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Car Accident Frequently Asked Questions

Accident with my company’s car; who pays damages?

If you were not at fault in the accident, the at-fault driver’s insurance policy will pay for the damage to the car. If you were at fault in the accident, your company’s insurance will pay for the damage to the car.

 

Are Punitive Damages Available in Florida Auto Accidents?

Punitive damages are available in Florida in all auto accident cases. The most common reason they are awarded is when the at-fault driver is driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

 

Are There Alternatives to Court in a Florida Auto Accident Case?

Actually, most cases, or a large percentage of the cases are resolved pre-suit, which means the cases never go to court. I work with the insurance companies before filing suit to try to find a fair resolution for the client, which save money on expenses, court costs and attorney’s fees.

 

Can I Be Found Liable in Florida If My Car was Rear-Ended?

There are many different circumstances where you can be found liable if your car is rear-ended. For example, if you pull out and cut someone off, you can be found liable. If you have witnesses stating that you are brake checking or you are purposely slamming on your brakes in front of people, then you could be found liable as well.

 

Do I Have to Give a Recorded Statement to the Insurance Company After an Accident?

The at-fault party’s insurance company could as you to give them a recorded statement. You do not have to give them a recorded statement. However, if your own insurance company asks you for a recorded statement please seek advice from your attorney so that they can assist you in giving that statement. But yes you do have to comply and you do have to give your insurance company a recorded statement. 

 

Can I Be Treated by My Own Doctor if I Was Hurt in a Car Accident?

Our clients many times try to go to their primary doctors to get treated for their car accident cases. However, what we have found, is that many primary care doctors don’t want to be involved in car accident cases for numerous reasons. Many of them don’t know how to bill the P.I.P. benefits and they don’t get paid for treating car accident victims. Therefore, it is really important you get treated by a doctor who specializes in documenting and treating car accident cases.

 

How is Fault Determined in an Auto Accident?

Fault is determined by the evidence collected during the investigation. We look to many things to determine fault in the case: we look to the police report, we look to witness statements, we look to the property damage to the vehicles, skid marks, layout of the cars, etc. Sometimes we even have to refer to accident re-constructionists to do a professional examination of the all the evidence to do a recommendation for us, but that does not happen in very many cases.

 

Do I Have an Auto Case If I am Found to be Partially at Fault?

Car accident cases are not always black and white. Sometimes it’s clear 100% liability and sometimes its a percentage of liability. Someone is 50% at fault and the other person is 50% at fault. Sometimes it’s a 60/40 split. When there’s a comparative negligence case, for example, if you’re awarded a $100,000 settlement and the jury finds you 20% at fault, your settlement is reduced by the percentage you are found at fault. So, in this case, you would only get $80,000.

 

Does Florida Cap Non-Economic Damages in an Auto Accident?

Florida does not cap non-economic damages for pain and suffering in car accident cases. The sky is the limit at this point, unless the legislature decides to pass any other laws or regulations controlling that issue.

 

What Are the Types of Damages in a Florida Auto Accident Case? 

The Florida statutes list the damages that are available to you in a Florida car accident case. Some of them include: the bodily injury to your person, your pain and suffering, your mental anguish, all your medical bills and expenses and future medical bills and expenses, inconvenience, disfigurement, scarring and a couple more.

 

If I Sue Someone for Damages in an Auto Accident Case, Will I Hurt the Person I Sue?

If the at-fault party has bodily injury coverage on their auto policy, their insurance company will hire an attorney to defend them. It will not cost them money out-of-pocket for their defense. However, the liability policy that they have will only cover up to the limits of their policy. Any of your damages that exceed those limits would be covered by your uninsured motorist coverage (if you have it) or it could be recovered from the individual personally.

 

If My Friend Borrows My Car and Gets in an Accident, Can I Be Sued?

If you loan your car to a friend, and the friend took your car with your consent, then the injured party of the non-at fault vehicle does have a right to go after the driver of the vehicle as well as the owner.

 

Can I file a Lawsuit If I Wasn’t Wearing My Seat Belt?

Yes, you are able to still sue the driver and the owner of the car, if you were injured in an accident while not wearing your seat belt. However, keep in mind, that because of comparative negligence, the jury could place a percentage of liability on you for your injuries and the verdict could be reduced by that percentage.

