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Top-Rated Fort Lauderdale Car Accident Lawyers On Your Side
Our team of Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyers specialize in personal injury law. We have an outstanding track record of successfully handling all types of motor vehicle accident cases. Check out our auto accident case results. From drunk and distracted driving to bad weather, South Florida motor vehicle accidents can be severe. Lawlor, White & Murphey’s attorneys will go over all the facts of your case and let you know exactly what to expect. Choose the best Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyers you can in order to get the maximum compensation possible.
Lawlor, White & Murphey is Proud to be Rated Among the Best Car Accident Law Firms in Fort Lauderdale
If you want to recover maximum compensation for your injuries you should speak with an experienced car accident attorney who knows the Florida car accident laws inside and out and knows how to deal with the insurance companies.
Every car accident is different and while each accident is costly to all parties involved, the costs vary depending upon factors such as:
- Whether there was a fatality
- How severe your injuries were
- The amount of property damage
- How much insurance the person responsible for the accident has
As the victim of a car accident, you will likely have medical expenses, many years or a lifetime of lost income, and intense pain and suffering. But an experienced and qualified car accident lawyer can help you get the help you deserve.
Why You Should Hire Lawlor, White & Murphey
At Lawlor, White & Murphey, our Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyers understand exactly what you are going through after being in a car accident and we can help you guide you through the entire recovery process. You already have a heavy burden to shoulder so we are here to take on a lot of that burden for you so you can focus on recovering. We pride ourselves on providing personalized attention to each and every client so that we can really understand what you seek to accomplish. You should contact our firm because:
- Injury Focused: We focus primarily on personal injury cases.
- Experienced: We have been successfully litigating cases for over 25 years.
- Successful: We have recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for injuries
- Top-Rated: We have lots of five-star client reviews.
- Proven Litigators: We have the courtroom experience you need.
- Boutique Sized: We combine small firm attention with big firm results.
- Free Consultations: We will review your case for free.
- No Upfront Fees: We don’t get paid until you get paid.
- Aggressive Representation: We fight for maximum compensation.
- An Excellent Reputation: Check out our about page.
- Available Resources: We have the financial resources to handle your case right.
- A Caring Approach: Helping people recover through difficult times is what we do.
- Convenient Services: Available 24 /7, home and hospital visits available, multilingual staff, phone calls returned promptly and video consultations available.
At Lawlor, White & Murphey, we have represented hundreds of auto accident victims in Fort Lauderdale and across Florida. We are committed to helping car accident injury victims negotiate with insurance companies and judges, both in and out of the courtroom, in order to secure fair compensation for their injuries. We fight to make sure you receive compensation not only for your current medical expenses but for the care that may be required to ensure a full physical and emotional recovery in the future.
What Are The Most Common Types of Fort Lauderdale Car Accidents?
You may be able to file an auto accident claim for an accident involving any type of motor vehicle, including cars, buses, motorcycles, and boats. Our firm has successfully handled hundreds of car accident cases, including those caused by:
- Rear-end collisions: This type of accident occurs when a vehicle hits the car in front of it. Rear-end collisions usually happen when the vehicle in front suddenly stops or slows down too rapidly, or when the car behind speeds up too quickly.
- Side-impact collisions: Also known as a T-bone collision, this type of accident refers to the side of one vehicle getting hit by either the front or rear of another vehicle. These accidents can cause serious damage, as occupants or the driver are often fairly unprotected.
- Sideswipe accidents: Sideswipe accidents happen when a car makes an impact with either another vehicle moving in the same direction or hits a fixed object. Usually, sideswipe accidents only result in property damage.
- Rollover accidents: A rollover is common with sport-utility vehicles. A rollover accident happens when a vehicle flips onto its side or onto its roof, typically due to a driver taking too sharp a turn at an unadvisable speed.
- Head-on collisions: These are the most deadly accidents. They occur when the front ends of two cars collide or when the front end of one vehicle hits a fixed object. Head-on collisions are the most likely type of auto accident to be fatal.
The severity of injuries and property damage depends on the type of accident. Accidents tend to be the least severe in sideswipe collisions and the most severe in head-on collisions.
What Are The Most Common Types of Car Accident Injuries?
Many car accident injuries may be resolved with minor treatment in the hospital and minimal recovery time, but others require extensive future care—and insurance companies frequently fail to account for this necessary future care when developing an initial settlement offer.
Auto accidents can cause some of the most devastating injuries, from:
- Cuts/Abrasions: While cuts and abrasions are relatively minor compared to other injuries, they do carry a risk for infections and other complications.
- Whiplash: Car accidents often cause whiplash, which is a neck injury due to the forceful, rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck during impact, like the cracking of a whip.
- Muscle, tendon, and ligament injuries: Your body can move suddenly and very fast in a car accident. This motion can injure you badly without causing any fractures. Whiplash can take a long time to heal.
- Knee Trauma: Your knees can be damaged by the interior of the car in an accident. These injuries can often be severe and long-lasting. At times, knee reconstruction is required, which can make it impossible to walk for an extended period.
