No Recovery, You Owe Us Nothing
Car accidents account for a significant number of injuries and deaths in Florida, which ranks among the most dangerous states in the country in this respect. According to data collected by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, in 2017 alone there were over 400,000 crashes statewide, with 254,167 reported injuries and 3,166 reported traffic fatalities. Quite honestly, the statistics are shocking.
Many car accident injury victims do not realize that they have a legitimate claim for damages under Florida law. Car accidents can result in medical expenses, deteriorating quality of life, lost wages, pain and suffering, and property loss. By bringing a timely action against the defendant, the injured plaintiff may be able to secure compensation for their various losses.
Here at Searcy Denney, our experienced Florida car accident attorneys can assist you at every stage of the litigation process, from gathering evidence to negotiating a settlement to arguing the case at trial. We are tenacious advocates and are willing and able to go the extra mile to ensure that our clients obtain the compensation they deserve. If you’d like to learn more about our legal services and what we can do to help, contact us today to set up a free and confidential consultation.
Car accidents may be caused by a variety of factors, many of which can be linked to the negligent or otherwise wrongful acts of a defendant. If you are capable of proving that the defendant’s actions led to your injuries, then you may be entitled to recover significant damages as compensation.
Consider the following common car accident causes.
Many drivers mistakenly assume that, because the weather conditions are poor, they are shielded from liability in the event that they lose control of their vehicle and cause a car accident. In reality, however, drivers are held to a standard of care that is dynamic in accordance with the circumstances. If visibility is poor, for example, then the driver cannot operate their vehicle in the same manner (and at the same speeds) that they might otherwise during fair weather conditions. Failure to account for these challenging environmental conditions could expose the driver to significant liability in the event of an accident.
Let’s use a quick example to clarify.
Suppose that you are injured in a car accident collision involving another driver (during heavy rain and a thunderstorm). The defendant-driver argues that they lost control of their car due to the slick roads and rainy weather, causing them to swerve into your lane and get into an unexpected collision. You could counter this assertion by showing that, even if the conditions were poor, the defendant-driver should have accounted for the risk posed by the weather conditions and operated his vehicle at a slower speed, and with greater care. Had he done so, perhaps the collision would not have occurred. Our Florida car accident attorneys can help you evaluate whether the other driver exercised the appropriate standard of care under the circumstances.
Reckless driving and excessive speeding often lead to car accidents.
If you have been injured in a car accident where the defendant was operating their vehicle in a reckless manner or at an unreasonable speed, then you may be entitled to damages. In fact, if they were traveling in excess of the legal speed limit for the roadway, you may be able to hold them liable for damages pursuant to “negligence per se,” which allows you to automatically find the defendant negligent for the circumstances. This can make it substantially easier to prove that the defendant is responsible for your losses.
According to statistics, intoxicated drivers (whether they are under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or some other substance) are responsible for nearly 30 percent of all traffic fatalities. If you have been injured by an intoxicated driver, chances are that you will be able to obtain compensation for your losses.
Recovery in an intoxicated driving incident is easier than in many other car accident scenarios, as the defendant will almost certainly be deemed negligent or even reckless under the circumstances. Further, the court may award punitive damages (i.e., bonus damages meant to punish the defendant for “bad” behavior and discourage others from the same) depending on the egregiousness of the defendant’s conduct.
It’s worth noting that in some cases, Florida dram shop laws may give you the right to sue and recover damages from the business and/or social host that served the intoxicated driver alcohol. Given the hidden complexity of many “drunk driving” car accident lawsuits, it’s important to consult with a qualified Florida car accident attorney as soon as possible, so that your case can be thoroughly and timely evaluated.
Fatigued driving, otherwise known as drowsy driving, is a serious problem, and it is a lot more common than many drivers expect. According to data gathered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drowsy driving led to 72,000 crashes, 44,000 injuries, and 800 fatalities in 2013 alone.
Many drivers mistakenly underestimate the effect of fatigue on their ability to competently operate a vehicle. In truth, however, fatigue can slow reaction times, making it significantly more difficult to avoid collisions. In extreme cases, fatigue can cause a driver to fall asleep at the wheel.
Fatigued driving is perhaps most commonly encountered in the commercial driving context, where employers overwork their drivers and provide incentives that encourage their drivers to avoid sleep and take stimulants. If you are injured by a fatigued commercial driver, you may have an independent negligence claim against the employer, too.
Rollover accidents may be dangerous, but they are avoidable. Drivers must exercise reasonable care when inspecting, loading, and operating their vehicles to ensure that the rollover risk is kept to a minimum. Failure to do so could expose the defendant to significant car accident liability.
Rollover accidents can be traced to a number of different causes, but in many cases, the driver is negligent and therefore at least partially responsible. In Florida, if you can demonstrate that the defendant-driver could have avoided the rollover accident with reasonable care but failed to do so, then you can hold them liable for the damages that you suffered as a result.
Common acts of negligence that contribute to a rollover accident include, but are not necessarily limited to:
Many rollover accidents also involve the negligence of a third-party, whose acts of negligence may include, but are not necessarily limited to:
It is certainly worth pointing out that — if the defendant-driver is an employee who was acting within the course and scope of their employment — you may be entitled to seek damages against the driver’s employer pursuant to the doctrine of vicarious liability. Vicarious liability allows you to impose liability on an employer for their employee’s negligent acts. This can be an excellent tool for obtaining full compensation in a situation where the driver may not personally have adequate insurance coverage or personal assets to cover your losses.
