Car Accident FAQs in Tampa, FL
Have you been injured in a Tampa car accident due to the negligence of another driver? You may be entitled to significant compensation, but sometimes the path to securing the compensation you’re owed is unclear.
It’s natural to have questions after a car crash. What can you do to protect your legal rights and interests? What’s the process for obtaining maximum compensation for your injuries and losses? When you’ve got questions, the Tampa car accident attorneys at Brooks Law Group have answers.
What Do I Do If I Have Been Involved in a Tampa Car Accident?
If you’ve been involved in a car accident in the Tampa area, there are several steps you should take to protect your rights and your ability to seek compensation for your injuries.
- Check for injuries. If anyone was hurt in the collision, call 911 for emergency medical help. Florida law also requires you to contact law enforcement to report a car accident whenever there appears to be more than $500 in property damage. The officers who respond to the scene will complete an accident report that lists the names, contact information, and insurance information of the drivers involved. It may also include contact information and brief statements from any eyewitnesses, information about evidence collected at the scene, whether any drivers were ticketed or arrested for the crash, and potentially the officers’ determination of fault for the accident. Although a law enforcement officer’s assessment of fault is not a legally binding determination in a car accident case, the accident report provides important information that can help a lawyer prepare a strong case for compensation.
- Get contact and insurance information from everyone involved. Exchange information with everyone who was involved in the wreck. Make sure to get names, addresses, and phone numbers, as well as the name of each driver’s insurance provider and their policy numbers.
- Take photos or videos. If possible, you should take photographs of the accident scene. Try to get shots of the damage to the vehicles from multiple angles. Also include photos of any relevant factors that may have contributed to the wreck, such as malfunctioning traffic signals, traffic congestion, road debris, and adverse weather conditions. If you have visible injuries, you should document those as well.
- Seek medical treatment. Even if you decline treatment at the accident scene and don’t feel hurt, you should still follow up with your medical provider or another healthcare professional. The adrenaline rush from a car accident can mask symptoms of injuries. As a result, pain and other symptoms may not manifest for hours, days, or even weeks after the accident. But an examination by a medical professional can identify injuries you may have suffered, which will allow you to conclusively establish that those injuries arose from the accident and not another event or pre-existing condition.
- Speak with an experienced car accident attorney. Florida is a no-fault state, which means you will turn to your own auto insurance company first for coverage of your accident-related medical expenses and other losses. However, if your injuries are permanent, you may be able to sue the at-fault driver for negligence and other damages that are unavailable under your personal injury protection (PIP) benefits. A Florida car accident lawyer at Brooks Law Group can advise you of your legal options in a free consultation.
I Can’t Afford a Lawyer – Now What?
When you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident in Tampa, you may not consider filing a legal claim for compensation because you believe that you cannot afford an attorney. However, most car accident lawyers handle plaintiffs’ cases on a contingency fee basis. That means the client does not have to pay any upfront legal costs to get the case underway. The attorney only gets paid if he/she obtains a favorable verdict or settlement on behalf of the client.
A lawyer working on contingency will also typically front the costs of the case, such as obtaining copies of documents, hiring expert witnesses, and paying court filing fees. The attorney will typically be reimbursed for these expenses from the client’s financial recovery once the case is resolved.
Before hiring a lawyer, make sure to carefully review the proposed fee agreement and ask questions to ensure you fully understand what you will owe in the event the attorney wins the case, loses the case, or if you decide to terminate the attorney’s services mid-case.
What Is a Fair Settlement?
If you’ve been injured in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, you deserve to receive compensation for your injuries and damages. Ideally, you can reach a full and fair settlement with the insurance company so that you can move on with your life. But you may be wondering what a fair settlement in a car accident case might include.
A fair settlement will include compensation for damages such as:
- Past and future medical expenses, including hospital bills, surgeries, doctors’ appointments, rehabilitation, medications, medical equipment, copays, out-of-pocket expenses, and even home renovations needed to accommodate disabilities resulting from the car accident
- Lost wages for the time you miss from work while recovering from your injuries
- Lost earning capacity, if your injuries prevent you from earning as much as you could before the accident or you can no longer work at all
- Pain and suffering
- Lost quality of life resulting from physical disfigurement or permanent disability
- Property damage
An experienced car accident lawyer can negotiate a settlement that accounts for not only the losses you’ve already incurred, but also anticipated future costs after the claim is resolved.
How Long Is the Car Accident Claim Process?
Make sure to file for no-fault benefits with your insurance company as soon as possible. You are entitled to PIP coverage for 80 percent of your medical expenses and up to 60 percent of lost income regardless of who is to blame for the wreck.
The benefit of the no-fault system is that because you don’t have to prove fault, benefits are generally paid more quickly. But if your accident meets Florida’s threshold to file a personal injury claim against the other driver for negligence, the claims process could take considerably longer. However, the lifetime costs of a serious injury can easily exceed PIP minimums, which means that a lawsuit may be your best option for collecting the compensation you deserve.
The length of time that the claim can take will depend on multiple factors. These include the severity of your injuries, the amount of damages that you have incurred, and whether the other driver(s) are contesting fault for the accident.
Having an accomplished Tampa car accident attorney by your side is crucial if you have been seriously injured in a crash. To successfully obtain compensation in a Tampa personal injury claim, you will need to provide strong proof that the other driver(s) were reckless and that their actions directly caused your injuries and damages. A lawyer can help collect this evidence for you and present it to the insurance company. An attorney can also manage all communications with the insurance company so that you don’t say anything that accidentally jeopardizes your claim. Nearly all car accident cases settle within several months to a year.
However, if your case goes to trial, it could take longer to reach a conclusion. Your lawyer can recommend your best options after examining the facts of the case.
What If the Other Driver Was Uninsured?
If you were hit by a driver that doesn’t have car insurance, you may still be able to obtain compensation for your injuries and losses. Your own PIP coverage will pay a portion of your medical expenses, lost wages, and other out-of-pocket costs resulting from the car accident. If the other driver was uninsured, you could sue for the remaining damages.
One obstacle that you may run into is that the uninsured driver may not financially be in a position to pay you back. It’s possible to reach a pay schedule with the at-fault driver that allows you to get repaid over time.
Finally, you may also be entitled to file an additional claim if you carry uninsured motorist coverage on your own policy. This coverage provides compensation for your economic and non-economic losses when an uninsured driver caused your car accident.
How Can a Tampa Car Accident Lawyer Help Me?
After a car accident in Tampa, a trusted attorney can help prepare every aspect of your case. He
or she can:
- Conduct an independent investigation of your claim to determine what happened and who was at fault
- Consult with medical experts and life care planners who can testify about the seriousness of your injuries and their impact on your life
- Collect the documentation needed to build a solid and strong claim for compensation for you
- Put a full and fair case value on your claim
- Make sure all documents are filed promptly and accurately
- Represent you aggressively, both during settlement negotiations and at trial
At Brooks Law Group, we strongly recommend that you speak with an attorney before taking any steps to settle your Tampa car accident claim on your own. Insurance companies work hard to avoid paying accident victims the money that they deserve. With a tough lawyer on your side, you will be in a better position to obtain the compensation you are owed.
Contact Brooks Law Group Today
When you or a loved one has been hurt in a car accident in Tampa, the attorneys at Brooks Law Group can help you through the complex process of pursuing the financial compensation that you need and deserve.
Call or contact us today to schedule a free consultation. There’s no obligation.