- Herniated Disc: Car accidents can cause a herniated disc, which is when one or more vertebrae in your spine either rupture or shift out of place. Recovery from a herniated disc can take a long time and cause a lot of pain.
- Broken Ribs: Because ribs are fragile bones, even light or moderate impact can cause a rib fracture. The impact of the accident can cause multiple ribs to break, with recovery often being long and painful.
- Other Fractures: Broken arms, hips, legs, and shoulders are common in all types of car accidents. The sheer force of a collision can often cause multiple fractures that require a long healing period.
- Internal Bleeding: Internal bleeding can happen in any car crash and can be especially dangerous if not treated immediately after the crash. It’s important to seek medical attention immediately for anything but the most minor accidents. Internal bleeding can quickly become severe and can lead to death.
- Head Injuries: Brain injuries are the most severe type of car accident injury. They can cause not only an immediate injury but lifelong complications. Brain injuries are often left undiagnosed and can result in permanent damage or even death.
- Psychological Injuries: It is common for people who have been in a car accident to experience emotional damage. The emotional impact of a car accident can last far longer than any physical injury. For your long-term well-being, it is important to get the help that you need for your mental injuries as well as for your physical injuries.
After sustaining injuries in a car accident, the worst thing you can do is wait and hope that things will resolve themselves. Under the new PIP rules, you only have two weeks to seek medical help before your insurance company is no longer required to pay. The sooner a personal injury firm like Lawlor, White & Murphey can start investigating your case, the more likely it is that we will be able to obtain the compensation you deserve. Because we focus on injury suits and insurance claims, our firm has a successful track record in all kinds of motor vehicle accidents.
What Should I Do After a Fort Lauderdale Car Accident?
The time period immediately following a car accident can be traumatic and stressful, and you may be entirely focused on recovering from your injuries. If you or a loved one have sustained injuries in a car accident, the following action steps can help protect your right to compensation:
Here is Why You Need to Have a Plan
Keeping an actionable list like the one below can help protect you and your loved ones just in case you find yourself in an accident. Knowing exactly what to do is the first step in remaining calm and confident during a crisis.
In case you are in a car accident, you should have a plan that covers:
- How to protect your passengers and yourself
- Exactly what not to do after a car accident
- How you can help others in the car that are in distress
- Reminders to call for help and record any and all information that could be important
Putting Your Plan Into Action
Keep Calm Immediately After a Car Accident
The first thing you need to do is stay calm. You need to make sure that no one in the car is panicking and that you are in no further immediate danger.
Survey The Situation
Turn off your engine, and engage the emergency brake if you are on an incline. Your job right now is to assess if there’s anything else that can immediately hurt you. Are you in the middle of the road? Is there a gasoline leak? Is it dark and your lights are all broken?
When To Get Out of The Car
No matter the extent of damage inside the car, if you are in further immediate danger by remaining inside the car, get out.
You may also want to remain in the car until local authorities arrive if you deem it unsafe to exit your vehicle.
Call For Help
Always call for help if there are injuries. You or others inside your car may need medical attention. Because it is also imperative to ensure that the scene is safe for you and others, police, the fire department, and paramedics are all expertly trained to help you after an accident and make sure the scene of the accident is secured.
Exchange Information With The Other Driver If You Collided With Another Car
You should exchange the following information with the other driver:
- License number
- Insurance information
It’s also important to ask the other driver if they own the car. If it’s company property, you may have to eventually contact and deal with the company that owns the vehicle.
Gather Information About the Car Accident
As soon as you are able and once you know that you are in no further immediate danger, you need to gather as much information as possible about the accident. Always err on the side of far too much information. Rely on no one else to gather the information that may be critically important to any future case you might have against the driver, insurance company, or any other party.
Sketch out the scene of the accident, record any relevant information, and keep everything you capture in a safe place.
Inform Your Insurance Company
You should call your insurance company as soon as you are able and describe the situation to them. Be certain to ask for a direct contact number for a representative and confirm what the next steps are in the process.
It is wise to also give them the insurance company all of the information about the other driver.
Do You Have a Strong Car Accident Injury Claim?
There are many factors involved to help determine whether you may have a strong car accident claim for your injuries.
The key factors fall into three different categories:
- fault or responsibility;
- damages or extent of injuries;
- and ability to pay.
To have a strong car accident claim, you need to have favorable facts in all three categories.
It is obviously critically important to determine what happened in your car accident. The facts of each car accident differ, so it is important to be factually accurate about what happened and did not happen in your accident. The key is always evidence – what you are able to prove and not able to prove will rely on evidentiary support for your claims.
A police report is always critically important, which is why every car accident attorney will ask you to get one. This is something very important to remember if you are ever in a car accident. A police report is a form of evidence and it is seen as an independent source by the courts. It is also important to remember that the police report in itself is not the final document to determine who was or was not at fault in a car accident. There have been many successful car accident claims where the police report was not in the claimant’s favor.
Witnesses are also extremely important evidentiary support for your claim. Witnesses are able to confirm what did happen, what didn’t happen and can also often speak to the situation surrounding the accident. A witness’s ability to report on things such as weather conditions, any irregularities in traffic flow, or really anything that might be relevant to your case, can be extremely important.
