When you get behind the wheel of your vehicle, or into the passenger seat of someone else’s vehicle, you have every right to expect that the drivers you are sharing the road with will take as much care to drive safely as you do. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, and you may find yourself in a car accident with someone who was driving negligently or recklessly or is otherwise at fault for the crash.
When you are injured in an accident that someone else caused, you have rights and deserve compensation above and beyond what the insurance company will offer you. Fasig | Brooks are Jacksonville personal injury attorneys that are here to make sure you get what you deserve.
Car Accident Checklist
Download a copy of our FREE car accident checklist
Every day, thousands of cars travel in and around Jacksonville without incident, but for every driver who is responsible and safe, there is another driver who may be engaging in dangerous behavior such as texting while driving, driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol, and more. Safe drivers do not deserve to be burdened with the financial impacts of an accident someone else caused.
This is common knowledge, which is why most people are aware of the fact that they can file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company, but few people realize how aggressively an insurance adjuster works to limit your settlement amount, especially when you are not working with a Jacksonville car accident attorney.
For a free case evaluation after a car accident in Jacksonville and beyond, call (904) 222-3333 to speak with the accident lawyers at Fasig | Brooks.
Hire a Jacksonville Law Firm to Get the Money You Deserve
The award-winning team at Fasig | Brooks is here to help victims of all types of personal injuries get the money they truly deserve, not just the money that the insurance company or defendant would like to pay. Your injuries are serious, and the economic impacts of this accident deserve to be acknowledged and fairly compensated. We are here to help.
Read more below to learn about some general information relating to Jacksonville car accident injuries, claims, and settlements, but contact us as soon as possible for a free initial consultation about your specific case. The following information is intended to give you an idea of what you can expect moving forward, but once you are working with our team, we will be able to go deep into the specifics and build a custom case for you.
Calculating Damages After Florida Car Accidents
Personal injury cases focus on two specific questions to be answered: who caused the crash, and how much money is the victim entitled to for their suffering? No matter how simple the answer to each of these questions may seem, you will be shocked at the amount of work it takes to reach an agreement on either.
Remember that an insurance company has a nearly-singular goal of paying as little as possible for any given claim, and yours will be no different. Therefore, when a claims adjuster is working on your case, no matter how pleasant they may be, you must always remember that they are working on behalf of an insurance agency that is working to limit your settlement.
Florida uses a rule known as pure comparative negligence when it comes to assigning liability after an accident, which is one of the many ways that the company will try to reduce its financial obligation.
However, this section will focus on the actual damages in a personal injury claim and how an attorney will calculate them before engaging in a series of aggressive negotiations to reach an out-of-court settlement agreement.
Economic damages are the most fundamental damages in a Florida accident, simply because they are much easier to calculate. These types of damages include anything that has a measurable dollar value associated with it and can therefore be compiled into a central document that includes all receipts, invoices, tax statements, pay stubs, bank account ledgers, and all other information to prove the amount.
Economic damages include all of your medical costs, including the obvious things like ambulances, surgeries, hospital stays, and prescriptions.
However, they include other medical-related expenses such as any assistive devices that you purchase to accommodate your injuries, as well as long-term projections about your future medical care and those costs if your injuries appear to be long-term or cause chronic issues.
Economic damages also seek compensation for all of your income-based impacts, including obvious things like short-term lost wages, but they also seek compensation for things like any PTO or vacation days that you used to cover missed time at work, as well as impacts on your earning capacity or your ability to engage in your work as you could before your injuries.
There are many other economic damages that we will seek after Florida accidents as well, each of which is highly specific to your accident and that will require a close look to ensure that we cover all damages that you are entitled to.
Non-economic damages tend to be the more contentious of the two compensatory damages simply because of their abstract nature and lack of measurable dollar value.
Non-economic damages seek payment for things like the pain and suffering that you endured as a result of your injuries, as well as the emotional, psychological, physiological, and mental impacts of going through such a painful and traumatic event.
