Dedicated Motorcycle and Auto Accident Lawyer in Tampa, FL
Motor vehicular accidents are among the most common causes of injury or death in the United States. The National Safety Council estimated that 35,200 people died in US traffic accidents in 2013. In addition, there were about 3.8 million crash injuries requiring medical attention. Car, truck, and motorcycle accidents are one of our key practice areas at Greco and Wozniak P.A.
Common Types of Injuries
We believe in holding individuals accountable for failure to follow basic rules of the road, especially when those mistakes and failures result in traumatic injuries or wrongful death. Spinal injuries are one of the most common types of injuries in motor vehicle collisions. The injuries can range from herniated discs, fractured vertebrae, spinal cord injury, and injuries to muscles and ligaments. Cervical, thoracic, and lumbosacral spine injuries can be particularly tragic when they compromise a person's ability to work and care for themselves. Head injuries are also common, and significant concussions may not be detected immediately after an accident. Traumatic brain injuries can be mild, moderate, or severe. We also represent clients with other types of traumatic injuries:
- Broken Bones
- Nerve Damage
- Carpal Tunnel
- Rotator Cuff Injuries
- Labral Injuries
Insurance Company Strategy
As for-profit businesses, insurance companies often try to avoid accountability for the harm caused by vehicular accidents. A common strategy is paying accident reconstruction experts and biomechanical engineers to provide testimony that can sway a jury. The usual argument is that the accident did not have sufficient forces to cause the injuries being claimed. If the accident did not cause severe vehicular damage, the insurance company will argue it could not have caused the injuries being claimed and their insured is not responsible for the harm. There is no validity to this rationale. Even vehicular accidents with minor vehicular damage can cause serious injury or death.
Another common argument is that your injury was pre-existing. The insurance company will argue that evidence of a chronic, degenerative, long-term health problem cannot be blamed on a recent automobile accident. This is simply not true. Degenerative changes or chronic medical conditions are part of the normal aging process and can easily be aggravated or worsened by a vehicular accident. Florida law allows you to recover compensation for aggravation of a preexisting condition. When the insurance company pays an expert witness to look at your medical records, it helps to have an experienced team of lawyers on your side. The attorneys at Greco and Wozniak P.A. proactively address these common courtroom tactics. Our mission is to make sure that the responsible party is held accountable.
Vehicular Accident Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What are the most important things I need to do if I am injured in a vehicular accident?
A. You should immediately seek medical attention and contact an attorney to represent your interests and deal with the insurance company. Do not give a recorded statement to an insurance company without first contacting a lawyer. If you delay seeking medical attention, the insurance company will opportunistically use the delay in seeking medical treatment as a means of undermining your case.
Q. Am I entitled to recover compensation for non-economic damages i.e. pain and suffering, loss of capacity of the enjoyment of life, disfigurement, mental anguish, and inconvenience?
A. In order to recover for non-economic losses under Florida law, the claimant must meet the burden of proving the “permanency threshold”. This means obtaining an opinion from a qualified medical professional that the accident caused a permanent impairment or disfigurement. In a small class of cases, usually involving school buses or taxis, it is not necessary to meet the “permanency threshold”.
Q. How long will it take to bring my case to a conclusion?
A. Since Florida law requires the claimant to prove that the injury was permanent in order to recover non-economic damages, it is usually necessary to treat with a medical provider for a minimum of 4 months after the subject accident. Generally speaking, a medical provider is unable to determine if an injury is permanent without treating the patient for a minimum of 4 months. Once the claimant reaches maximum medical improvement, we will normally try to reach a presuit settlement with the insurance company. If we are unable to reach a presuit settlement, a lawsuit will be promptly filed. Should it be necessary to take the case all the way to trial, it usually takes approximately 12-18 months from the date the lawsuit is filed.
Q. Why do we have to use my insurance company if I did nothing wrong to cause this accident?
A. Since Florida is a No Fault State, your own insurance company is primarily responsible for a certain portion of your medical expenses and lost wages under your PIP benefits. This is the way the entire statutory No Fault structure is set up in Florida and there is no way to get around making a claim for PIP benefits with your own insurance company. Under PIP benefits (also referred to as No Fault benefits) your own insurance company is required to pay a certain percentage of your medical expenses and lost wages (please see the answer to the question below concerning how much you may be entitled to in PIP benefits).
Q. How much am I entitled to receive in PIP or No Fault benefits after an accident?
A. In 2013, the Legislature made changes to the PIP statute that make it critical for someone injured in an accident to promptly seek medical treatment. Under the changes in the PIP statute, you must seek treatment within14 days from the date of the accident. If you do not seek treatment within 14 days of the accident, you are not entitled to any PIP benefits. If you do seek treatment within 14 days from the accident and it is determined that you have an emergency medical condition, you are entitled to $10,000 PIP benefits which pays 80% of medical expenses and 60% of lost wages. If you seek treatment within the first 14 days and do not have an emergency medical condition, PIP benefits are limited to $2,500. It is also important to review the provisions of your policy to determine if you may have Medical Payment coverage in addition to your PIP benefits.
Q. Are there caps on non-economic damages?
A. No, Florida has never had caps on non-economic damages in any type of injury or death case except medical malpractice cases (Please see the Frequently Asked Questions under Medical Malpractice and Wrongful Death for discussion of the Florida Supreme Court’s recent landmark decision in McCall finding the caps on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases to be unconstitutional in wrongful death actions).
Q. What do we do if the person who caused the accident was not carrying any or enough bodily injury liability coverage to compensate me for my harms and losses?
A. Florida law requires every insurance company to offer uninsured motorist coverage (“UM”) to anyone purchasing a policy of insurance. UM coverage is one of the most important types of coverage you can purchase and should be carried by everyone who is able to afford it. If you have UM coverage under your policy, your own insurance company will stand in the shoes of the at fault party up to the limits of UM coverage which you selected. UM coverage can be used up to the limits of coverage you selected under circumstances where the person who caused the accident was not carrying any bodily injury liability coverage or was not carrying enough bodily injury coverage to pay for your harms and losses. Simply put, UM coverage is your only safeguard to protect you and your family if you are ever injured by someone who was not carrying adequate bodily injury liability coverage.
The only way an insurance company in Florida can sell a policy without UM coverage is if you sign a rejection of UM coverage. If no rejection is signed, the carrier must provide UM coverage equal to your bodily injury policy limits. If you do not carry bodily injury liability coverage, the insurance company does not have to offer UM coverage.
Q. If my case goes to trial, why can’t we sue the at fault party’s insurance company in addition to the at fault party?
A. Florida has a non joinder statute which prohibits you from suing an at fault party’s insurance company. Unless it is your own insurance carrier or you are suing the at fault party’s insurance carrier for bad faith, you must sue the party who caused the accident, not their insurance company. The Legislature passed this statute at the behest of the insurance industry under the rationale that a jury would be inclined to award more money and be less sympathetic with the insurance company as a party, as opposed to the individual defendant. As such, it would result in a mistrial or be reversible error for there to be any mention of liability coverage in the presence of the jury during trial.
This site is made available as a service to our clients for informational purposes only. The material contained in this website is intended to be a general overview and does not pertain to any specific legal matter. Nothing contained in this website should be substituted for the advice of an attorney nor does it create an attorney client relationship between any reader and Greco & Wozniak P.A. An attorney must always be consulted before relying on any of the information contained on this site.