Product defects in motor vehicles — such as defective brakes, suspension issues, airbag deployment failures, etc. — can expose others to an unreasonable risk of injury. In Florida, those who are injured in a car accident due to a product defect may recover damages pursuant to a strict liability action. In other words, they need not prove that the auto manufacturer was negligent in creating a design or manufacturing defect (or failing to warn of a non-obvious hazard). They only need to prove that there was, in fact, a defect and that it contributed to their injuries.
In Florida and throughout the United States, rollover accidents — though more commonly associated with large commercial trucks — are also extremely dangerous in the passenger vehicle context (i.e., cars, SUVs, pickup trucks, vans, etc.). According to data gathered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, despite the fact that only 2.1 percent of passenger vehicle crashes involved a rollover incident, they accounted for roughly 35 percent of all fatalities.
Teen drivers can be a significant risk to others on the road. Oftentimes, teen drivers operate vehicles in a distracted or reckless manner. For example, teen drivers may become too absorbed in the music they’re listening to, or too involved in a conversation occurring inside the vehicle, causing them to fail to react in time to road hazards.
Fundamentally, however, the main problem that plagues teen drivers is their relative inexperience. Many teen drivers lack the requisite muscle memory necessary to make safe driving decisions during dangerous situations. They may turn too slowly or fail to make the correct decision to avoid a collision or minimize damage in the event of an unavoidable collision.
In car accidents involving teen drivers, sometimes the vehicle is not owned by the teen driver themselves, but by their parent (or even a friend), particularly when the teen is a minor. If that is the case, you may also have an independent right of action against the vehicle owner for damages, pursuant to “negligent entrustment.” If the vehicle owner knows that the teen driver is incompetent to safely operate the vehicle (i.e., unlicensed, excessive history of accidents, etc.), then they may be held liable for injuries caused by that driver after entrusting the vehicle to them. Understanding who can be held responsible for an accident caused by a teen driver is one of the many hurdles a Florida car accident attorney can help you overcome.
Eventually, advanced age can impede the physical and mental faculties of a driver to a significant enough extent that they are simply not “competent” enough to safely operate a motor vehicle. Drivers must consider their ability to safely operate their vehicle before setting forth on the road. If they are having trouble effectively navigating roadways, then chances are that they are exposing others to an unreasonable risk of injury.
Distracted driving has always been a major contributor to car accidents, and as mobile phones become an increasingly integrated part of our daily lives, texting and driving has arguably become the most common form of distracted driving. Some observers estimate that 26 percent of all motor vehicle accidents are caused by or related to the use of mobile phones while driving.
If you have been injured by a distracted driver who was texting or otherwise using their mobile phone at the time of the accident, then you can strengthen your claim by introducing call log evidence (or in-phone user data evidence) to show that the phone was being used while driving. A lawyer can help you access the evidence you would need in order to prove your accident was caused by a distracted driver.
Uber, Lyft, and other rideshare apps have become nearly ubiquitous in urban areas throughout the United States, Florida included. If you are injured in a rideshare accident, it’s worth noting that the most popular services provide insurance liability coverage to their drivers (up to $1 million). If you wish to bring an action against the rideshare company, however, your case may become a bit more complicated.
Drivers for these services are not technically considered “employees.” This means that, though you may be entitled to sue and recover damages from the rideshare company, you can only do so for their independent negligence. For example, if you can show that the rideshare company failed to properly inspect the driver’s car to ensure that it was in safe working condition, and if the accident involved a mechanical issue with the car, then you might have a claim against the rideshare company. You may likely still be able to bring an action against the driver and owner of the car, too.
In the United States, approximately one in every five drivers involved in an auto accident is unlicensed (i.e., they do not have a valid license registered at the time of the accident). If a driver is unlicensed, there is a good chance they lack the requisite training or experience necessary to safely operate the vehicle at-issue. Alternatively, they may have had their license suspended for prior accidents, or for some other violation of the law.
If you are injured by an unlicensed driver, then the fact that they are unlicensed will serve as strong evidence of their negligence (though it is not necessarily dispositive of that issue).
In some car accident scenarios, you may have a legitimate claim for damages against a property owner — public or private. Property owners have a duty to maintain their property in a reasonably safe condition for others, and this includes roadways. Failure to adequately maintain roadways (and adjacent structures) could lead to a serious car accident and expose the property owner to liability.
Consider, for example, a situation in which you are injured by a falling tree on the highway during perfectly normal weather. After further investigation, you find that the owner of the property abutting the highway did not properly inspect the trees for disease and rot. Had they done so, they would have discovered that the trees posed a dangerous falling hazard, and they could have corrected the issue by cutting down the trees or otherwise treating the disease/rot. A Florida lawyer can help you determine whether your accident was preventable and within the property owner’s duty to maintain.
If you have sustained serious injuries in a car accident due to the negligence or wrongful misconduct of another individual (or entity), then you may have a right to be compensated for your losses under Florida law. Here at Searcy Denney, we have extensive experience representing injured claimants in a range of car accident lawsuits, from those involving drunk drivers to multi-car pileups.
Interested in learning more? Contact one of our skilled Florida car accident attorneys to arrange for a free, confidential, and no-obligation consultation to discuss your case. Call 1-800-780-8607 or request an appointment online. We do not charge our clients fees or costs until — and unless — the case is won, and you have received just compensation for your injuries.