 

Will My Auto Accident Case Be Affected Because I Gave a Recorded Statement to the Other Driver’s Insurance Company?

Your auto accident case can be affected. The reason the other driver’s insurance company tries to get a recorded statement from you is because they want to pinpoint you on the answers to your questions. If you make statements about your injuries, if you make statements about your pain, they can use that against you at a later time.

 

Can a Passenger Recover Damages If the Injuries Were Caused By The Driver of the Same Car?

Yes you can. As long as you are not married to the driver of the vehicle. You can be a relative. You can be a friend. You can definitely recover damages if the accident is the result of the driver.

 

Can I Take Action Against Parties Other Than the At-Fault Driver?

Yes. Not only do you have an action against the driver of the vehicle, but you also have an action against the owner of the vehicle. It does not matter if the owner of the vehicle has a commercial policy or is an individual owner.

 

What are Subrogation Rights?

Subrogation rights are when someone pays benefits on your behalf as a result of a car accident case. It gives them the right to recover those benefits back from the at-fault driver. The most common subrogation rights we deal with are health insurance carriers. If they pay for some of your medical expenses, then they have a right to be reimbursed from the at-fault driver’s insurance, which is your settlement. You really should hire an attorney to make sure you comply with these subrogation rights, because we work with the health insurance companies to reduce the amount of money that you have to pay back to them.

 

What Constitutes Pain and Suffering in a Florida Auto Accident Case?

Here are some examples of what constitutes pain and suffering in a Florida auto accident case: physical pain, emotional trauma, limitations on daily activities, limitations on abilities at work, depression, scarring, disfigurement, and any kind of post-traumatic stress disorders.

 

What Documents Should I Bring to My Attorney?

We like you to bring the driver’s exchange of information that the police officer gives you at the scene. We also like you bring any photographs of damage at the scene. Also bring your health insurance cards and your auto insurance cards or declarations page, so we can review the coverage available to you.

 

What Is a Permanent Injury?

A permanent injury does not necessarily have to be a disabling injury. What it means is that you have an injury that will permanently affect you for the rest of your life. It can be a herniation in the neck or lower back. It can be paralysis. It can be traumatic brain injuries; there are many different examples of permanent brain injuries.

 

What is Bodily Injury Liability Insurance Coverage?

Bodily injury liability coverage is optional coverage in Florida. When you opt to purchase bodily injury liability coverage you are protecting yourself in case you or someone else is driving your vehicle and you permanently injure another person and you are at-fault for the accident.

 

What is Comprehensive Insurance Coverage?

Comprehensive coverage is coverage under your auto insurance policy which covers damage to your vehicle that are not related to car accidents. Examples of that kind of coverage would be fire, theft, windstorms and even vandalism.

 

What is Negligence?

Negligence involves harm caused to another person by carelessness and not intentional harm.

 

What Should I Do Immediately Following my Florida Car Accident?

First: Call 911. Once that happens, someone from the Sheriff’s Office or a Highway Patrol Officer can respond to the scene. It’s important that you get the accident documented in the form of a police report, so that you have that for your case.

Second: Call an attorney: An attorney can advise you on the steps to handle your property insurance claim, and resolve any injuries you may have sustained as a results of your accident. Insurance companies have attorneys working hard for them, and you need an attorney working just as hard for your rights.

 

Who Will Pay for My Defense if I Am Sued Regarding an Auto Accident?

There are many different insurance coverages that are available to you, when you sign up for an insurance policy. If you elected bodily injury coverage to protect you if you were in an accident that was your fault, your insurance company will pay for your defense and hire an attorney for you.

 

Who Will Pay for the Damage to My Vehicle in an Accident?

It depends on who was at fault for the accident. If you were at fault, your insurance company will pay for the damage to the vehicle. If you were not at fault, the at-fault driver’s or owner’s insurance policy will pay for the damage, and if they do not have enough coverage to cover the damage to your vehicle, your collision coverage (if purchased) would pay for the damage to your vehicle.

 

What is Non-Binding Arbitration?

