Tampa Bay Car Accident Lawyers
We believe that full justice requires full compensation and insurance companies need to be made fully accountable.
Car accidents are terribly serious and can leave you too injured to return to your normal life and that can be really frustrating. If you are feeling worried about your physical wellbeing and your financial stability, you probably want to pursue a car accident claim. We want to guide you through that legal process to a successful outcome.
Here in the Tampa Bay Area, and especially along dangerous roads like U.S. Hwy. 19, Interstate 4, and Dale Mabry, the most common reasons for catastrophic car accidents often include driver inattention due to cell phones and blatant disregard of traffic laws. In the worst cases, drivers are inebriated by alcohol or drugs and have recklessly decided to put innocent motorists at risk by getting behind the wheel of their vehicle. While unsafe road conditions such as dense fog, heavy rains or brush fires are often contributing factors to auto accidents, of all the reasons the most common factor is simply driver negligence.
Our Tampa Bay car accident lawyers at PERENICH The Law Firm have devoted their professional careers to representing the innocent victims of auto accidents. Our car wreck attorneys are dedicated to restoring your life and the hope of a bright future. As practicing Tampa Bay car accident lawyers, we’re acutely skilled and experienced in all types of automobile accident cases, even those involving whiplash, paralysis, permanent disability and death.
First Steps to Follow After a Car Accident
After an accident, the top priority should always be your safety and your health. If you are able to, move your car to a safe location away from traffic, but near the scene of the accident. Getting the police on the scene right away to secure the evidence and make sure everyone is safe is important. If you are not whisked away on an ambulance and your injuries aren’t life threatening, it is important to take photos, videos, and collect names and information from witnesses and the other driver(s). You want to secure this information for your claim to be successful. If you are seriously injured and cannot do this, a police officer, friend, or attorney can do it for you.
After you have left the scene of the accident with your evidence and information, and you need to see a doctor. Do not skip this vital step to start treatment for your injuries. It also is important because you want medical proof of your injuries to show the insurance company you deserve compensation. After this, you should call an experienced attorney to take on your case.
You want to ensure that you act quickly on all of this because there is a statute of limitations you need to be considerate of. In Florida, it’s a little bit longer but that does not mean you should wait longer. From the date of your accident, you have four years to get your claim brought or to have it settled. If your accident was with a government vehicle, you may have a shorter statute of limitations. Once this time limit runs out, you will lose your right to a claim and compensation.
Rear End Accidents
The most common motor vehicle accident is the rear-end accident. This usually results when a vehicle slows or stops for traffic on the road, and the driver behind him fails to stop in time, and crashes into the back of the vehicle in front of him.
Florida law previously recognized a presumption of negligence on the part of the driver of the rear-ending motor vehicle. With this presumption, the rear-end accident victim had a head start on proving that the rear-ending motor vehicle operator was negligent, and therefore would be held responsible for the injuries caused to the occupant of the vehicle that was impacted from behind. The idea was that automobile drivers have the responsibility to be on the lookout for traffic in front of them. This concept recognized that the driver in the front wouldn’t be able to prevent an accident that resulted from what happened with the motor vehicle that was behind him.
However, in recent years, this presumption has been eliminated. Florida law recognizes the legal concept of comparative fault. In short, this means that when an accident results, the cause of the accident can be shared by more than one person and that not every driver is necessarily either 100% at fault or 0% blameless.
Although many times, an accident happens because of the sole and exclusive fault of one driver, there are many instances when fault can be shared and a jury is charged with the task of apportioning the fault to more than one person, even the victim who had the least responsibility in the circumstances that led to his or her injuries.
With Florida now embracing comparative fault, the courts have decided that the presumption of fault for rear-end accidents no longer applies. If a rear-end accident happens, a jury should consider whether or not the vehicle in front contributed to causing the accident in any way.
So, now insurance companies who should be taking full responsibility for their policyholders who cause rear-end accidents, and they look for any way to avoid taking responsibility and instead blame the innocent injured person.
Texting While Driving Accidents
Distracted driving is the leading cause of auto accidents, and as the prevalence of texting has increased, this percentage has continued to increase. Texting and driving is incredibly dangerous and puts lives in jeopardy. Texting and driving is illegal in the state of Florida. This type of distracted driving leads to, at the very least, a traffic citation, and at the very worst, an injurious or fatal accident.
Obviously, keeping your eyes on the road is the best way to avoid an auto accident. Unfortunately, you can’t control everyone else on the road. One driver’s foolish mistakes can dramatically impact one’s life. It is important that your rights are upheld when you or someone you love has become a victim of an auto accident caused due to a texting driver.
