Each time you pull out onto the public roads of Panama City, Fl, you put your trust and safety in the hands of countless drivers that you encounter on the road. More often than not, we can make it to our destination safely and without incident because the other drivers respect the rules of the road, obey traffic laws, and operate their motor vehicles in a safe and prudent manner. Unfortunately, though, many drivers choose to engage in reckless, negligent, or aggressive behavior that can lead to a Florida car accident. In fact, there were a total of 401,867 auto accidents reported throughout Florida in 2019, with nearly 700,000 drivers involved and 2,951 fatalities. 4,862 of these crashes happened in Bay County, with 32 fatalities and 2,498 injuries.
Car Accident Checklist
Download a copy of our FREE car accident checklist
As a car driver in Florida, it is important to remain defensive and diligent while you are driving, but no matter how responsible of a driver you are, you are always at risk of a motor vehicle accident because of someone else. If you are in a car accident that someone else caused, you are entitled to compensation to recover compensation for a range of damages, including things like your medical bills, lost wages, and many more impacts that victims endure following motor vehicle accidents. These damages are typically recovered through an insurance claim, but the key to getting the money you rightfully deserve is working with a skilled personal injury lawyer who can represent your claim and fight for a fair settlement.
Connect With a Personal Injury Attorney After a Panama City Car Accident
The team at Fasig | Brooks offers a free consultation for auto accident victims so we can go through the many details that make each motor vehicle accident unique. No matter how simple or straightforward an insurance claim may seem, the reality is that the adjuster investigating your claim is not working on your behalf; instead, they are focusing on reaching a low settlement as quickly as possible to save their employer as much money as possible. Before you file a claim, we encourage you to contact our firm to learn about how we can help you work towards a settlement you rightfully deserve, not what the insurance company prefers to pay.
Read more below about the importance of working with an experienced attorney after a car accident, and contact us as soon as possible to connect with an auto accident attorney in Panama City, Florida.
The Importance of Determining Liability After a Florida Auto Accident
Before you can file a claim after being injured in an accident, you will typically need to establish the matters of fault and liability. If you were obeying traffic laws 100% while driving, you and your attorney would need to prove that the other driver’s negligence or recklessness led to the collision. In some cases, there is no question about who caused the accident; in others, it can be more complicated to determine who is at fault. An experienced legal professional who understands the specifics of an auto accident has a variety of tools at their disposal to help support your claims that you were not at fault for the crash in Panama City, including things like the police report, eyewitness testimonies, statements provided by you and the other driver, surveillance camera footage, and more.
Florida uses a legal standard known as “pure comparative fault” for personal injury cases, which allows for victims to accept partial fault and still be entitled to compensation for their injuries and associated damages. Without this law, an individual would be barred from seeking compensation if they were at all responsible for the crash, even a very low amount. Typically, though, an insurance company will use this law to reduce their settlement amount by assigning additional blame to the victim by questioning their driving or trying to suggest that there was more that could have been done to avoid the crash caused by their client’s negligence. Your Panama City attorneys will work to ensure that you do not accept any additional fault for the accident, so you are able to receive the compensation you deserve.
Calculating Damages After a Panama City Car Accident
One of the most important legal services that a personal injury attorney provides their clients is the process of calculating damages. Once calculated, these damages will be subject to a series of negotiations as your lawyers work to reach an agreement with the insurance company for an out-of-court settlement. Compensatory damages are divided into two distinct parts: economic and non-economic damages. There is a third category of damages, known as punitive damages, that are only awarded by a judge or jury at the end of some trials, but your attorney will not include these possible damages in their negotiations. If your accident was caused by egregious negligence or recklessness, your personal injury attorney may choose to go straight to the Florida courts in the hopes of winning these additional damages.
Economic damages focus on all of the financially-measurable impacts of an accident, including things such as your medical bills, lost wages, and other costs that you have incurred in the aftermath of your Florida car crash, such as an ambulance ride. Essentially, economic damages include anything that comes with a receipt, invoice, bill, or financial statement and is paid as 1 to 1 — there are no multipliers for these damages. There are, however, many damages that a victim will often overlook or not even realize that they have a legal right to, a fact that an adjuster will happily avoid acknowledging as it supports their goal of a low-cost resolution.
Non-economic damages focus on the damages that do not have actual costs associated with them, like the pain and suffering of your injuries and the many emotional and psychological impacts of a serious crash. Since there is no set dollar amount for something like “emotional injuries,” your personal injury attorney will employ a range of tools at their disposal to reach a reasonable amount that you are entitled to. These types of damages are often measured with a multiplier.
Frequently Asked Questions About Car Accidents in Panama City, FL
The following are a few of the many questions that a skilled personal injury attorney will be able to answer for victims, both during a free consultation and throughout their work together. The following answers are meant to give you a general idea of what you may be able to expect from your own situation but are not intended to be taken as legal advice. The sooner you are working with an experienced Panama City car accident lawyer, the sooner you will be able to get comprehensive answers to your own questions as you work through your claim together.
Is it worth getting a lawyer for a minor car accident?
There is no legal requirement for an injured party to work with attorneys to recover compensation for their personal injuries, but this does not mean that you should file a claim on your own.
After an accident, your top priority should be your recovery, and trying to handle a complicated insurance claims process can cause undue stress and anxiety that car accident lawyers can take on for you. In addition to the stress relief that working with auto accident attorneys provides, you will have the benefit of being represented by a personal injury attorney who knows the ins and outs of insurance claims and the legal range of damages you are owed. While you are focusing on recovery, your lawyers will be calculating your damages and then negotiating for a fair settlement.
When should you contact a personal injury attorney after a car accident?
The sooner you are working with a legal professional after an accident, the better. From the moment you file a claim, the adjuster assigned to your case will be looking for every way to limit your settlement and save as much money as possible. Insurance companies have decades of experience handling auto accidents and have developed playbooks with a number of tools to help pay low settlements while avoiding additional legal action against the company or their client.
When you have attorneys handling your case from the start, they will be able to use their legal experience to avoid common pitfalls that insurance companies leverage in order to reduce settlement amounts. Typically, insurance adjusters will focus on limiting non-economic damages like pain and suffering or emotional impacts, because it is far easier to question such abstract and subjective damages when compared to measurable things like medical bills.
What is a reasonable settlement for a car accident?
Determining a fair settlement is best left to your Panama City accident attorneys who can take a close look at your situation before reaching any sort of estimate. Personal injury claims have many different variables that all go into determining the amount that victims are owed after car accidents, and each is highly specific to the individual’s situation. Things like the extent of the injuries, whether or not the victim is permanently injured or will require ongoing medical care, and the impacts on their earnings will each play a role in calculating economic damages. Once these damages are determined, there are a number of non-economic damages stemming from car accidents that will again vary greatly from case to case.
In order to get a sense of what you may be owed for your Panama City car accident, contact us now to speak with our award-winning attorneys during a free consultation.
Should I accept the first offer from the insurance company?
One of the most important things to keep in mind from the outset of your Panama city car accident claim is that the insurance company is not working to ensure that you get compensated for everything you are owed; conversely, the adjuster assigned to your claim is looking for every possible reason to reach a low-cost settlement regardless of what you are truly owed. The first settlement offer they make will be alarmingly low, especially when compared to calculations that your personal injury attorney has performed during their own investigation.
Consult with an experienced Panama City car accident attorney before agreeing to any offers or signing anything — you may be eligible for far more than you first realize.