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It is a sad fact of life that automobile accidents are much more frequent than anyone would like to believe or admit. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, millions of people are injured in auto accidents each year. If you are one of these people, you are likely facing the burden of how to pay medical bills and how to deal with car repairs, lost wages, and medical treatment. The financial burden adds stress to what is already a difficult experience; particularly if your injuries are severe, the pain and the distress of a car accident combined with the difficulties of knowing how you will pay for all of your needs can create a crisis in your life. When you are experiencing the kind of emotional and physical trauma that comes along with an accident, you should look to work with a Florida car accident lawyer with experience and expertise in the handling of complicated cases.
Contact Us for Experienced Car Accident Legal Help
The experienced car accident lawyers at Zimmerman & Frachtman, P.A. have more than 60 years of combined experience handling auto and truck accident cases throughout Florida and the U.S. Our office, with a staff of knowledgeable auto accident lawyers, has seen a variety of cases and knows how to manage even the most difficult questions and complex issues.
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Common Causes Of Car, Truck, Motorcycle, Bicyclist, Or Pedestrian Accidents Include:
- Distracted driving (texting, cell phone usage, eating, reading)
- Driver fatigue
- Drunk driving
- Hit and run
- Rear-end collisions
- High-speed collisions
- Accidents involving teenagers
- Intersection accidents
- Tractor-trailer crashes
- Road construction
- Defective products, such as accidents as a result of a GM vehicle, airbags, and seat-belts.
- Ambulance Accidents
Virtually every attorney handling personal injury cases has some experience with motor vehicle collision cases. But while car crash cases are too often considered routine, at Zimmerman & Frachtman, P.A., there is no such thing as routine. We pursue all cases with the same zeal we apply to even the most complex product liability cases. While every case is different, we have had several notable cases that demonstrate our capability to help our clients pursue both settlements and trials; for example, the case of Jonna Mays V Richard J. Lucibella, which ended in a settlement just prior to trial in the amount of $1,750,000. Another notable case is that of Aida Pelaez V. GEICO Insurance, where our client was able to receive the maximum insurance amount of $1,000,000 in settlement. If you work with just any auto accident attorney, you could be putting your case at risk. By working with an experienced car accident attorney, you can maximize your chances to get the compensation you deserve.
Types Of Car Accident Claims
- Defective Car Parts
- Road Conditions
Common Injuries in Car Accidents
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Broken bones/ fractures
Common Accident Injuries: Whiplash
Whiplash is the common terminology for a neck strain and/or neck sprain and usually addresses a cervical spine injury in the soft tissue surrounding the neck and back. Typically, a whiplash injury does not constitute a fracture of the intervertebral disks. Fractures of the intervertebral disks are classified as spinal cord fractures.
In whiplash injuries, the body experiences an impact with such force in a whip-like cessation of the head, neck, shoulders, and back. The results of this sudden jerk can be debilitating depending on the severity of the accident because the sudden impact of force stretches and/or tears the muscles and fascia of the neck. Additionally, because whiplash injuries affect the muscles and fascia, or soft tissue of the head, neck, shoulders, and back, the associated pain and symptoms with a whiplash injury may not develop until days or weeks after the accident.
Symptoms resulting from whiplash injuries include:
- Neck and jaw pain
- Muscle tightness or muscles spasms in the neck, shoulders, and back
- Lower back pain
- Neck muscles that are tender to the touch
- Decrease in the neck muscles’ range of motion
- Blurry vision, dizziness, headaches and vertigo or a feeling of off-balance
- Swelling, bruising around the throat, neck, shoulders, and down the back
- Arm and leg weakness
- Loss of bladder and bowel control
Treatment for Whiplash Injuries
Depending on the severity of whiplash injury, some treatments include prescription painkillers, massage, or physical therapy. If you believe you have a whiplash injury, seeking sound medical advice is key in medical treatment for whiplash injuries. Injuries for whiplash vary depending on the type of accident and patients can heal at different rates.
Damages for Whiplash Claims
Because whiplash injuries have a statute of limitations and due to their fraudulent past, filing a whiplash injury claim can be difficult. However, this doesn’t mean you should not submit your claim if you have experienced a whiplash injury. Documentation is key for submitting a whiplash injury claim. Damages received for whiplash injuries typically cover out of pocket expenses, medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Contact our experienced personal injury attorneys to help file a whiplash injury claim!
What Is Causation in Car Accidents
Causation is generally defined as the relationship between cause and effect. In legal matters, causation is used to establish negligence in civil and criminal liability cases by determining the causes of an injury claim. Causation defines four major requirements that must be met to determine negligence in liability cases.