A driver needs cognitive focus, manual focus, and visual focus to be fully in control of their motor vehicle. Texting while driving means that the driver does not have both hands on the wheel, and their attention is not focused on the road where it belongs. These two distractions reduce awareness and reaction time.
When someone else’s texting and driving negligence has caused an accident, it is important that the victim’s rights are upheld and justice is served. Florida’s distraction law states that an individual should not be texting and driving. If negligent behavior causes you or a loved one pain, injury, or death, then you should be fairly compensated.
Passenger in an Auto Accident
Being a passenger in an auto accident is devastating. You had no control over what happened and now you probably feel like you are at the whims of an auto insurance company with which you have no connection. Being a passenger in an automobile accident allows you the same rights as any other parties involved. The most important things an auto accident passenger can do is ask questions and document the accident. If no one involved in the accident wants the call the police, call the police yourself. Without a police report of the accident it will be very hard to get an insurance company to pay for your injuries.
Talking to the Insurance Company After a Car Accident
If you are worried about ruining your case before it really even gets started, you need to know that the worst thing you can do is make a recorded statement to the other driver’s insurance company adjuster. They will be calling you right after your accident and, without a doubt, they are looking to get answers out of you that will wash their hands clean of any responsibility for the accident. You might think you’re being helpful by talking to them, but they’re looking out for themselves, not you, and they will do whatever it takes to drop your claim or reduce the amount of compensation they owe you.
Available Compensation Options in Florida
There are two avenues available to you for compensation when you’re in a car crash in Florida. We are one of the few states who practice no-fault. That is a type of insurance that you will have on your own policy that will give you compensation for your medical expenses, your lost wages, and out-of-pocket expenses related to the accident. This is available to you regardless of who caused the accident.
If the crash ended in serious injury and no-fault won’t cover your injuries, only then you can pursue a claim against the other driver. The exact definition of “serious injury” needs to be hammered out with an attorney. But after that, you are allowed to bring on a car accident claim. When you seek compensation through a claim, there are rules that can reduce your award. However, Florida allows for you to get compensation even if you are almost entirely at fault through pure comparative negligence. The way this works is that if you were deemed to be 15% at fault for your accident and you are awarded $10,000, you would be able to take $8,500 of that award.
The types of possible injuries in a car accident include:
- Broken bones
- Traumatic brain injury
- Cuts and lacerations
- Internal bleeding
- Spinal cord damage
The list certainly extends past this and what you should know is that the worse your injuries are, the more you may be compensated. Just to reiterate, it is extremely difficult to pursue a car accident claim if you don’t get your injuries looked at. The insurance is hounding for ways to reject your claim and that would be the easiest thing to turn you down for. Even if you go to urgent care, general practitioner, or the ER, you need to get your injuries treated.
Call Our Tampa Bay Car Accident Lawyers Today
Our single goal is to vigorously represent our clients by securing their rightful compensation as quickly as possible. In cases where an accident victim is hospitalized and unable to work, our Tampa Bay car accident lawyers have the experience, knowledge and resources to fully investigate the cause of the crash, determine fault and pursue a fair and just recovery for damages. Our team of car accident lawyers work very hard to obtain compensation for our clients’ bodily injuries, disability, disfigurement, pain and suffering, mental anguish, lost wages, and unpaid medical bills.
Each year in Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco Counties, hundreds of thousands of people are involved in serious auto accidents on the roads and highways of the Tampa Bay, FL Metro area. Many of these car accident collisions cause devastating permanent injuries to innocent victims, such as broken bones, skull fractures and closed head injuries. In other cases the death of an innocent passenger often leaves the parents, spouse, or children of the decedent stricken by grief, depression and emotional havoc. For those fortunate to escape with minor auto accident injuries, many car accident victims still are faced with lost wages, and the frustration with getting an insurance company to pay for out of pocket medical bills and other expenses.
Often times our auto accident attorneys are able to successfully settle the case with the at-fault driver’s insurance company thereby avoiding the costly and protracted delays associated with going to court. In other cases, our car accident lawyers find it appropriate to pursue a lawsuit on behalf of our clients to hold the responsible party accountable for causing their injuries. Call us today for a free consultation to see how we can help you
Our experienced team of Tampa Bay attorneys at PERENICH The Law Firm have represented hundreds of innocent auto accident victims in East Lake, Tampa Bay, Clearwater, St. Pete, New Port Richey and Tarpon Springs Florida.