Car Accident Lawyer in Miami
Miami Car Accident Lawyer Shares Important Information to Protect Your Rights
Car accidents are a serious problem and a common cause of serious injury or wrongful death in the United States. Car accidents injure almost 2 million people  and kill nearly 40,000 people each year . While Florida is not one of the worst states for auto accidents, our car accident lawyer knows motor vehicle crashes are still a leading cause of injury and death here. According to the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, about 236,000 people are injured and almost 3,000 people are killed each year on Florida roadways . This is particularly driven by tourism, especially Miami, where visitors may be unfamiliar with roads, enjoying themselves too much, or simply do not care about local residents. Interstates like I-95, I-595, and I-75 are common locations of serious personal injuries due to fast speed limits, high population, and tourism.
Victims who have been injured in any car accident may be entitled to “damages.” Under Florida law, damages are the relief that a party may be entitled to in a lawsuit. In personal injury cases, like a car accident lawsuit, the damages are typically compensatory in nature. This means that car accident compensation may include some of the following damages obtainable with help from a lawyer:
- Past pain and suffering, from the date of the car crash to the date of the award or settlement
- Future pain and suffering, from the date of award or settlement to the end of the estimated life expectancy
- Medical bills, both past and reasonably proven future expenses
- Lost wages from being unable to work or having to take time away from work to go to the doctor
- Lost future earnings if a victim is unable to continue working in the same line of work and has to take a decrease in pay
- Loss of consortium, affection, or services from spouses, children, or dependents which means being unable to spend normal and customary time with loved ones
- Equipment and medical devices, such as wheelchairs or prosthetics
- Modifications to a vehicle or house, such as a chairlift
- Property damage
- Other damages related to your automobile accident that our Miami car accident lawyer could help you obtain
Common Injuries in a Personal Injury Auto Accident
All auto wrecks could cause serious damages. With over 236,000 personal injuries each year in just Florida, that means that over 646 people are injured daily on our roadways. All personal injuries may entitle victims to car accident compensation under the law.
Some of the most common injuries include the following:
- Traumatic brain injuries or TBIs
- Spinal cord injuries, including paralysis, paraplegia, or quadriplegia
- Broken bones
- Nerve injuries
- Back and neck injuries
- Loss of eyesight
- Organ damage, including to lungs, heart, liver, or kidneys
- Significant disfigurement or scarring
- Need for painful hardware in surgeries, such as spinal fusions
- Any other physical or emotional damages
Fatal Auto Accidents
The most severe personal injury is wrongful death. This is permanent and irreversible. The wrongful death of a loved one affects the entire family. Anytime a motor vehicle crash results in a fatality, it is imperative that a family seek the advice of a lawyer to protect the entire family’s rights.
This is because Florida law allows a family to fight back against defendants who have wrongfully taken the life of another due to car accident injuries. The family may “stand in the shoes” of their deceased loved one to prosecute a claim against a negligent motorist, owner of a vehicle, or entity like a trucking company or municipality. Some of the damages that a family may be entitled to in a wrongful death case include the following:
- Pain and suffering of their loved one before he or she passed away
- Medical bills and expenses
- Emotional harm
- Funeral costs
- Burial expenses
- Lost wages that families depended on
- Property damage
- Loss of society and consortium, or loss of their loved one in their life
- Punitive damages for egregious conduct, which is rare but possible
- Other damages a lawyer in Miami may find appropriate to seek
Causes of Florida Car Accidents
While there could be an endless list of the causes of motor vehicle crashes, one thing remains true: Most car accidents are the result of reckless, careless, or downright negligent conduct by one or more drivers. This means that most car accidents are avoidable with the proper duty of care. The most common causes of car wrecks in Florida include the following:
- Drunk driving or drugged driving
- Distracted driving, including using a cell phone to make a phone call or text while driving
- Failure to stop at a red light or stop sign
- Failure to yield to the right-of-way
- Driver inexperience
- Unsafe lane changes or merges
- Improper left turns
- Following too closely
- Aggressive driving
- Other common causes
If any of these common causes of automobile crashes occurred to you or a loved one, ask our car accident lawyer in Miami how you may be able to prove your case and obtain car accident compensation.
Negligence Causing Car Accidents in Florida
To obtain compensation for injuries caused by car wrecks due to any of the common causes above, you will need to establish that another individual or company was negligent. Negligence is a common law, or judge-made, legal principle that has evolved with public sentiments over time. This is a flexible standard that has been adopted in every state across the country, although the way other state judges, lawyers, and juries interpret the negligence standard may be different. A person is negligent when he or she fails to exercise the degree of care that a reasonably prudent person would have in similar circumstances. Said differently, a person may be negligent when creating an unreasonable risk to others.
