After The Crash: How An Orlando Car Accident Lawyer Can Protect Your Rights
At Morgan & Morgan, the attorneys in our Florida offices understand the difficulties that can arise after a car accident. We have witnessed the injuries and damage that can result from a crash and understand the struggle some victims may face in trying to recover compensation for their losses. In Florida, there are specific rules and regulations that can complicate insurance claims and the recovery of additional damages, such as pain and suffering, in cases of severe injury or death. To help ensure you receive full compensation for your losses, it is important to contact an Orlando attorney who is well-versed in Florida-specific laws regarding auto accident claims. At Morgan & Morgan, our car accident attorneys have a history of success handling automobile accident cases throughout Florida— as well as other states from our offices in Atlanta, Lexington, Jackson, and Memphis— and can help ensure your rights are protected.
If you’ve been in a car accident and are unsure of your next step, please fill out our free case review form. Our firm will review your claim, at no cost to you, to determine if our Orlando car accident lawyers may be able to help.
How Can an Orlando Car Accident Attorney Help Me?
An attorney in Orlando can help ensure you receive full benefits from the insurance company and determine whether you can file a claim for additional damages against the party at fault for the crash.
PIP and Its Limitations
In Florida, all drivers are required to carry a minimum of $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance that will cover up to 80% of their injuries and 60% of lost wages in the event of an accident, regardless of fault. These regulations were enacted in an attempt to reduce the number of crash-related lawsuits filed by Florida residents, as well as to lower insurance rates. Unfortunately, for many injured drivers, this coverage may not be enough to cover the total cost of their medical bills and lost wages, and will not account for property damage, pain and suffering, and other damages.
What We Can Do
If you have suffered a serious injury, we may be able to help you collect compensation beyond that which is provided through insurance claims.
To be eligible for a personal injury lawsuit, the victim of the crash must have died or sustained a significant injury such as:
- Brain damage
- A significant head injury
- Permanent scarring or disfigurement
- Broken bones
Once you’ve exhausted your PIP benefits and decided you want to take legal action against the driver at fault for the crash, our Florida attorneys can begin preparing your claim by:
- Collecting police and accident scene reports
- Questioning witnesses
- Reconstructing the accident scene
- Taking photographs of the scene, damage, and injuries
- Analyzing medical reports
- Contacting expert witnesses to review evidence
- Speaking with the insurance providers on your behalf
The insurance company or negligent party from which you are attempting to collect compensation will work to categorize your injury as temporary, rather than permanent. Your attorney can collect and organize evidence on your behalf to rebut the defendant’s claims.
Seeking Additional Damages
The strength and success of your claim will likely hinge on the ability of your attorney to collect, analyze, and present evidence.
If you are seeking additional damages, your attorney will approach the negligent party’s insurance company in an attempt to recover compensation to cover your remaining costs. Your claim will be submitted for approval to the insurance company, which will have conducted an investigation of its own. The strength and success of your claim will likely hinge on the ability of your attorney to collect, analyze, and present evidence. The opposing insurance company will want to minimize their payout. Providing your attorney with as much information as possible can help strengthen your claim. If your attorney and the insurance company cannot agree on a settlement, the case may proceed to trial.
Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Accidents in Florida
After exhausting PIP coverage, if the other driver has no other insurance or an amount of coverage that is insufficient to cover the costs related to your injury, your uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage may cover the damage caused by the negligent party. If the negligent party was underinsured, your insurance will cover the difference between your losses and the amount you received from the other party’s insurance company. If you do not have this coverage, you should contact an attorney to obtain compensation for injuries resulting from the accident. An attorney may be able to seek damages from the negligent party’s homeowners’ insurance, your own insurance carrier or your health insurance provider.
Attempting to collect compensation through your uninsured motorist coverage can be complicated and will likely require the assistance of an experienced attorney. Your insurance company will likely try to limit your payout amount, based on their own investigation of the accident and how much they believe your claim is worth. If you receive an amount that you believe does not properly cover your losses, your attorney may be able to file a lawsuit against your insurance company in an attempt to recover additional compensation.
Lawsuits for Additional Personal Injury Compensation
Florida’s “no-fault” insurance law attempts to limit the number of lawsuits filed over minor car accidents. Civil suits to recover additional compensation for personal injury damages are only permitted under certain circumstances.
Types of Car Accident Claims
Most car accident lawsuits will be based on negligence, or the other party’s failure to exercise a reasonable standard of care while operating a vehicle or using common roads. The initial investigation by your insurance company and attorney will help to prove that the other party acted carelessly or violated traffic laws. To prevail in a negligence lawsuit, the injured must show the defendant did not meet this standard of care, this negligence caused the accident, and the breach of this duty caused his or her injuries. Potential defendants may include negligent drivers, reckless drivers, intoxicated drivers, passengers, pedestrians, or bicyclists.
