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Every year in Tampa, thousands of Floridians suffer serious injuries in car accidents. Some car crashes are honest accidents due to mechanical failures, roadway hazards, or vehicle defects. However, most car accidents happen because a driver was negligent and did not exercise proper care while driving his or her vehicle. If this happened to you or a loved one, you may need the help of a Tampa auto accident lawyer.
When drivers fail to adhere to the rules of the road, operate their vehicles unsafely, or do not pay close enough attention to the road ahead, they put every other driver around them at risk. Car accidents can happen anywhere, from secluded residential neighborhoods to highways and busy metropolitan areas. Regardless of where a car accident occurs, if a driver’s negligence caused it, that driver needs to be held accountable for their actions and the harm they cause to others. If you believe this has happened to you, contact one of our law firm today and schedule a free consultation to discuss your claim.
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Types of accidents our law firm handles
There are many reasons car accidents happen, and those caused by negligence typically lead to lawsuits. Depending on how your accident happened, your case can potentially become very complex. Some of the most common causes of car accidents that lead to lawsuits include the following:
When head-on collisions happen, they are typically caused by a driver swerving out of his or her lane to avoid a hazard, or a driver falling asleep behind the wheel and drifting out of the lane. In some situations, an aggressive driver may attempt to pass a slower vehicle by driving into the opposing lane. If such a driver misjudges the distance or doesn’t see a vehicle in the other lane, a head-on collision is likely. Head-on collisions are typically far more serious than other types of motor vehicle collisions with a higher chance of fatal injuries.
Accidents on the highway are often more serious than those that occur in residential areas. Cars on the highway are moving at much higher speeds, meaning the initial crash is likely to be severe, and other passing motorists may not have time to stop. Highway accidents often involve multiple vehicles and multiple victims.
Hit and Run Accidents
If you are struck by another driver who then flees the scene, it’s vital to record as much information about the other vehicle and driver as possible. If you catch the license plate, try to write it down. Human memory is unreliable, so it’s important to try and record the first things you observe about a hit-and-run accident. If the other driver is found, he or she will more than likely face criminal charges in addition to your civil lawsuit.
Railroad Crossing Accidents
Accidents at railroad crossings usually happen when a motorist thinks he or she can “beat the train,” and speed across the tracks before the incoming train arrives. It is always safer to wait, even if it appears that the train is approaching slowly. More often than not, the train is moving much faster than it initially appears to be, and if a car is stuck on railroad tracks, serious injuries can occur.
Fatal Car Accidents
Unfortunately, not everyone walks away from car accidents. In fact, The U.S. Department of Transportation recorded 3,174 car accident fatalities in 2016, just in Florida alone. If you lost a family member in a car accident, contact our wrongful death attorneys to discuss your options.
What to Do After a Car Crash in Florida
Every motor vehicle accident is different, but it’s a good idea to have some knowledge of what you can do following a car accident to protect yourself and hold any negligent drivers responsible for the damages.
1. Seek Medical Attention
If you find yourself in a car accident, the very first thing you should do after your vehicle comes to a stop is to check yourself for injuries. Call 911 if you or anyone else involved suffered serious injuries or require assistance. It’s important that even if you don’t see any visible wounds to get yourself checked by a doctor. Car accidents can cause internal injuries that do not immediately manifest symptoms. If you suffered any injuries, your doctor will list the extent of the injuries and the details of his or her treatment plan for you in your medical report. This is a vital document in case you need to build a case later.
If you seek to file a claim and you did not immediately seek medical attention, a jury might wonder why. They will more than likely assume that since you didn’t seek medical care immediately, your injuries probably weren’t severe. After a car accident, attempting to “tough it out” can harm you and your case down the road. Moreover, in Florida you must see a medical provider within 14 days of the crash. Otherwise, your coverage will be denied.
2. File a Police Report
Florida law requires drivers to call the police after a car accident if anyone was injured – even slightly – or the accident caused property damage estimated to be in excess $500. If everyone is all right, try to contact your local police department or the Florida Highway Patrol to file an accident report.
The police will conduct brief interviews of everyone involved and assess the accident scene. At this point, it is imperative to contact a trusted car accident lawyer and be careful of what you say. Even seemingly harmless, casual statements like “I’m so sorry,” or “I didn’t see the other car” could be construed later in court as an admission of fault. Don’t admit to anything, in any way, even if you think you may be at fault for the accident. Once the police finish their work, you can request a copy of the police report. This document is a vital piece of building a car accident case against a negligent driver, so make sure you obtain this report. If you are unable to obtain the report, we will help obtain it for you as soon as it is available.
