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Ocala Car Accidents
Car accidents can take away your livelihood, and in extreme cases even the lives of you or your loved ones. They can leave you with years of physical pain and emotional suffering, and an ever-growing pile of medical expenses. Meanwhile, recent changes to Florida’s insurance laws have impacted the rights of residents to file lawsuits and get fair compensation.
Morgan & Morgan’s Ocala attorneys have decades of experience helping their automobile accident victim clients receive compensation for their injuries. We’ve used our resources to build cases demonstrating the severity of an injury to prove that our clients need more compensation than what their insurance offered them.
How Can Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Insurance Affect My Auto Accident Case?
Florida has made changes to its insurance laws to reduce the number of crash-related lawsuits and to lower insurance rates. Car accident victims must meet an “injury threshold” to be eligible to pursue additional compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. Injuries which meet this threshold include paralysis, brain damage, significant head injuries, permanent scarring and disfigurement, or fractured bones.
If your lawyer cannot prove your injury meets this threshold, you may not be able to file a lawsuit for additional compensation. An immediate evaluation by a physician (within 30 days or else you may not qualify for benefits), in addition to further testing and monitoring at the hospital, can be vital in proving that your injury is severe enough to warrant legal action under Florida’s insurance laws.
Injuries and Compensation
Automobile accident injuries are a rising concern for Floridians, and more specifically Ocala residents. According to a report from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, there were 5,903 car accidents in Marion County in 2015 - nearly 8 percent more than in 2014. These increasing accidents can cause injuries such as lacerations, fractures, spinal cord injuries, internal organ damage, and severe head trauma.
In addition to handling injury cases like those, our lawyers also have experience in lawsuits regarding wrongful deaths from motor vehicle accidents, working to secure compensation for the victim’s loved ones in their time of need. We work to try and get our clients compensation for a number of different damages, including:
- Current and future related medical expenses;
- Lost wages;
- Loss of earning capacity;
- Pain and suffering;
- Mental anguish;
- Loss of consortium;
- Loss of enjoyment of life; and
- Funeral expenses and other related costs.
Car Accident Lawsuit Process
Immediately following the automobile accident, it is important for you to receive a thorough physical evaluation. Your physician can:
- Help determine if you have an “emergency medical condition,” which can increase the benefits you can collect under PIP coverage;
- Record any visible scratches, lacerations, or bruising;
- Determine if there is any readily apparent internal damage; and
- Find evidence that an injury may manifest at some point in the future.
The information documented in this evaluation can be crucial to the success of your case and the amount of compensation you may be able to recover. Following this initial evaluation, you should contact a car accident lawyer to learn more about your legal options.
It is important that you do not discuss the accident or your injury with anyone other than your physician and attorney. Anything you say can be used against you during future negotiations and litigation.
To determine how much you may be owed in compensation and to build the best case we can possibly present, your lawyer will do a thorough investigation into your accident and injury, to show that you were hurt by another driver’s negligence. This investigation can include:
- Photograph the scene of the accident;
- Review police reports and medical records;
- Interview eyewitnesses; and
- Work with reconstruction experts to recreate the scene.
Constructing Your Claim and Complaint
Following his or her investigation, your lawyer will construct a claim detailing the injury you have sustained, explaining how the other party was negligent, and stating the amount of compensation that you are seeking.
Negotiation and Litigation
It’s possible during the lawsuit that a settlement offer may occur. As successful negotiators, we’re willing to discuss a higher settlement with the other party if we feel as though you haven’t been offered a settlement that’s fair for your needs.
Should these negotiations stall, your case could be brought to a judge or jury to determine the liability and what you could receive
Truck Accident Attorneys
With major interstates, including I-75, running through Ocala, thousands of commercial trucks, tractor trailers, 18 wheelers, and semi-trucks pass through the city every day. Trucks are significantly less maneuverable, heavier, and larger than other vehicles on the road, and therefore put other drivers on Florida’s overcrowded interstates at an increased risk of serious injuries. To help ensure a safe driving environment, truck drivers and trucking companies are required to adhere to local and state regulations, as well as a set of laws passed by the Federal Motor Safety Administration regulating the operation and maintenance of trucks.
