Howell & Thornhill

Zephyrhills Car Accident Attorneys

Your Home Team Since 1975 - We Got This!

Dealing with a car accident’s aftermath can be confusing without proper guidance. You may struggle to gather evidence, communicate with insurers, prove fault, calculate damages, and take necessary legal steps. A Zephyrhills car accident lawyer provides immense value through expertise and advocacy during vulnerable times.

You have the right to understand your options under Florida car accident laws is crucial, but it can get complex. A lawyer thoroughly comprehends injury claims, insurance disputes, liability challenges, and litigation processes. Legal representation is vital and can maximizes the compensation for losses and damages.

What to Do After a Car Accident in Florida

The first steps after a Florida car accident are vital to protecting your rights. First, assess the situation and seek any urgent medical care required. Pull over and stop if it is safe to do so, turn on hazard lights, and call 911 to report the incident right away. Adrenaline may mask pain, so it is always important to get checked out, even if you do not feel anything at the time.

Next, thoroughly document the accident scene, vehicles, and any factors contributing to the collision. Take photos of the damage, skid marks, debris, road hazards, or visibility issues. Get names, contact details, and written statements from eyewitnesses whenever possible.

Report the accident to authorities and your insurer promptly. File a detailed police report on your recollection of events. Notify your insurance provider about the incident as required by your policy so you can file for the compensation you deserve.

Common Injuries With Car Accidents

Car accidents can cause various types of traumatic injuries depending on crash factors. Understanding common accident injuries helps establish damages and fair compensation. Medical specialists may classify injuries as either “soft tissue” or “hard tissue.”

Soft tissue injuries involve damage to the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and other connective tissues within the body. Common soft tissue injuries sustained in car accidents include whiplash, sprains, strains, contusions, and generalized musculoskeletal inflammation or swelling. These injuries frequently cause significant pain, stiffness, loss of flexibility, swelling, restricted mobility, and other issues that can either resolve gradually over a period of weeks or, in some cases, persist long-term as a chronic condition, requiring extensive ongoing medical treatment and physical therapy.

Hard tissue injuries sustained in car accidents include serious harm, such as bone fractures and traumatic brain injuries, that can lead to long-term health consequences. Broken bones, such as fractures to the arms, legs, ribs, or vertebrae, must be properly realigned and set, often requiring metal plates and screws as well as surgery, to ensure the bones heal properly. Concussions and other traumatic brain injuries can result in significant cognitive impairment, memory issues, vision problems, headaches, and other neurological effects that require careful monitoring and treatment over time.

Car Accident Types With Negligence

Proving your car accident resulted from another driver’s negligence is crucial for obtaining compensation. Negligence establishes their liability. Common car accident types typically involving provable driver negligence include head-on collisions, rear-end crashes, sideswipe accidents, and single-vehicle rollovers.

Head-on and sideswipe crashes often stem from drivers straying into opposite lanes. This may happen due to distracted or impaired driving. Evidence like crossing the center line demonstrates negligence. Rear-end collisions usually occur when drivers follow too closely or are distracted and do not stop in time.

If the rollover involved a single vehicle, this could have happened because of driving too fast or going around corners without slowing down. Police reports, skid marks, and witness statements help substantiate driver negligence. It is important to work with a Zephyrhills car accident attorney to determine fault and eligible damages in your unique case based on accident circumstances and Florida laws.

When to Contact an Attorney

You should contact a lawyer as soon as possible. Of course, if you have injuries, address those first. The medical paper trail from your doctor and any potential surgery will benefit your case by showing your injuries.

It is important to contact an attorney after your accident when you are physically able to so you can start the evidence process. Contacting your lawyer early on will give you both enough time to go over all of the proof you have and get more if needed. You need a strong case, and this gives you the best opportunity.

Even if you do not have your full diagnosis, you should still contact a lawyer. You can start from the basics and build on your case as your doctor gives you more information. This is a common scenario because people need ongoing treatment or surgeries later on and can build it into the case.

When to Consider Filing a Lawsuit

You should never file a lawsuit right away as the first option because someone caused an accident.  A lawsuit should be the next step if negotiation does not work with the other party’s insurance company. Your lawyer can help you determine when the right time to sue them is.

Factors that may warrant a lawsuit include when the at-fault party makes an unacceptable offer. Also, a complex case that involves contributory negligence or highly debated cases may escalate to a lawsuit. Multi-vehicle accidents with unclear responsibility may need a definitive judgment to provide percentages of blame.

Filing a lawsuit has risks, costs, and delays that you and your attorney should carefully consider. It should be your last result, but sometimes it is necessary. If you do need a lawsuit, your attorney will be with you every step of the way, so you do not have to worry about how to navigate the case.

Types of Evidence to Prove Your Car Accident Case

To prove fault effectively, you need to gather strong evidence to support your claims. Having the proper evidence can make or break your case. You should have the following types of proof:

  • Photos and videos from the incident, if possible
  • Eyewitness statements offer independent third-party recollections of how the accident occurred and who was at fault
  • Expert accident analysis can reconstruct the incident and further prove negligence
  • Medical reports prove the diagnosis, severity, and impact of accident-related injuries
  • Records of lost income, property damage, and expenses related to the crash help quantify economic damages

Evidence requires organization and quality presentation. An experienced attorney will know how to strategize and effectively incorporate your evidence. Doing this on your own can be detrimental to the outcome of your case.