If a defect in the vehicle contributed to the accident, the injured party may have a claim against the manufacturer of the vehicle or one of its parts. In some cases, the manufacturer will be liable, regardless of negligence, for injuries sustained as a result of faulty design, manufacturing, or labeling. To prevail, the plaintiff must prove that the defect occurred during the manufacturing process and contributed to their injury. In most cases, expert testimony and analysis will be required to determine whether the defect manifested during the manufacturing process or after the vehicle was purchased. Successful lawsuits will require the plaintiff to show:
- The defective car or part was “unreasonably dangerous”
- The vehicle was being operated as intended
- The vehicle’s performance had not changed since its initial purchase
Some claims against manufacturers have been based on defective tires, seatbelts, airbags, accelerators, brakes, and engines.
In some cases, faulty construction, design, or maintenance of roads can contribute to accidents. Some common causes include:
Embankments: When a road curves, the outer edge is set at an incline as a safety precaution. These raised areas serve the purpose of managing traffic so that vehicles can approach the outer edge of the road without driving off it. If the embankment is too steep or not elevated properly, motorists may be in danger.
Barriers and Guard Rails: Barriers, guard rails, speed bumps, medians, and curbs help to influence safe driving. If any of these structures are poorly designed or placed, driver safety may be compromised.
Surfaces: Various alterations in road surface alert drivers of approaching hazards or that they are leaving their lane unexpectedly.
Signage: Signs give drivers prior notice of approaching intersections, sharp turns, animal crossings, etc. They should be positioned in obvious locations and brightly illuminated for maximum visibility.
Traffic Control: Traffic lights, stop and yield signs, lights to warn drivers of intersections and crosswalks, and other devices are utilized to dictate traffic flow. Proper placement and operation of these devices is imperative.
If you have lost a loved one in a car crash, you may have legal recourse through a wrongful death lawsuit. In these cases, the family or survivors of the victim must prove that their loved one was killed as a result of another’s negligence. Economic, non-economic, and punitive damages may be available.
Car Accident Injuries and Compensation
Because each accident is different, the extent of injuries suffered will vary between cases. In many cases, the costs for treatment of the injuries sustained will not be covered by PIP insurance and will require additional litigation or negotiations. Some injuries that we may attempt to collect compensation for include:
- Burns and scars
- Loss of limbs
- Spinal cord injuries
- Head injuries
- Joint, muscle, back, neck, and bone injuries
- Knee damage
- Permanent disability
- Wrongful death
Economic auto accident damages, also known as compensatory damages, attempt to compensate the injured car crash victim for his or her monetary losses. Common economic damages awarded in car accident lawsuits include:
Medical Expenses: This may include fees for emergency room visits, hospital care, surgery, assistive devices and appointments with approved medical professionals.
Future Medical Expenses: If the car accident victim can prove that they will need continued medical care as a result of the crash, they may be able to recover the cost of future medical expenses.
Lost Wages: Injured car accident victims may be able to recover compensation for wages lost between the time of the injury and the conclusion of the lawsuit. If the injured victim was unemployed at the time of the accident, they may be awarded lost wages if they can demonstrate earning potential during this time period.
Loss of Earning Capacity: If the plaintiff can demonstrate that their ability to earn a living has been negatively impacted, compensation may be available. While past wages are considered in determining the amount of this award, the jury will typically look to establish the amount victim could have earned had the car accident not occurred.
Non-economic car accident damages award the plaintiff for non-financial losses. Car accident damages for non-monetary losses are typically harder to quantify and may include compensation for the following:
Pain and Suffering: This includes compensation for the physical pain suffered as a result of injuries sustained in the crash. In awarding damages for pain and suffering, the jury will examine the nature of the injury, the extent of the pain, and the length of time the victim is expected to suffer.
Mental Anguish: Victims can also be awarded for emotional pain suffered as a result of their car accident. Mental anguish damages compensate the victim for fright, embarrassment, nervousness, worry, grief and other forms of emotional distress caused by the accident.
Loss of Consortium: If a car accident lawsuit is successful, the uninjured spouse may be able to recover damages for loss of marital benefits, including companionship, sexual relations, affection and comfort. A jury will typically examine the following when awarding damages for loss of consortium: the stability of the marriage; the life expectancy of both partners; the degree to which marital benefits have been lost; and the amount of care and companionship given to the uninjured spouse.
Punitive Damages: If the actions of the defendant were so malicious or egregious, the jury may impose punitive damages, which are intended to punish the defendant and discourage similar behavior in the future.
Types of Accident Cases Our Orlando Attorneys Handle
Morgan & Morgan handles a variety of personal injury cases resulting from car accidents, including those stemming from:
- Drunk driving or driving under the influence
- Reckless driving
- Rear-end collisions
- Side-impact collisions
- Sideswipe collisions
- Head-on collisions
- Multiple party accidents
If you have been in an automobile accident in Florida, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible. There is a limited window in which to file an insurance claim or bring a claim against another party. To learn how our Orlando car accident attorneys may be able to help you, please fill out our no cost case review form today.