Learn Your Legal Options By Talking to a Fort Lauderdale Car Accident Lawyer Today
If you’re here on this page you or someone you care about has been in an accident and we’re sorry to hear it. While car accidents in South Florida happen every day – some a simple fender bender, some a catastrophic accident causing serious injury or death – every Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyer at Maus Law Firm understands the frustration that follows a car accident. You and your family may be worried about medical bills, perhaps you can no longer work, perhaps you’re concerned about paying for funeral and burial expenses…. If this sounds familiar we can help.
Florida insurance and accident law allows you to recover money for these types of losses. It’s our job as your Fort Lauderdale car accident attorney to investigate the how, why and then fight insurance companies, trucking companies, another other related entities for your fair compensation.
Car accidents are a common and serious problem in Florida. Although the Sunshine State provides legal remedies for those injured in car 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. Without the help of an accident attorney, it may be tough to figure out which end is up, let alone how to get your compensation.
Quick Tips: Did You Do These Things After Your Accident?
We invite you to call us to learn about the legal options you have based on the unique outcome and circumstances of your car accident. However, we’ve been in this business a long time and can offer some immediate tips to ensure you don’t negatively impact your opportunity to file a car accident lawsuit.
- Did you or another family member verbalize fault? Even saying “I’m sorry” after an accident can be taken as an admission of guilt. If you did, let’s talk about your options.
- Did you go to the doctor? If not, go right now. 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.
- Did you get 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.
- Did you post on social media about your accident? If you did, take it down. Social media posts can be used against your lawsuit.
- Did you call an attorney? It costs nothing to speak with a member of our team. It’s a no obligation call. We’re sure you have questions – get them answered for free.
How Much Money Do You Get From a Car Accident Settlement in Fort Lauderdale?
In Fort Lauderdale, the compensation for a car accident can range from $10,000 to hundreds of thousands of dollars to millions of dollars. After an accident in Florida the victim (or the victim’s family in the event of a fatal accident) can be legally awarded the following types of compensation:
- 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 reviewing car accident cases we take the following criteria into account to help determine what an appropriate settlement number is for your circumstances:
- 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 you might expect, in most cases, the car 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.
Steps of a Car Accident Lawsuit That Your Accident Attorney Will Complete
After a car accident in the Fort Lauderdale or Miami area, it is best to get a lawyer involved as quickly as possible. Your attorney will lead you through the steps of the lawsuit, which typically include the following. PRO TIP: There may be instances where an insurance company for another driver offers you a quick settlement amount in exchange for a waiver of liability – sometimes just a few days after your accident. 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 Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyers.
Step 1: Evaluation of Injuries and Overall Case
First, we will evaluate your potential compensation for injuries through review of medical records. It may be necessary to retain experts on your behalf to support your claim further. For example, if your accident was due to poor road design, we can hire professional engineers to review the roadmap and determine if the state or county was negligent.
Step 2: Communication with Insurance Companies
We will communicate with the insurance company of any at-fault driver on your behalf. Our first communication is to let them know that you’ve retained an accident lawyer. From that initial legal counsel notice through negotiations, settlement and trial if needed, we will always handle the insurance company for you.
Step 3: Accident Investigation & Evidence Collection
After your insurance company is notified we will investigate the accident and collect relevant evidence. This procedure may include examining the scene of the incident, obtaining any photographic evidence, obtaining witness statements, and obtaining and evaluating any police reports.
Step 4: Filing Lawsuit and Litigating Case
Depending on the strength of the case and the status of settlement negotiations, you will decide whether to file a lawsuit and pursue litigation.
Types of Accidents a Fort Lauderdale Car Accident Lawyer Can Help With
At Maus Law Firm, we’ve seen thousands of car accidents in South Florida. Our car crash attorneys can help South Floridians with the following types of accidents:
- Rear-End Collisions :These accidents occur when slow or stopped vehicles are struck from behind. The injuries and property damage can be serious, especially for the rear-ended vehicle.