To prove a case of negligence, a car accident lawyer will need to show 1) you were owed a duty of care, 2) that duty of care was breached, and 3) that breach of duty proximately caused 4) damages to you. You need to establish all four elements to be successful to a jury. This is why it is important to have a lawyer represent you.
Duties of a Driver to Others
Florida law requires all motorists to use reasonable care under the circumstances in the use and operation of their motor vehicle. This standard applies to all motorists, including truck drivers, municipal drivers, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and any other driver of a vehicle. Vacationers to Miami must also follow Florida law, whether they are from Florida, another state, or even another country.
This standard is flexible and important because it means that even legal conduct may be unreasonable. For instance, our lawyer knows if there is heavy and dense fog it may be unreasonable to drive the posted speed limit of 55 MPH. If a motorist is traveling even 50 MPH and causes a car accident in foggy weather, he or she may still be negligent under Florida law for violating his or her duty of care to other motorists.
Other common duties include the following:
- Seeing what there is to be seen by being vigilant while driving
- Keeping control of the vehicle
- Properly maintaining the vehicle to avoid dangerous mechanical defects
- Staying sober and alert
- Following Florida vehicle and traffic law
- Other inherent duties of driving a vehicle safely
Negligence Per Se
In addition to the common-law duty of negligence, all motorists must follow Florida’s vehicle and traffic law. These statutes are legislatively-made laws, meaning they are enacted bills after careful discussion and consideration. These laws are designed to set the rules of the road. These rules of the road are aimed at facilitating order on the roadways and ensuring the safety of others on or around the road. When a vehicle and traffic law is broken, it could result in serious personal injuries on the roadways.
A car accident lawyer knows that the rules of the road are an important tool in a personal injury lawsuit. This is because Florida uses the doctrine of negligence per se which can be used to automatically establish liability against a negligent driver. The doctrine of negligence per se applies when a lawyer can prove:
- The defendant violated a statute that is meant to protect against harm
- The violation caused the harm to a victim; and
- The victim was a person the statute intended to protect
All of these elements must be met, and some exceptions must be found to not apply. Car accident victims who can establish that a defendant was negligent per se have a better chance of being successful in recovering compensation for their injuries. This is why lawyers prefer to use this doctrine when it is possible.
It is important to note that the doctrine of negligence per se only automatically finds liability when a statute or legislatively-made law is violated. Since many Florida motor vehicle crashes are caused by large commercial trucks like 18 wheelers and semi tractor-trailers, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations may apply . While these regulations set the standards and additional rules for truck drivers to follow, the violation of an FMCSA regulation in Florida is only evidence of negligence against a truck driver or trucking company. This means that victims of Florida truck wrecks really need to hire a traffic accident lawyer to fight back in big rig crashes.
What to Do After a Motor Vehicle Crash
No one plans to be in a motor vehicle wreck. But unfortunately, it may happen to you or someone you know. Being prepared for what to do after a serious crash could save your life. It could also help protect your rights to compensation if you were caused personal injuries due to the negligence of another person or entity. Follow these tips from our car accident lawyer in Miami to protect your rights and the rights of a loved one:
- Immediately after a collision, move your vehicle off the roadway if possible to avoid subsequent collisions. This is particularly true at night. Only do so if moving the vehicle will not cause further personal injury to you, a passenger, or another person involved in the crash
- Call 911 to request police and medical help, even if it appears the damage is not severe or no one is hurt. Most closed head injuries take time to manifest themselves and the difference in 10-15 minutes without proper treatment could be crucial. Other injuries like whiplash could take days to develop but cause years of agony. Get it reported to authorities and a record created
- Do not leave the scene of the accident because it is a crime. However, if there is a circumstance where someone will die if they did not receive immediate medical care and a hospital is nearby, use your best judgment to save someone’s life. Leave information the best you can at the scene with another driver. Only do this as a last resort and never drive if you believe you have suffered any injury which could impair your ability to operate a motor vehicle
- If you are injured, even if you think your injuries may be mild, get medical attention. Do not be a hero. Some injuries like herniated discs could take days to develop and result in permanent surgical procedures like spinal fusions
- If you can, take photographs and videos of the scene. This includes both vehicles, all motorists or occupants, the traffic pattern, traffic signs, and anything related to the crash
- Follow police instructions and answer their questions to the best of your ability. Be careful when explaining what happened to not incriminate yourself or implicate yourself as a cause. Never speak with an insurance representative at an accident scene or before consulting with a lawyer
- Never accept an insurance company’s first offer, or really even a second or third offer. Insurance companies train representatives to trick you to admit fault and to minimize your injuries. They will try everything in the book to get you to sign an agreement before you can get a lawyer. Don’t fall for it!