Aside from having witnesses and a police report, car accident attorneys sometimes use the testimony of expert witnesses.
Damages or Extent of Injuries
Just because you may have been involved in a car accident or even injured in one, does not mean that you have a claim for damages. To be able to successfully bring a claim for bodily injury damages, you need to be able to show that you were hurt by a car accident.
Again, this relies on evidence. You can demonstrate that you were hurt by the car accident by bringing forward medical records, testimony, and any other facts that prove your claim. There are many different types of injuries that one can sustain in a car accident, and some of them actually heal fairly quickly. But there are also other types of injuries sustained in a car accident that never heal, these types of accidents bring a lifetime of pain, disability, lost income, and suffering. A skilled and experienced personal injury lawyer who specializes in car accidents can help assess your claim and help you recover what you have lost through being injured in a car accident.
Ability to Pay
Understandably, the other parties’ ability to pay is extremely important in determining whether you have a strong car accident personal injury claim. While all the facts may be in your favor, if the other party does not have the ability to pay, you will simply be left with a judgment that you may never be able to collect.
An experienced car accident attorney is skilled at evaluating the ability of the other side and their insurance company to pay. They are able to determine how much money may be potentially available and to see whether the ability to pay will coincide with the depth and scope of the injury and whether this makes for an attractive case.
Proving Negligence or Fault in a Florida Auto Accident Case
In any negligence case – including car accidents – you have to prove four things:
- That there was a duty of care
- That there was a breach of that duty
- That the breach of that duty caused injuries
- That damages resulted
If you are the plaintiff in a car accident case in Florida, proving negligence on the part of the defendant can mean the difference between having your medical fees and damages covered or you being personally responsible for all of your accident-related expenses.
Just because it might seem extremely clear to you that you are able to prove these four critical things in relation to your accident, this needs to be looked at through a legal lens.
What is important is not what seems clear to you, but what will be clear to a judge in a court of law. This is why it’s so important to work with an experienced car accident attorney who can present and sort through evidence in a way that a judge can appreciate. It’s critical to ensure that you have enough evidentiary support to prove all of these four points.
1. Duty of Care
To illustrate a duty of care is relatively simple. Every driver on the road owes every other driver the basic duty of care. This means that drivers are not allowed to operate their vehicles in a way that would injure others. If the foundation of your case is that the driver who caused the accident was negligent, then you need to actually go about proving that negligence.
There is no shortage of ways that a driver on our roads and highways can be negligent. They might be intoxicated, distracted, they could be on the phone, sending texts, or playing on social media. They may have completed infrequent or inadequate car maintenance, causing a dangerous condition that contributed to your injury.
Gathering Evidence at the Scene of an Accident
Remember that this is all about evidence to prove your assertions. The best evidence at the scene of the accident is going to be the police report. There are times where a police officer may even testify to be able to provide compelling evidence that the driver breached their duty of reasonable care. For example, perhaps the officer observed and noted at the accident scene that the driver that injured you was driving on bald tires. This would indicate that the driver has not been conscientious about automobile maintenance and was operating their car in a way that breached the fundamental duty of care to you. Driving the roads and highways of Florida with tires that do not have reasonable and adequate tread, is something that contributes to accidents. For a police officer to note this on the report and then ideally discuss this in person as testimony could be very powerful and help your case dramatically.
This is another reason why gathering evidence at the scene, including impressions of witnesses and photographs, is so important. It is truly a rare driver that will admit that they weren’t paying attention, but there is often real-time evidence that can be gathered to prove this was the case. A great picture is worth many thousands of words in the world of evidence.
2. Breach of Duty of Care
As for the other driver breaching their duty of care, it is not enough to just assert that this was the case, but it also needs to be proven. And it needs to be proven with some granularity.
How exactly did the driver breach their duty of care?
For example, if you have evidence that the driver made a U-turn in an area of a busy road where expressly prohibits U-turns, this is superb evidence of a breach of the duty of care. Aside from that U-turn being illegal, there is a reason why it is, which is usually that to make a U-turn in that specific spot would be extremely dangerous.
Evidence, which can more often than not be easily obtained, that the driver was sending texts or posting to social media in the seconds before an accident, can also prove a breach of duty of care. Courts do not look kindly, especially in light of the carnage that distracted driving brings to Florida’s roads every day, on drivers who breached their duty of care to others by using their smartphones in the car.
The breach of duty of care revolves around the notion of a standard of reasonable care. This standard was designed to be objective rather than subjective. So using the example of bald tires, it is considered reasonable to expect drivers to maintain their tires in a way that allows them to drive their car safely. While there is certainly an element of subjectivity (for instance, how much tire tread is a safe amount of tire tread?) we would all agree the tires that are virtually bald are unsafe. When we speak of a standard of reasonable care, we are really asking what a reasonable person would do in this situation. A reasonable person would not drive to the office on dangerous roads in Florida with bald tires. This is obviously unsafe. Therefore, not changing the tires as the owner of a vehicle is an act of unreasonableness and is more likely than not going to cause some harm to the driver or to others.
