Hire a Top Fort Lauderdale Car Accident Lawyer to Fight for You
A car accident can be one of the most traumatic experiences in a person’s life. From a simple fender bender to a catastrophic accident, car accidents can cause serious injury or death, lost wages, large amounts of medical bills, stress on a person’s marital and family life, and overall disruption of a person’s personal and professional life. Florida Law allows you to recover money for these types of losses, but you still need to top Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyer to handle your claim.
Car accidents are a common and serious problem in Florida. Although the Sunshine State provides legal remedies for those injured in auto accidents, navigating the Florida legal system can be difficult. Dealing with insurance companies is yet another challenge. Obtaining compensation for your automobile accident injuries is no easy task.
What to Expect When Working with a Fort Lauderdale Car Accident Lawyer
A car accident can be one of the most traumatic experiences in a person’s life. Whether you or a loved one were involved in a simple fender bender, a rear end collision, or were hit by a drunk or distracted driver, car accidents can have serious consequences, including:
- Catastrophic injury
- Wrongful death
- Lost wages
- Huge medical bills
- Mental distress that impacts your personal – including marital and family — life
- Disruption of your personal and professional life
Under Florida law, you are entitled to recover money for these and other types of losses when they resulted from another’s negligent behavior. However, navigating the Florida legal system can be difficult. Dealing with insurance companies is a huge challenge, and obtaining just compensation from the other at-fault driver for your automobile accident injuries is no easy task.
A Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyer can work to obtain the legal compensation you deserve for your Florida car accident. In the aftermath of a car accident, dealing with insurance companies and legal issues is the last thing to be handling on your own. At the Maus Law Firm, we can evaluate your case and step in to fight for your legal rights.
The First Steps After an Accident
Immediately after being involved in a car accident, the most important thing is to seek medical attention if needed. The best course of action is generally to call 911 and allow paramedics to examine you at the scene of the accident. Depending on the seriousness of the incident and extent of injuries, police and fire rescue may also respond. You should also contact your own insurance company as soon as reasonably possible.
There may be instances where an insurance company for another driver offers you a quick settlement amount in exchange for a waiver of liability. While this settlement offer might seem very attractive at the time, it is virtually always less than an appropriate amount. Do not sign such a waiver without first consulting with a Fort Lauderdale car accident attorney.
Common Injuries in Florida Car Wrecks
At the Maus Law Firm, our Fort Lauderdale car accident attorneys have worked with victims of many types of injuries resulting from Florida car accidents. These include the following:
- Whiplash: This is one of the most common car accident injuries. Whiplash refers to neck strain or hyperextension as a result of a sudden impact. It can cause pain and stiffness in the neck, along with back problems.
- Burns: Burn injuries pose a serious risk of permanent disfigurement or scarring.
- Soft Tissue Injuries: “Soft tissue” refers to the body’s connective tissue – muscles, ligaments and tendons. A soft tissue injury could be a tear, sprain, strain or contusion.
- Spinal Cord Injuries: These injuries can result in nerve damage. At their most serious, spinal cord injuries can cause full or partial paralysis or even death. But even a relatively minor spinal cord injury can cause tingling, pain, reduced sensation or impaired movement.
- Head Injuries: These can range from mild concussions to permanent mental impairment or even death.
Damages Your Fort Lauderdale Accident Law Firm Can Help You Recover After a Car Accident
Damages are the compensation that can be legally awarded to a person injured in a car accident. Our Fort Lauderdale automobile accident attorneys can identify and seek every form of damages available, which can include the following:
- Medical Expenses: This includes past medical bills and a reasonable estimate of future expenses. Your attorney can work with medical experts to determine future medical expenses.
- Property Damage: In auto accidents, this generally covers damages to the plaintiff’s vehicle and any damaged property inside the vehicle. For a totaled vehicle, the property damage is generally the car’s replacement value. For non-totaled vehicles, the repair expenses will be the damages.
- Lost Wages: As with medical expenses, this also includes past and future lost wages.
- Rehabilitation Expenses: Common rehabilitation expenses include physical therapy and occupational therapy.
