Unfortunately, driving is one of many experiences where the actions of others can have a significant impact on you and your passengers. One person’s actions, whether intentional or not, could leave you with extensive medical bills, numerous missed workdays, and severe injuries.
The skilled Florida car accident lawyers from Kogan & DiSalvo could help you fight to recover damages and hold a negligent driver accountable for their actions. By working with our personal injury attorneys, you could significantly increase your chances of recovering just compensation and achieving a favorable resolution to your case. Contact our offices today to discuss your car accident claim.
How Long Do I Have to File a Car Accident Claim?
The extent of a person’s injuries has no impact on how long a plaintiff has to demand compensation. In general, most personal injury claims in Florida must satisfy the Florida statute of limitations.
As of 2023, actions founded on negligence must be filed in court no more than two years from the date of the injury, with some exceptions. Because most motor vehicle accident cases allege negligence on the part of the defendant, this means that plaintiffs have two years after the collision to demand payments. This same time limit covers both cases that seek compensation through a lawsuit and those that demand payments from a settlement. A Florida attorney at Kogan & DiSalvo could work to ensure that a car wreck claim meets all legal deadlines.
What Do I Do if There Is No Police Report?
In certain situations, those involved in an accident must call the police who will subsequently file a report. Conditions in which police response is required may include:
- Personal injury or death
- If a driver involved flees the scene of the accident
- If a driver involved is intoxicated
- If a commercial vehicle is involved in the accident;
- If one or more of the vehicles involved requires a tow-away from the scene
If the police respond to the scene, then they can document the necessary information and file a report. If the police do not visit the scene, but the damage caused by the accident exceeds $500, then the injured party must file a report on their own. They must do so with the appropriate police department holding jurisdiction over the location of the accident. Someone can file an accident report either online or in-person at the appropriate department.
If the accident was minor and did not result in any serious damage or harm, then it is not legally required for someone to report the incident. However, it is still recommended that any injured party files a report so that the details of the accident are well documented.
When filing a police report, there are a few things to take note of, such as the location and time of the accident, descriptions of involved vehicles, insurance information of all parties involved, and their contact information as well as any witnesses to the accident.
What Not to Say to an Insurance Company
When contacting an insurance company following a car accident, it is good to know what to say, but it is also important to know what statements to avoid. Recognize that the objectives of insurance companies and those filing a claim do not always align. Injured parties should protect themselves by saying no more than they need to. Contacting one of our car accident attorneys for assistance could help to ensure that someone does not say anything that could jeopardize their claim.
First, it is best to wait before contacting the insurance company to file a claim until all who need medical attention have received it, and any necessary reports have been filed. Calling immediately after the accident while possibly in shock or still emotional from the collision can make it hard to focus and you may relay information that could decrease the value of your case.
Secondly, do not admit fault or apologize while speaking to anyone at the scene of the accident, or to the insurance company. Fault will be determined through the report and between the insurance providers. When involved in an auto wreck it is hard to know how events actually occurred, so leave that work to be done by those investigating the claim. Similarly, those involved in a collision should not explain their injuries or state that they did not sustain any. Injuries and pain can surface days after an accident, so it is important to not make any declarations regarding health until absolutely sure there are no lasting injuries.
Avoid providing any uncertain statements or opinions. If an answer to a question is not known, do not respond to it or simply say “I don’t know.” It could be beneficial to seek the advice of Kogan & DiSalvo prior to answering questions from the insurance company if there is any doubt or confusion about the process and what they are asking.
Available Damages Following a Motor Vehicle Collision
Defendants in car wreck cases have an obligation to provide proper compensation for all injuries and damages that result from their negligence. A liable defendant must provide full compensation regardless of their lack of intent to cause injury.
It falls to injured plaintiffs to demonstrate how a defendant’s negligence has affected their lives. The most obvious effect is the need for medical care. Physical injuries such as broken bones, separated joints, spinal cord damage, or traumatic brain injuries are all common consequences of car accidents. An at-fault defendant must provide payments to cover the costs of all necessary medical care tied to these injuries both immediately following an incident and in the future.
However, some car crashes also affect individuals in ways that extend beyond physical injuries. Most physical injuries come with significant pain and suffering. Whether this includes pain from the immediate impact or suffering endured while making a recovery, a defendant must provide compensation for this loss in quality of life. Many accidents also may leave a person with severe emotional traumas that can result in nightmares, an inability to get back into a car, or PTSD. Plaintiffs must attempt to place a dollar value on these losses to demand proper compensation in a claim.