3. Breach of Duty Causes Injuries
It is important to look at the last two points together: causation and damages. What we are trying to prove is that the breach of the duty of care of the other driver caused your injury and that this injury or injuries caused you to have damages. The reason this is so critically important is that the law does not allow you to collect for some things that happened to you where there has been no negative consequence. To be more clear, if the other driver breached their duty of care, caused an accident, but you were not harmed in any way, you have no right to collect any money. Contrary to what we see sometimes on television shows, car accident law is not about unjustly enriching those who have been in an accident, but rather trying to get them as close to where they were before they were injured.
So if a driver breaches their duty of care, causes an accident, but because of physics and the kind of car that you have there is no physical damage to you and no physical damage to the car, there is nothing to collect. Conversely, there are many times where a seemingly minor accident can cause both significant physical injuries and significant damages, depending on the nature and type of vehicle. There are certain cars that just don’t do well even in what seems to be a relatively minor condition, and there are other types of cars that do much better than expected even when faced with a fairly serious accident. The point here is that you have to show damages to be in a position to recover them.
4. Resulting Damages
It is your responsibility to show that the defendant was the actual and proximate cause of your injuries. The burden is on you as the plaintiff to show that had it not been for the defendant’s actions, you would not have been harmed. This is called the “but for” test. But for the defendant not doing what they did, you would not have been injured. The defendant must have been the proximate cause for your injuries, and as noted earlier, your injury must have been foreseeable. For example, a reasonable person would know that driving on bald tires could result in an accident.
Skilled and experienced car accident attorneys will understand the Florida system and the Florida courts. They will be well-positioned to advise you on what the reasonable person standard looks like in our state. In Florida, we need to imagine the reasonable standard as the most average person we can possibly envision. Would the average person believe that driving on tires that have lost their tread could possibly cause an accident? The answer is, absolutely yes. To drive on bald tires is negligent and reasonable and the average Floridian would understand this.
The reason it is so important to have a skilled and experienced car accident attorney in your corner if you’re injured on the roads and highways of Florida is that only an experienced attorney who deeply understands car accidents will be able to take your case through all four of these critical checkpoints.
Lawlor, White & Murphey Will Obtain Maximum Compensation for Car Accident Victims
Here are several examples of our recent auto accident case results:
$3,300,000 PRE-TRIAL SETTLEMENT
G. and J. T. were rear-ended in their Nissan Sentra by a private school bus operated by an elderly driver with terminal cancer. Mr. and Mrs. T.’s injuries were catastrophic, but both have made excellent recoveries after lengthy hospital stays and surgeries. The defendant bus company destroyed evidence in violation of a Court Order, and this was a factor in obtaining the ultimate result.
$1,900,000.00 PRE-TRIAL SETTLEMENT
The litigation team at Lawlor, White & Murphey in Fort Lauderdale, Florida obtained a $1.9 Million pre-trial settlement for a 56-year-old woman struck by a car. The victim sustained multiple open fractures of the lower extremities and did not have distal pulses in the lower extremities or the left upper extremity at the scene of the accident. After being rushed to the hospital, she underwent multiple emergency surgeries to save her limbs, and months of in-patient treatment thereafter. The victim’s past medical bills exceeded $446,000.00. She is expected to live with severe disabilities for the rest of her life.
$1,775,000 PRE-TRIAL SETTLEMENT
In 2001, Plaintiff was driving his Nissan Pathfinder on Florida Avenue in Tampa, Florida when the defendant exited a parking lot and struck the side of Plaintiff’s vehicle causing it to turn on its side. Plaintiff’s left arm was resting on the window at the time of the crash and the vehicle landed on top of the arm, causing a near-amputation crush injury. Plaintiff and his wife owned a cleaning company that they were forced to sell after Plaintiff could no longer work.
Late one night our client was working as a heavy-duty tow truck driver on the side of I-95. Two cars were involved in a lane change accident. One car caused the other to spin out of control. The other car crushed our client between the car and the tow truck. Our client suffered multiple broken bones in his leg and pelvis. He went through a long painful recovery and had to take a lower-paying job because he could not keep up with the physical demands of being a tow truck driver. One of the cars in the accident was a service loaner from a local dealership. The dealership argued the Graves Amendment prevented our client from suing the dealership. We obtained what appears to be the first ruling on this issue in Florida. The court ruled the Graves Amendment does not apply to service loaners. The jury’s verdict made up for our client’s lost wages and the harm he suffered.
How Do I Deal With the Insurance Company After My Accident?
One of the biggest mistakes people make in a car accident case is believing that the other party’s insurance company is not against them. It is not that people from the other insurance company are not decent human beings, they very well may be. But you need to understand even before you get into an automobile accident that the way the system is built is for each party’s insurance company to strongly represent their own interests.
There are many times that someone who has been in a car accident is impressed at how well the other party’s insurance company communicates with them and sometimes how generous they perceive an offer from the company to be. Please do not be fooled. When the other party’s insurance company makes you an offer it is a fraction of the amount they know they are liable to pay you. These are simply the rules of the game and it’s nothing you should take personally. But you should also not allow yourself to be fooled.