Economic Damages vs. Non-Economic Damages

Pursuing fair compensation after a car accident in Florida involves calculating both economic and non-economic damages. You should know what each of these damages means for your case. Being more aware of the legal terms and what is expected can help strengthen your case.

Economic damages include quantifiable monetary losses. These include medical and rehabilitation bills, lost income from missed work, property damage, and loss of future earnings capacity. Calculating economic damages relies on evidence like receipts, pay stubs, and financial reports.

Non-economic damages involve subjective losses that can be difficult to quantify. These losses include both physical and emotional harms such as pain and suffering, loss of consortium, emotional distress, disability, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment of life, and overall reduced quality of life. Accurately calculating appropriate monetary compensation for these intangible damages requires skill, experience, and strategic negotiation to translate the real impact of the intangible harms into fair monetary figures.

Statute of Limitations for Florida Car Accidents

Florida sets strict deadlines called statutes of limitation on filing accident-related claims, which are vital to follow. You have a restricted window to act, or you can lose compensation rights, which means even if you were not at fault, you could lose the opportunity to get justice. The first one you should be aware of is property damage claims, which must be submitted within two years of the accident.

For injury claims, Florida also provides a two year time limit.  It is possible the time deadline may be five years in an uninsured motorist claim, although that issue is currently under debate.  Wrongful death claims that are tied to a driver’s negligence must be filed within two years.

By submitting claims well before the limitations expire, your lawyer ensures you do not miss deadlines jeopardizing recovery eligibility. Delaying consultation may mean forfeiting rightful damages permanently. Do not let strict limitations lapse through waiting.

When You Are Partially At Fault

If you are partially at fault for the accident, there are still options. You should not back down because you think you will not receive any compensation. Florida’s law follows a comparative negligence model.

Under comparative negligence, if you were 25% at fault for the crash, your total damages award would be reduced by 25% due to your contributory actions. If your fault is less than the other party’s, you have a valid injury claim. For example, if your damages were assessed at $100,000, but you were 20% responsible for the accident, your compensation would be reduced to $80,000.

However, if you are found 51% or more responsible by investigators or the court, you cannot use this model. You will not be able to seek any compensation. A car accident lawyer in Zephyrhills will thoroughly assess legal options based on the percentage of fault.

When the Other Driver is a Rideshare Driver

Every company is different, but Uber and Lyft often provide insurance with up to $1 million in liability coverage. This policy prioritizes rideshare accidents over a driver’s personal auto insurance while they have passengers in the vehicle during the time of the accident. If there are no passengers in the vehicle, their insurance would be needed at that point.

If you can remember, remember if anyone else was in the vehicle. If so, your lawyer will likely contact the rideshare company for compensation. Not to mention that passengers can also be a witness to the incident.

Attorneys deal with these insurance complexities daily. They can pinpoint applicable policies and pursue maximum damages from all available sources after rideshare crashes. They will know exactly who to go after for compensation to get the justice you need.

What to Do When the Other Driver Has No Insurance

Drivers are required by Florida law to carry liability insurance. However, over 20% still drive uninsured. This complicates accident claims when an uninsured (UM) or underinsured (UIM) driver caused the collision.

Special UM/UIM coverage through your auto insurance policy can provide compensation if the at-fault driver lacks sufficient insurance. Experienced attorneys investigate all options. Aggressive legal representation ensures recovery of maximum damages from all possible sources when uninsured drivers cause harm.

Lawsuits directly against the negligent uninsured driver may also be warranted to recover damages from their assets and wages through property liens or garnishment. While challenging, valid injury claims should not go uncompensated. An attorney will help you identify all available sources.

Factors to Consider if a Car Accident Case Should Go to Trial

While most injury claims settle out of court, certain factors indicate when a car accident case may need to go to trial to obtain fair compensation under Florida law. If an insurer refuses reasonable settlement demands despite clear liability and damages exceeding policy limits, litigation may be the best option for your case. If you are disputing fault in a complex case, it may mean you need a trial verdict attributing percentages of responsibility.

Additionally, cases with questionable liability often benefit from formal adjudication in court to establish negligence and recover damages. If insurers dispute crucial evidence, litigation better proves merits. However, trials add costs, delays, and uncertainty compared to negotiated settlements.

Attorneys weigh projected trial outcomes against settlement offers. Strong cases still often leverage better pre-trial offers. Factors like defendant agreeability, trial backlogs, jury tendencies, judicial temperaments, attorney skills, evidentiary issues, and appellate risks help determine if the settlement or a trial is strategically wise.

Work With Dedicated Personal Injury Law Experts

Pursuing fair compensation requires strategic legal expertise after a car accident. A knowledgeable car accident lawyer understands calculating damages, establishing negligence, disputing insurance claims, and leveraging favorable settlements. It is best to work strategically with your lawyer so you do not sacrifice your chances of recovering damages.

Consult our team today to discuss your options confidentially. We will start with a free consultation and see what the next step to take specifically for your case is. Our team will protect your interests against insurers, fight to prove liability, and pursue maximum compensation for your losses.