3. File an Insurance Claim
After the immediate issues of your medical concerns and dealing with the police are handled, it’s time to contact your insurance company and file a claim. Even if you were not responsible for the accident, it’s important to speak with your insurance. They will investigate the claim and make their own assessment of fault and damages. However, do no give a recorded statement without representation by a lawyer.
It’s important to note that insurance companies may be in the business of making money, but they have a legal obligation to act in good faith when investigating a claim. This means honest reporting of the facts, ethical interview practices, and timely responses to claimant issues and inquiries. If you feel as though an insurance claim adjuster is being combative or unfairly underestimating your claim, they may be acting in bad faith. Most insurance companies prefer to pay out on a claim rather than undergo a prolonged court battle, so speak to an attorney if you have any concerns about insurance bad faith after a car accident.
4. Choose the Right Attorney
After you have addressed the police, medical, and insurance concerns of your car crash, you should contact a car accident attorney to discuss your case. There are countless personal injury firms across the country, so it’s important to be selective about who you choose to represent your case. Look for a law firm with great reviews from past clients and a strong track record of successful cases.
Do You Have a Case? Ask Our Accident Attorneys
The value of a car accident settlement in Florida can vary significantly depending on the damages involved, the insurance company, and the circumstances of the crash. The Florida insurance system gauges the amount of a car accident settlement based on the severity of injuries and what the law entitles the victim to receive. Find out the possible value of your car accident by consulting with a car accident attorney at Fiol Law Group.
Who Covers Your Damages?
Only 12 states, including Florida, abide by “no-fault” insurance laws. A car accident victim must seek first and primary recovery for an accident through his or her own insurance company regardless of who was at fault, according to the rules of the no-fault system. The majority of your car accident settlement will therefore come from your insurance company, followed by the other driver’s insurer if your policy does not cover all of your damages.
How Does an Insurance Company Calculate Damages?
After you file an insurance claim, your company will conduct an investigation into your accident. Someone called an insurance claims adjuster or claims analyst will take over your claim on behalf of the insurance company. The adjuster is in charge of assessing your medical costs, property damages, and other losses in relation to the car accident. You may need to provide medical documentation, cost estimates from auto repair shops, and other evidence to help your insurance company evaluate the claim.
It is often up to an attorney to negotiate with insurance companies for higher settlement offers. Initial settlements are often much lower than the claimant’s case is actually worth. The insurer will strive to get the claimant to settle for as little as possible. An attorney can help prove damages, in an attempt to gain a better settlement offer from the insurer. An attorney may then take the insurer to court in pursuit of a better judgment award if settlement negotiations don’t work.
What’s Your Claim Worth?
Currently, no caps on damages exist in the state of Florida. However, a general rule of thumb to determine the value of a car accident settlement (with a lawyer’s help) is to multiple the cost of your medical bills by three. However, many factors can affect how much you will receive. The more severe your injuries, the higher your settlement amount will likely be. Catastrophic and long-term injuries require more expensive and longer-lasting medical treatments, resulting in higher settlements.
Protect Your Rights – Speak to Our Law Firm Today
After a Tampa driver was severely injured in a traffic collision, Fiol Law Group recovered $675,000 for her injuries. While we can never guarantee the outcome of a car accident lawsuit, you can be assured that we will do everything we can to maximize the amount of your settlement. If another driver injured you in any way, it’s important to hold them accountable for the damages and injuries caused. A reliable Tampa car accident attorney will be your best ally when it comes to securing compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, property damage, and lost income from time you were forced to spend away from work after an injury.
The Fiol Law Group is dedicated to doing everything we can to maximize our clients’ recovery. Our firm believes in accessible representation for every client, and we offer services for both English and Spanish speakers. If you need an attorney to fight on your behalf after a car accident in the Tampa area, reach out to our team to request a free consultation.
“The Fiol Law Group staff went above and beyond for me and my auto accident case. Attorney Fiol and Attorney Morros were very attentive during every step of my claim. The case manager, Matthew Leonardi and assistant, Dianelys Reyna did a phenomenal job answering all my questions and putting me at ease during my situation. They kept me up to date and informed about my case. I would recommend Fiol Law Group to all my friends and family.” – Tiana H.