Insurance companies don’t have just a few adjusters going out and looking at car accidents. They have massive teams of lawyers, and actuaries, and other professionals that are able to analyze a large body of cases here in Florida and nationwide and then predict the value of any individual car accident case. It is absolutely a certainty that the initial offer from the other party’s insurance company is what is known as pennies on the dollar of the amount that they have already determined they will end up owing you as your case moves closer to court. The biggest fight in most car accident cases centers around the value of your damages. Insurance companies are particularly unfair when addressing damages.
What Does Car Accident “Liability” Mean and Why Do Insurance Companies Accept It?
The first thing that you need to prove after a car accident is simply that it wasn’t your fault. It may have been partially your fault but your job, along with that of your attorney, is to prove that it was primarily the other party’s fault.
A skilled and experienced car accident lawyer will understand how to look at the totality of your damages to come up with the amount that you are owed, but none of this is important unless you are able to prove that the accident was the fault primarily of the other party. The legal work can often be complex in car accident cases, which makes it an extremely difficult road for plaintiffs looking to navigate the process on their own. Finding the right attorney you can trust is the most important first step.
Putting Together What You Need for Your Car Accident Case
Evidence is both king and queen when it comes to car accident cases. When you are putting together what you need for your car accident claim, you need to always keep the concept of fault, causation damages (and ability to pay) when gathering evidence to present your claim in the best way possible.
There is nothing better than full documentation. Anything that you have documented or can’t document is going to help you throughout your case. Anything you are unable to document you have to assume that the other side won’t accept. This is the difference between an assertion and evidence to support a fact.
So What do I Need in Order to Show That the Other Person is At Fault for the Car Accident?
The most important thing may be the police report. After a collision, it is important to call the police and ask that they document what occurred. Too often, a person who caused an accident will admit fault at the scene to avoid the police and then dramatically change their story when speaking to the insurance company. Getting a written police report helps avoid this problem.
- Pictures of the scene and vehicle damage: it goes back to the old adage of a picture being worth 1000 words. To be able to describe the accident scene as one thing, but it is infinitely better to have pictures of the scene to help support your assertions as to why the accident happened. Pictures of the vehicles involved in the accident are also helpful. Here you want to be sure to get photos of all of the damage. Damage photos can help you prove that the impact was significant.
- 911 call recordings: Anytime somebody calls 911, there is a recording made of that conversation. If you are not in the position to call 911 after your accident, there is a very good chance that somebody else did. These calls are often requested by skilled and experienced car accident attorneys as they can be excellent forms of evidence to prove the other party was at fault.
- Video: Especially in our larger cities, so much of our lives are captured on video whether we know it or not. There may be video evidence taken from street cameras, nearby stores, traffic lights, or any place around the accident that can help prove fault. A skilled and experienced car accident lawyer will contact any businesses around the area of the accident and also be able to find out if they were any local or municipal cameras there.
- Phone records: Your chances of obtaining the other party’s phone records without the help of a skilled and experienced car accident lawyer are very slim, this is something that can prove remarkably helpful in some cases. Not only could obtaining the other party’s phone records be very helpful, but you can also provide your own phone record that shows that while you were in your car and especially near the time of the accident you did not use your phone and did not send or receive any texts.
There are often other records that are available that may be helpful. These records can include black box reports from the vehicles involved in the collision, GPS data from the phones that were in the vehicles involved in the collision, and other records.
What is Needed to Show the Extent of Your Damages?
The following is an overview of items you will want to pull together to help show the extent of your losses and injuries.
Medical and billing records associated with the car accident:
You should always keep a record of any doctor or medical practitioner you see from the time of your accident. It is important to have a detailed and full list of every consultation, every procedure, every phone call or meeting you have with any doctor or other medical professional. You need to keep track of every cent that you spend on your medical treatments, keep every diagnosis in writing that anyone ever gives you, and never fail to gather a record of any interaction you have with anybody about your injuries.
If your accident was fairly severe, you might not have a memory of being treated on the scene or even later in the hospital. At the hospital, you will be seen by different doctors who are not directly employed by the hospital. In these circumstances, you will likely need to order billing records from multiple sources to fully understand the total cost of your treatment. Rest assured that records from paramedics, doctors, and the hospital are available and a skilled and experienced car accident lawyer will know how to get and best use them.
If your health insurance covered any of your treatment, you will need to speak with the insurance company and get what is known as an Explanation of Benefits for the treatment associated with the car accident.
Prior medical records:
You will probably need to gather medical records from before your accident. Insurance companies are notorious for attempting to claim that injuries you say were a result of the accident were pre-existing conditions and should not be covered by any type of settlement. It will be your responsibility to determine that any and all of your injuries are new ones, completely unrelated to any conditions that you had before. There is, of course, a possibility that your car accident has made existing conditions significantly worse. For example, if you have a history of neck or back problems and these are made significantly worse due to a car accident, these new injuries would count in any car accident case, especially if they were making older injuries much worse.
