It is understandable that many Florida residents do not know how to proceed after they, or a loved one, have been in a car accident. While you may be overwhelmed after a wreck, it is important that you take immediate steps to protect your rights. Failing to do so can result in you not recovering the amount of compensation which you deserve. By understanding the common causes of car accidents in our state, and how liability may apply in such situations, you can be better equipped to move your situation forward. This article, therefore, is meant to discuss the most common causes of auto wrecks in our state.
Some of the more common causes of car accidents in Florida include:
- Distracted driving
- Illegal lane changes or turns
- Failures to obey traffic signals and stop signs
- Speeding or reckless driving
We will discuss each of these situations in turn.
Anyone who operates a motor vehicle has a duty to ensure that they are paying attention to the road. While smartphones have brought many conveniences to modern life, they have also greatly increased the number of people who drive distracted and fail to meet this duty. If a driver is talking on the phone, texting, looking at social media, taking photos, or engaging in other such conduct then they can be held liable for negligence if their distracted driving causes a wreck. Obtaining phone records, social media records, and other digital data through the discovery process can prove that an individual was engaging in such activity while driving.
Illegal Lane Changes or Illegal Turns
A driver commits an act of negligence when they change lanes without signaling in time. It is also negligent for a driver to turn into traffic when they do not have the right of way (which often happens at a yellow traffic signal). If a victim is hit by a driver who did not provide a signal of their pending lane change then the victim may be able to recover compensation. Disputes in such cases can arise, in regard to liability, as a defendant may attempt to claim that they properly utilized their turn signal. They may also try to claim that an act of negligence on behalf of the victim (speeding for example) contributed to the accident. In addition to obtaining all necessary police reports, it is possible to gather other evidence of who was at fault. One example of such evidence can include the measuring of any skid marks.
Failing to Obey Traffic Signals or Other Signage
Running a stop sign or a red light is a common cause of car accidents. This type of conduct is often the result of distracted driving (discussed above), but is also caused by other factors. Such factors can include a driver simply failing to pay attention, a driver intentionally disregarding a traffic signal because they are in a hurry, etc. Evidence establishing liability in such cases can include testimony from various witnesses, footage taken from traffic cameras, and more. Also, an accident reconstructionist may be retained in certain matters so that they may issue an expert report as to who was at fault.
Cases involving traffic signals or four-way stops may very well involve issues of comparative fault where the insurance carrier initially claims that your own negligence contributed to the accident. It is important to understand that insurance carriers make these claims often and, even if they are claiming that you were at fault, your attorney may still be able to reach a settlement on your behalf.
Reckless Driving or Speeding
The simple truth is that car accidents are sometimes the result of intentional conduct. It is common for people to knowingly disregard speed limits. Others may go as far as to engage in the crime of reckless driving. Violating a speed limit or driving recklessly can create situations where the offending driver does not have time to stop before an intersection. It can also create situations where one may change lanes or enter an intersection, believing that they have time to do so, only to be hit by someone that was driving too fast. Evidence of such conduct can include police reports, expert analysis of the scene, witness testimony, etc.
Individuals who drive while intoxicated continue to be a primary source of car accidents in Florida and throughout the U.S. When a drunk driver causes an accident then, for obvious reasons, you may pursue a cause of action against them directly. If they were over served at a bar or restaurant, under certain circumstances, you may also be able to sue the bar or restaurant which served them alcohol. While our laws regarding such matters (which are known as “DRAM” shop cases) are more restrictive than those of many other states, it is possible to bring a case against such an establishment.
Under Fla. Stat. 768.125, the establishment which served the alcohol can be sued if they “knowingly” served a person who is “habitually” addicted to alcohol. Given that it is common for bars or restaurants to serve the same “regulars” on a nightly basis, it may be possible to bring such a claim. Proving that the establishment knew that the person was an alcoholic will be key to such matters. Examples of evidence which can prove this knowledge can include bank records which show that the individual consumes alcohol at the establishment on a regular basis.
Contact a Florida Car Accident Attorney if You Have Been in a Wreck
If you have been in an auto wreck then it is important that you seek immediate treatment for your injuries and that you contact an attorney as soon as possible. You only have a limited amount of time in which you can bring suit for your injuries. Our firm is proud of the level of service which we provide and we will give your case the attention it deserves. Call us today at 800-780-8607 or contact us online to speak with a Florida car accident attorney.