- Reduced Earning Potential: For serious injuries, a person may be unable to return to their profession or they may only be able to work at a reduced capacity.
- Pain and Suffering: Although these damages are difficult to calculate, they can be substantial for people with serious and long-lasting injuries.
- Diminished Quality of Life: If a plaintiff’s quality of life is lessened by their injury, this can be included in a damages award. It might include payment for a reduced ability to perform activities of daily living. The victim might also be compensated for the loss of enjoyment of certain activities.
When Should I Contact Fort Lauderdale Auto Accident Lawyers?
After a car accident in the Fort Lauderdale or Miami area, it is best to get a Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyer involved as quickly as possible. Your attorney can help in the following ways:
- Medical Treatment: Your attorney should ensure you are receiving proper medical treatment for your injuries.
- Communication with Insurance Companies: Your attorney can communicate with the insurance company of any at-fault driver on your behalf. Your lawyer can include settlement negotiation on your behalf, either before or after a lawsuit is filed.
- Accident Investigation & Evidence Collection: Your accident lawyer should also investigate the accident and collect relevant evidence. This procedure would include examining the scene of the incident, obtaining any photographic evidence, obtaining witness statements, and obtaining and evaluating any police reports.
- Evaluation of Injuries and Overall Case: Fort Lauderdale auto accident lawyers can also evaluate your potential compensation for injuries through review of medical records. An attorney may also retain experts on your behalf to support your claim further. In conjunction with accident investigation and evidence collection, this will allow the attorney to evaluate your overall case.
- Filing Lawsuit and Litigating Case: Depending on the strength of the case and the status of settlement negotiations, you and your attorney may opt to file a lawsuit and pursue litigation. The statute of limitations for most Florida auto accidents is four years from the date of the accident. If a victim dies as a result of the crash, the statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim is two years from the date of death.
A Settlement May Be Your Best Option After an Auto Accident
So, you’ve been injured in a car accident. The other driver was at fault, and you are entitled to financial compensation. The other driver’s insurance company has admitted liability, and it has offered you a settlement. Should you accept?
While there are many questions that need to be answered during a car accident insurance claim, this question is perhaps the most important. After all, the purpose of filing your claim was to secure a financial recovery. Now that the insurance company is offering to pay, isn’t that what you wanted?
Maybe, but maybe not.
In order to decide whether to accept a settlement offer, you need to know how much you are entitled to recover. You only get one chance to settle; and, if you settle for too little, you cannot go back to the insurance company and ask for more. To determine whether the insurance company’s offer represents just compensation, you will need to work with your Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyer to carefully assess the financial and non-financial costs of your injuries. In fault-based auto insurance liability claims, car accident victims in Florida are entitled to recover compensation for their:
- Medical diagnosis, treatment, and prescription costs
- Travel and other out-of-pocket expenses
- Lost income and benefits
- Lost future earning capacity due to full or partial disability
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma (including post-traumatic stress)
- Permanent scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of companionship, consortium, enjoyment of life, services and society
As you might expect, in most cases, the insurance companies do not offer just compensation – at least not initially. As a result, as a car accident victim, you need to be prepared to say no when a settlement offer is not enough. However, you must also know when a settlement offer is enough; and, once again, this requires the knowledge and insights of an experienced Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyer.
Settlement Negotiations with Your Fort Lauderdale Car Accident Lawyer
Before a lawsuit is even filed, chances are your attorney will go ahead and begin the process of settlement negotiations with the insurance company of the at-fault driver. Factors that will come into play could include:
- The nature and extent of your physical injuries, as well as your pain and suffering
- The strength of the evidence against the other driver
- The insurance policy limits that are available to cover any damages
- Your lost wages or loss of future earning ability
Settlement negotiations are ongoing throughout the process, and a settlement is possible at any time during the course of legal process, including right up to the moment of trial or even during trial. When the at-fault driver’s insurance company knows that you have retained an experienced Fort Lauderdale car accident attorney who is ready, willing, and able to present a case with the intention of prevailing at trial, they have greater incentive to settle at a higher amount.
What is the Average Settlement for a Car Accident in Florida?
