps on the amount that victims can recover as well as strict time limits regarding when a claim may be filed. In the worse case scenario, attempting to navigate the ins and outs of filing an auto accident lawsuit without the help of an attorney can result in an unsuccessful lawsuit that took a substantial amount of your personal time and prevented you from being able to focus on healing and getting better.

Types of Auto Accidents

No two auto accidents are exactly the same. Read below to learn about some of the more common forms of car accidents.

Head-On Collisions

Head-on collisions are among the most dangerous kinds of motor vehicle accidents in which a person can be involved. When two vehicles collide while heading towards each other, the force of impact can be tremendous, often resulting in significant damage to the vehicles as well as serious bodily injury to drivers and occupants. These injuries have the potential to require intensive medical care, and may result in complications or disabilities that make it impossible for victims to return to work or live independently.

head on collision accident

Head-on collisions can occur for a number of reasons, some of which may indicate negligence on the part of another party. Some of the more common causes of head-on collisions include:

  • Distracted driving – Distracted driving can easily cause a driver to cross over into another lane of traffic resulting in a head on collision. Driver distractions include things like cell phone use, reading, grooming, or texting.
  • Driver fatigue – When people drive when they are tired, they may have impaired reaction time and motor control. In addition, fatigued drivers are more likely to fall asleep at the wheel and drift into oncoming traffic.
  • Equipment failure – When car equipment fails, it may cause a driver to lose control of his or her vehicle, potentially resulting in a head-on collision.
  • Failure to account for adverse weather conditions – Poor weather conditions such as wet or icy roads can negatively affect vehicle performance. When drivers fail to account for these conditions, they may slide into oncoming traffic and cause a head-on collision.

Rear-End Accidents

There are a number of reasons a driver might slam their brakes – a child running or darting suddenly in the road, a squirrel running out in the road or a bee buzzing in the driver’s ear. Given each drivers’ unique sensitivities, it is safer to establish rules preventing drivers from following too closely and to hold those who break those rules accountable. In most cases when one driver rear-ends another driver, the rear driver is presumed to be at fault. An advantage of this presumption is that it makes it easy to determine fault in a rear-end collision. It also promotes safety.

rear end accident

While historically Florida law follows the "Rear End Collision Rule", and presumes that the rear driver is at fault in a rear end accident, courts will now assign some blame to the front driver if comparative negligence is proven.

The court reasoned that because Florida follows comparative negligence in injury cases, it is only fair to allow a negligent rear driver in a rear end wreck to defend himself by showing that the front driver was also negligent. This may not get him or her off the hook entirely from liability, but it will reduce the amount of damages he is required to pay.

Vehicle Roll Over Accidents

According to a PBS - Frontline documentary on SUV safety and rollover accident statistics, nearly 70,000 rollover accidents occur every year. And SUVs have the highest rollover rate of any other vehicle when it comes to fatal collisions. In addition to the high number of rollover-related deaths, further statistics show a clear connection between SUVs and rollovers:

  • More than 60 percent of all SUV accident deaths occurred as a result of a rollover accident
  • More than 10,000 rollover accidents occur each year in the United States, and more than 90 percent of these accidents involve only a single vehicle that’s often an SUV
  • When an SUV is involved in a rollover accident, passengers in the vehicle have a substantially greater risk of sustaining a serious or fatal injury—such a risk increases by more than 30 percent

Distracted Driving Accidents

woman putting lipstick on in car

Distracted driving can cause a number of different types of accidents, including the following:

  • Rear end accidents
  • Pedestrian accidents
  • Bicycle accidents
  • Head-on Accidents
  • Motorcycle accidents

Common Type of Distractions

  • Eating
  • Grooming
  • Drinking
  • Reading
  • Talking
  • Using a GPS device
  • Adjusting the radio
  • Watching a video
  • Applying makeup
  • Looking at an object or scenery
  • Reaching for an object
  • Browsing the internet
  • Using a map

Cell Phone Driving Accidents

Cell phones are capable of causing a variety of driver distractions. According the CDC, there are three main types of driver distractions. They are:

  1. Visual distractions – These kinds of distractions occur when something draws a driver’s visual attention from the road.
  2. Manual distractions – Anything that requires a driver to take his or her hands from the steering wheel constitutes a manual distraction.
  3. Cognitive distractions – These distractions occur when an event or a task takes a driver’s mental focus off of driving.

There are certain types of distractions that combine two or even all three of categories of distractions, making them particularly dangerous. For example, texting requires that a person look at the phone while composing or reading a text, use a hand to manipulate the buttons or the screen, and think about the conversation in which they are engaged.

cell phone while driving

Despite these risks, data indicates that texting and driving continues to be prevalent among American drivers. In fact, the CDC indicates that 31% of adults between 18-64 who were surveyed indicated that they had written or composed a text while driving in the previous 30-day period.