If the truck’s driver, owner, manufacturer, or maintenance crew fails to adhere to these regulations, and an accident occurs, they may be liable for any resulting damages. Our LAWYERS have years of experience helping clients recover compensation for their losses in a wake of a truck accident. If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a car accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses.
Morgan & Morgan
What Are the Most Common Types of Car Accident Injuries?
A car accident can inflict serious harm, especially if the impact came at a high speed and with you in the most vulnerable position of a motor vehicle—the front passenger seat. However, the driver and other passengers also can sustain serious injuries caused by a motor vehicle collision.
When you meet with a car accident lawyer in Ocala from Morgan & Morgan, you should submit documentation that proves the extent of your injuries.
Here is a list of the most common injuries that result from a car accident
Let’s start with a less serious common type of car accident injury. Bruises resulting from a vehicle collision can develop for many different reasons. Your body can bruise after it hits the dashboard or steering wheel. Although it is considered one of the most effective vehicle safety devices, a seatbelt can cause bruises, especially if your automobile absorbed a strong impact.
Bruises typically do not require prolonged medical care, as they often heal within two weeks.
Whiplash represents one of the two most common types of car accident injuries that do not present visible symptoms. However, sustaining a whiplash injury can produce negative health consequences for years to come. When another car strikes your vehicle, your head, neck, and shoulder move back quickly before moving forward at the same fast rate. The stress placed on the neck and shoulders can cause tendons and muscles to tear, which can produce excruciating pain.
Whiplash symptoms sometimes do not develop right after a car accident, which means you must be aware of the symptoms in case they develop a day or two later.
As the second type of injury that does reveal visible symptoms, a concussion also can take a few days to develop symptoms such as nausea, chronic fatigue, and loss of coordination. Time is the most effective treatment method, as all you can do is wait for the symptoms to dissipate. Sustaining a serious concussion might indicate you have suffered a traumatic brain injury. Sustaining a traumatic brain injury can produce life-altering symptoms that do not disappear over the course of a lifetime.
A bone fracture caused by a car accident can happen just about anywhere on the body. However, the most common locations for broken bones are the arms, wrists, and legs. Using the arms to brace for a strong impact applies too much pressure on the bones. Leg fractures occur frequently when a vehicle receives a strong blow from the front or side of a car. Bone fractures can be relatively mild or severe enough to warrant emergency care. The most serious type of bone fracture is called a compound fracture, which consists of a fractured bone breaking through the skin.
What Are the Most Common Types of Car Accidents?
When you sit down with a car accident lawyer in Ocala, you will provide information that describes the type of collision you experienced. Determining the type of car accident can help your personal injury attorney determine which party should assume most—if not all—of the fault for causing the collision.
A head-on collision involves the front of one vehicle crashing into the front of another vehicle. This type of car accident can be caused by a driver operating a vehicle on the wrong part of a road. It also can happen in grocery and department store parking lots. Speed plays the most important role in determining the severity of a head-on auto collision.
Intersections, particularly those that do not have traffic signals, represent ideal locations for side-impact car accidents. From running a red light to failing to pay attention to a changing turn signal, a side-impact collision can severely injure either the driver or the front seat passenger because there is little protection to absorb the impact.
A rear-end auto collision can be as benign as a minor bump in a stadium parking lot or a major accident that causes injuries to more than one victim. The most serious read-end collisions occur at traffic signals when one moving vehicle plows into a second stationary vehicle. Whiplash represents the most common injury outcome caused by a rear-end car accident.
Drivers that operate a motor vehicle too fast while making a sharp turn can roll over the vehicle. Although this type of vehicle collision is frequently a single-car crash, it can involve one or more other cars. For example, a vehicle that rolls over on a congested highway can impact other cars because the drivers did not have enough time to take preventive action.
What Are Florida Car Accident Laws?
If your car accident lawyer in Ocala, Florida, recommends that you file a civil lawsuit seeking monetary damages, you should spend a little time becoming familiar with Florida car accident laws. In particular, you should understand how much time you have to file a civil lawsuit, as well as how Florida law treats fault for a car accident case. It is also important to know about Florida’s no-fault insurance rules.