At our car accident law firm, the most asked question by our clients is: What is my case worth?
And the simple answer is……It depends.
A Florida car accident settlement depends on many factors. The key factors are:
- The percentage of fault of the drivers
- The severity of the impact and the amount of property damage
- The type injury(ies) suffered
- The amount of medical bills
- The amount of lost wages
As our Fort Lauderdale auto accident lawyers will tell you, the difficulty in estimating the value of your car accident settlement is the answer to these factors is usually different in every car accident claim.
For instance, when considering the amount of property damage that occurs in a car accident, a minor impact to a new Mercedes Benz may result in a more expensive repair to the car than a major impact to an older model car. Hondas and Toyotas, and many other brands are far less expensive to repair than luxury cars. So, in considering the amount of property damage as it relates to the value of your car accident settlement, the value of the property damage does not tell the whole story. The best way to document the severity of the impact is to take photographs of the damage to your car. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.
How Can You Deal with the Auto Insurance Companies Effectively?
Besides being prepared to say no when the insurance companies offer a low-ball settlement, what else do you need to know in order to deal with the insurance companies effectively? Here are some tips from Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyer Joseph Maus:
- Know your rights. Most importantly, you need to know your rights. This means understanding your claim for personal injury protection (PIP), knowing when you are entitled to fault-based compensation, and knowing when the insurance companies are handling your claim in bad faith.
- Stand up for your rights. During your insurance claim, the insurance companies will pressure you to settle for less than you deserve. They may also try to utilize various other tactics to minimize your financial recovery. With this in mind, you need to be prepared to stand up for your legal rights and fight for the compensation you deserve.
- Don’t be afraid to say “no.” On the same token, you cannot be afraid to say “no.” You can say “no” if your adjuster asks for a recorded statement, you can say “no” if the insurance company asks for access to your medical records, and you can say “no” if the insurance company offers less than the full amount you are rightfully owed.
Mistakes after a car accident in Ft. Lauderdale can prevent you from recovering the full compensation to which you may be entitled. Get past the myths and avoid the mistakes frequently seen by our Fort Lauderdale accident attorneys.
Common Myths About Florida Car Accidents
One of the biggest myths about car accidents relates to insurance companies. Their advertisements promise support and guidance. But the image that they spend so much money to cultivate is just an image.
In reality, insurance companies are not your friend; they are businesses out to make a profit. Anyone who has been in a car accident should take great care when answering questions from an insurance company so that their words will not be taken out of context and used against them. If possible, it is wise to consult a knowledgeable Fort Lauderdale car accident attorney before providing statements or answering questions.
A host of other common car accident myths in Fort Lauderdale relate to the state’s no-fault insurance rules. It is a myth that the no-fault insurance laws make fault irrelevant and prevent all lawsuits in car accident cases. There are many situations where injured passengers or others may file a lawsuit. Even if an accident is handled entirely through insurance companies, it is still important to record evidence and take precautions in answering questions, just like in any other personal injury situation.
Mistakes to Avoid After an Auto Accident
When drivers understand the myths, they can help avoid the mistakes that can lead to an incorrect assessment of fault and affect recovery. Some of the most damaging mistakes seen by an experienced Fort Lauderdale car accident attorney include:
- Admitting Fault. Even saying “I’m sorry” after an accident can be taken as an admission of guilt.
- Failing to Seek Medical Care Right Away. Many injuries are not apparent and require a thorough doctor’s exam. Delays in seeking care can make a condition worse and be used as evidence to argue that the accident was not the cause of the injury.
- Waiting to Contact an Attorney. It is never too soon to seek advice from an attorney who has been through the process and knows what to do and what to avoid doing after an accident.
- Not Getting a Police Report. Evidence is crucial after an accident, whether you are trying to show another person is at fault or trying to deny an accusation of fault against yourself. A police report is extremely persuasive evidence, so be sure to get it and take full advantage of it.
Sometimes, critical mistakes can be corrected if counteraction is taken quickly.