As you can imagine, finding a dollar value for the anxiety you suffer from is a lot more complicated than submitting a receipt for a prescription, which is why the insurance representatives will push back much more aggressively on these damages compared to your economic damages.
There are various methods available to set a dollar value to these damages, including a multiplier. With this approach, you and your lawyer will lay out the range of non-economic damages you have suffered from and assign a number meant to indicate the severity of all damages together, typically along a 0 – 5 scale. Once you have chosen a number along the scale, this number will then be used as a multiplier against your economic damages to find a real number for these damages.
For example: If you have accumulated $100,000 of economic damages, and you have decided that your non-economic damages amount to a 2.5 out of 5, then you will seek $250,000 in non-economic damages, or 2.5 x $100,000.
There are several other ways that your attorney may choose to quantify these damages, as well, but rest assured that whatever method they choose is done with the intent of getting you as much money as possible.
Why Hire an Attorney After a Car Accident?
The reality of an insurance claim is that you do not need an attorney to carry out the process. Simply contact the insurance company, submit a claim, work with the insurance adjuster, and wait for a check. Easy, right? This is precisely what an insurance company wants you to believe. The easier the process is, the less likely a victim will hire an attorney who can truly fight back.
Professional Claims Advice
From the moment you file a claim with an insurance company, a team of people spring into action and begin to analyze every detail of your case. This investigation will involve submitting a range of documents, likely undergoing an independent medical examination, making statements to the insurance company, and more.
Every communication that you have with the claims adjuster will be examined for ways to leverage against you, even seemingly innocent or innocuous statements being used as “proof” that you do not deserve a full settlement. The stress of considering each statement and worrying that you may impede your claim can significantly impact the time that you should be spending focusing on recovery.
Each step of the way, your attorney from Fasig | Brooks will either handle the communications for you or advise you on how to handle yourself. This will be especially helpful during your independent medical exam when a doctor contracted by the insurance company will examine your injuries to diminish their impact and save money for the insurance company.
Once the investigation of your claim is concluded, the adjuster will return to you with an offer for a one-time settlement. Insurance companies rely on a victim’s stress about their short-term financial situation to accept this amount, in exchange for signing a waiver that blocks the victim from seeking any additional compensation or taking any additional legal action against the insurance company or their client for this accident, regardless of whether or not there is a significant change. In most cases, the insurance company will attempt to position this offer as the best you can do, but this is rarely, if ever, the case.
When you have an attorney handling your case, the entire time the insurance company was investigating your claim, your attorney performed their investigation and calculations. You will be shocked to see the discrepancy between the initial offer and the amount that your Jacksonville car accident lawyer has calculated.
Once this offer is submitted, your lawyer will be able to take the offensive and begin a series of aggressive negotiations, the goal being to reach a settlement agreement while avoiding a time-consuming and costly court case.
This is one reason why it is acceptable to take a lower settlement amount than what you may be entitled to at the trial’s outcome. If your attorney can successfully negotiate an agreement, then you will be able to accept the settlement and move on with your life, financially supported.
Emotional stress has been proven to have a significant negative impact on recovery from physical injuries, and you can be certain that your claims process will be nothing if not stressful. When you have a trustworthy, proven attorney fighting for your rights, though, you can focus on the important things like your health, family, and recovery with confidence. Any sort of insurance claim can be tedious, especially when your financial security is on the line.
We realize that you need to get your life back on track very shortly after your accident, which means returning to work as soon as possible, resuming your responsibilities such as child care, family obligations, as well as pursuing your hobbies and activities that you enjoy engaging in.
When the stress of your insurance claim bogs you down, it can be difficult to find enjoyment in anything until you reach a resolution or have a legal representative that you can trust who is handling the case for you.
To better understand what we mean by stress relief, contact our Jacksonville law firm today to speak with a car accident lawyer during a free initial consultation. During the consultation, you will see what we mean when we say that we focus on customer service because your comfort and confidence are the absolute most crucial factor in our work together.