There is a very good chance that your car accident has caused you to miss out on income through being unable to work. You will need to prove this lost income with payroll and related records that prove what you would’ve earned had you not been injured and been able to work. Keep good track of all of the records that you have and may need in your car accident claim.
It is very important to get photographs of all of your injuries as close to the time you incur these injuries as possible. As we have said all along, a picture can be worth many thousands of words. Pictures of accidents and the injuries they produce in people who were not at fault can be extremely powerful in a car accident claim. Pictures of cuts, abrasions, scars, wounds, and the like, are all an important part of building your claim.
What is Needed to Help Determine a Person’s Ability or the Coverage Available for Your Car Accident?
Determining the other party’s ability to pay is another reason why you need a skilled and experienced car accident lawyer. Generally, the other insurance company and certainly the person who injured you, are not about to volunteer information they are not legally bound to provide. Once you figure out your own insurance situation, including what parts of the accident your insurance company will cover, you would be able to gather information on the other party should you file a claim.
Because every car accident claim is different so we encourage you to give us a call so we can help you determine whether our Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyers can help you.
Determining the Settlement Value of a Car Accident Injury Case
Just as an experienced car accident attorney is able to figure out your damages based on the details of your case, the other party’s insurance adjuster and their attorney can do the same. You should understand that from the moment of the accident the other party’s attorney and insurance company are going to do their best to find and interpret the facts of your case in the light most favorable to them.
What’s the Real Story?
When you make a claim with the insurance company of the party that injured you, this is known as a third-party claim (since they aren’t your insurer). So it’s natural that the first thing the other party’s insurance company is going to want to know is their policyholder’s side of the story. This is another reason why immediate documentation is so critically important. Even where the other party I may have, at the scene of the accident, for example, agreed with your take on what happened during the accident, very frequently a party can change their mind when speaking to their insurance company and lawyer. Of course, aside from talking to the insured person to hear his or her story firsthand, the insurance adjuster will read any police report or accident report related to the incident.
Investigating the Claimant
Not everybody suing an insurance company does so in good faith, even if you are. The other party’s insurance company will do everything from background searches on you to checking if you are a serial filer of insurance claims or lawsuits. Any dirt the other side can possibly dig up on you they will, in an effort to get you to go away or settle your claim quickly. While it’s true that these tactics do not necessarily impact how good your claim might be, they can be very distressing and part of the reality of a car accident lawsuit.
Requesting Documentation of the Claim
The adjuster will contact you or your lawyer to introduce themselves and request documentation relating to the claim including medical bills, proof of earnings, tax returns, and proof of property damage.
You shouldn’t expect anything but very thorough documentation. The insurance company will go through every single page of medical records and bills to see if anything is missing or if there is even one thing to suggest that the claimant has had prior injuries or that the claimant is a serial filer of claims or lawsuits. An adjuster will almost never make a settlement offer without first digesting every single item necessary to value your personal injury case.
Determining Settlement Value
None of this is personal, no matter how personal it actually feels.
The insurance company cares about two things:
- What are your chances of winning a trial if you go through with filing a personal injury lawsuit?
- How much money is a jury likely to award you in damages?
That’s it, really. This is the foundation upon which an insurance company decides its strategy. Obviously, if the other side feels that you have a significant chance of winning if you go to court, and the amount you would be awarded could be very high, they will be more motivated to settle for what is hopefully a reasonable amount. Conversely, if they feel that you have a low chance of winning, and even if you did win – the amount awarded to you would be very low, they are not very motivated to come up with a quick and fair offer.
As to the damages themselves, they can be broken into damages that can be very precisely calculated (medical bills and lost earnings), and also damages that can’t be precisely calculated (for example, “pain and suffering”).
Of course, medical bills are easy because the hospital has already calculated them. Today, however, insurance companies look very closely at bills they deem to be soft (often not from doctors or hospitals). This can result in them refusing to pay for necessary treatment, such as chiropractic, massage therapy, rehabilitation, acupuncture, and the like.
The Importance of a Real Value on Your Pain and Suffering
Well it sounds like putting a financial value on your pain and suffering would be an impossible thing to do, insurance adjusters use formulas to figure this out and a skilled experienced car accident attorney will understand this at least as well as the insurance companies and be able to guide you through the process.
The First Offer
The way it works is that the insurance company will reach a point where they understand it in their minds what your case is worth. From there, it makes sense for them to offer you an initial settlement offer that is usually significantly below that number. This is simply how the process works.
Each insurance company works in different ways, perhaps the first offer will be approximately 30% of the real value of your claim.
One absolutely critically important reason why it is essential to have representation by a skilled and experienced car accident attorney is that insurance companies tend to make lower offers to claimants who don’t have a lawyer. Insurance companies are also very very able to look at the quality of the plaintiff’s attorney and decide from there how to adjust their claim. Obviously, they would prefer not to go deep into the process with a skilled and experienced car accident attorney.
What Should I Look Out for When Dealing with the Insurance Company?
Before you talk to an insurance adjuster, understand what their job actually is.
