Auto Accident Lawyer
Motor vehicle accidents are among the most common causes of injury and death in the United States. The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration reports that more than 37,000 people were killed in auto collisions in 2016. Car, truck, and motorcycle accidents are one of our key practice areas at Greco and Wozniak, P.A. When you're injured in a car accident, you need an experienced auto accident lawyer.
Common Types of Injuries
We believe in holding individuals accountable for failing to follow the basic rules of the road, especially when their mistakes result in traumatic injuries or wrongful deaths. Automobile accidents often cause spinal damage. Common spinal injuries include herniated discs, fractured vertebrae, spinal cord injuries, and injuries to muscles and ligaments. Cervical, thoracic, and lumbosacral spine injuries can be particularly tragic because they often compromise a person's ability to work and care for themselves. Head injuries, such as concussions, are common and may not be detected immediately after an accident. Head injuries can be mild, moderate, or severe with varying effects on a person's ability to function. We also represent clients with other types of traumatic injuries, including the following:
- Broken bones
- Nerve damage
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Rotator cuff injuries
- Labral (shoulder) injuries
Insurance Company Strategy
Insurance companies are for-profit businesses that may 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. A commonly used argument is that the accident did not have sufficient force to cause the claimed injuries, especially if the crash did not result in significant vehicle damage. This rationale is invalid since even accidents with minor vehicular damage can cause serious injury or death.
The insurance company may also argue that your injuries were caused by a chronic, degenerative health problem and cannot be blamed on a recent automobile accident. This is simply untrue. Degenerative changes or chronic medical conditions are part of the normal aging process and can easily be aggravated or accelerated by a vehicular accident. Florida law allows you to recover compensation for the aggravation of a preexisting condition.
When an insurance company pays an expert witness to look at your medical records, it helps to have an experienced team of lawyers on your side. Our attorneys are prepared to address these common courtroom tactics proactively. Our mission is to make sure that the responsible party is held accountable.
Frequently Asked Questions About Vehicular Accidents
- What are the most important steps to take if I am injured in a vehicular accident?
- 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 contacting a lawyer first. If you delay seeking medical attention, the insurance company will use the delay to undermine your case.
- Am I entitled to recover compensation for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, loss of capacity of the enjoyment of life, disfigurement, mental anguish, and inconvenience?
- To recover non-economic losses under Florida law, the claimant must meet the burden of proof for the “permanency threshold.” This means a qualified medical professional must testify that the accident caused a permanent impairment or disfigurement. In a small percentage of cases, usually those involving school buses or taxis, it is not necessary to meet the permanency threshold. Florida does not limit the amount of non-economic damages that can be recovered.
- How long will it take to settle my case?
- Since Florida law requires the claimant to prove that the injury was permanent to recover non-economic damages, you must receive medical treatment for at least four months after the accident. Once you reach maximum medical improvement as indicated by your doctor, we will usually try to reach a pre-suit settlement with the insurance company. If we are unable to reach a pre-suit 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.
- Why do we have to use my insurance company if I did nothing wrong to cause this accident?
- Since Florida is a no-fault state, your insurance company is primarily responsible for a portion of your medical expenses and lost wages under your PIP benefits. That's why it's necessary to file a claim with your insurance policy even if you were not at fault for the accident.
- How much am I entitled to receive in PIP or no-fault benefits after an accident?
- In 2013, the Florida Legislature made changes to the PIP statute that now require injured parties to seek medical treatment within 14 days from the date of the accident. If you do not seek prompt treatment within this timeframe, you are not entitled to any PIP benefits. If you receive treatment within 14 days from the accident and it is determined that you have an emergency medical condition, you are entitled to $10,000 of PIP benefits which pay 80 percent of medical expenses and 60 percent 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 have medical payment coverage in addition to your PIP benefits.
- What do we do if the person who caused the accident was not carrying sufficient bodily injury liability coverage to compensate me for my injuries and losses?
- Florida law requires every insurance company to offer uninsured motorist coverage (UM) to anyone purchasing a policy. UM coverage should be carried by everyone who can afford it. If you have UM coverage under your policy, your insurance company will stand in the shoes of the at-fault party up to the limits of your selected UM coverage. This type of policy can be used when the person who caused the accident was not insured or did not have enough insurance to pay for your damages. Simply put, UM coverage is the 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. Also, if your policy does not include bodily injury liability coverage, the insurance company does not have to offer UM coverage.
- 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?
- Florida has a non-joinder statute that prohibits you from suing an at-fault party’s insurance company. Unless you are suing your own insurance carrier or you are claiming that the at-fault party’s insurance carrier acted in bad faith, you can only sue the party who caused the accident. The Florida 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 an insurance company than with a human defendant.
Greco & Wozniak, P.A. provides the personalized attention you need to receive the compensation you and your family deserve. If you've been injured in an auto accident, contact our team at 813-223-7849 or complete our form to schedule a free consultation.
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