Common Car Accident Injuries
We understand that no two accidents are alike, and no two injuries are alike for the victim. However, there are some common types of injuries following car accidents. We have a team of highly-experienced medical experts who we work with to quantify the financial impacts of these injuries and others.
In addition to the following injuries possible from a Jacksonville FL car accident, fatality is also possible – wrongful death is one of our practice areas, and we will be able to guide you through the process so that you can focus on spending time with your family and healing.
Some of the most common injuries from car accidents include (but are not limited to):
Whiplash is an injury that happens when the head is snapped forward, down, and back in a rapid “S” motion, typically during a car collision that causes the passenger to jerk forward before being caught by the seatbelt.
When this happens, the neck, shoulders, and upper back soft tissues can be torn and strained, resulting in significant discomforts such as lack of mobility, soreness, stiffness, headaches, trouble sleeping, and more.
The spinal cord is a major bundle of nerves running from the brain stem to the bottom of the back and carries all signals from the brain to the limbs. Damage to these nerves can cause partial or complete paralysis and several other sensory issues, and additional serious complications. If you suspect that someone has injured their spine, it is essential that you do not move them, as this may cause additional damage.
Fractured and Broken Bones
When a bone encounters a force greater than its tensile strength, it will break apart in many ways. Depending on the force of the impact, the direction of the impact, and more, the bone may have a minor hairline fracture that will heal on its own or may be wholly broken in half – possibly puncturing the skin at the same time.
When the capillaries at the surface of the spring are damaged or ruptured, they cause blood to pool underneath the skin leading to large areas of discolored skin that is tender to the touch. Depending on the severity of the bruising, they may require medical intervention or indicate something more severe, such as internal bleeding.
Internal bleeding happens when there is damage to an internal artery or organ, and blood flows out into an area like the chest cavity or stomach, causing significant complications for the victim.
Internal bleeding signs include dizziness, low blood pressure, loss of consciousness, black or tarry stool, bloody urine, and localized internal pain. These injuries must be treated by a medical professional as soon as possible.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
A TBI is an injury to the brain that can range from a minor concussion to permanent brain death, and in many cases, may be fatal. Concussions are known as a “silent killer” because until very recently; they were downplayed and written off as “getting your bell rung,” instead of treated like the serious medical issues that we now know them to be.
Whether or not you see injuries that resemble your own listed above, contact us as soon as possible to learn about how we can help you as your accident attorneys. Regardless of the nature of your injuries, the most important thing is to understand and prove the impacts these injuries have had on your life and quantify those impacts in terms of a cash award. An experienced car accident attorney will be able to do this for you while you focus on recovering from each injury you sustained.
What to Do After a Car Accident
The most important thing that anyone can do after a car accident is to remain calm and assess the situation. This is easier said than done since adrenaline makes it challenging to slow down when you may need it most. While it may seem that there are many different things that you need to do immediately following the crash, your main priority should be your safety and health and the safety of your passengers. Take a look at these steps for what to do in the moments and days following a car accident.
Whether you or someone else calls 911, this is an essential first step to ensure that you and the rest of those involved in the accident get what they need. Once 911 has been notified, they will be able to dispatch Jacksonville, FL firefighters, police officers, and EMTs who will be able to secure the area, address injuries, mitigate additional hazards, and begin to write a report. Following car accidents, Jacksonville police will compile a range of information in their accident report, an important document in the coming weeks and months.
If you can, and you witnessed the other driver engaging in unsafe behavior leading to the crash, inform the police as soon as possible. They will interview everyone involved and any eyewitnesses who have stayed to provide a report, and your observations will play an important role. The sooner you can give your account, the more accurate it is likely to be since memories fade quickly.
Get Medical Help
Whether or not you need to take an ambulance to the emergency room, you need to see a doctor as soon as possible. Your injuries will play a central role in determining the amount of money you deserve for a settlement. The more official documentation you have that proves your injuries, the stronger your case will be.
More importantly, you will get the care that you need to make a recovery. As the victim in this situation, we will be pursuing compensation for your medical bills; therefore, it is important that you keep your stress down about your medical bills and simply focus on making a full recovery as soon as possible. We will worry about the financial impacts.