Finally, an accident may affect a person’s ability to earn a living. If an injury is severe enough to keep a person from working while making a recovery, a defendant should provide reimbursement for lost wages. More severe accidents may result in a permanent loss of ability to earn an income. In these situations, a defendant could be liable to provide payments for lost earning capacity. A Florida car crash attorney could help injured individuals form demand packages that seek payment for all their losses.
How Does Someone Prove Negligence in Florida Car Accident Cases?
Negligence is the standard legal grounds that most car crash attorneys base their civil cases upon. Negligence applies to these cases because all people who get behind the wheel enter into a social contract, requiring them to operate their vehicles in a way that does not place others at an unreasonable risk of harm.
This legal obligation exists because a single lapse in judgment or moment of distraction can lead to devastating collisions with other motorists or pedestrians.
When someone acts with disregard for their duty to drive safely and puts others at risk, they may be considered negligent. To prove liability in a car wreck case based on negligent behavior, plaintiffs must demonstrate certain arguments. The Florida injury lawyers at Kogan & DiSalvo could help a claimant establish negligence in a car accident case.
Duty of Care
All drivers assume a duty of care to drive responsibly and to follow all traffic laws while behind the wheel. This legal obligation extends to other drivers, passengers, bike riders, pedestrians, and others on the road. This duty is automatic when driving on public roads, and a motorist cannot delegate this obligation to anyone else.
Breach of Duty In Florida
In Florida, it falls to a plaintiff in the motor vehicle accident case to prove that a defendant failed in their duty of care. Defendants may breach this duty of care in various ways. Some examples include breaking a traffic law, driving while intoxicated, or texting while driving.
Every car accident case must make a connection between a breach of the duty of care and the plaintiff’s injuries. A surprising number of claims face challenges when an insurance company states that there is no proof of a connection between the collision and the claimed losses.
The final, critical portion of a claim is properly accounting for how the defendant’s negligence has affected the plaintiff’s life. Fully developed claims should include evidence of their losses, such as doctor or hospital bills, and proof of how the accident has affected their emotional state or ability to earn a living.
Breaching Duty of Care
There are two main ways that plaintiffs could demonstrate a violation of duty of care on the part of the defendant. The first is to show that a defendant violated a traffic law at the time of the collision. Varying traffic laws control maximum speeds, require drivers to yield, and prohibit dangerous activities, such as texting while driving.
If a plaintiff can show that a defendant was in violation of these rules at the time of the accident and that a subsequent traffic court case ended with a conviction, this could constitute direct evidence of negligence. Other motor vehicle collision cases in Florida are not so clear-cut. There may be a genuine dispute as to which party was at-fault for a crash.
For instance, this may be the case when a police report is not clear as to what happened in the incident or does not assign a ticket to either party. In this situation, a car wreck lawyer in Florida could help find witnesses, traffic camera footage, or perform an accident reconstruction study to help demonstrate defendant fault.
Can Partial Fault Limit Recovery in Auto Accident Cases?
Car accident cases often involve multiple parties, and sometimes even the plaintiff can be found liable for some of their injuries. A car accident lawyer could explain Florida’s modified comparative negligence laws, and how they may impact a particular claimant’s case.
As of 2023, civil courts in Florida must use the modified comparative negligence standard when evaluating the actions of all parties involving in an accident case. This means that if the plaintiff is more than 49% at fault for their accident, they cannot recover damages. For example, if a jury decides that a plaintiff was 25 percent at-fault, that plaintiff can recover. By contrast, if a jury decides that a plaintiff was 50 percent or more at-fault, that plaintiff cannot recover.
Contact Our Florida Car Accident Lawyers Today
The days and weeks following a car accident are a vital time in a person’s life. They may require medical attention, many nights in the hospital, and extensive rehabilitation. At the same time, these people may need to make substantial adjustments in their lives.
Fortunately, the Florida car accident lawyers at Kogan & DiSalvo could help you. From an initial investigation into the crash to gathering essential evidence and measuring your losses, our attorneys could help you build a powerful claim. We also could work to form demand packages that seek proper compensation for your losses from negligent motorists and their insurance companies. The opportunity to file a claim for damages may be running out. Contact our office today to get started and to schedule a free case consultation.