- Follow doctor instructions regarding treatment and staying out of work. Any failure to comply could result in worse injuries that become permanent. Your goal should be healing in the best way you can and your doctor or doctors will do their best to serve you. If you fail to comply with their treatment recommendations, you may cause a breakdown in the physician-client relationship which could make protecting your legal remedies more difficult
- Hire a car accident lawyer in Miami to protect your rights to compensation. Retaining legal counsel is free because most competent lawyers take contingency fee arrangement which means they only get paid when you get paid
Insurance Issues in Florida Motor Vehicle Crashes
Florida is a no-fault car insurance state. This means that every driver must carry their own insurance to cover medical bills and lost wages. The minimum amount of coverage is $10,000, but that can be increased with better coverage. Our lawyer also recommends having underinsured or uninsured (UM) insurance for additional coverage. The benefit of no-fault insurance is that a victim can immediately turn to his or her insurance carrier to help pay for immediate medical expenses. This is important because it allows a victim to obtain compensation for injuries that he or she may not normally be able to afford.
If your medical bills and other damages exceed the no-fault coverage, you may be able to commence an action against the at-fault party’s insurance company. A personal injury lawsuit through a car accident lawyer may be necessary to recover this compensation. However, to recover possible compensation you will be required to demonstrate that you have suffered a “serious injury” under Florida law.
Serious Injury Threshold for Car Accidents in Florida
Under Florida insurance law, an injured person must have a “serious injury” in order to file a claim against a negligent driver . Having a lawyer to prove this threshold is important to protect your motor vehicle accident claim. There are four categories of injuries which satisfy the serious injury threshold:
- Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function
- Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, other than scarring or disfigurement
- Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement
- Wrongful death
Our Miami Car Accident Lawyer Can Help You
Victims of any car accident should hire a traffic accident lawyer who will protect their rights to compensation when a negligent driver causes personal injuries or the wrongful death of a loved one. Our lawyer uses a contingency fee arrangement which means you only have to pay for services on an award or settlement. This means there is no risk for you to have us represent you. Call today for a FREE consultation to learn how we can fight back against negligent truck drivers and aggressive insurance companies. Call (305) 999-1111 to schedule your appointment with our car accident lawyer Brett Schlacter, Esq. to start protecting your rights today.
- https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812860 ↩
- https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/injury.htm ↩
- https://www.flhsmv.gov/pdf/crashreports/crash_facts_2018.pdf ↩
- https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/ ↩
- http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0000-0099/0095/Sections/0095.11.html ↩
- http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0600-0699/0627/Sections/0627.737.html ↩
How We Handle Cases
- Your attorney will aggressively investigate your case. Schlacter Law will compile all necessary evidence needed to maximize the value of your case. Which includes but is not limited to photographs, police reports, security camera footage, witness statements, medical bills and medical records.
- You will remain in constant contact with Schlacter Law about the progression of your case.
- Your attorney will present your case to the insurance company and will attempt to resolve your case before the case goes to court for maximum compensation.
- Your attorney will make every effort possible to resolve the case as quickly as possible for the most amount of money you may be entitled to. You will be actively involved in the negotiation process with your attorney. Schlacter Law understands that this is your one opportunity to get justice for your loss.
- If settlement negotiations are unsuccessful, Schlacter Law will be fully prepared to bring your case to court to fight for the justice you deserve.
- At no cost to you, Schlacter Law will hire any experts and professionals needed to maximize your recovery and present your case in the strongest form possible.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I prove a serious injury under Florida insurance law?
Through medical records and medical expert opinion, including from your treating physicians. While some damages after a motor vehicle wreck easily satisfy the insurance law, other times a lawyer will be necessary to argue that your damages satisfy the serious injury statute. This means your treating physicians will need to render a decision to a reasonable degree of medical probability as to your damages. Other times a medical expert may be necessary to connect your medical treatment to the statute’s requirements. A defendant may also have you undergo an “independent medical examination” or “IME.” This is where a doctor of the defendant’s choosing evaluates you based on your claims of damages. A lawyer will be necessary to defend the opinions of an IME doctor who is hired by the defense and frequently offers opinions less-than-independent, but more skewed to the defense.
How long do I have to commence a car accident lawsuit?
Car accident victims have four years to commence a personal injury action against a negligent party or parties . This is known as the statute of limitations period, which is a time limit on a case. There could be some factors that extend or shrink this time limit. For instance, a wrongful death action must be filed within two years of death. A claim against a municipal government must be commenced within three years of the car accident. However, vehicle wrecks resulting in significant disability or damages to a child may extend the time to file a claim. The best practice is to not rely on these extensions and to contact a lawyer immediately.