Stages of a Florida Car Accident Lawsuit
If your car accident attorney is not able to obtain a reasonable settlement, he or she may file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver on your behalf. As noted above, settlement negotiations are likely to continue with the insurance company. However, after filing of the lawsuit, both parties will have the right to engage in the next phase of litigation, which is the discovery process.
The discovery process is the name for the formal exchange of information between the parties before trial. This information exchange concerns the witnesses and evidence that will be presented at trial and generally includes the following:
- Police reports about the accident
- Medical records regarding your accident injuries
- Medical records regarding your health before the accident
- Medical examinations of the plaintiff (the person filing the lawsuit) by the defendant’s medical experts
- The taking of your deposition (an examination under oath) by the defendant’s attorney
- Depositions of other witnesses
Trial, Verdict, and Appeal
If the case does not settle during the discovery process, it will likely proceed to trial before a judge or jury. Both sides will question witnesses before the judge or jury, some of whom will be expert witnesses retained by the parties. The judge or jury will then render a verdict, stating who is liable for the accident and stating the full amount of damages. If either side is dissatisfied with the judgment, they may have the right to appeal.
Auto Accident FAQs – Our Fort Lauderdale Car Accident Lawyer Has the Answers You Need
Should I give a statement to the other driver’s insurance company?
If possible, it is wise to consult with Fort Lauderdale auto accident lawyers before making statements to the insurance company of another driver involved in the accident. Unless you understand the optimal way to answer a question or present information, your words could be taken out of context and used against you. The other insurance company will be looking for any excuse to deny liability on their driver’s part.
What if I’m in a hit and run accident?
Hit and run accidents can be a challenge. Depending on the situation, Fort Lauderdale auto accident lawyers will investigate to determine the driver’s identity to file a personal injury claim. However, many hit and run cases in Fort Lauderdale are handled through the owner’s uninsured motorist coverage.
What if I don’t have a police report?
A police report provides the best evidence in a car accident situation, so it is a good idea to insist that police be called to take a report. However, if it is too late, try to collect other evidence to show what happened and who was at fault. For instance, take photos of the scene as soon as possible. Fort Lauderdale auto accident lawyers can collect and preserve footage from traffic cameras, help locate and interview witnesses, and work with accident reconstruction experts to help prove causation.
What happens if multiple people are involved in a car accident?
When more than two parties are involved in an auto accident, the case can be complicated. However, the addition of extra parties increases the likelihood that others may be held liable for causing the accident. After investigating to determine the party or parties at fault, a Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyer might ascertain whether the insurance policies involved provide enough coverage to compensate all victims in the accident. If there is not enough coverage and the circumstances do not warrant a lawsuit, it may be necessary to negotiate a settlement to distribute the available injury coverage money to the victims.
What is the time limit for filing a car accident lawsuit in Florida?
Florida law allows four years from the time of the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit. Fort Lauderdale auto accident lawyers frequently refer to this deadline as the statute of limitations. If a car accident resulted in a wrongful death, the deadline is different. Claimants must file a lawsuit within two years of the date of their loved one’s death.
What if I’m at fault for causing a car accident? Will a Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyer still be able to help me?
Driving is a complex operation, and usually, an auto accident has more than one cause. A Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyer may be able to show that your actions only contributed to the cause of an accident in a minor way. An attorney might also be able to assist in negotiations with insurers and others involved in the case.
What if I’m in an accident while driving for work?
A different set of rules could come into play if you are injured or cause injuries to others while driving a vehicle in the scope of your employment. Your claim might be handled through the workers’ compensation program. Your employer might be held vicariously liable for harm suffered by others in the accident. Although your company might have attorneys handling the case, they will be looking out for the company’s interests rather than individual employees. It would still be wise to consult a Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyer to learn the benefits of having your own personal legal advisor and representative.
Contact a Fort Lauderdale Car Accident Lawyer at the Maus Law Firm
If you have been injured or suffered property damage in a car accident in South Florida, contact our firm today. The Florida legal landscape is tough terrain, and insurance companies are likely to play hardball. A Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyer at the Maus Law Firm can navigate the legal system for you and battle to obtain the compensation you need. Complete our contact form or call us at 1-855-999-5297 for a free consultation.