Florida Statute of Limitations for Filing a Civil Lawsuit
Every state has set a deadline for plaintiffs to file a civil lawsuit that seeks monetary damages. Referred to as the statute of limitations, the deadline established by most states is between two and four years. However, some states go as high as six years, while a few states go as low as one year. Florida has set the deadline for filing a personal injury lawsuit at four years. The clock starts ticking on the statute of limitations on the day when you sustained injuries because of a car accident.
If you fail to meet the statute of limitations for filing a civil lawsuit in Florida, you can expect the court clerk processing your case to remove the lawsuit from the judicial docket. The attorney working for the defendant will notify the court clerk about your failure to file a civil lawsuit before the state-mandated deadline. Four years is plenty of time to file a civil lawsuit, but you should not wait long to take legal action for two important reasons. First, you need to receive compensation as quickly as possible to take care of rapidly rising medical bills. Second, your car accident lawyer in Ocala needs to interview witnesses as soon as possible after a vehicle collision to obtain the most accurate version of events.
Comparative Fault in Florida
Although a majority of car accident cases involve no negligence or the negligence of just one party, the remaining cases assign fault to more than one party. To account for cases that involve two at-fault parties, the State of Florida follows a legal principle called pure comparative negligence. Under this legal principle, if the judge hearing your case assigns you a percentage of fault for causing an auto collision, the amount of monetary damages you receive decreases by the amount of the percentage of fault assigned to you.
For example, let’s assume another vehicle struck your car as it tried to merge into traffic on a busy freeway. The judge overseeing your civil lawsuit finds the other party at 75 percent fault for causing the accident. You assume 25 percent for causing the car accident because you failed to see the other vehicle trying to merge into traffic. The judge awards you $60,000 in monetary damages to recover the financial losses associated with your injuries. However, you receive only $45,000 because of the 25 percent subtracted from the original award.
Florida and No-Fault Car Insurance
Florida follows a no-fault car insurance system just for cases involving car accidents. This means that after most auto collisions, your own insurance policy (Personal Injury Protection) provides compensation for you to pay off out-of-pocket costs such as medical and property damage bills. You cannot hold another party legally liable for a no-fault insurance claim unless you sustained serious injuries. Florida defines a serious car accident injury as a permanent injury, permanent and significant scarring, or permanent and significant loss of a body function.
Your car accident lawyer in Ocala determines whether you sustained serious enough injuries to warrant the filing of an insurance claim with the other party’s car insurance company.
How Does My Car Accident Lawyer in Ocala Help Me with a Car Insurance Claim?
Although most of the focus for car accident cases tends to be on winning a favorable legal judgment during a civil trial, you also should get legal support when the time comes to file a car insurance claim. The personal injury attorney that you hire from Morgan & Morgan provides several essential legal services that can get you the compensation you deserve.
Acts as an Intermediary
Insurance companies prefer to deal directly with policyholders because they can apply pressure to settle a claim that goes in the favor of the insurer. When a car accident lawyer in Ocala gets involved, an insurance company is much more likely to agree to a reasonable settlement. You have considerable financial pressure placed on you by medical and property damages bills. An experienced personal injury attorney at Morgan & Morgan acts as an intermediary between you and your car insurance company to ease your burden.
Gather Convincing Evidence
Your insurance company wants to see physical evidence and lots of it. Although the official report submitted by the law enforcement agency that investigated the crash contains physical evidence, your car accident attorney can build an even stronger case by taking more photos of the accident scene, as well as the damage done to your vehicle and every injury you sustained as a result of the vehicle collision. Another benefit of hiring a highly-rated car accident lawyer in Ocala is interviewing witnesses that provide legal support for your case.
Calculate a Value
Whether it is an insurance claim or a request for monetary damages, your personal injury attorney must calculate a reasonable value for compensation. Calculating a reasonable value for economic damages is easy because your lawyer refers to copies of medical bills and the receipts generated during the auto repair process. On the other hand, calculating a reasonable value for non-economic damages involves a few estimates. You cannot put a price tag on pain and suffering, which means your attorney decides what is a fair value for mental anguish and emotional distress.