In regards to a car accident, the plaintiff has the burden of proving causation by fulfilling the four requirements and demonstrating that the at-fault driver was negligent and caused the accident. Proving causation can be difficult in car accident claims, and therefore is crucial to retain a qualified causation car accident attorney to act in your best interest. The attorneys at Zimmerman & Frachtman, P.A. have the skills to represent your claim and the experienced investigators and other specialists that can recreate your accident to successfully prove causation.
The four main requirements of legal causation are:
- Duty of care
- Breach of the duty of care
- The causation
Proving Causation in Car Accidents
- Duty of Care – When demonstrating causation in auto accident cases, the plaintiff needs to demonstrate why the at-fault driver was negligent. In car accidents, duty of care is assumed after obtaining a driver’s license. Upon obtaining a driver’s license, licensee’s agree to the “duty of care” to operate vehicles in a safe fashion as to not purposely harm others while operating their vehicles on the road.
- Breach of the Duty of Care – To determine breach of duty of care in car accidents, the plaintiff needs to defining the specific actions the at-fault driver took to no longer operate their vehicle in a safe way. Negligent behavior could be slight, socially-acceptable law-breaking actions such as speeding, not signaling a lane change that can lead to an accident. While most drivers on the road do sometimes break these traffic rules, when accidents happen, they are considered negligent. There are gross negligent behaviors that lead to serious injuries or even death. These behaviors can again be slight or atrocious, like texting while driving or drunk driving.
- Causation – Proving causation is tying the injuries sustained to the misconduct or breach of duty of care. The plaintiff must be able to demonstrate that injures are a direct correlation to the other driver’s negligent actions.
- Damages – Finally, damages are explaining the extent of the injuries sustained by the car accident.
It is unfortunate that the burden of proving all four requirements of causation falls upon the plaintiff. In cases involving car accident causation, this can be especially hard because evidence from the car accident can be lost if not addressed on the accident scene. Having an experienced causation attorney on your side can make a difference in how your claim is handled and your settlement amount.
Bodily Injury Liability & Uninsured Motorist Coverage in Florida
Many people in the state of Florida are confused about the purpose of bodily injury insurance. It is not unusual for people to question why they need this insurance when they already have health insurance. Others do not question the inclusion of bodily injury insurance with their car insurance policy believing that it is to cover their injuries in the case of an accident since health insurance will not cover this type of claim. However, in both cases people would be incorrect in what they assume is the reason that personal injury insurance is included with car insurance policies.
In reality, bodily injury liability covers people when they are responsible for causing an accident in which another person is injured. It protects them from having to pay out of pocket for any harm resulting from the accident for which they are found to be legally responsible. It also will cover the costs of legal assistance should someone sue them claiming damages above those covered by the insurance. Additionally, bodily injury insurance covers any individual who has an accident for which they are at fault while driving the covered parties’ car providing they have borrowed the car with the covered parties’ permission.
Uninsured motorist insurance is less confusing to most people. This type of insurance covers accidents caused by someone else when the person at fault has no insurance or limited insurance coverage and limited or no bodily injury insurance to cover the costs of any injuries another person may sustain. When the person at fault does have bodily injury insurance uninsured motorist insurance covers expenses that are in excess of their bodily injury insurance and is not covered by their insurance.
Uninsured motorist insurance will cover the expenses of the other driver expenses and the damages done to their vehicle under three conditions. These include cases such as:
- When the person who caused the accident has no car insurance
- When the person who caused the accident has only minimal insurance which is insufficient to pay all costs of the other driver
- In the case of a hit and run accident, when someone has no ability to identify the individual who hit them.
In order for Florida residents to be fully protected, both bodily injury liability insurance and uninsured motorist insurance should be obtained.
Auto Accident FAQ
What should you do after an accident?
The first thing you should do after being in a car accident is check that everyone is okay. If someone has been hurt, you should call for emergency assistance. Use 911 if the injury is severe. Next, you need to get the contact and insurance information of all parties involved. Don’t forget to take photographs of the entire scene, too. Lastly, you should see a medical professional, regardless of your injury’s severity, within the next few hours at the latest.
Can you sue after any car accident in Florida?
No, Florida required drivers to carry personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. This unique type of insurance will provide coverage to the policyholder for their damages, up to a cap. The law also prevents filing a claim against another motorist unless the claimant has been seriously injured, which is usually described as an injury that causes a lasting debilitation, a permanent disability, or a life-threatening situation.
What damages can you recover?
If you can sue another driver for your injuries, then you will be able to demand compensation for any damages that have not been covered by your PIP insurance. For example, you can sue for unpaid medical treatment costs, missing wages, and pain and suffering.
