Frequently Asked Questions for Car Accidents
There’s no denying that auto accidents are physically and emotionally traumatizing events. Not only do car accident victims have to deal with injuries, but they also face huge financial losses. To help you during this difficult time, our experienced vehicle accident lawyers from Daytona Beach, Florida, have answered some of the most frequently asked questions about car accidents.
After a car accident, the very first thing you need to do is to ensure your health and wellness. If you or someone else has sustained injuries, call 911 or ask another person to do so on your behalf. It is also a good idea that you document the accident if you are in a position to do so. That is, take pictures of your vehicle (and the accident scene) from different angles, record any comments made by the other drivers after the crash, identify the responding officers, and ask them to direct you on how you can get a report on the accident. All these can prove invaluable in court. While you’re at the scene, it is critical that you exchange personal information and talk to your insurance provider so they can tell you what exactly is needed to process your claim.
Yes! The police will almost always show up after a car accident. If they don’t, however, Florida laws require motorists to report any crash that they are involved in, especially if it caused apparent property damage of at least $500, injury, or death. The report should be made within ten days to the Florida Highway Patrol station, sheriff’s office or the local police department if the crash happened within a municipality.
A car accident can lead to a wide array of injuries. One of the most common types of car accident injuries is whiplash. This isn’t a medical term, but it is real, and it can be difficult to treat properly. In cases of whiplash, the muscles and tendons of your neck suffer injury. Collisions from the rear can cause the neck to move and flex at an unnatural angle and with great speed, which often results in injury. In some cases, you might need to use a neck brace, or even have massage therapy on your neck. Rest is also ideal for helping to heal from whiplash. Back injuries can occur in a car accident as well.
No matter what type of work you do daily, a back injury will affect your performance and your ability to do your job. It can also cause issues with your social life. Some of the common types of back injuries that you might face include sprains and strains. In addition, it’s possible to break the spine. Brain injuries can be most severe, resulting in coma and even death. While severe brain injuries might be easily identifiable after a car accident, other brain injuries might go unnoticed. A slight bump on the head in a car accident might not be enough to make you even think you need to see a doctor. However, such injuries can be deadly. You might have internal hemorrhaging, which can cause fatal swelling and pressure on the brain. Many other types of injuries can occur as well. Broken bones and nerve damage can occur. Lacerations, bruising, and more are common as well. You might also suffer from psychological issues that could cause stress through the rest of your life. If you’ve been in an accident, and someone else was at fault, get the advice of an attorney you trust. Not every attorney is the right one for your case. Learn a little about the attorney you are considering to ensure you’re making the right choice. Come discover the client-first promise at Zimmet & Zimmet.
The potential damages you can recover after a car accident are mainly classified into two categories – economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages refer to quantifiable financial losses, such as medical expenses, property damage costs, lost income, and loss of earning capacity. Conversely, non-economic damages refer to non-monetary losses which are less tangible and more subjective. Some of these include pain and suffering, disfigurement or permanent scarring, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life and loss of consortium.
In any car accident, the driver violating traffic rules is usually held responsible. What that means is that if the police happen to issue a citation to one of the drivers for running a light, speeding or any other traffic violation, that driver will most definitely be the at-fault party. However, you may be at fault if you hit another vehicle from behind even if the other driver was on the wrong. The reason for this is pretty simple. Vehicles in the rear are often in the best position to avoid a crash. The evidence reviewed to determine fault in car accident claims include:
Videos or photos of the accident scene
Statements of the drivers involved in the crash
Damage to the vehicles
Damage reports to the vehicles
In a car accident case, liability may be determined by different entities. Being the first to arrive in an accident scene, the police are often responsible for determining fault in most car crashes. They often assess the accident scene, talk to witnesses, and establish who committed a traffic offence. The insurance companies also determine fault, usually with the help of adjusters who investigate the accident. In other instances, the courts may sometimes establish fault through formal legal proceedings which often evaluate the evidence presented by both parties.
It is difficult to say an exact number of days it should take for your claim to be settled. However, factors like the specific type of claim play a critical role in determining how long an insurance company has to settle a claim. In PIP, for instance, Florida Statute 627.736(4)(b) allows an insurance company up to 30 days from the day you file a claim to investigate and pay or deny the claim. For general claims, however, Florida Statute 627.4265 requires the insurance company to pay the claim within 20 days from the date the two parties agree to a settlement. Typically, it takes much longer to resolve your case when you opt to contest the insurance company’s decision in court. Keep in mind that the statute of limitations must not expire while you are still in negotiations with the insurance company.
