A serious car accident impacts every aspect of your life. Not only are you dealing with long-term and perhaps permanent disability, but you may not be able to work or care for your loved ones. A catastrophic bodily injury also affects your mental health and finances.
If you were the victim of a car accident because of another party’s negligence, consult a St. Petersburg car accident lawyer at Kogan & DiSalvo as soon as possible. Waiting too long can mean that valuable evidence, including surveillance video, may vanish. A skilled injury attorney will negotiate with your insurance company so that you receive a fair settlement. While most car accident injury claims are settled, we will take your case to court if the insurer fails to agree to a reasonable settlement.
Common Causes of Car Accidents in Pinellas County
According to the Tampa Bay Times, in 2021, roadway deaths in Pinellas County surged by nearly 50 percent. Growth in the area has led to major traffic congestion.
Common causes of traffic accidents in Pinellas County include:
- Distracted driving
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Driving while fatigued
- Failure to yield
- Illegal turns
- Improperly maintained vehicles
- Running a stop sign or traffic signal
Unfortunately, road rage contributes to a fair number of accidents in Pinellas County.
Where Do the Highest Number of Car Accidents Happen in St. Petersburg?
The intersections with the highest number of car accidents in St. Petersburg include:
- US92 and 4th Street North
- US92 and 9th Avenue North
- US19 and 34th Street
- Central Avenue and 4th Street South
- 5th Avenue North and 49th Street
- 5th Avenue North and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street South
- 5th Avenue and 20th Street
In addition, I-295 and 38th Avenue North have a statistically higher number of motor vehicle accidents along their routes. With I-295, accidents occur most often along on and off-ramps.
Car Accidents and PIP
Florida is a no-fault state when it comes to auto insurance. That means your own Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance covers medical expenses and lost wages, up to the limits of the policy. Currently, any vehicle registered in Florida must carry a minimum of $10,000 in PIP coverage and $10,000 in Property Damage Liability (PDL). It is wise for most vehicle owners to carry more than the required minimum.
Under Florida law, you can go outside of the PIP system and file a personal injury lawsuit against a responsible third party after a car accident if you suffer any of the following serious injuries:
- Permanent or significant loss of an important bodily function or system
- Permanent damage
- Significant or permanent disfigurement
What to Do After a Car Accident
Always call the police immediately after a car accident. Along with assessing your own injuries, check to see if anyone else in the crash is hurt. Get yourself out of harm’s way if you are in a dangerous situation on a road.
Get the other’s drivers name, address, insurance, and contact information. If there are eyewitnesses, get their names, address, and contact information.
If physically able, document the collision scene as much as possible. Take photos of the crash, including all vehicles involved and their license plates. Take photos of your injuries.
If you can, write down or record your memory of the collision while it is fresh in your mind.
Seek prompt medical attention, even if you think you were not injured. Many injuries, even serious ones, are not apparent immediately due to the rush of adrenaline after an accident. If you do not go to the emergency room or to an urgent care facility, you are risking not only your health but your ability to prevail in court. Insurance companies will argue that your injuries are not serious or that something else caused them.
Do not post information about your accident on social media. Insurance companies scour social media to find ways to twist your words. For instance, if someone asks how you are after the accident and you reply that you are “not too bad,” meaning it could have been worse, the insurer may allege your injuries were minor.
The Importance of Hiring a Lawyer After Your Car Accident
If you are recovering from severe injuries after a car accident, hiring a lawyer to represent you is critical.
Do not agree to any insurance company offer, even if it sounds like a good amount, before obtaining legal counsel. Insurance companies want to pay as little as possible to accident victims. That is how they do business. When you have a lawyer negotiating for you, the outcome of your settlement is likely to be better.
When you are represented by an attorney, insurance companies take your claim more seriously. Insurers know that a lawyer will know a fair settlement amount based on their client’s injuries and prognosis.
A St. Petersburg car accident lawyer investigates your case thoroughly. Often, more than one party may prove liable for the car accident, and we will determine all entities that may be held responsible. We will collect evidence, including:
- Police reports
- Medical reports
- Local surveillance video
- The at-fault party’s driving record
If distracted driving is suspected, we can subpoena the at-fault driver’s cellphone records. In some cases, we may hire an accident reconstruction expert to determine how the crash occurred.
If vehicle malfunction caused or contributed to the accident, we can file suit against the manufacturer or a repair facility.
Statute of Limitations
In most cases, you have two years from the car accident date to file a personal injury claim. Prior to March 24, 2023, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit was twice as long.
In a wrongful death case, the personal representative of the estate, acting for surviving family members, must file a lawsuit within two years of the death date.
What to Expect After Filing Your Car Accident Lawsuit
If the insurance company will not pay your claim, your attorney files a personal injury lawsuit. After the filing, the suit is served on the insurance company and the defendant. These parties have a certain amount of time to respond. If they fail to do so, you could win a default judgment. However, this seldom happens with insurers.
More likely, the insurance company will file an answer to the complaint outlining why they do not think you should receive compensation. This is generally the same reasoning given in the claim denial.
Discovery is the process by which lawyers obtain certain information from the other side. This may include deposing witnesses in person, producing particular documents, or the use of interrogatories, or written questions.
The overwhelming majority of car accident lawsuits are settled before trial. Even if the case does go to trial, it is still possible to settle before the trial concludes.
What Compensation Is Available in an Auto Accident Claim?
In 2023, Florida changed to a modified comparative negligence standard. That means claims are barred in which the plaintiff is determined (by a jury or judge) to be more than 50 percent at fault for the accident. If the plaintiff is found 50 percent or less at fault, their recovery is reduced proportionally to their fault.
For instance, a driver found 25 percent at fault can still recover compensation, but their award will be reduced by 25 percent in proportion to their fault.
Potential compensation, or damages, in an auto accident claim includes:
- Medical expenses, current and future
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earnings
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
How Kogan & DiSalvo Can Help
If you or someone you know was seriously injured in a car accident due to another party’s negligence or recklessness, you need the services of an experienced St. Petersburg personal injury attorney at Kogan & DiSalvo. Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation today. Our attorneys work on a contingency basis, so you pay no fee unless you receive compensation. We serve all of Pinellas County and areas across Florida.