Hire a Lawyer
Many people think that they should wait until after they have filed their insurance claim before hiring an attorney. The sooner you hire legal counsel, the better support and the better your chances of a fair settlement will be. From the moment you first contact the other driver’s insurance company, agents will take action to reduce the settlement they will offer you, and every statement and document you submit will be explored and examined as they attempt to save themselves as much money as possible.
From the moment you hire the Fasig | Brooks team, our law firm will handle every communication possible and advise you on how to proceed with any steps you must do on your own (such as your independent medical exam) and all of the other many aspects of Jacksonville Florida personal injury cases.
How Our Accident Attorneys Will Establish Liability After Your Jacksonville Car Accident
At the start of any injury cases that we have ever represented, the first step is always to establish liability so that we can pursue a personal injury claim against the responsible party. In vehicle accidents, there may be a situation where the other driver is 100% at fault, but there are many other cases where it may not be as clear. In Florida, injury law allows the victim to accept partial fault for an accident under what is known as the “pure comparative fault” rule, which will simply reduce the final payment by the percentage of fault that the victim was responsible for.
Your car accident attorney will take a close look at your Jacksonville car accident and examine all of the available information to find proof that the other driver is at fault for the accident, and according to injury law, therefore liable for the damages that you have suffered.
Personal injury law requires that this fault is established before a settlement is agreed upon, so you auto accident attorneys must be able to have ample time to investigate your car accident, Jacksonville FL today – before going to the insurance companies and throughout the time that the insurance companies are performing their investigation.
Identifying the Duty of Care in Vehicle Accidents
The first step in establishing liability requires that we show that the other driver had a duty of care that they owed to you leading up to your auto accident. In terms of personal injury law, this duty of care includes things like not driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, not speeding, properly yielding at intersections, using turn signals, and more.
Personal injury and car accident lawyers will go through the available documents such as the car accident report, eyewitness statements, and more to find supporting evidence that proves the other driver had a duty of care before the car accident.
Proving a Breach Of the Duty of Care
Once your car accident lawyer has identified the duty of care that the other driver owed you in your auto accident, they will then set out to prove to the insurance companies that the other driver failed this duty. Car accident attorneys have experience proving a wide range of these breaches, including obvious things like proving that the driver was drunk, or more complex breaches such as engaging in distracted driving like letting their mind wander.
The car accident lawyers at our Florida law firm have experience with a range of breaches. They will be able to put pressure on the insurance companies after your auto accident to ensure that each injury you have suffered is accounted for and compensated.
Connecting Your Personal Injury With the Breach
Now that the breach of the duty of care has been established, personal injury law requires that you connect each injury to the auto accident caused by the breach. The term “injury” certainly includes medical injuries but goes beyond a physical injury and includes damages to your emotions as well. Each injury you encounter in an accident must be accounted for. Your car accident attorney will work to establish a financial value for each injury that they will be able to negotiate for aggressively once the car accident claims investigation has been concluded.
Frequently Asked Questions About Jacksonville Car Accidents
What Happens if the at-Fault Party doesn’t Have Auto Insurance?
If you have been involved in an auto accident with someone who does not have insurance, then contact our injury law firm as soon as possible to discuss your options. Alarmingly, as many as 1 in every 4 drivers on the road in Florida do not have insurance, and many who do have inadequate injury coverage to compensate for even your medical bills, let alone the range of additional injury types that you may suffer.
Luckily, our personal injury law firm has handled many personal injury cases involving car accident victims who are unable to turn to the responsible party’s insurance policy to recover compensation. In these cases, we will work with our clients’ insurance companies to seek maximum compensation from your policies. We will have the additional option to sue the at-fault driver to make up the difference for any amount that we cannot recover from your own policy. Your insurance company will cover most, if not all, of your medical expenses, and you will work with your auto accident attorney to determine the most appropriate path forward to recover non-economic damages.
