If you or a loved one has been hurt in a Florida car accident, you are likely already aware that you will need to file a claim to recover compensation for your injuries and damages. If the other driver caused the crash, you would file a car accident claim with that driver’s insurance company, at which point a claims adjuster will be assigned to your case to perform an investigation. Upon concluding the investigation, you will receive a one-time settlement offer that will require you to waive your rights to any future legal action relating to this crash.
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When you have spent the past month or more watching your medical bills mount while your income is greatly impacted, it can seem like a relief to take this cash; however, we strongly encourage you to reach out to an experienced auto accident attorney for a case evaluation before agreeing to anything. In fact, working with a Pensacola car accident lawyer starting before you even file a claim is one of the best ways to give yourself an advantage and a chance of getting the money you rightfully deserve, and not just the money the insurance company hopes to pay.
Request a Free Consultation With a Car Accident Lawyer Now
The sooner you contact our Pensacola, Florida law firm, the sooner we will be able to speak specifically about your case and the many variables that go into determining what accident victims owe and how to get it. Typically, personal injury cases are settled out-of-court, but in certain instances, it may be prudent to file a lawsuit in the Florida courts in order to show the insurance company that we mean business, or if we believe that you are entitled to punitive damages that only a judge or jury can award.
We understand that the period following an auto accident can be overwhelming, especially as you try to focus on your recovery while juggling the many different responsibilities that don’t simply go away because you are hurt. Fortunately, we can take on your car accident claim while you focus on your personal needs and your health. Our Pensacola car accident lawyers have years of experience fighting for fair settlements on behalf of our clients, and we will be happy to give you this support now.
Contact us to schedule your free consultation and case evaluation, and read more about the specifics of a Pensacola car accident below.
Filing an Insurance Claim After a Pensacola Motor Vehicle Accident
Fault and Liability
After a car accident, one of the first steps that you will need to take involves the question of fault and liability: who caused the accident, and therefore, whose insurance policy will need to cover damages for the car accident victims? In some instances, this can be a straightforward question that requires no real investigation or debate, such as when a driver outright admits fault, is cited or arrested for a criminal violation relating to the accident, or if there is other clear and irrefutable evidence. When this is the case, the car accident claim can proceed as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, this is not always the case, and after some motor vehicle accidents, there is a first necessary step of either proving fault or agreeing to a compromise using the Florida law known as “pure comparative fault.” This law allows for a victim to accept a percentage of the fault while still being able to seek compensation through a personal injury claim by reducing the final award by the percent they are responsible for. As you can imagine, there are many instances where this is a very helpful tool in car accident claims, but insurance companies will use this law to their advantage by attempting to pin undue blame on a victim to save as much as possible on the final settlement. Personal injury and car accident attorneys understand both sides of this useful law and will work to ensure that you do not assume any more of the financial burden than you rightfully deserve, if at all.
Once the matter of fault is established, your auto accident attorney will set out identifying, categorizing, and quantifying the many different damages that you have suffered. Accident claims adjusters are also performing this investigation, but it is important to note that they are working on behalf of the insurance company and looking for any way to reduce your compensation, regardless of whether you are rightfully entitled to them. Without the support of a Pensacola car accident lawyer, you will need to perform your own investigation to be sure that all damages are accounted for, and will then need to handle negotiations as you try to recover from your serious injuries. Hiring a car accident attorney gives you the time and emotional space you need to maximize your recovery without taking on additional, avoidable stress and anxiety.
In car accident cases, as well as all other personal injury cases, there are two categories of damages: compensatory, and punitive. Compensatory damages are further divided into two sub-categories: economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are those damages that have measurable dollar values and are therefore the simplest to calculate. Essentially, an economic damage is any financial impact of your motor vehicle accident and will typically come with an invoice, bill, receipt, or earnings statement. These include major damages like your medical expenses, as well as impacts to your income such as lost wages, loss of an ability to earn a meaningful wage due to serious injuries, and more. There are countless other damages that often come with a lower price tag but should not be overlooked. One of the biggest benefits of working with a Pensacola car accident attorney is that they pay close attention to these details and ensure that the many economic damages you have incurred are included in your compensation package.
Other economic damages include things like any services or products that you may need to pay for that you would not have needed if it weren’t for your injuries. Things like house cleaning, grocery shopping services, prescriptions, supportive devices like crutches or handicap ramps, and more are all included under this wide-ranging category of damages. Depending on your specific situation, there are likely many other economic damages that you rightfully deserve, none of which an insurance adjuster would readily include in their initial compensation offer.
Non-economic damages are much more complicated than economic damages because they seek financial compensation for damages that do not have set dollar values. These damages include things like the pain and suffering that victims endure after being hurt in car accidents, as well as a range of other emotional, physiological, and psychological injuries. Experiencing a car accident is traumatic for drivers and passengers alike, and the trauma of the accident is another non-economic damage. Florida, like many other states, does not impose a damage cap on non-economic damages against reckless or negligent drivers, meaning that your attorneys will be able to seek accurate compensation no matter what figure they arrive at.
There are a range of methods that attorneys use to calculate non-economic damages, each of which is more or less effective in certain situations. The important thing to remember about non-economic damages is that they must be accurate and reasonable. Otherwise, the insurance company may be unwilling to negotiate with your lawyers, and may impact your standing with the courts.
Punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant and are awarded to victims in certain instances when the at-fault party, in this case, the other driver, engaged in particularly reckless or egregious behavior that led to the accident. They are meant to punish the plaintiff and dissuade this behavior by other drivers. The availability of punitive damages is limited by Florida statutes, and a plaintiff may not even include a claim for these damages until substantial evidence has been submitted to the jury to support such an award. As such, your attorney will never include calculations for punitive damages in their negotiations for an out-of-court settlement. If they believe that you are likely entitled to such damages, they may choose to file a lawsuit without attempting direct negotiations.
Common Causes of Pensacola Car Accidents
The following are just a few of the many ways that reckless or negligent drivers can cause an accident and injure or kill others on the road. Whether or not you see a situation below that addresses your specific accident, contact our law firm as soon as possible for a free case evaluation to get a better sense of how you can move forward with getting the money you deserve.
According to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration, 3,142 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes caused by distracted driving in 2019. Since the advent of the smartphone, we commonly associate this term with drivers who are using their phones, and while common, there are many other distractions that a driver can engage in that cause a crash. Some other types of distracted driving include things like eating while driving, applying makeup or changing clothes, reading, or even a driver letting their mind wander. These types of car accidents can cause serious injuries and even death.
When an adult (21+) driver has a Blood Alcohol Concentrate in excess of 0.08% (or 0.04% for CDL drivers operating commercial vehicles), they are in violation of federal law and guilty of driving while intoxicated. Likewise, if they have consumed any other mind-altering substances including things like marijuana, prescription pills, or other scheduled substances, their BAC is irrelevant and they are still guilty of DUI/DWI. If you suspect that the other driver is intoxicated, be sure to tell the 911 operator when you call in to report your Pensacola car accident.
Depending on the road you are driving on, a speed limit may be set by the state of Florida or the local agency that has jurisdiction over the road in question. Regardless, these limits are imposed in order to ensure that a driver is able to maintain safe control over their vehicle in order to keep themselves and all others on the road from suffering injuries in speed-related accidents. In accidents involving high speed, there is an increased likelihood of serious or fatal injuries.
According to AAA, “Any unsafe driving behavior, performed deliberately and with ill intention or disregard for safety, can constitute aggressive driving.” This includes things like tailgating, speeding in traffic, cutting in and out of lanes, “brake checking,” and a range of other behaviors. Aggressive driving can lead to serious accidents by intimidating and distracting a responsible driver or when the aggressive driver intentionally causes an accident. Regardless, your lawyers will fight to get the compensation you deserve for this dangerous behavior.
Failure To Signal
Each time a driver turns through an intersection or changes lanes without using their turn signals, they substantially increase the risk of a car accident by not giving other drivers an adequate warning of their intended move. This can be especially dangerous for motorcycle riders, who lack the structural safety that a passenger vehicle provides in a car accident. If your car accident was caused by a failure to signal, your lawyers would have a number of tools at their disposal to prove this as they work to recover compensation for your injuries and damages.
Failure to Yield
Stop signs, red lights, and yield signs all signal a right of way for the road system, and when everyone obeys them, the intersection or merge works as planned; however, failing to yield to the right of way traffic can lead to serious injuries from avoidable car accidents. If you have been injured in a Florida car accident due to this type of negligence, the attorneys at our law firm will work to get the money you deserve to compensate for the other driver’s behavior.
Frequently Asked Questions About Auto Accident Cases
The following are just a few of the many questions that you will be able to ask your personal injury attorney, both during your initial consultation and throughout your work together. Keep in mind that the following answers are not meant as legal advice — they are intended to give you a general idea of how your own question may be answered as it relates to your unique situation.
Is it worth getting a lawyer for minor car accidents?
After a car accident in Pensacola, it might feel like more effort than it is worth to hire an attorney for your injury claim. This is just what the insurance company would like you to believe! The best way to determine whether or not you will benefit from the help of an attorney if you are injured in a car accident is to speak directly with a lawyer during an initial consultation. The fact is that the insurance adjuster will avoid paying for any damages they can get away with, and your attorney is trained to identify and calculate these damages on your behalf. Auto accident lawyers can help victims file their claims, and will provide valuable support throughout the entire process.
What is a reasonable settlement for car accidents?
There is no easy way to suggest a settlement amount without speaking directly with a Pensacola car accident attorney since there are so many variables that go into determining this number. Things like your medical bills and lost wages play a significant role in these calculations, but there are many other damages that you may not realize you are entitled to after a car accident. Each injury you have suffered has a unique impact on your life, and each of these impacts must be investigated to ensure that you are not shouldering the financial burden of someone else’s actions.
How long do I have to file a claim after being injured in a Florida accident?
The Florida statute of limitations for a car accident is four years from the date of the accident, after which point you will be unable to take legal actions. There are very specific instances where an extension may be granted, such as when a victim does not recognize an injury immediately, but these situations are rare. While four years may seem like plenty of time, your attorney will use this time to gather evidence and focus on negotiating an out-of-court settlement. The longer you wait, the less time your lawyer will have to perform important services that may help you reach a fair settlement without a time-consuming trial.
Does Fasig | Brooks represent accidents beyond the Pensacola, FL 32502 ZIP code?
Our law firm is happy to work with clients in Pensacola and beyond to help clients with their personal injury claims. If you have been injured in a Florida auto accident, contact our firm now to speak directly with an attorney to learn more about the support we can provide for you. Whether or not you were injured in Pensacola, we have a long history of representing Florida injury cases and will be happy to take a closer look at yours. The sooner you contact us for your free case evaluation, the sooner you will be able to get a clear understanding of whether or not we are a good fit for each other.