An insurance adjuster gets paid to:
- Prevent insurance fraud
- Settle claims for as little as they possibly can
- Settle claims fast
Some insurance adjusters are dealing with 5 new claims every workday. That adds up to well over 100 new cases some months.
So how can you make your claim an easy one to get off their active workload and into the settled column?
The most important thing is that you have more in-depth knowledge of your case than anyone else, including the other side’s insurance company. If you have all of the information about what actually happened during your case and you have really solid evidence to back it up, you are probably going to be ahead of 95% of the other cases that they’re dealing with.
When you speak with a claims adjuster, you need to immediately find out who they are and exactly who they work for.
Then you need to keep the conversation professional and short. This is where the guidance of a skilled experienced car accident lawyer has a huge value for anyone injured in an accident. Because every case is different, your lawyer can advise you on what facts you should reveal during a conversation with the adjuster, and what facts you should not reveal.
Even if you did something wrong in the accident, this is not where you should be discussing it. You should also not be putting forth your own hypotheses about what happened during the accident, such as maybe the other driver was drinking or distracted.
Insurance adjusters also want to have an early sense of the physical injury and damage that you may have suffered. The problem with many car accidents is that the injuries get worse over time after the accident. While your injuries might be relatively minor just after the accident, weeks or months later new symptoms and new ailments keep you from the quality of life and range of activities you had before the accident.
Waiting for a proper medical diagnosis pays off.
An insurance adjuster will take it far more seriously than a self-diagnosis. Get all of your reports and paperwork in order. Just tell the insurance adjuster you’re seeking medical treatment in Fort Lauderdale and that you and your lawyer will send a written summary of your injuries.
It is definitely in the best interest of the insurance adjuster if they can get you to give them a recorded statement or then sign something as quickly as possible after the accident. In no way should you do this because in no way does this benefit you. Haste is not your friend here, as there is nothing to be gained only a lot to be lost by moving quickly. Well, it is a natural inclination to want to settle everything quickly and get back on the path you were on before the accident, this is not the way to make it happen.
This includes giving access to your medical records to any insurance adjuster because they might indicate that the process will move more quickly if you do that. This is a terrible idea, as they will attempt to access the totality of your medical records so they can make an argument that the injuries you have sustained from the car accident we’re actually just pre-existing ones. By far the best thing to do is to work with the skilled and experienced car accident lawyer to prepare and send a statement that outlines all of the injuries sustained in the accident. Disk and then be sent to the insurance adjuster fairly quickly.
We cannot reinforce enough the way insurance adjusters are trained to deal with car accident victims. Almost all insurance adjusters have allocated a specific amount of money for your claim. They will surely offer you a lower offer than what is allocated and keep their fingers crossed that you accept it.
No matter how good an initial offer might seem, it is absolutely certain that the number they start with will go up if you negotiate thoroughly and properly.
But the only way to get the offers to keep going up is to gather compelling evidence and make intelligent counteroffers. While it is true that the insurance adjuster wants to settle the claim, they will settle the strongest and best-prepared claims first. A skilled and experienced car accident lawyer can help you make your claim one of the claims it makes good sense for the insurance adjuster to settle.
The equation is really simple: Get experienced legal advice + do what you need to do in order to gather and present evidence to support your claim = max Inez your chance of success.
Florida Car Accident Laws
Florida’s No-Fault Car Insurance Laws
Florida has what is known as no-fault car insurance. If you are in a car accident, you need to file a claim with your own insurance company and you may be able to be compensated for your injuries and monetary losses based on your own policy.
However, if your injury claim from your car accident meets certain requirements, you can step outside of the no-fault system and make a claim directly against the other driver. This is why it is so important to have a skilled and experienced car accident lawyer in Florida, as they will be able to work through the details of your case.
The Florida Car Accident Statute of Limitations
A “statute of limitations” is a law that sets a time limit on your right to bring a lawsuit. Not filing within the statute of limitations is as big a deal as you can possibly imagine. Not just for car accident claims, but for any lawsuit, if you miss filing within the period allowed in a statute of limitations, you will almost always be barred from filing your claim. An experienced attorney will understand and communicate to you the statute of limitations with any claim you’re considering filing.
In Florida (if you are reading this article from another state it is very important to consult an experienced car accident attorney in your home state, as rules vary state by state) you have four years, starting from the date of the crash, to file your car accident claim in the Florida court system.
Comparative Negligence in Florida Car Accident Cases
If the other driver was entirely at fault for your car accident, the result is usually predictable: the other driver (through their insurance carrier) will pay to compensate you for your lost income, medical bills, other losses, and even your pain and suffering. But can you still collect if you were partly at fault for the crash?
Florida follows a “pure comparative fault” rule when both parties are found to share blame for an accident.
This means that Florida is using a basic mathematical equation to figure out damages based on a percentage of fault. Under the pure comparative fault rule, the plaintiff’s damages award is reduced by a percentage equal to his or her share of fault.
Let’s assume that you file a car accident injury case, it goes to trial, and the jury decides your total damages award should be $500,000 – which includes medical bills, car loss, lost income, and even compensation for your pain and suffering.
