Car Accident Attorney in Stuart, FL
Caring injury lawyers representing the Treasure Coast
Car accidents come in all shapes and sizes. No matter what type of automotive accident you've been involved in, it's very important to know what to do next. How you behave early on in your case can have a big impact on the way your case is handled. You may be entitled to compensation that you won't be given unless you file your case properly and know how car accident victims are treated in Florida. Here, our Stuart car accident lawyers discuss how car accidents are handled in the state of Florida, what should and shouldn't be done when filing a lawsuit, and what can be done to ensure that a case will have the best possible outcome if it goes to court.
Florida is a no-fault state
Florida is known as a "no-fault" state. It became a no-fault state in 1971 in an attempt to reduce lawsuit traffic in the court system. No-fault states require everyone who drives a vehicle to carry a certain amount of PIP (personal injury protection) insurance. In Florida, the minimum amount of PIP insurance that every driver must legally carry is $10,000.
So how will this impact your car accident case? On the one hand, you won't have to prove who is at fault in order for you to have the other person's insurance cover anywhere from 60%-80% of the damages directly resulting from a car accident. This can include medical bills, unemployment, and more. No matter who was at fault, this PIP insurance will directly be used to help both drivers pay for losses.
On the other hand, if you have been wrongfully injured in a car accident and the person at fault was clearly driving negligently, it's a bit harder to start a personal injury lawsuit. Your insurance company will likely want to protect its interests and use PIP insurance to cover damages. This can mean you'll get some compensation for your losses, but not necessarily enough.
However, just because Florida is a no-fault state doesn't mean that the other driver can't legally be sued. You'll just have to go about your lawsuit correctly. To put it plainly, if you want to get what you really deserve after being injured in a car accident by another person, you'll probably need an expert in personal injury law to assist you.
Exercise caution when referencing the accident
If you've recently been injured in a car accident you'll want to be careful what you say and to whom you say it. If your case ends up going to court, the opposing legal team is going to do everything in their power to protect their own interests and the interests of their client or clients.
For example, if you post images of yourself on social media a few weeks after the car accident, the opposing legal team may use those posts against you and say that you clearly were able to return to your regular life quickly after being released from the hospital. Alternatively, since social media posts are considered to be public statements, if you talk about your case or about your injuries, those posts may also be used against you. It's better to keep things to yourself and follow the advice of your personal injury attorney.
Speaking to your insurance company or signing anything they ask you to sign may hurt your case as well, especially in Florida. Before saying anything to your insurance representative, you'll want to speak with an auto accident attorney in Stuart first. He or she will be able to tell you what is safe to say to your insurance company and what can effectively kill any potential lawsuit that you could later file.
Contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible
If you have been injured in a car accident and it wasn't your fault, the best thing you can do is retain an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. The sooner you get expert legal advice on how to proceed, the better the ultimate outcome of your case will probably be.
At Leanne L. Ohle, P.A., our legal team can help you from the very earliest stages of your case. If you've been injured and hospitalized anywhere along the Treasure Coast, there's a good chance that we can send a representative to see you while you're still in the hospital. Your legal team will work to protect your best interests and begin building a case that will help you get the compensation that you're entitled to.
Remember, Florida has statutes of limitation in place for personal injury lawsuits. The sooner you begin building your case after an accident, the better. You will likely need to file your lawsuit within a deadline. Your Stuart car accident lawyer will be able to tell you exactly when that deadline will be based on the specific circumstances surrounding your wreck.
Keep the facts straight
Right after being injured, it's a good idea to write down everything that you can remember while your recollection is still fresh. You don't want to exaggerate any details or write anything dishonestly. Simply try to recall all of the details surrounding your accident and have them ready for your auto accident lawyer in Stuart to look over.
Was the other driver speeding? Were there witnesses present that could potentially be located? Were you in a school zone or at a stop sign? This information may be critical if you wind up filing a lawsuit. You may also want to read over the details that you write down about the accident from time to time so that you keep them fresh in your mind. That way, if you have to testify in court, you'll know exactly what happened.
Your car accident lawyer will be able to help you with this as well. They'll tell you which details will have the most impact and if any details aren't relevant to your case.
Leanne L. Ohle, P.A. can help
We've has been helping injured victims along the Treasure Coast for years. We know what it takes to win a personal injury lawsuit in Florida and can help you get the compensation that you deserve. Our legal team is dedicated and devoted to each and every client on a personal level. If you've recently been injured in an automobile accident that wasn't your fault, call us right away.
AUTO ACCIDENT FAQs
When does a "serious injury" free me from no-fault limitations?
As a no-fault state, Florida requires drivers to have auto insurance with personal injury protection or PIP. This coverage is meant to pay someone's expenses regardless of who was at fault in the crash. PIP coverage pays for medical bills and some other financial losses up to a policy's limit. This coverage does not apply to non-economic damages like pain and suffering. However, state insurance law authorizes the pursuit of a claim against a third-party, such as the at-fault driver's insurer, if an accident victim has a serious injury.
A serious injury is defined as significant disfigurement, fractured bones, full disability for at least 90 days, limited use of a body system or permanently limited use of an organ or member. Once injuries reach into this territory of severity, the law lifts restrictions against personal injury lawsuits and third-party auto insurance claims for car accident victims. Someone in Stuart whose injuries satisfy the serious injury definition can seek to recover non-economic damages, like pain and suffering. In such a situation, you might collect a settlement from your own PIP coverage and then pursue additional damages from the party that caused the crash.
Is there a deadline for filing a PIP claim in Florida?
Your specific insurance contract will specify the time limit for filing a claim under your personal injury protection coverage. However, state law mandates that you seek medical care within 14 days of your accident to qualify for a PIP settlement. This is known as the 14-day rule, and meeting that deadline is critically important. Failure to obtain a medical evaluation concerning your motor vehicle accident within two weeks of the accident disqualifies you from PIP coverage.
The 14-day rule is meant to ensure that medical treatment is associated with a car accident and not some other source of injury not covered by an auto policy. Additionally, from the point of view of an insurance company, timely medical care could reduce long-term costs associated with your recovery. Someone who waits to get medical care has a greater likelihood of aggravating injuries and prolonging the recovery period.
Informing the police about your wreck presents another very pertinent deadline. Although police respond to many accidents, officers do not attend every accident. When this happens, the onus falls on the person in the car accident to inform the police. An accident report must be filed within 10 days of the crash date.
Can I handle my own car accident injury claim without a lawyer?
You certainly have the freedom to conduct business independently with an insurer. However, after a car accident has injured you, the pain and worry caused by the event might make you vulnerable. In your haste to settle a claim, you could short change yourself if your injuries worsen in the days or weeks after you accept a settlement. Many car accident injuries, especially those to the neck or back, are notorious for late-blooming symptoms. For example, an injury that might have felt like a minor whiplash the first week starts to cause dizziness, headaches or numbness in the subsequent weeks. Ongoing symptoms like that might require additional medical care and time off of work.
Additionally, insurance companies are in the business of collecting premiums first and foremost and limiting what they pay in claims. An insurance adjuster will likely ask you questions about your injuries and how you feel. Any information that you provide will be recorded and potentially used against you in an attempt to devalue your claim. Asking a lawyer to handle conversations with an insurer spares you from technical conversations that might be hard to follow when you are in pain.