Florida Car Accident Attorney
We Fight for Florida Auto Accident Victims and Their Families
The effects of an auto accident can last a lifetime. If you were seriously injured, the physical limitations, chronic pain and medical bills resulting from your injuries are likely to represent just a portion of your accident-related losses. From loss of income to loss of enjoyment of life, accident victims often experience far-reaching implications, and moving on without unnecessary consequences requires the experienced legal representation of a Florida car accident attorney.
The car accident lawyers at Searcy Denney have decades of experience and a proven record of success in insurance settlements and litigation. For more than 40 years, we have been helping accident victims and their families win the compensation they deserve. If you are entitled to financial compensation, we can help – we can help you avoid costly mistakes, and we can deal with the insurance companies for you so that you can focus on your physical and emotional recovery. To learn more about our services and how we can protect your rights, contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with a top Florida car accident attorney.We have offices in West Palm Beach and Tallahassee.
Preliminary estimates by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicate that deadly car crashes rose by as much as 9.5 percent in 2015. The final tally could mean the most car-related deaths since 2007 and the largest rate of increase in fatalities for 50 years.
Florida Car Accident Statistics
The NHTSA’s early estimate of motor vehicle traffic fatalities for the first nine months (January through September) of 2015 indicates that 26,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes – an increase of nearly 10 percent from the first nine months of 2014.
Many experts were both surprised and alarmed at this news, because fatalities were on the decrease from 2006 through 2014. The number of people injured in vehicle crashes in 2014 rose from 2.31 million to 2.34 million, but there were 219 fewer people killed than the previous year.
Florida has one of the highest auto accident rates in the nation. This includes serious and fatal accidents involving cars, trucks, motorcycles, SUVs, golf carts, bicycles and pedestrians. Slightly under half of these accidents result in some form of personal injury, with many accidents having multiple victims. On average, there are more than 1,000 car accidents in Florida every single day. Tragically, close to 3,000 Floridians lose their lives in car accidents every year. Victims must take aggressive legal action with the help of an experienced Florida auto accident lawyer in order to avoid paying for others’ mistakes for decades to come.
While the majority of these accidents involve collisions between passenger vehicles, large numbers of accidents involve commercial vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians as well. According to Florida’s Integrated Report Exchange System (FIRES):
- In 2016, there were 395,494 car accidents in Florida, resulting in 254,175 injuries and 2,931 fatalities.
- Of these accidents, 41,082 involved commercial vehicles (such as large trucks), 9,091 involved pedestrians and 6,665 involved bicycles.
- Aside from bicycle accidents (which declined slightly), all of these figures represent modest increases over the numbers from 2015.
Common Types of Car Accidents
Car accidents occur for numerous reasons. Some of the most common types of auto collisions involve the following types of crashes:
- Failure to Yield Accidents
- Hit and Run Accidents
- Head-On Collisions
- Intersection Accidents
- Chain Reaction Accidents
- Multivehicle Accidents
- Rear-End Collisions
- Side Impact Crashes
- Unsafe Lane Changes
- Low-Speed Accidents
- Merging Accidents
- T-Bone Collisions
What Our Florida Car Accident Law Firm Can Do for Collision Victims
If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a motor vehicle accident, what do you need to know? What do you need to do? What can you expect over the weeks, months and years to come? How can you make sure the insurance companies do not take advantage of you?
These are all important questions, and they do not have simple answers. Protecting your rights after a car accident is not easy. While many people choose to deal with the insurance companies on their own, the decision to do so is often based on common misperceptions about the insurance claims process and the costs involved in hiring an attorney. Despite what they say on television, the insurance companies are not on your side. They do not have your best interests in mind. They want you to settle quickly – before you know the extent of your losses, and before you get help to recover the compensation you deserve.
At Searcy Denney, we take the uncertainty of the insurance claims process out of the equation. We use our extensive experience to handle the process for you, and we make sure you do not make any decisions until you have all of the information you need to feel confident in the outcome of your case. Our law firm also has unique resources to pursue recovery on your behalf.
When we represent you, we bring to your cause:
- A team of 29 lawyers who for more than 40 years have helped clients obtain settlements or verdicts in car crash cases similar to yours;
- Medical professionals who analyze the cause of death and/or the prognosis for recovery from injuries;
- Investigators and paralegals whose skills have been honed in the field, sorting out auto accident details;
- A record of going head-to-head with insurance companies and other powerful corporations to fight for our clients;
- The financial resources to withstand long-term investigation and lengthy trials if necessary;
- Our pledge to keep you informed, to tell you the truth, to offer straightforward advice, and to exhaust every avenue for seeking justice.
In addition, we handle all car accident cases on contingency. This means:
- Your initial consultation is free and without obligation;
- We do not charge retainer fees or hourly rates;
- You pay nothing out of pocket while your case is pending;
- We only retain a portion of your settlement or verdict if we help you win just compensation;
- If we do not achieve a recovery for you, you pay us nothing.
When Can You Seek Financial Compensation for an Auto Accident in Florida?
Most car accident cases involve the law of “negligence.” In Florida, if one driver (or some other party) is negligent in causing another driver’s or passenger’s injuries, the negligent driver is legally responsible for all of the victims’ accident-related losses. Since most drivers have insurance (although Florida has one of the highest rates of uninsured drivers in the nation), in most cases, victims receive their compensation through the at-fault driver’s insurance company. However, as we discussed above – and as you may already know all too well – getting compensated by the insurance companies is easier said than done.
