Even if you obey all traffic laws, drive safely and cautiously, you cannot always account for the actions of other drivers. Despite all reasonable precautions, you may end up in a serious accident, facing expensive medical bills, car repairs, and lost wages.
According to state records, there were more than 385,000 total car crashes in Florida in 2016 alone. This resulted in more than 247,000 total injuries and almost 3,000 traffic fatalities. Fortunately, most of these accidents do not result in death; however, even a low-speed car crash can lead to serious injuries for the driver, passengers, or innocent bystanders.
Common Causes of Automobile Accidents
Car accidents can be caused by any number of reasons. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, in 2015, there were almost 375,000 traffic crashes involving more than 630,000 drivers. About 2,700 crashes involved fatalities, and almost 160,000 crashes involved some bodily injury.
Impaired and distracted driving are some of the most common causes of car accidents. Alcohol was a suspected factor in more than 16,000 vehicle crashes in 2015, while drugs were suspected in another 2,000 accidents. Increasingly, drivers are distracted by using their phones or other electronic devices while driving. Drowsy driving also leads to a number of vehicle accidents.
Other vehicle accidents are caused by drivers failing to abide by traffic laws. This includes running a red light, speeding, tailgating, failing to yield the right of way, failing to signal, or other forms of reckless driving. Poor vehicle maintenance can also contribute to vehicle accidents, including burnt out headlights, tires without proper tread, or bad breaks.
Single vehicle car accidents can be caused by driver error, poor road conditions, or trying to avoid an accident with a negligent driver. In multiple vehicle accidents, drivers often dispute which driver caused the accident. This can lead to disputes with the insurance company, fighting to have the negligent driver to cover your damages, or seeking legal representation to get the compensation you deserve.
Auto Accident Insurance Process
After a car accident, your first priority should be your safety and well-being. Injured victims must receive medical attention "within 14 days after the motor vehicle accident" as required by Florida law, section 627.736, Florida Statutes. Additionally, injured victims seeking medical attention for any injuries, drivers involved in an accident resulting in vehicle damage, injury, or death may have to report the accident to law enforcement. Some drivers may want to avoid reporting the accident, instead offering to settle the accident without reporting it. However, failing to report the accident may leave you without compensation for your injuries or expose you to personal liability.
Next, drivers also have to report the accident to their car insurance provider. This includes informing you insurance company about the nature of the accident, the individuals involved, their contact information, property damage, and the nature of any injuries. You may also want to take photo or video evidence after the accident to show vehicle damage and injuries.
Dealing with the insurance company after an accident can be difficult and frustrating. You may be suffering physical and emotional pain while trying to take care of doctors appointments, motor vehicle repairs, and getting back to work. The last thing you need is an insurance company that is giving you a hard time.
An insurance company may try and claim your vehicle damage or injuries are not as serious and offer only a portion of the money to cover your damages. The insurance company may also try and pressure you into accepting a settlement offer before you really know the extent and seriousness of your injuries. Many people just take whatever the insurance company offers because they do not think they can get more money for compensation or they want to move on. However, before you accept the insurance company's offer, make sure you understand what you are giving up.
Damages Suffered in an Automobile Accident
Damages in a car accident can be extremely costly. This includes not only the financial costs of vehicle repair, medical bills, and lost wages. An automobile accident may result in serious pain and suffering, loss of support for your loved ones, and emotional trauma caused by serious scarring.
Even a minor accident can result in serious injury and damage. According to one insurance company, an average fender bender causes up to $9,000 in damages between two vehicles. A more serious accident can total a vehicle, resulting in tens of thousands of dollars in damage.
More serious than property damage is physical injury to the drivers, passengers, or other bystanders. Even a low-speed rear-end accident can lead to serious neck and back injuries. Car accident injuries can be deceptive and complex. After an accident, a driver may feel fine and think they suffered no serious injury. However, days later, the driver may wake up with serious pain and be unable to get out of bed.
Other common car accident injuries involve head trauma, facial injury, broken bones, severed limbs, cutting injuries, crushing injuries, spinal trauma, back injuries, or internal injuries. This can lead to emergency medical treatment, surgery, hospitalization, physical therapy, prescription medication, and continuing medical treatment.
After an accident, the injured driver may be unable to return to work. They may be out of work for a few days, months, or suffer permanent disability. With the significant expenses of vehicle repair, expensive medical bills, and lost wages, the person responsible for causing the accident should have to pay for the damage they caused.
Benefits of Legal Representation
Even after years of paying thousands of dollars in insurance premiums, after a car accident, your insurance company may not be looking out for your best interests. However, a personal injury attorney will advocate for you and make sure you get the compensation you deserve. Your attorney works for you and not for the insurance company. They will fight back against the insurance company, against the other driver, and anyone else who may have caused your injuries.
If your insurance company is refusing to pay for your damages or offers to cover only a portion of your injury, your attorney can file a lawsuit seeking full damages for your injury. If the other driver tries to blame you for the accident, your attorney will fight back to make sure you do not have to pay the price for someone else's negligence. Your attorney will deal with the insurance company so you can focus on getting your life back to normal.
In most cases, you can seek out legal representation without any out of cost expenses. Your attorney will take your case on a contingency basis, meaning they will only recover a fee if you win your case. Your attorney will keep you informed of the progress of your case, advise you on any settlement offers, and make sure the insurance company does not take advantage of you. Before you accept any settlement or give up on your case, contact an experienced attorney to make sure you are compensated for your injuries after an accident.
Florida Automobile Accident Attorney
Your Florida personal injury attorney is your advocate. They will negotiate with the insurance company to ensure that you receive full and fair compensation. Koberlein Law Offices regularly appear before trial courts and represents accident victims in Columbia County, Alachua County, Suwannee County, Hamilton County, Lafayette County, Madison County, and Gilchrist County. To schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney, contact KLO online or call 386-269-9802 for Lake City or 352-519-4357 for Gainesville.