While hand-free cell phone and text-to-speech technology has been explored as an option for making cell phone use by drivers safer, a recent study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety indicated that mental distractions alone can significantly increase the risk of a driver being involved in an accident.

Drunk Driving Accidents

Drunk driving accidents almost always have severe consequences. Death, serious injuries, and significant property damage are common in the event of an alcohol related wreck. In fact, the state of Florida has one of the highest rates of DUI accidents, and these rates are even higher in urban beach communities like Daytona.

Accordingly, advocates like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) have lobbied for higher criminal penalties across the state, and Florida has some of the harshest in the nation. The civil side of the justice system has followed suit, and potential recoveries in these incidents can be higher than in other types of accidents. If you or someone you know has suffered injuries from a drunk driving accident you may be entitled to recover significant compensation from responsible parties.

drunk driving accident

The process for being compensated from losses after a drunk driving accident is similar to that in non-drinking auto accidents. And like any crash where a reckless driver caused significant damages, representatives of the at-fault driver will often offer quick settlements.

Insurance companies understand the increased liability of their clients in DUI accidents, and they want to avoid an investigation that might force them to pay more money to the injured. Indeed, the facts of these cases may indicate extremely negligent behavior, both by the driver and possibly by establishments that were serving the driver as well.

Hit and Run Car Accidents

If you are the victim of a hit and run, police will work hard to track down the offender and attain justice. The state of Florida considers leaving the scene of an accident to be a serious crime. This is a bit of positive news for the very unfortunate situation a victim of a hit and run goes through. Further, even where there is only minor property damage, offenders can be sentenced to up to 60 days in jail. And where someone is injured or killed, the result could be a felony conviction and years in jail.

Hit and run victims in Florida who are injured by a hit and run driver have an uphill battle if the other driver is not found. However, the victims of a hit and run accident have some insurance options through there own insurance (if previously purchased):

  • Personal injury protection (PIP) coverage for medical bills
  • Collision coverage to fix or pay for your own vehicle
  • Medical payments (MedPay) for increased medical bill coverage
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage for monetary damages

Speeding Accidents

Approximately 32,500 traffic deaths were reported by the National Safety Council in 2013. There is no doubt that traffic accidents are prevalent and dangerous. However, speeding accidents are even more likely to cause death or serious bodily harm.

Speeding often has a significant impact on the type of injuries that result, as well as the type of structural damage that can occur post impact. Speeding is dangerous and the faster someone drives the more likely it is that a fatality will result from the impact.

Studies show that morning rush hour and night time trips render the most speed-related accidents. This may be because speeders find more of a need to speed during these hours or there are more people on the road during these times. Additionally, there are several different types of speeders.

Dangerous Road Accidents

dangerous road

While the large majority of auto accidents occur because another driver acted in a negligent manner, driver error is not always the cause of an accident. In some instances, dangerous road conditions can cause drivers to lose control of their vehicles and collide with other cars, objects, bicyclists, pedestrians, and more. Victims of accidents caused by dangerous roads still deserve to recover for all of their accident-related injuries and losses. However, lawsuits involving dangerous road accidents can be particularly complicated.

Florida Highway Accidents

Highway accidents can occur for a number of reasons. As in any other case alleging personal injury, a plaintiff must establish that some other party’s negligence caused the accident. While there are almost innumerable ways that a Florida accident can occur, some are more common than others. These common causes include:

  • Speeding
  • Inadequate vehicle maintenance
  • Brake failure
  • Distracted driving
  • Fatigued driving
  • Defectively manufactured vehicles
  • Poor weather conditions
  • Defectively designed roads
  • Poorly maintained road surfaces
  • Driving while impaired
  • Steering mechanism failure
  • Failure to signal lane changes
  • Sudden starts or stops
  • Debris in the roadway

It is essential for victims to determine how their accident occurred in order to be able to establish legal liability. In addition, people who are involved in highway accidents should record as much information about the accident as they can. If possible, pictures of the immediate aftermath of the accident can be extremely helpful in piecing together what occurred. Finally, you should be sure to seek medical attention after an accident, even if you do not believe that you have sustained any serious injuries. Some injuries, like whiplash, may not become symptomatic for days or even weeks after an accident occurs.

Defective Highway Design Accidents

A significant number of accidents are the result of poor highway design or negligent maintenance. Issues such as rundown bridges, overgrown vegetation, poor signage, or worn-out pavement can all cause serious accidents. Generally speaking, state agencies and local governments are responsible for highway design and maintenance, so any claim arising from an accident that was caused by defective highway design or maintenance will be against the government.

While the Florida Tort Claims Act authorizes tort claims against the state and its various subdivisions, these actions are much different than tort claims against private parties.

