Car accidents occur daily in Florida and across the nation. The most unfortunate accidents are the ones that were preventable. Dangerous roads can cause serious accidents, and the personal injury cases tend to be challenging because liable parties may be public or private. If you or a loved one were seriously injured in an accident, the best way to protect your right to financial recovery is to work with a skilled lawyer. The experienced Boca Raton car accident lawyers from Kogan & DiSalvo fight to hold drivers and other negligent parties responsible for damages.
Common Road Hazards in Florida
Drivers in Florida are blessed with beautiful weather, which often translates to safer road conditions. However, many non-weather-related driving hazards threaten the safety of those on the road in the Sunshine State.
Road hazards contributing to Florida traffic crashes include:
- Uneven surfaces, potholes, and sinkholes
- Missing guard rails
- Unclear road markings
- Fallen objects such as construction debris or unsecured cargo
- Storm debris, including tree limbs and shingles
- Overgrown trees and bushes
- Poor road design
- Inoperative traffic signals
Motorists understandably expect roads to be safe. Unfortunately, hazards like these are often unexpected, giving drivers little notice or time to adjust. If a road hazard is the probable cause of an accident, it is a good idea to speak with a Boca Raton car accident attorney about how to hold at-fault parties responsible.
Accidents in Construction Zones
Construction zones are marked by signs alerting drivers to changed conditions. However, sometimes the most careful driver can be caught off-guard by hazards introduced by construction crews. Some of the most common dangers include:
- Altered traffic patterns – It is common for construction zones to reduce the number of lanes, requiring drivers to merge. Lanes may also narrow or shift. Traffic can even be reduced to one lane for both directions, requiring drivers to defer to temporary electronic signals or directions from road crew to avoid a head-on collision.
- Stopped vehicles – Construction vehicles and equipment are not always placed outside the path of traffic, creating a hazardous obstruction.
- Missing or inaccurate signs – Construction-related changes to the roadway are even more dangerous when they are not marked with clear and accurate signs.
- Changed traffic signals – For drivers who frequent an area, unexpected changes in traffic signal timing or patterns can catch them off-guard and contribute to serious collisions.
Accidents in construction zones can be complicated. There are usually more potentially liable parties, and they may raise substantial defenses. A construction zone accident attorney can guide you through these issues and fight for full compensation.
Who is Responsible for Maintaining Safe Roads?
Since Florida is a no-fault state, there is no need to prove who is responsible for a minor crash–an injured party can recover compensation for medical bills from their insurance policy. However, when the injuries are serious, the injured party must be able to show that a potential defendant bears the blame.
The parties that may be involved in a defective road accident can include:
- State or local governments are usually responsible for keeping the roads in a safe condition. This includes ensuring that the pavement is maintained and that the surrounding areas are free from obstructions.
- Governments often outsource duties to contractors. For example, a hazard may have been created by a construction crew that improperly marked a construction zone or mistakenly disabled a stoplight.
- A trucking companymight be responsible if a spilled load created a dangerous road condition.
- If a defective product, such as a guardrail, contributed to the accident, the manufacturer may bear responsibility.
- A private landownermight be responsible if the road was on privately-owned property.
Determining who may be liable is critical to a lawsuit. It impacts who must be named in the suit and how the claim must be initiated and what deadlines apply. For example, if a government entity in Florida is potentially to blame, an injured party must follow specific procedures. These include providing timely written notice of the claim and waiting until an investigation is initiated. Following incorrect deadlines or procedures can nullify an otherwise viable claim for compensation.
Proving Negligence in Road Hazard Accidents
If you were seriously injured in a Florida auto accident, your ability to recover compensation for your car accident will depend on whether you can prove that another party was negligent.
Negligence is a breach of a legal duty that causes a physical or financial loss. To establish negligence against a party, you must present evidence that:
- The party had a duty to take an action or refrain from taking an action.
- The party breached that duty.
- The breach of duty was a logically related cause of the accident.
- The accident caused your financial losses as well as physical and psychological injuries.
The necessary evidence will depend on the facts of the case but in a defective road accident, it may include:
- Testimony of parties and witnesses.
- Medical bills and reports.
- Photos and traffic camera footage of the accident and resulting injuries and vehicle damage.
- Contracts related to road maintenance involving the parties.
- Records documenting maintenance, construction activities, and reports of defects.
- Work and tax records that validate claims for lost wages.
- Job-related documents such as training manuals for public or private entities responsible for roadwork.
- Inspection and maintenance records related to the roadway and related devices
Some of these items you can begin gathering yourself but for others, you will likely need the help of a road hazard collision lawyer. The evidence that you obtain and submit can validate your injuries and establish how much compensation you are entitled to as a result.
What to do after an accident
Quick action can improve your physical well-being as well as any legal claims you may have as a result of an auto accident.
- Seek medical attention. Even if your injury does not seem very serious at the time of the accident, have a medical professional check it out. Some injuries, like head injuries, can worsen over the following days or weeks and become much more severe without treatment.
- Gather documentation. Keep records of your medical visits and associated bills, police reports, and contact information for anyone who saw the accident.
- Speak with a lawyer. While you may be preoccupied with your injuries and their effects on your life, it is crucial to speak with a lawyer as soon as possible. Your time to file a lawsuit or insurance claim is limited, and it can be effectively shortened even further if there is a government entity that may be liable.
- Do not speak with an insurance company right away. It is very easy to say the wrong thing to an insurance company. People often apologize out of politeness, inadvertently accepting the blame for the accident. You do not necessarily need to speak with another party’s insurance company. Further, you have the right to have your representative present. Consulting with your lawyer first will help you understand your rights and responsibilities.
Contact Us for a Free Consultation
A serious car accident may feel like a defining moment. The Florida car accident lawyers at Kogan & DiSalvo understand what you are going through and are here to help. We handle such tasks as information-gathering, legal strategy, communications, and demands and negotiation to help our clients achieve maximum compensation.
Time is of the essence. Call our office to speak with an accident lawyer to schedule a free consultation.