- Side Impact Crashes: Also known as “T-bone accidents,” collisions where vehicles are struck from the side are more likely to cause serious injuries and rollovers, even at low speeds.
- Head-on Collisions : While head-on collisions are less common than other types of accidents, they are far more deadly.
- Sideswipe Collisions: Collisions between the sides of vehicles can occur when the cars are moving in the same or opposite directions.
- High-Speed Collisions: Highway wrecks with cars driving at high speeds typically have a devastating impact.
- Auto Accidents at an Intersection: Often resulting from failing to see traffic signals or yield the right-of-way, accidents at intersections typically involve multiple vehicles.
- Chain-Reaction Car Accidents: These accidents range from several vehicles rear-ending each other in a line to multi-vehicle pileups. Poor weather and low visibility are often contributing factors, as well as when drivers try to avoid a pileup that they spot in the distance.
- Hit and Run Accidents: When an at-fault driver flees the scene, recovering compensation can sometimes be more difficult. Our firm, however, may still be able to obtain compensation for you even if the driver is never located.
Dealing with insurance companies, proving fault and establishing damages differs between all of the accidents above. At the Maus Law Firm, we can assist with all of these scenarios and fight for your maximum possible compensation.
What Are the Top 5 Causes of Car Accidents?
Along with the various types of impacts, Fort Lauderdale car crashes also have varying causes. Common causes of the car accidents we see in Fort Lauderdale include:
- Distracted Driving: Distracted drivers have always been a major cause of car accidents. Now with the added temptations of cell phones, smartphones and GPS devices, the number of potential distractions for drivers has multiplied. These distractions can lead to the driver missing a traffic signal, stop sign, or a slow or stopped vehicle.
- Reckless Driving: Driving recklessly can be something as simple as driving at excessive speeds. It could also include more serious conduct, such as racing or road rage. Unlike mere careless or distracted driving, reckless driving could result in criminal punishment if an injury or death results.
- Drunk Driving: Drivers under the influence of alcohol or other drugs are a nationwide problem, but Broward County has more than its share of intoxicated drivers. As with reckless driving, drunk driving generally has consequences that include criminal punishment in addition to the personal injury claim.
- Poor Weather: Rainstorms are common in South Florida, and inclement weather is a contributing factor for many Fort Lauderdale car accidents. These heavy downpours can reduce visibility and make the road surfaces more slippery. A driver who fails to adjust his or her driving to poor weather conditions could be found liable for reckless driving.
- Accidents with Keyless Ignition Cars: Keyless ignition cars cause accidents including inhalation of carbon monoxide — a hazard that can lead to serious injury or death.
What Types of Car Accident Injuries are Eligible for Financial Compensation?
With this in mind, when can you seek compensation outside of PIP (which, in most cases is limited to $10,000 in coverage)? While it will be necessary to evaluate the impacts of your specific injuries in order to determine your legal rights, some examples of car accident injuries that can qualify as “significant” or “permanent” for insurance purposes include:
Back Injuries are Common in a Car Crash
Spinal fractures, herniated discs, nerve damage and other spinal cord injuries can have immediate and often permanent effects. If you are experiencing back pain, shooting pain in your limbs or extremities, or limited mobility, you should see a doctor promptly for a thorough diagnosis (if you haven’t already).
Broken bones are common injuries in car accidents, and they can occur in all parts of the body. From broken fingers and toes to skull fractures, all types of breaks have the potential for long-lasting effects. Severe breaks in particular (i.e. displaced and comminuted fractures) will often require intensive treatment and recovery.
Seatbelt Burns and Injuries from Friction, Heat or Fire
Seatbelt burns are common injuries in serious auto accidents, and victims can suffer burns due to various other factors as well. Similar to broken bones, burns can vary significantly in terms of their severity, and the long-term effects can vary greatly as well.
Chest and Abdominal Injuries
Rib fractures, punctured lungs, internal bleeding and other types of chest and abdominal injuries will often require emergency medical treatment. Even after being stabilized, car accident victims can still face long and difficult roads to recovery, and some will be forced to cope with the effects of their injuries for the rest of their lives.