Some of the most common forms of negligence involved in Florida auto accident cases include the following:
- Distracted Driving – Including talking, texting, setting GPS directions, and eating or drinking behind the wheel.
- Fatigued Driving – Including driving without adequate rest and falling asleep behind the wheel.
- Impaired Driving – Including driving under the influence of alcohol, prescription medications, over-the-counter sleep aids, or illegal drugs.
- Reckless Driving – Including following too closely (tailgating), weaving through traffic, running red lights and stop signs, and merging without looking or signaling.
- Speeding – Including exceeding the posted speed limit and driving too fast for current traffic, weather or road conditions.
Other common causes of accidents for which compensation will typically be available include vehicle defects, inadequate vehicle maintenance, road defects, inadequate warnings about road construction, and safety violations by commercial truckers and trucking companies.
Contact a Florida Car Accident Attorney to Discuss Your Auto Crash Case
If you or a family member has been injured in a vehicle accident and you want to discuss a potential claim, schedule an appointment with an experienced Florida car accident lawyer. Just fill in our Contact Form or call us at 1-800-780-8607 to arrange for your free, confidential consultation at our West Palm Beach or Tallahassee office. No recovery, no fee.
- Driving Safety, in Fits and Starts
- Uniform Guidelines for State Highway Safety Programs
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
- Attorney Cam Kennedy — Texting & Driving? You may as well be drunk driving.
- Do You Know Which Are the Most Dangerous Intersections?
How long do I have to file a car accident claim in Florida?
In most cases, the statute of limitations for car accident claims in Florida is four years. If you do not file within four years, you could lose your rights entirely.
However, much shorter delays can jeopardize your case as well. For example, if you wait too long to seek legal representation, your lawyers may not be able to collect certain key evidence (such as skid marks) from the scene of the accident. Without legal representation, you also run the risk of saying something you shouldn’t to the insurance companies. As a result, while you may technically have four years to assert your rights, we strongly recommend that you speak with a Florida car accident attorney as soon as possible.
What if I was at fault in the accident? Can I still file a claim?
If you were partially at fault in the accident, you may still be able win your case under Florida law. This is because Florida follows a rule known as “pure comparative fault.” Under this rule, even if you were 90 percent at fault in the accident, you would still be entitled to recover 10 percent of your losses. Or, as is more common, if you were 10 percent at fault, you would be entitled to 90 percent of a full recovery.
But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Establishing fault requires a thorough investigation and reasoned legal analysis, and it is one of the most common issues leading to car accident litigation. While you may think you were at fault, the evidence may suggest otherwise, and you should not rush to judgment until you have discussed your case with an experienced attorney.
What if the other driver is from another state?
Here in the Sunshine State, we have a lot of out-of-state drivers. If you were injured by an out-of-state driver, your case will largely be similar to one involving a claim against a Florida resident. There may be some additional steps involved if your case goes to trial, but it is much more likely that your case will settle long before that comes into play.
What if the other driver doesn’t have insurance?
If the driver who hit you was uninsured, you will need to discuss the specific facts of your case with an attorney to determine what options you have available. While one option is certainly to file a claim against the driver personally, if the at-fault driver was uninsured, he or she is unlikely to have the financial resources to pay just compensation for your losses.
As a result, in most cases involving uninsured drivers, we need to explore alternative sources of compensation. One of these sources may be your own auto insurance policy. If you have uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage, then in addition to your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage, you may also be able to collect the compensation that you would have been paid by the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
Another option is to identify another party that is responsible for your losses. This could be the case if, for example, your brakes failed or you were injured when one of your airbags deployed improperly. If a hazardous road condition (such as a pothole, blind curve or low shoulder) played a role in the accident, then the highway authority may be responsible for your losses as well.
An insurance company is offering me a check. Should I take it?
No. If you have received a settlement offer without legal representation, the offer is almost certainly for far less than the true value of your claim. The insurance company is trying to get you to settle before you have had the opportunity to make an informed decision. In addition, by accepting the check, you could be waiving your right to seek additional compensation. Before accepting any money for your injuries, it is critical that you find out exactly what your case is worth from an experienced Florida car accident attorney.
What if the insurance company is refusing to pay for my injuries?
If you have been unsuccessful in securing payment from the insurance companies, you will need to hire an auto accident attorney to help. The insurance companies routinely deny unrepresented accident victims’ claims for compensation; and, when they offer payment, it is usually because they are trying to settle for less than the full amount owed. It is not too late to seek help, but you do not want to wait any longer than necessary to seek legal representation.
Will my insurance rates increase after an accident?
It depends. If the accident was 100 percent someone else’s fault, your rates should not increase. On the other hand, if you were partially at fault, or if you need to file a UIM claim, then your accident could affect your premiums. This is yet another issue you will want to discuss with a Florida auto accident attorney so that you can make an informed decision about protecting your legal rights.
Am I entitled to financial compensation for my future medical expenses?
Yes. After an accident resulting from someone else’s negligence, in addition to compensation for your outstanding medical bills, you are also entitled to compensation for your future medical expenses. In many cases, these future expenses will far exceed the costs incurred to date. You are entitled to financial compensation for your lost future earnings as well, and these are losses that we can calculate for you before you settle your claim.
Am I entitled to financial compensation for my pain and suffering?
Potentially, yes. In cases involving serious traumatic injuries with long-term or permanent effects, accident victims will often be entitled to financial compensation for the non-financial impacts of their injuries. This includes pain and suffering, as well as losses such as:
- Emotional trauma
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of society, support and services
- Loss of companionship and consortium