A motor vehicle accident often results in both physical and emotional injuries as well as a financial hardship for the victim. Although we routinely refer to a collision as a car accident, the reality is that more times than not the collision was actually the result of negligence. If you were injured in a motor vehicle accident, and another party caused or contributed to the collision, you could be entitled to compensation for the physical injuries and emotional trauma you suffered because of the collision.
Common Causes of Motor Vehicle Accidents
Although a collision can occur under a seemingly endless number of circumstances, there are some common causes of motor vehicle accidents, including:
- Impaired driving – over the past several decades, efforts to warn motorists about the dangers of drinking and driving have noticeably reduced the number of injuries and deaths attributable to impaired driving. Unfortunately, however, impaired driving remains a leading cause of vehicle crashes. A driver can be impaired as a result of consuming alcohol or illicit drugs as well as by taking prescribed or over-the-counter medications. Anything that interferes with a driver’s ability to safely operate a vehicle, results in an impaired driver.
- Distracted driving – distracted driving has always been a common cause of accidents; however, over the last decade, the use of handheld electronic devices has dramatically increased the number of injury accidents attributable to distracted drivers.
- Drowsy driving – studies indicate that a drowsy, or fatigued driver can be just as dangerous on the roadway as an impaired driver.
- Speed – speed has always been a leading contributor to collisions. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) consistently tells us that speed is a factor in about one out of three motor vehicle accidents.
- Hazardous road conditions – although a driver may not be able to anticipate hazardous road conditions, a driver can certainly adjust to those conditions. Unfortunately, some drivers do not. For example, conditions such as rain, ice, snow, or fog should cause a motorist to slow down and use caution on the roadway. When a driver does not do so, and an accident ensues, the driver may be held liable for the collision.
- Mechanical failure – this is more likely to be a factor when the collision involves a large truck or tractor trailer. Sometimes, when delivery schedules take precedence over safety, mandatory inspections and/or maintenance on tractor-trailers are hurried, or neglected altogether, leading to mechanical failure.
Compensation in a Motor Vehicle Accident
Motor vehicle accidents are a type of personal injury accident. The State of Florida, however, is a “no fault” state. For the victim of a car accident, this means that your own insurance coverage (known as “PIP”) will cover 80% of your medical bills up to $10,000 if specific requirements are met. This also means that you are not entitled to compensation for non-economic (“pain and suffering”) damages unless you meet the “tort threshold” by showing that you suffered a permanent injury as a result of the accident. Therefore, if your injury from the accident is not permanent, then your recovery in a personal injury lawsuit is limited to your economic damages; i.e. medical bills and lost wages. If you are able to meet the threshold, you may pursue both economic and non-economic damages.
Do I Have a Compensable Car Accident Case?
Determining if you have a compensable car accident case in Florida is a two-step process. First, you must ask if another party caused, or contributed to cause the collision. If the answer to that question is “yes” then you must ask if you have suffered injuries and damages as a result of the collision. If the answer to that question is also “yes” then you likely have a compensable car accident case.
While answering those questions may seem simple, in reality, it can be complicated which is why you should always consult with an experienced personal injury attorney if you have been injured in a car accident.
Steps to Take after a Car Accident
The first few hours following a car accident can be critical, both in medical and legal terms. Unfortunately, the victim of a car accident is often in a state of shock and unsure what to do during that critical time period. Knowing ahead of time what steps you should take following a collision is the key to avoiding costly mistakes.
- Contact the police. Whether you think the accident was just a “fender-bender” or a major collision, always call the police and report the accident. Doing so serves as an official record of the collision which may be helpful down the road.
- Document the scene. If your injuries allow and you can safely do so, take pictures of the vehicles involved in the collision and the road conditions using your cell phone or camera.
- Obtain contact information. If your injuries allow and you can safely do so, obtain names and contact information for drivers, passengers, and witnesses to the collision.
- Submit to a medical examination. This is a critical step, even if you think your injuries are minor. Many of the most serious injuries, such as a traumatic brain injury (TBI), do not result in obvious symptoms until hours after the injury. The injury, however, if left untreated could be life-threatening. Additionally, by submitting to a complete medical examination you are creating a documented record that links any injuries you did suffer to the collision which will be helpful if you ultimately have to pursue a lawsuit against the negligent party.
- Consult with an attorney. Always consult with an experienced car accident attorney as soon after a collision as possible to ensure that your rights are protected and you understand your legal options.
Why Should You Contact Kirkland, McGhee & Gann?
Because we have been representing the victims of car accidents for many years, we understand the physical, emotional, and financial suffering a victim, and the victim’s family, endures following a collision. You need an advocate on your side to help you to obtain full and fair compensation for your injuries. The team at Kirkland, McGhee & Gann will be that advocate.
Give us a call and tell us your story. We will answer your questions and tell you the strengths and weaknesses of your potential case. We will work to achieve a full and fair settlement for you. Our opponents know we will not hesitate to take a case to trial if necessary.
We understand that the legal aspect of your collision may be the last thing on your mind right now, which is even more of a reason to contact our office and let us handle it for you. To find out how we can help you, call the team at Kirkland, McGhee & Gann by calling 850-332-6120 or clicking below to schedule an appointment. Your consultation is free and we don’t get paid unless we recover money on your case.