What if the at-fault driver has inadequate insurance to cover all your damages?
Auto insurance is not the only type of insurance policy that can pay for damages related to a car accident. Experienced attorneys can sometimes negotiate with insurance companies to allow unpaid damages to be covered by other policies held by the liable party, like a homeowners’ insurance policy. Another option to seek unpaid damages is to use an underinsured motorist (UIM) policy that you purchased.
Q:Will I Receive Compensation for My Injuries?
A:When you are involved in an auto accident that was not your fault, you may believe that you are entitled to compensation. However, it can be difficult to know for sure, and it can be even more difficult to know when the other party involved is denying that they caused the accident. Our Florida auto accident lawyers will review all aspects of your specific case to determine whether the other party involved is responsible for any damages or losses.
Q:How Much Compensation Can I Expect?
A:The figure a filer should expect to receive varies from case to case. The goal of any personal injury claim is for the party that is not at fault to receive compensation that is fair when all of the losses suffered are considered. These loses could include medical expenses-both present and future, wages, pain, suffering, and emotional distress. To find out what your accident claim could be worth, please call Zimmerman & Frachtman, P.A. for a free consultation today.
Q:Is There A Time Limit On Legal Action?
A:In the state of Florida, the statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuit is four years but it is advised that you seek legal counsel as soon as possible as the court process can take months and even years before there is a resolution.
Q:What Do You Need From Me?
A:The Florida Financial Responsibility Law requires that any person at fault in a crash resulting in bodily injury and property damage to others must have full liability insurance coverage in effect at the time of the crash. This coverage includes minimum limits of bodily injury liability of $10,000 per person, $20,000 per crash, $10,000 property damage liability per crash, and personal injury protection (PIP) limits of $10,000 per person per crash.Communication between attorney and client is key. It is important to show that you are willing to corporate and assist where needed to ensure you receive the best results possible. You will most likely be required to submit documentation and other materials to to assist the case as it moves through the court system.
Q:What type of automobile insurance coverage is required for a person causing a crash?
A:The Florida Financial Responsibility Law requires that any person at fault in a crash resulting in bodily injury and property damage to others must have full liability insurance coverage in effect at the time of the crash. This coverage includes minimum limits of bodily injury liability of $10,000 per person, $20,000 per crash, $10,000 property damage liability per crash, and personal injury protection (PIP) limits of $10,000 per person per crash.
Q:What is the difference between uninsured motorist coverage and underinsured motorist coverage?
A:Uninsured motorist coverage is coverage on your policy that pays you for your injuries when someone who has no coverage injures you. Underinsured motorist coverage pays you for your injuries when the at-fault driver has insurance coverage, but the liability limit is not high enough to fully compensate you for all you have suffered
Q:If I have health insurance coverage, do I also need auto insurance coverage?
A:By law, you must carry a minimum of $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) coverage and $10,000 in property damage liability coverage.
Q:What information should I obtain after an auto accident?
A:First you should seek immediate medical attention if you are seriously injured in an automobile accident. After everyone is out of danger and police help has been requested, obtain the following information: Contact information (name, address, phone) for anyone who was there, including other drivers, passengers, witnesses, and the tow company if your car was towed Police report information Information about all vehicles involved: Year, make, and model License plate number Insurance carrier Insurance policy number
Q:What is comparative negligence?
A:Comparative negligence compares the negligence or determines the responsibility of everyone involved in an accident. When a jury hears the case, the jury members decide what percentage of the total fault goes to each person involved. The amount of compensation awarded to a person will be reduced by his or her share, or percentage, of the total fault.
Q:Will a personal injury claim be worth filing?
A:Ninety percent of all car accidents are the fault of one of the drivers involved, rather than an outside source, according to the International Organization for Road Accident Prevention. This makes filing a personal injury claim quite reasonable, as there is a chance that the other driver engaged in negligent, reckless, or careless behavior that led to your injuries.
Q:In Florida, is it illegal to text and drive?
A:According to Florida State Law, texting and driving is illegal. However, the law that addresses the matter is of secondary enforcement, which means that a driver must be pulled over and ticketed for a primary enforcement violation in order to be ticketed for texting. Unfortunately, this loophole encourages many drivers to take the risk- not only of getting a ticket, but also of taking another life. If the individual that is to blame for your accident was texting when or directly before it happened, their behavior may serve as evidence of negligence as we handle your personal injury claim.
Q:I’ve never heard of personal injury protection. What is it?
