The car accident itself lasts just seconds. Its impact may affect you and your family for the rest of your lives. Because of the negligence of another person or entity, your life and health are turned upside down. In Indian River County, you need the services of a good car accident lawyer to help rebuild your life by holding those responsible for your injuries liable.
A Vero Beach auto accident attorney fights for you so that you may receive the maximum compensation you deserve for your injuries. Call today for a free consultation with Kogan & DiSalvo.
Florida and No-fault Insurance
Florida Statute 627.7407 outlines Florida as a no-fault state. This means that when traffic accidents occur, the injured party’s own auto insurance carrier can provide compensation for their medical expenses and lost income, no matter who caused the accident. Unless the accident caused serious injuries, the other driver will not be held liable.
However, if the plaintiff’s injuries meet the “serious injury” threshold, they may be able to seek compensation in civil court. This threshold may apply if the plaintiff suffered:
- Permanent injuries
- Severe and permanent scarring or disfigurement
- Severe and permanent loss of a bodily function
Since these circumstances are vague and can be left open to interpretation, our seasoned team of car accident lawyers in Vero Beach could increase the chances that a plaintiff is given a fair settlement or a jury award to cover their injuries.
Car Accident Causes
Leading causes of car accidents include:
- Distracted driving–Resulting from texting while driving, eating or drinking, pets loose in the car, and similar causes.
- Drunk driving or driving under the influence of drugs
- Aggressive or reckless driving
- Disregarding traffic regulations
- Failure to yield
In South Florida, certain weather conditions contribute to car accidents. While ice and snow are not an issue, thunderstorms accompanied by pouring rain occur frequently. High wind gusts can cause a loss of vehicle control. Poor road conditions play a role in some accidents. Under these circumstances, the government agency responsible for road maintenance may be liable.
Types of Car Accidents
The most frequent types of car accidents and their aftermath include:
- Head-on collisions–These frontal crashes are among the most likely to result in serious injury or death.
- Rear-end collisions–Rear-end collisions can cause spinal cord and back, neck, and shoulder injuries.
- Sideswipe collisions–Two vehicles travel parallel to each other, with one hitting the other car’s side. These may occur when merging in traffic or lane changing. The impact may cause a vehicle to crash into others or head off the road.
- T-bone collisions–Usually occurring at intersections, the front of one vehicle hits the side of another. Many of these high-impact crashes result in a rollover.
Common Car Accident Injuries
Common serious car accident injuries include:
- Broken bones
- Internal organ damage
- Loss of limbs
- Loss of vision
- Traumatic brain injury
Victims may also develop PTSD after an accident. The effects may include flashbacks, nightmares, mood swings, inability to sleep, fear of being in a car or in the area where the accident occurred, and other emotional and psychological symptoms.
The Concept of Negligence and Car Accident Lawsuits
Under Florida law, there are five elements pertaining to negligence. To succeed in a car accident lawsuit, all of these elements must be in place and proven.
The first is the establishment of a duty of care. When driving, motorists have a duty of care to keep others safe to the best of their abilities. When another driver causes an accident causing an injury, they have usually breached that duty of care. That breach is the second element regarding negligence.
It is not unusual for a car accident victim to be partly at fault for the crash. Under Florida’s recently revised modified comparative fault law, the third element regarding negligence, the jury determines the percentage of each party’s fault. If the plaintiff is found to be 50% or more at fault for the accident, they cannot recover anything. If the plaintiff is found to be 49% or less at fault, they are able to recover.
Next is establishing the cause of your injuries. Generally, this element is not difficult. For example, if the other driver had not been speeding, they would not have crashed into your car, causing your injuries.
Finally, your lawyer must show that you suffered damages. This is also not difficult to prove if you were seriously injured.
Compensation, or damages, falls into economic and non-economic categories. Quantifying the former is straightforward, such as the amount of wages lost during your recuperation. The latter is more subjective and depends on individual circumstances.
Economic car accident damages may include:
- Medical expenses, current and future
- Lost wages
- Future lost income
- Property damage
Non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of ability to enjoy life
The Car Accident Claim and Lawsuit Process
Most car accident claims are settled. However, if the insurance company fails to agree to a reasonable settlement, the victim may take their personal injury lawsuit to the trial stage. A trial involves both sides delivering opening statements, presenting evidence and witnesses, and presenting closing arguments. The case then goes to the jury to decide. Since trials are costly and time-consuming, pre-trial settlements are common. Such settlements require both parties to agree to the settlement terms before the trial starts.
Generally, the statute of limitations in Florida for filing a car accident lawsuit is two years from the date of the collision.
In a worst-case scenario, a car accident victim dies from their injuries. Surviving family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the parties responsible for the loss of their loved one. In Florida, only the personal representative of the estate may file a wrongful death lawsuit. That representative, also known as an executor, files the wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of surviving family members.
The statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit is two years from the death date.
Compensation in a wrongful death case may include:
- Medical and funeral expenses
- Lost wages from the date of the injury to the person’s death
- The value of earnings and benefits the person could “reasonably” have saved and left as part of their estate had they lived a normal lifespan.
- Loss of the deceased’s companionship and support
- Loss of parental support and guidance
- Mental pain and suffering
How Kogan & DiSalvo Can Help
An experienced accident lawyer in Vero Beach at Kogan & DiSalvo investigates your car accident claim thoroughly. We determine which parties or entities are liable for the collision. We will find medical experts to make sure your injuries receive proper treatment.
We will handle all negotiations with the insurance companies while you recuperate from your injuries. An insurance company’s business model involves settling for as little as possible but relatively quickly. What sounds like a reasonable amount to you–especially if you have no income due to the accident and no vehicle–is probably far less than the amount you will need to pay your medical expenses and get your life back on track. Insurance companies are notorious for lowball offers. Never agree to an insurance settlement before speaking with an attorney.
At Kogan & DiSalvo, we know the value of your claim based on your injuries and circumstances. If the insurance company refuses to settle for a reasonable amount, we will pursue litigation.
Contact a Vero Beach Car Accident Attorney
If you or someone you know was seriously injured in a car accident because of another party’s negligence or recklessness, contact a personal injury lawyer in Vero Beach at Kogan & DiSalvo today. Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. As we work on a contingency basis, you pay no fee unless you receive compensation.