But the same jury decides you are 50 percent responsible for the accident (you were texting just before the crash).
Under Florida’s comparative fault rule, you are entitled to get 50 percent of the $500,000 total, or $250,000.
While not all states do things this way, the comparative fault rule in Florida applies even if you are found to be more responsible for the accident than the other driver.
Let’s say that the same jury decides you are 80 percent at fault, you are still technically entitled to 20 percent of your total damages ($100,000). The problem here is that if the other party was also injured, you could be responsible for 80% of their damages.
The insurance adjusters in Florida are well aware of all of these rules and factor them into their considerations and calculations as well as their strategic approach to your case. A skilled and experienced car accident attorney will know exactly what you are entitled to and will set you up as best as possible to assert your claim and get the compensation that you deserve.
Reporting a Car Accident in Florida
If you’re a driver involved in a car accident in Florida, and the crash resulted in injury or death, or vehicle damage or damage to any other property in what appears to be an amount of at least $500, you have to report the accident to the local police department, if the accident occurred within a municipality. If the accident did not occur locally, you must report the accident to the office of the county sheriff or to the nearest office or station of the Florida Highway Patrol. There is no choice here whether you need to report or where you should report, as this is all covered under the relevant Florida laws.
Fort Lauderdale Car Accident Statistics
South Florida has an undeniable reputation for bad drivers. Whether it’s drunk drivers, uninsured motorists, or people distracted by their phones, there is an endless supply of dangers on our roads. This fact is especially true in Fort Lauderdale, which ranks as the most dangerous city to live in in the nation, largely due to driving.
While the city is only home to approximately 165,000 residents, it is one of Florida’s most popular tourist destinations. Fort Lauderdale attracts roughly 12 million tourists every year, so naturally, the substantial influx of people unfamiliar with the roadways is bound to create thousands of accidents each year.
The Florida Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles reported that there were more than 41,300 car accidents in Broward County in 2017. That was the second-highest number of car accidents among Florida counties that year. Fort Lauderdale, in particular, had about 5,400 crashes in 2017, 2,100 of which resulted in injuries and 26 resulted in deaths.
To some, 5,400 crashes a year for a large city like Fort Lauderdale may not seem all that significant; however, Fort Lauderdale car accidents are fatal far too often. According to data gathered in Smart Growth America’s 2019 Dangerous by Design report, 5,433 pedestrians were killed between 2008 and 2017 in the state of Florida. Twenty-eight percent (1,549) of those deaths occurred in the three major South Florida counties: West Palm Beach, Miami-Dade, and Broward.
These statistics have led to Fort Lauderdale getting the second-highest rate of pedestrian accidents in the nation.
Deadly Fort Lauderdale Roads
As a commuter or a pedestrian, there are a few intersections you should cautiously approach due to the high tendency of car accidents happening there. The top two are A1A and Las Olas Boulevard, and Atlantic Boulevard and U.S. 1. Both saw a record-high number of car accidents in 2015:
- A1A and Las Olas Blvd.: More than 1,000 injury-related accidents
- Atlantic Blvd. and U.S. 1: More than 6,000 accidents
Both intersections are not far from the beach, which is where road congestion is often at its heaviest.
Speak With Our Top Rated Car Accident Attorneys Today
At Lawlor, White & Murphey, we take great pride in defending the rights of Florida accident victims and their families. Our attorneys have been representing clients in South Florida and beyond for more than 25 years, driven by the goal of protecting our community, fighting for justice, and defending public safety.
Our experienced personal injury attorneys are recognized for being among the best in the nation and are backed by a track record of countless successful cases. We’ve helped clients throughout Florida obtain the compensation they need to get back on their feet with expert counsel, fearless legal representation, and compassionate support.
When it comes to protecting you and your family’s rights and securing your best chances for a full recovery, you can’t afford to gamble on anyone but the best. At Lawlor, White & Murphey, we are confident that we can protect your rights and interests, secure fair compensation, and set you and your family on the road to recovery.
To determine whether we are the right firm for you, we encourage you to read on about our history, work, and mission, and to explore the wealth of resources on our website.
The Benefits of Having an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer on Your Side
The most important advice we can give anyone injured in a car accident is to meet with a skilled and experienced car accident lawyer. The difference between being represented by someone who knows all of the ends and outs of a potential car accident claim and being self-represented can be massive. It truly can make all the difference between you receiving the compensation you deserve for your injuries and receiving nothing and being in a significantly worse position than you were in before the accident.
Aside from just being a critically important guide through the entire process of a potential lawsuit, a skilled and experienced car accident attorney can do many, many things for you over the weeks and months after your accident, including:
- Gathering evidence to support your claim.
- Calculating any losses you have incurred as a result of the accident.
- Putting together your medical records that were a result of the accident.
- Filing any court documents that are required and being aware of the time allowed to file.
- Dealing and negotiating with the insurance company.
- Putting together any necessary witnesses, including expert witnesses and testimony.
Having the right car accident lawyer on your side will drastically reduce your levels of stress and allow you to focus on healing. Hiring a skilled and experienced car accident lawyer will help you get the compensation you deserve.