Face and Ear Injuries from Broken Glass or the Airbags
Face and ear injuries can result from broken plastic and glass, traumatic impacts, airbag deployment, and various other factors. Accident victims who suffer permanent disabilities (i.e. loss of sight or vision) or permanent scarring will often be entitled to significant financial recoveries.
Neck Injuries (Whiplash)
Nerve damage, soft tissue damage, cervical fractures, and damage to blood vessels and arteries in the neck can have serious and lasting consequences. Whiplash is a common injury in rear-end and head-on collisions, and the recovery process can be long, difficult and expensive.
Severe cuts, or lacerations, are common in all types of automobile accidents. In addition to facial lacerations, severe lacerations in the chest, abdomen, limbs and extremities can cause nerve damage, loss of blood and several other potentially-dangerous conditions. Lacerations requiring stitches or sutures can lead to long and difficult recoveries, and accident victims will often be left with permanent scars as well.
Severe swelling can be symptomatic of a variety of different types of traumatic injuries, and accident victims who experience severe swelling should seek medical attention promptly. Bruises, fractures, blood clots, edemas, and infections from foreign substances entering the body are all possible causes, and they all have the potential to lead to life-altering disabilities and complications.
Soft Tissue Injuries
Sprains, strains and tears can result from traumatic force, stretching or twisting. While most sprains and strains will heal with rest and rehabilitative therapy, tears in the muscles, ligaments and tendons may require surgery, and surgical procedures performed to repair soft tissue damage can lead to scarring and permanent physical limitations.
Concussions and other traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are among the most-dangerous types of automobile accident injuries. Hematomas, hemorrhages, edemas, diffuse anoxal injuries (DAI), and other forms of TBI can have varied effects, and the financial and non-financial costs of coping with these injuries can be substantial.
Of course, regardless of whether you are limited to filing for PIP (or may be limited to filing for PIP), you should discuss your case with an attorney. Even securing PIP coverage can be a challenge; and, if you have a fault-based auto insurance claim, or a claim against a third party, you will need to hire an attorney to pursue your claim on your behalf. To discuss your claim with a Fort Lauderdale auto accident attorney at the Maus Law Firm, schedule a free consultation today. You pay nothing unless we win.
When are Drivers Required to Report Car Accidents in Florida?
If you have been involved in a fender bender and are wondering if it is worth dealing with the insurance companies, there are two separate – and equally important – questions you need to answer: (i) Are you required to report the accident to the police and/or your insurer? (ii) Even if you are not legally required to report the accident, it is still in your best interests to do so? The answers to these questions are not as straightforward as they may seem, and our accident lawyers are here to help.
There are several circumstances under which drivers are required to report car accidents under Florida law. As you can see, several of these circumstances can potentially be relevant even in the case of a fender benders or other “minor” collision:
- The other driver fled the scene of the accident
- The other driver was under the influence of alcohol
- The accident involved a commercial vehicle
- Either your or the other driver was operating a rental car
- The accident involved personal injury or death
- Any vehicle involved in the accident needed to be towed
Additionally, most auto insurance companies require their policyholders to report all accidents regardless of severity, and this requirement may be written into the terms of your policy. If you fail to timely report an accident and then subsequently file a claim for coverage, your insurance company may try to argue that your failure to timely report the accident justifies a denial of coverage.
Further, there are a number of reasons why it may be in your best interests to report the accident even if you are not required to do so. For example, potential issues that could come up once you get home following the accident include:
- The other driver claims that the accident never happened
- The other driver claims to be seriously injured and accuses you of being at fault
- You begin to experience pain or other symptoms of a potentially-serious injury
Among all of the various reasons why you may want (or need) to report a car accident, this last reason is in many respects the most important. After a car accident, it is common not to experience symptoms right away, and even “minor” accidents such as fender benders can cause concussions and other serious injuries. If you have been injured, your medical expenses and other costs could quickly get out of hand, and reporting the accident promptly could be critical to recovering just compensation.
When Should You Settle a Car Accident Lawsuit?