No, you should never agree to settle an injury claim without an attorney. When you file a claim after a car crash, one thing the insurance company knows is that you desperately need money. With your financial burden piling, they know that you’d rather have the cash now and they will want to settle with you in the absence of an attorney. Don’t fall for this trick. The fact that they are willing to settle is a clear indicator that they don’t have any reason to deny liability. It is always a good idea that you seek legal counsel to ensure that you get the maximum amount your claim is worth.
If you live in the Sunshine State and drive a car, you’ve probably heard that Florida is a “no-fault” car insurance state. What that means is that anyone who owns a car in Florida must have a personal injury protection (PIP) policy. This is insurance coverage that provides quick and easy compensation for accident victims (regardless of fault), thereby reducing the number of personal injury lawsuits brought by car accident victims. Typically, PIP policies cover a certain amount of the resulting damages, such as medical bills, funeral and burial expenses, and lost wages. It is important to bear in mind that PIP only pays up to a certain amount.
Absolutely! The Sunshine State has a “pure comparative fault” system whereby the percentage of fault is directly proportional to the damages you recover. What that means is that if the defendant happens to prove that the injured party is partly responsible for causing their injuries, damages may be lowered proportionately. For example, if the other driver proves that you are 40% to blame for the accident, the total amount of compensation you get could be reduced by an amount that is equivalent to the percentage of your fault, in this case, 40%.
While the pure comparative law may seem pretty straightforward, sometimes things can get complicated, especially if the insurance companies attempt to use this law to deny liability or reduce the settlement offer. You owe it to yourself to contact a skilled car accident lawyer to pursue a car accident claim on your behalf.
Most likely, yes. Florida’s dangerous instrumentality doctrine says just that. You, as the owner of a motor vehicle, car, motorcycle, even golf cart, are liable for injuries caused by the negligence of someone you allowed to drive your vehicle. As of this writing, the question was in Florida’s courts of whether all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) qualified under the dangerous instrumentality doctrine. It is our guess that ATVs will be considered dangerous instrumentalities, but we will have to wait and see what the courts hold.
Generally, parents are not responsible for the negligence of minor children. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For instance, a parent may be held liable for their child’s negligent or reckless driving if they signed the minor’s driver’s license application. Similarly, a parent or guardian who owns a vehicle that the minor was driving may be held liable under Florida’s dangerous instrumentality doctrine. Being held responsible for your minor child’s careless driving means being on the legal hook for resulting injuries, property damage, and other losses stemming from the accident. To get an in-depth understanding of parents’ responsibility for their minor children’s negligent driving, talk to an experienced car accident lawyer at Zimmet & Zimmet right away.
If you get involved in a car crash without insurance, and you’re the at-fault party, you can have your driver’s license, license plate, vehicle registration, and tags suspended. On top of these, you’ll be financially responsible for any injuries or property damage you cause. In other words, you’ll have to pay out-of-pocket for any cost of repairing damaged vehicles including yours, treatment for other people’s injuries as well as yours, and any legal fees. If you cannot afford to pay for all damages in full, you can try to come up with a flexible payment plan.
If another person caused the crash, however, you have a right to seek compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier even when you do not have insurance. Talk to Zimmet & Zimmet today to learn how we can help you pursue a claim against the at-fault party’s insurance company.
Yes! When you get involved in a car accident without insurance, it’s always a good idea to obtain one immediately. As soon as you purchase an insurance policy, you’ll need to notify the insurance company that you had an uninsured accident and ask them to give you an SR-22 certificate of liability. Purchasing car insurance immediately after an accident goes a long way in helping you keep your car registration and license, especially if no injuries resulted from the crash.
With over 30 years’ experience in handling car injury claims in Daytona Beach, there’s no reason why shouldn’t trust us to handle your case. Our firm has the benefit of having experienced car accident lawyers who are committed to client satisfaction. Besides dedicating countless hours and legal resources to your case, they know what tricks insurance companies use to deny accidents victims and will use that knowledge to help you win. Talk to us today to learn how we can help you negotiate a settlement from the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier.