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Hire a Car Accident Lawyer
Fort Lauderdale is the 10th most populated city in the state of Florida. Still, since the area is highly popular with tourists and snowbirds, the population can swell into the millions at certain times of the year. With more people comes more traffic and of course, heavy congestion can lead to car accidents. While Fort Lauderdale is famous for its beaches, arts, culture, and events, one of the least attractive aspects of the city is the shocking car accident statistics.
In 2021 alone, there were 41,374 crashes in Broward County, with 23,096 injuries and 263 fatalities. These statistics include automobiles as well as bicycle, motorcycle, and pedestrian accidents. If you've been injured in a car accident, you may be wondering when is the best time to hire a Fort Lauderdale attorney to handle your claim. We're here to help you understand the laws that will impact your ability to gain compensation and work with you for the best possible outcome for your situation.
Florida and the "no-fault" law
Florida is a "no-fault" state which means every vehicle owner must carry a type of insurance that they will use in the event of a car accident regardless of who was at fault for the accident. It's called No-Fault insurance and works in conjunction with Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance which is also a legal requirement. PIP covers your medical expenses and lost wages due to an accident. While this law was enacted in an attempt to lower the cost of insurance premiums, the opposite has taken place. No-fault states have some of the highest premiums in the U.S.
The no-fault law also impacts how you can recover compensation for injuries and property damage. You can only sue the other driver when your injuries meet a certain threshold. The language of the law leaves room for interpretation as it describes "serious injury" as a means to step outside of the no-fault law. Generally, serious injury means you have a permanent injury, have suffered significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement, or significant and permanent loss of bodily function.
This is where the art of negotiation comes into play since the language is ambiguous. For example, "significant" is a subjective term. While a facial scar might add character in some people's opinion, it could be devastating from another person's viewpoint and thus leaves room for debate. Another reason to bypass the no-fault law is in the case of someone being killed in a car accident.
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What is the car accident statute of limitations in Ft Lauderdale?
Every state in the U.S. has statutes of limitations in place, which is a timeline in which you can bring a civil lawsuit against another individual. The purpose of these statutes is to ensure that claims are brought in a timely manner so that evidence is not lost, memories don't fade, and witnesses don't disappear.
You have four years to bring a civil lawsuit against the other driver in Florida. If you miss the deadline, it's almost certain that no court will entertain your case. In rare instances, if your injuries take a long time to surface, you may be granted an extension. It's always best to consult one of our car accident attorneys to determine if you have options.
In the case of wrongful death, the family has just two years from the date of their loved one's passing to file a lawsuit. A surviving spouse, surviving children, parents, and other dependents can file a wrongful death claim. The possible damages that can be recovered include the following:
- Loss of support, including services such as help around the house and future income
- Loss of companionship for spouse and children
- Pain and suffering caused by the death
- Medical bills from the accident before death
- Funeral and burial expenses
How does comparative negligence work in Fort Lauderdale car accident claims?
Florida follows the pure comparative negligence rule, which will impact the amount you can recover if you are found to have some fault in the accident. It might be that you were exceeding the speed limit at the time of the accident. The jury will examine the evidence provided to them and assign a percentage of the blame. For example, say you were going 55 mph in a 50 mph zone when the wreck happened, but the other driver was intoxicated. The jury might assign you 5% of the blame and the other driver 95%. If the amount they were looking to award you were $500,000, they would deduct 5% leaving you with $475,000.
Damage caps in Florida and how they impact a car accident settlement
Florida has damage cap laws that place a limit on the amount of compensation you can receive in a lawsuit. Expressly, you are limited on the amount you can receive for non-economic damages, which usually refers to things like pain and suffering.
Although it's rare to receive punitive damages in a car accident case, the damage cap is three times the amount of compensatory damages or $500,000, whichever is the greater. Compensatory damages are things that come with a receipt, like medical bills. Punitive damages are only awarded when the defendant's actions are egregious. For example, say a defendant intentionally rammed your car in a fit of road rage, leaving you paralyzed. In that case, the judge may award punitive damages to make an example of the defendant.
When is the best time to hire a car accident lawyer in Fort Lauderdale?
Most minor accidents won't warrant hiring an attorney due to Florida's no-fault law; however, under some circumstances, it would be best to get the help of a lawyer, which are as follows:
You've suffered severe injuries - Severe injuries complicate a case substantially. Lawsuits can be stressful, long, and drawn out, which are not the ideal circumstances in which to recover your health.
Your injuries require long-term medical care - If you're looking at a long recovery, you may miss out on work and have to consider the financial cost of extended medical care. Our attorneys can make sure all of your past, present, and future economic losses are accounted for in the lawsuit.
Multiple vehicles were involved in the crash - Multiple vehicle accidents add a significant layer of complexity to any case. Our experienced car accident lawyers can investigate to find out how much liability each driver has.
What are the most common causes of accidents in Fort Lauderdale, Florida?
Fort Lauderdale drivers, like many cities in the United States, follow a nationwide pattern in the causes of car accidents which are outlined below:
Distracted driving - According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 3,142 people lost their lives due to distracted driving in 2019 alone. The worst thing about distracted driving and car accidents is that it's totally preventable. When a driver gets behind the wheel, 100% of their attention should be on the road.
Speeding - Speeding endangers everyone on the roadways, including the speeding driver. When drivers go over the speed limit, they have greater potential to lose control of their vehicles and aren't able to stop as quickly for hazards. When a speeding driver gets into an accident, the crash severity is increased, which means injuries will be worse.
Impaired driving - A person is killed every 52 minutes in the U.S. because of drunk drivers. When alcohol is consumed, brain function and muscle coordination are significantly reduced, which are critical to safely operating a vehicle.
Reckless driving - Drivers that engage in risky behavior on the roadways endanger the lives of everyone. Aggressively weaving in and out of traffic or tailgating to bully the driver ahead out of the way are examples of reckless driving.
Inclement weather- Fort Lauderdale drivers don't have to worry about ice and snow, but they do have to worry about slick roadways during the summer storms. Wet roadways can be hazardous, and drivers should slow down and be wary of the vehicles around them.
Intersection hazards - Red light and stop sign runners are a menace to society. When the light turns yellow, it means to slow down, not to put the pedal to the metal. Likewise, stop signs are in place to ensure a safe pace of traffic, and the roadway is clear of other drivers headed in different directions.
What should I look for in a car accident attorney?
Not all lawyers are the same. An excellent car accident attorney can increase your compensation tremendously. In fact, if you take a look at our personal results, you can see how we often win lawsuits for our clients that are as much as twenty times what was offered pre-trial.
It's essential to look at a lawyer's area of expertise. For example, someone who is experienced in divorce cases would not be the best option for a car accident case. We have lawyers that work on car accident cases and only car accident cases. Furthermore, you have to hire a lawyer that is knowledgeable about specific laws in Florida that will have an impact on your case, like the no-fault law and comparative negligence.
Finally, it's crucial to work with a lawyer that is prepared to take your case to trial. Sometimes negotiations fail, and the only resort is to go fight it out in a courtroom. That's where our lawyers excel. We never settle for less than what your claim is truly worth. We know that some lawyers will cave and settle for less just to avoid the hard work. That's something our lawyers would never do. We believe you have the right to be compensated for your injuries and fight hard to deliver just that. Contact us today for a free case evaluation. We'd love to have the opportunity to see what we can do for you and your family.