Intersection Car Accidents

intersection car accident

Intersections are a particularly high-risk area for motor vehicle collisions, mainly due to the presence of vehicles traveling in multiple directions. Often, where two or more roads meet, there are vehicles turning right, left, and crossing over an intersection, significantly increasing the risk of a vehicle collision. As in any other case alleging personal injury, a plaintiff asserting a legal claim arising from an intersection accident must establish that the accident occurred due to someone else’s negligence. There are many ways that a motor vehicle accident at an intersection can be the result of negligence. Some of the more common include:

  • Speeding
  • Poor weather conditions
  • Malfunctioning traffic signals
  • Distracted driving
  • Brake failure
  • Driving while impaired
  • Driver fatigue
  • Failure to observe traffic signals

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Commercial Vehicle Accidents

The law recognizes people or companies that are in the business of transporting goods or passengers along regular routes as “common carriers.” As a result, many commercial vehicles are considered common carriers. They are distinct from “private carriers” in that common carriers make their services to the general public, while private carriers do not. Some common examples of common carriers include the following:

  • Limousine companies
  • Trucking companies
  • Buslines
  • Taxi cabs
  • Train companies
  • Freight lines
  • Bus tour companies

15 Passenger Van Accidents

Whether you are a passenger in a 15-passenger van or a driver, pedestrian, or cyclist sharing the road with one, accidents involving these vehicles can be devastating. A significant number of these accidents are the direct result of driver negligence.

If the driver of a 15-passenger van in which you were riding was employed by a company, the legal doctrine of respondent superior may allow victims to bring a suit against the driver’s employer. Because of Florida’s no-fault insurance laws, the circumstances under which you can sue are limited, and you should be sure to discuss the circumstances of your accident with an experienced Florida personal injury attorney as soon as possible after an accident.

Bus Accidents

When dealing with bus accidents, it is essential to determine why an accident occurred in order to be able to hold the proper party liable. If, for example, a tire was negligently designed or manufactured and caused a blowout leading to an accident, the manufacturer of the tire could potentially be liable for any injuries that resulted. If, on the other hand, bus driver error caused the accident, the bus driver or his or her employer may be the appropriate party to sue. An experienced attorney will investigate the circumstances of your accident and determine from whom you may be able to recover.

bus accident

Because commercial buses such as charter or tour buses are in the business of transporting people for financial gain, they are held to a higher standard of care than other parties on the road. Known as “common carriers,” companies and drivers that operate commercially are required to use the “highest degree of care that is consistent with the type of transportation used and the practical operation of the business of a common carrier of passengers.” In addition to this heightened standard of care, buses are also subject to myriad state and federal regulations that are intended to ensure the safety of their passengers and others on the road.

Taxi Accidents

The aftermath of a taxi accident can be more complicated than other auto accidents, but compensation for personal injuries and property damage may be higher. Taxi drivers are professionals and they are subject to more regulations and higher expectations than non-commercial drivers. (Uber car accidents can be similarly complicated since their drivers have less regulations and insurance requirements.)

taxi accident

Because PIP may not apply, you may have to spend more time and do more work to recover after an accident. But importantly, insurance limits are usually much higher resulting in a fuller recovery. While you’re wrangling for your benefits you may also be able to efficiently recover for additional damages you may have suffered, such as emotional distress and physical pain and suffering.

Truck Accidents

How common are trucking accidents in Florida? According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, approximately 2,400 automobile accident fatalities occur each year in Florida. Of those fatalities, nearly 90 percent of the victims had been wearing seatbelts. Given the heavy weight and unwieldy nature of 18-wheelers, seatbelts often don’t protect automobile passengers when they’re involved in an accident with a big rig.

truck accident

In fact, according to the NHTSA, fatal injuries in trucking crashes typically involve passengers in smaller automobiles. More than 90 percent of all truck accident fatalities are attributed to occupants of passenger cars. In many truck accidents, the truck driver may have acted negligently. Whether the truck driver failed to obey the rules of the road or was distracted while driving, we can help you to hold a truck driver liable for any damages caused in a severe truck collision.

Recoverable Damages in Florida Auto Accident Cases

Victims of car accidents may be eligible for compensation for the following types of losses:

  1. Past, present, and future medical expenses
  2. Lost income due to missing work
  3. Loss of future earning potential
  4. Compensation for pain and suffering
  5. Loss of consortium
  6. Disfigurement
  7. Permanent disability

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Auto Accident Lawyer (Free Consultation)

At Vasilaros Wagner, we are dedicated to representing anyone who has been injured in an auto accident in the Daytona Beach and Palm Coast areas. If you, or a loved one, have been injured in an auto accident, a knowledgeable and friendly legal team can help. Whether you’ve been in a major accident or a minor one, our experienced auto accident lawyers will work on your behalf to recover losses for you so you can focus on recovering from your accident. You can call us at 386-777-7777 or fill out our online contact form for a free case evaluation. Our legal team is ready to help you.

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