Florida Car Accident Lawyer
Florida is known as the Sunshine State for a reason. Tourists flock to Florida from all over the world to enjoy Miami Beach, Walt Disney World and Key West, among other attractions. All of this congestion brings with it a dark side of course – Florida roads are some of the most dangerous in the entire United States, with 12.5 road deaths per 100,000 people.
All told, more than 3,000 people lost their lives on Florida roads in 2017, and more than a quarter of a million people were injured. If you or your loved one are one of the people who make up these grim statistics, and if you believe that the accident was caused by someone else, you may have a financial remedy under Florida law—and you need a Florida car accident lawyer.
The Fine Art of Fighting Back
You might be surprised at how much money you might be eligible for if you were victimized by another person’s negligence or other misconduct. If you can prove your case, it is likely to add up to a lot more than simple reimbursement for your medical bills. You might also be entitled to:
- Reimbursement for lost work time
- Estimated future medical expenses
- Pain and suffering (which often amounts to several times the amount of medical bills)
- Mental anguish
- Out of pocket expenses, such as child care while you are in the hospital
- Punitive damages, if the defendant’s conduct was outrageous (an intentional “road rage” assault or a DUI accident might qualify for punitive damages).
Wrongful Death Claims in Florida
You might be wondering what happens to a personal injury claim if the victim dies from his injuries before the case is resolved. In Florida, the answer is for the personal representative of the victim’s probate estate to bring a wrongful death claim on behalf of both the estate and the victim’s surviving family members. A financial recovery is possible for:
- Loss of the value of services and support the victim provided;
- Loss of companionship, guidance, and protection;
- Mental anguish (if a parent loses a child);
- Medical or funeral expenses;
- Lost wages and benefits; and
- Lost “prospective net accumulations” of the estate.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What can I do if the accident was partly my fault?
Even if the accident was partly your fault, your claim will not necessarily be barred. Florida applies a “pure comparative negligence” system, whereby:
- each party is assigned a percentage of fault for the accident (35% vs.65%, for example);
- each party’s damages are reduced by that party’s own percentage of fault; and
- damages are balanced, and whichever party ends up with a net loss pays damages to the other party.
Although it is theoretically possible to recover 1% of your damages even if the accident was 99% your fault, you would still have to pay 99% of the other party’s damages, which would almost certainly leave you with a net loss.
I was hit by an 18-wheeler, but the driver’s insurance is not enough to cover my claim. Can I claim against the trucking company?
That depends on:
- Whether the truck driver was an employee or an independent contractor of the trucking company; and
- Whether you can prove that the trucking company itself was negligent.
If the driver was an employee of the trucking company, the trucking company is liable to you for damages caused by the driver’s own negligence. If the driver was an independent contractor, however, you can only claim against the trucking company if the accident was caused by the company’s own negligence (improperly loading cargo, for example).
Do I automatically win the case if I can prove that the defendant was breaking a traffic law at the time of the accident?
No, but it is very good news for your case. To win on this, you will need to convince a court (or the opposing party if you are negotiating a settlement) that the defendant’s violation of the traffic law amounted to negligence under the circumstances. You will also have to prove that the defendant’s traffic violation actually caused the accident.
Can I claim against the automobile manufacturer if I was injured because my airbags failed to deploy during a car accident?
You can claim against the airbag manufacturer if you can prove that they were unreasonably dangerous and in a defective condition due to a manufacturing defect, a design defect or inadequate warnings. You can’t claim against the airbag manufacturer for the accident itself, but you can claim for the extent to which your injuries were increased by the failure of the airbags to deploy.
What do I have to prove to win? Do I have to prove my case “beyond a reasonable doubt”?
There are four formal elements of proof in a car accident lawsuit:
- The defendant owed you a duty of care (the duty to drive safely while on public roads)
- The defendant breached this duty (in other words the defendant behaved negligently by, for example, running a stop sign)
- The defendant’s breach of duty actually caused the accident; and
- You suffered damages (such as pain and suffering) as a result.
You do not have to prove any of these elements “beyond a reasonable doubt”, but you must prove each by a “preponderance of the evidence”, which means about a 51% likelihood.
You Probably Won’t Have to Go to Court
Your claim will probably be paid by an insurance company, and insurance companies don’t like to go to court. In fact, you are about ten times as likely to end up with a private settlement than with a court judgment.
You Only Pay If You Win
You may have heard horror stories about “billable hours.” My firm doesn’t use the billable hour system, however, because we believe in results. At my firm, you only pay if I arrange a court judgment or private settlement for you. Even then, you pay a percentage of your recovery, and you won’t owe me anything until your money arrives. If I don’t win your case, you will owe me nothing.
If you have been injured in a car accident in Florida, you are going to need a skilled Florida car accident lawyer. Contact DLE Lawyers today at (305) 363-7855 or fill out the online contact form for a free consultation.