How Much Is My Settlement Worth?
To calculate the true cost of the damages you have suffered, we will need to go through a range of details and facts, starting with the most obvious measurable impacts, such as your medical bills and your lost wages.
In addition to these basic economic impacts, we will also work to identify all other measurable financial impacts that you have endured, including things like services that you have hired that you would have otherwise been able to perform on your own and any short- or long-term disability payments that you may require.
In addition to economic damages, a personal injury case also accounts for non-economic damages, which are impacts that do not have price tags attached to them. This includes things like the actual pain and suffering of an injury and any emotional turmoil you have endured. Since these damages are more abstract, we must build a strong argument for the amounts that we are seeking.
Should I Accept a Settlement Offer from the Insurance Company?
While many car accident cases are settled without needing to file a car accident claim with the Florida courts, it is essential that you do not accept any offer without first consulting with an experienced attorney.
As we have mentioned a few times already, an insurance company prioritizes their financial interests over the needs of victims, meaning that they will attempt to settle your case as quickly as possible for as little money as possible.
Instead of accepting the first offer and suffering the rest of the impacts on your own, we will be able to fight for your rights and negotiate a settlement amount that you truly deserve. In most cases, settling a case is the goal; however, we will not settle until you get what you are entitled to.
How Long do Claims Take to Settle?
There is no easy answer to the question about how long it will take for your auto accident claim to be settled. You and your car accident attorney will be able to work together closely as they build your case, and early interactions with the insurance agent may provide an idea of whether or not there will be an extensive amount of negotiation required or not before you receive a fair settlement.
Personal injury cases are typically settled out of court (with some estimates claiming that 5 out of 10 cases are settled before a lawsuit is filed, and 9 out of 10 are settled before trial), but these statistics have no bearing on determining how long your situation will take.
Speak with a car accident attorney during a free initial consultation with our personal injury firm in Jacksonville, FL as soon as possible. Florida has a four-year statute of limitations for car accidents.
The sooner you hire an accident attorney, the more time they will have to build a comprehensive case and work towards an out-of-court settlement as quickly as possible. After too much time has passed, the only option may be to file a claim with the Florida courts.
Will My Attorney Deal with the Insurance Companies for Me?
Once you have an attorney representing your Florida case, you will be able to focus on the important issues, such as your medical needs and personal life, without taking on the additional burden of the claims process. Insurance companies have years, if not decades, of experience handling car accidents—with a distinct focus on paying as little as possible for car accidents that their clients are liable for—and will do everything possible to limit your final settlement.
When you have an attorney handling all of these communications, you can rest easy knowing that they will be able to speak on your behalf, and you will not need to worry about things like making a statement that comes back to haunt you. In some accidents, even a simple apology can be used against the victim to claim that they were admitting fault, even if they were simply apologizing because it felt like the right thing to do.
Should I Hire an Auto Accident Attorney after a Minor Auto Accident?
It might seem like overkill to hire a personal injury attorney after minor car accidents, but the reality is that no matter how severe the Jacksonville car accident was, you will benefit from having a lawyer represent your case.
You can speak directly with someone at our Florida firm today during a free initial consultation so that we can discuss the possible settlement amount for your case and whether or not it makes sense for you to work with an attorney.
Some minor accidents are very clear, and the victim has little or no medical issues resulting from the Jacksonville, FL crash. It may make sense to simply work with the insurance entity to find a quick resolution in these instances.
However, many other accidents may seem minor at first glance but are, in fact, complicated situations that require the help of an experienced Florida lawyer to work towards a fair resolution. Contact us now and take advantage of our free consultation to determine how complex your case may be.
Will I Need to Go to Court for My Car Accident?
Roughly 5% of personal injury claims make it to trial in some estimates. Before we even file a lawsuit, we will first attempt to negotiate directly with the insurance company or the defendant to reach an agreement without relying on a judge or jury to make a decision. Trials are expensive and time-consuming for everyone involved, so unless your accident has very special circumstances, a settlement will be the priority.