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. Before a lawsuit is even filed, our lawyers have begun settlement negotiations with the insurance company of the at-fault driver. During our settlement negotiations we are looking at the types of injuries, the insurance policy limits and all of your unpaid bills resulting from your car accident injury.
Settlement negotiations are ongoing throughout the process, and a settlement is possible at any time during the course of the 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 lawyer 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.
Is Driving in Fort Lauderdale Dangerous?
Yes, driving in Fort Lauderdale is dangerous. Florida has one of the highest car accident rates in the nation. With high tourism and a reputation as a spring break destination, South Florida poses many risks for drivers. The 12 million tourists who visit annually tend to be unfamiliar with the roads. Additionally, driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol is persistent problem. Reckless and distracted driving are also common.
In 2017, Broward County had the second-highest number of reported auto accidents in the State of Florida, with over 41,000 reported accidents. The total number of car accidents in Broward County resulted in over 24,000 injuries and 225 fatalities. In Fort Lauderdale alone, there were over 5,400 car crashes and 26 fatalities.
The Most Dangerous Roads and Intersections in Fort Lauderdale and Broward County
Sometimes it isn’t necessarily the driver that is dangerous but the road. It could be a congested intersection that is just too busy during certain times of the day. Maybe an intersection has an overgrown bush that makes it hard to tell if traffic is coming. Sometimes high pedestrian areas, especially around downtown Fort Lauderdale, can make an intersection crossing particularly dangerous. For motorists in Broward County, these are some of the most dangerous intersections:
- A1A and Las Olas in Fort Lauderdale
- W Sunrise Blvd & N Andrews Ave (near Warfield park)
- NW 50th Ave & W Oakland Park Blvd (just east of the Turnpike)
- US-27 & Griffin Rd (the very west end of Broward County)
The most dangerous intersections are determined by statistics on accidents and fatalities put out by the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, but the most dangerous intersection is the one that caused your accident. From the furthest west of Broward all the way down to the beach, Joseph Maus is here to help.
Car Accident FAQs Answered by Our Fort Lauderdale Car Accident Lawyer
Should I give a statement to the other driver’s insurance company?
If possible, it is wise to consult with Fort Lauderdale 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, our 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. Your Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyer 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 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, 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. 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 collision? Will a Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyer still be able to help me?
Driving is a complex operation, and usually, a collision has more than one cause. A lawyer may be able to show that your actions only contributed to the cause of an accident in a minor way. We may 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 our attorneys to learn the benefits of having your own personal legal advisor and representative.
Why doesn’t the at-fault person’s insurance coverage covers my medical bills?
Most people’s immediate reaction after being injured in a car accident is that the person that caused the accident should pay my medical bills. It does, but only partially. Because of Florida’s PIP law – the “Motor Vehicle No-Fault Law”, Florida is known as a “no fault” state. This means that if you are injured in a car accident, your medical bills will be covered under your own PIP insurance up to your policy limits. If you have medical bills that exceed your policy limits, then you can pursue the at-fault person, or his/her insurance policy to cover your excess medical bills.
Will my insurance rates go up if I make a claim under my PIP coverage?
Probably a better question is – when is the last time your insurance rates actually went down? The likely answer is never. This means that your insurance rates are going to go up whether you make a car accident claim or not. However, because Florida is a no fault state, you are required to submit your medical bills for payment through your PIP insurance. If you were to present to you primary care doctor and tell him you were in a car accident, he or she is not supposed to treat you through your health insurance – only through PIP. And because you don’t have a choice, submitting your medical bills through your PIP coverage should not affect your insurance rates.
Can I make a claim against the at fault person’s insurance?
Absolutely, but only if that person carries bodily injury (BI) coverage. Unfortunately for car accidents, Florida only requires a driver to carry PIP coverage and property damage (PD). As such, ALL car insurance policies sold in Florida will have PIP and PD coverage. To obtain BI coverage, a person must request it from their insurance company. BI coverage is the type of insurance coverage that can cover any medical bills that are not covered by your PIP. BI coverage can also cover you for your lost wages from a car accident, and pain and suffering from your injuries.