A:Personal injury protection insurance – also known as PIP – is a special type of coverage that many states in the U.S. require drivers to purchase. Some also call it ‘no-fault’ insurance. It is quite useful to have, as it pays no matter whose fault an accident is. It does have one very serious con, though. Personal injury protection is usually very limited. Many drivers’ policies are only for $10,000 for bodily injury. This is helpful, but won’t always fully satisfy a personal injury claim.
Q:An uninsured motorist caused my accident. What can I do?
A:According to the Insurance Research Council, Florida has one of the highest instances of drivers without insurance in the country. Only about ¾ of motorists in the state have insurance, but filing a claim against your own uninsured motorist coverage is a viable way to recover the compensation you need.
Q:What is uninsured motorist coverage, anyway? I don’t think I have any.
A:This type of coverage ensures that you won’t be left uncompensated in the event that an uninsured motorist harms you or a loved one. Florida law requires that drivers be offered uninsured motorist coverage with the purchase of their liability insurance policies. Unless you specifically stated you did not want uninsured motorist coverage, chances are that you have it.
Q:What if the other driver has an insurance policy, but it is not sufficient to cover my costs?
A:You may still have a chance at recovering the funds that you need by winning a judgment against the other driver in a court of law. This may be achieved via a property lien or a wage garnishment, depending on the judge’s decree. However, all other avenues- including your own personal injury protection insurance, the other driver’s liability insurance, and your own uninsured motorist policy- should be exhausted first.
Q:Can I still file a personal injury claim after a hit-and-run accident?
A:Hit and runs are almost always difficult and frustrating for drivers to navigate. While the police are tracking down the driver who hit you using camera footage, witness accounts, etc. you can file a personal claim against your own PIP policy. Later on, after the perpetrator has been identified, the fact that her or she fled with scene with no regard for human life can be used to solidify your case.
Q:Where are the most common accidents in Florida?
A:Vehicle accidents are everywhere. The larger vehicles, vehicles like trucks and semi-trucks, are the ones which can cause the most damage. When an accident does occur, a lot of innocent people are hurt, even hospitalized. More seriously, these people are left to clean up the wreck themselves. Sometimes the vehicles will just carry on, not even aware of the damage they have caused. This happens a lot with the trucks and the semi-trucks. This is why victims of accidents need to hire a lawyer right away. They need someone on their side. It's not good to leave this type of thing to chance.
Q:What is the main cause of these accidents?
A:One of the main reasons accidents like this happen is due to the nature of the situation. Most drivers are on duty. They ate working. They could be stressed and overworked. They could be in the midst of meeting a deadline. Either way, the driver is going to be preoccupied with his job. Though there are laws put in place to prevent this type of issue, it still does happen. The truck could have a malfunction of sorts. Sometimes vehicles with improper maintenance are sent out on the road. Some companies figure as long as it passes inspection, it's okay. It's not easy to say this, but the driver could also be intoxicated. When drivers are out on the open road, their bosses are trusting them to do the job. They are not looking over their shoulder. Some drivers, depending on their personality, do take advantage of this. This negligence is what causes devastating consequences for everyone involved
Through examination and meticulous preparation, the car accident attorneys at Zimmerman & Frachtman, P.A. will ensure that your case is strong enough to stand up in court. We retain nationally renowned experts in the fields of accident investigation and reconstruction, bio-mechanical engineering and human kinematics, economic analysis, vocational rehabilitation, nursing care, radiology and orthopedic surgery, to name just a few. Our office and the experts we call upon work hard to make sure that the most accurate possible story is presented in court; insurance companies work hard to try and mitigate the circumstances of your accident, while we as auto accident attorneys work to try and highlight exactly what happened and the fact that it is not your fault—you’re your injuries are, in fact, the fault of another driver.
While no two cases are alike, every case is assured skilled and diligent representation combined with top-notch experts in their fields. As any experienced auto accident lawyer can tell you, knowledge of the changes in the laws regarding car accidents is absolutely vital, and we keep up-to-date on every development in the state’s statutes. This negligence is what causes devastating consequences for everyone involved.
Consult Zimmerman & Frachtman, P.A. Today
Our car accident attorneys in Florida will also help you understand and navigate the details of insurance policy, Personal Injury Protection (PIP), Property Damage (PD), and the issues that occur with uninsured or under-insured motorists who do not have sufficient coverage. Don’t work with just any auto accident attorney; your injuries and the damage to your property deserve fair compensation, and you should only work with a car accident lawyer who you feel comfortable with, and who can give you the full scope of possibilities for your case, so that you know what to expect.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car or truck and would like to learn more about your legal rights, please contact our firm online or call (954) 504-6577. Our experienced auto accident attorneys in South Florida provide free consultations and charges you only if we win your case.