Negotiate a Settlement
Most personal injury cases such as car accidents never see the light of a civil courtroom. This is because a civil trial is a costly and time-consuming process. Your car accident lawyer in Ocala, FL will try to negotiate a settlement before arguing your case in front of a judge. At Morgan & Morgan, our team of car accident attorneys knows how to calculate fair values for settlements. Although we try to reach a favorable settlement, our team of litigators never hesitates to litigate a lawsuit in front of a judge.
How Do I Hire the Best Car Accident Lawyer in Ocala?
Choosing the right personal injury is the key to receiving the compensation that you deserve. What qualifies as the criteria you should consider?
Let’s find out.
Yes, how long a personal injury attorney has practiced law in Florida is important, but you also want to ensure the years of experience have translated into a large number of successful civil lawsuits. Morgan & Morgan has worked with clients for more than 30 years, but more importantly, our team of personal injury attorneys has recovered more than $14 billion in monetary damages.
Ask two questions to every car accident lawyer on your shortlist of candidates. First, what percentage of your caseload involves personal injury cases? Second, what is your record for winning favorable legal judgments? At Morgan & Morgan, our personal injury attorneys handle just personal injury cases. Our record for winning legal favorable judgments sits at the top of the list for personal injury attorneys in the State of Florida.
Legal representation boils down to who works with you the most when handling your case. Many personal injury lawyers meet with potential clients for a free case evaluation, only to disappear for the rest of the legal process. You want to hire a car accident lawyer in Ocala who works with you from the day of the free case evaluation to the day when the civil trial ends. Although we lean on paralegals and investigators to provide support, our team of Florida-licensed personal injury attorneys works with our clients throughout a car accident case.
Communication skills cover a couple of concerns. You want to work with a litigator who knows how to explain complex legal terms in a simplified manner. Hearing legal jargon only adds more stress to an already stressful life event. You also want your car accident lawyer in Ocala to respond promptly to emails, phone messages, and text messages. Car accident cases can stall for weeks, if not months, and you deserve frequent updates that describe where your case sits in the judicial system.
Agreement on Settlement Goal
What you determine to be a fair settlement value is what matters more than what your attorney determines should be the fair settlement value. Your personal injury attorney’s job is to calculate a reasonable value for a car insurance claim, as well as the monetary damages awarded as a result of a civil lawsuit. Ultimately, the amount of money you receive depends on you, not your attorney. Remove any lawyer from your shortlist of candidates who insist on a value for compensation that is much different than what you believe to be fair.
When you access a lawyer’s website, you can expect to see several client testimonials, all of which praise the attorney who represented them. To get a more objective sense of an attorney’s reputation, read the reviews left on sites such as Yelp and Google. With more than three decades of experience, Morgan & Morgan has accumulated hundreds of positive reviews from clients living throughout the United States. We also have received the highest reputation rating of A+ that is awarded by the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
Morgan & Morgan operates on a contingency fee basis, which means clients do not pay upfront legal fees to receive legal support. Instead of spending money on legal fees, you can address some of the medical bills that have piled up after your car accident. Working with a personal injury lawyer who charges a contingency fee also motivates your attorney to work hard for you to receive just compensation.
Should Networking Play a Role When Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney?
If you are searching for a car accident lawyer in Ocala, Florida, networking is a highly effective way to choose the best litigator. Trusted friends and family members represent the best sources of referrals. Since 1988, Morgan & Morgan has received hundreds of referrals from clients that worked with our team of personal injury attorneys. If you cannot receive a referral from a trusted friend or family member, expand your network to include trusted neighbors and professional colleagues.
Another source of referrals comes from the lawyers that you know. Attorneys tend to move in the same social circles, which means you might be able to get a recommendation from an attorney who does not practice personal injury law. The Florida State Bar Association offers a “Find a Lawyer” page that allows you to input specific search criteria to discover potential personal injury attorney candidates.
Contact Morgan & Morgan for a Free Case Evaluation
If you were injured in a car accident due to another party’s negligence, don’t hesitate to reach out to the experts of Morgan & Morgan for a free, no-obligation case evaluation to get started. You shouldn’t have to figure out the complicated legal process of Ocala, FL on your own, and the experienced support of our car accident lawyers can be the difference between either being left with the damages or getting the compensation that you deserve in order to move on with your life. Contact us today.