Who will pay my deductible if my car is damaged?
As long as the at fault person has insurance coverage, you will not get hit with a deductible. Even if your insurance company pays for your property damage, the at fault person’s insurance coverage must still pay you your deductible.
How do I verify whether the person that caused the accident has insurance coverage?
There are two types of documents you will receive from the investigating police department after a Florida car accident. You may get a short form crash report which is usually one page long and will contain the driver’s name and address, and insurance information if they have it. However, in some instances, you may only receive a small business card which contains the crash report number, which you will then need to obtain. Either way, you will need to contact the insurance company to find out what type coverage is available.
Am I required to speak to the other person’s insurance company?
No; you may want to in certain instances but you are under no obligation to. Keep in mind, every insurance company has different adjusters that work on a car accident claim. There are PIP adjusters, uninsured motorist adjusters, property damage adjusters, and bodily injury adjusters. It is important to know who you are speaking to if you are contacted by an insurance company after an accident. You may want to speak to the other person’s property damage adjuster as that will speed up getting your car fixed. But, you should avoid speaking to the other person’s bodily injury adjuster.
Can I get a car rental after a car accident?
Only if you have rental coverage. However, some insurance companies will agree to provide a car rental if their insured caused an accident, but only for a limited time.
Where can I get my car fixed after a car accident?
If it’s a newer car, go to the dealer. The dealer is best equipped to evaluate damage to your car, and repair it satisfactorily with genuine manufacturer parts. A dealer will most likely be the most expensive place to get your car fixed, but the repair is being covered by insurance, so the cost should not be a concern to you. If your car is an older model, you are free to have it repaired at whatever facility you feel will do a quality job.
Should I see a doctor right away after a car accident, or wait to see if my injury goes away?
I wish I had a few dollars for every time I have heard a person say they have a nagging injury from an old accident. The problem with all injuries is that you don’t know how it will heal, or how you are going to feel 6 weeks after the accident, 6 months, or even 6 years. The most common type of injuries from car accidents are usually neck and back, and joints like your shoulder and knees. Once these areas of your body suffer a traumatic injury, they tend to develop arthritis and degenerative conditions. The best policy is to always see a doctor after your car accident if you are feeling any pain. Even if you don’t go back to the doctor for a few months, you will document with the doctor that you had an accident, and that you suffered an injury. No insurance company will be able to dispute later that you had an injury following the accident.
Should I pursue a claim for my injuries after a car accident?
If you were injured in a car accident, the question is why would you not? Most accident attorneys handle claims and lawsuits on a contingent basis. That means that you do not pay any upfront costs, and attorney’s fees are only paid if money is recovered for you. You have no risk in pursuing the claim. However, the benefit to pursuing a claim is that you may not have any out of pocket expenses, i.e. lost wages, copays, car rental, deductibles, and if you suffered a serious injury, money can be recovered for your pain and suffering and difficulties with daily living caused by the car accident.
Can a Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyer pursue a claim without notifying the auto insurance company?
When an accident results in only minor damage, both drivers may agree to settle the issue without getting their insurance companies involved. Why? Going through insurance is generally pretty straightforward, but it may result in high monthly premiums, regardless of blame. Therefore, handling the situation on their own can be less expensive for both parties. However, it is often much riskier. With that in mind, here are three things you must do if you decide to settle an auto collision without the aid of insurance.
- Exchange information. Just as you would were you going through insurance, you need the other driver’s info, including name, phone numbers, address, drivers’ license numbers, etc.
- Get a police report. When it comes to establishing blame for a car accident, nothing is more persuasive than a police report. Once the officer at the scene files his/her report, negotiations over damages can commence without argument or dispute.
- Obtain an estimate. Negotiations over damages should run far more smoothly if you get two or three estimates for repairs instead of one. Although these quotes may only vary by a small amount, they will let the other party know that you would like to settle things as quickly and inexpensively as possible. Insisting that you use a particular mechanic almost always makes things harder than they have to be.
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. 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.