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. 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.
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.
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 crash lawyer.
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 Fort Lauderdale auto 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.
A Settlement May Be Your Best Option After an Auto Accident
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.
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?
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 car crash 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.
The Most Dangerous 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 a road particularly dangerous. And, of course, there are factors like roads that lead to more speeding, and thus more accidents.
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.
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 crash? 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.
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?
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?
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, 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 law firm pursue a claim without notifying the auto insurance company?
When an auto 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.
1. 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.
2. Get a police report. When it comes to establishing blame for an auto 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.
3. 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. 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.