Non-binding arbitration is another form of what we call in Florida, Alternative dispute resolution. Mediation is when you bring together parties with a mediator and you basically have the parties decide what the value of your case is. Non-binding arbitration is when you go in front of what’s called an arbitrator. Usually this is a former judge or an attorney that practices in trials and has a great amount of experience. During the arbitration process, both sides are able to put forward what we call evidence. That can be in the form of sworn testimony, it can be in the form of documents, it can be photographs. The arbitrator pulls all of this information together. He listens to statements from both sides and then ultimately comes up with a decision. In that decision they field the issue of liability. Who caused the injuries as well as what the injuries are and what they are worth. Both sides get an opportunity to review that opinion and if they agree and they accept it then the case is resolved and basically it’s over. If one side says “I don’t agree with that” They notice the case for trial and we just continue along in the litigation process.

 

What is a Proposal for Settlement?

A proposal for settlement is just another chance to try to resolve your case. What happens is you sit down with your attorneys or the other side sits down with theirs and they come up with a number that they view the case is worth. They put it down on what is called a proposal and it is sent to the other side. Once that proposal is served, the side that receives it has 30 days to decide what they want to do with their case. If the proposal is accepted, the case is over. That means that it’s resolved and basically you will move through with the final documents. If the proposal is not accepted, you ultimately go to a trial because your case will continue on and we end up getting a verdict or the other side gets a verdict. If it’s 25% greater than the offer we made to the defense, we would be entitled to all of our attorney fees and costs from the date that was served. If it’s on the other side where the defense served the proposal, and we reject it and they get 25% less than their offer then we would be responsible for their attorney fees and costs. 

 

What is a Deposition?

The easiest way to think of a deposition is that it is a question-answer session. You will show up one day with me or another attorney from our firm to a court reporter’s office and you will be placed under oath and then the other side, their attorney gets an opportunity to ask you questions. You simply just respond to the questions to the best of your ability and at the end you will have an opportunity to review the transcript to see if there are any errors or changes that you feel did not get recorded correctly. 

 

What is Litigation?

All it means is once a case actually gets filed with the court system. So you have pre-lit which is when you are negotiating, you are working with the defendants to try to come up with a compromise without the need to actually file that complaint. When the case actually gets filed with the court system, that’s when we say it’s in litigation.

 

What Happens When Moving a Case from Pre-litigation to Litigation?

When you have a case when it actually goes into litigation along the way there are some additional things that you as the client are asked to help with and the first one is we will have what are called discovery served on us. That is interrogatories, request to produce request for admissions. What those are are questions to you and they are basically asking you to provide information about what’s going on in your lawsuit. You work with our office, we get your responses prepared, you review them to make sure that they are accurate and correct. Then you actually go in front of a notary and you sign and you state that. Then we also get documents and we produce those and then on the steps we have what is called a deposition. A deposition is a question and answer session that you sit in with your attorney and the other side and they ask you what’s going on in the case of what’s going on with your injuries. After the deposition you have what is called mediation which is another chance to try to resolve the case with a neutral third-party called the mediator and then if we can’t resolve the case along that path we ultimately get what’s called a trial. That’s when you go in front of the jury and we try to resolve the case and have the jury come back with a decision. 

 

Do All Personal Injury Cases Have to Be Litigated?

Not every case goes into litigation. In fact a large number of cases can be settled without ever having to have a complaint filed. If you think about it it’s just another step along the journey in your lawsuit. If we can resolve it without going to the court system, that’s when the complaint actually gets filed. There’s no exact time frame or way to calculate how long it’s going to take for your case to finish. As a rule of thumb, we try to get all cases tried within 18 t0 24 months. That’s a hard goal to reach because there are outside factors that can come in. If anybody gets sick, if you have an additional surgery or sometimes we even have people who have passed away throughout the course of it. So the rule of thumb is we try to get your case to a jury between 18 and 24 months, but sometimes it can take longer.

 

Can You Still Settle A Case if It Moves to Litigation?

It’s always a client’s decision when they would like to have a case settled. Just because the lawsuit gets filed that does mean you have to go to trial. Throughout the process there are informal discussions that occur. There is what is called mediation and there are what are called proposals for settlement. You shouldn’t have the mindset that just because the complaint gets filed with the court that the settlement discussions stop.

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