Florida drivers get into 1,098 accidents a day, according to The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. With startling statistics like this, it’s important to learn what to do after an accident by hiring an auto accident attorney.
A car accident lawyer will help litigate your personal injury claim & any issues associated with car crashes, and they come up often in Florida. Whether your vehicle was involved in a major crash or a minor fender bender, dealing with insurance companies and medical bills can be a hassle. However, a car accident lawyer will work to organize these inconveniences and ensure that you get compensated for it. Remember that other people involved in the accident might already be working with their own auto accident attorney to help formulate a case, so you’ll need your own car accident attorney on your team to help evaluate injuries, car damages, and deal with insurance companies and other lawyers potentially involved.
Hiring a lawyer is simple. At K Law, PLLC, we offer free consultations to help get the legal process started. Also, check out this guide of need-to-know information for hiring an auto accident attorney in Florida.
Should I Get A Car Accident Attorney for An Auto Accident?
It’s strongly recommended you get a car accident attorney – in Florida, especially – no matter the extent of your damages. Florida is a no-fault state, which means you’ll be able to treat your medical injuries under Personal Injury Protection.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
Florida is one of several states that have Personal Injury Protection (PIP) auto insurance with the intention of providing injured drivers up to $10,000 in immediate medical coverage instead of establishing fault through the state’s court system. The goal with PIP is to reduce payment delays for injured drivers, in addition to limiting the use of the court system. In Florida, all owners of motor vehicles registered in this state are required to buy PIP coverage. As a driver, this makes you responsible for your own injuries in an accident no matter who’s at fault. Florida Statute 627.7407 states:
Each motor vehicle insurer shall provide personal injury protection coverage to each of its motor vehicle insureds who is subject to subsection (1) beginning on January 1, 2008. With respect to a person who does not have a personal injury protection policy in effect on such date, the initial endorsement shall not be considered a new policy and shall be issued for a period that terminates on the same date as the person’s other motor vehicle insurance coverage. Except as modified by the insured, the deductibles and exclusions that applied to the insured’s previous personal injury protection coverage with that insurer shall apply to the new personal injury protection coverage. The insurer is not required to provide the coverage if the insured does not pay the required premium by January 1, 2008, or such later date that the insurer may allow.
Filing A Claim with Your Attorney
Your auto accident attorney can also help handle the claim filed against the at-fault driver. In Florida, drivers involved in an accident are only able to claim benefits, lost wages, and medical bills for up to $10,000. Anything over that must be covered by the insurance company of the driver who’s at fault.
Every claim will be different, and there are a few basic steps you should take when seeking compensation:
- Collect Evidence – Get insurance and contact information from the other party involved, take pictures of the accident scene with your smartphone, and file a police report. Without all of this, it could be difficult to get the benefits you deserve.
- Write Everything Down – Put in writing your recollection of what happened in as much detail as possible.
- Contact Insurance Companies – Reach out to the insurance company of both yours and the defendants to see if you’re covered under any type of insurance. Auto insurance might cover medical injuries, while property liability insurance can cover bills if the accident happened on someone else’s property.
- Contact an Attorney – There can be a lot of information and paperwork involved in these cases, and if you’re located in Tampa, St. Petersburg, or Bradenton, a car accident lawyer will be your solution to an easy process, representing you or settling your claim outside of court.
How Long Do You Have to Get A Lawyer After A Car Accident?
According to Florida Statute 95.11, drivers can file an accident claim up to four years after the date of the crash. The statute of limitations for Florida drivers ensures that you’ll receive compensation for any medical treatments you’ve received within those four years. However, it’s advisable to hire an attorney right away after a car accident so everything is properly documented.
If you’ve decided to try to handle your own auto accident claim, chances are, the insurance company attorneys will give you a low-ball offer. They know that you may not understand all your legal rights and how much compensation you can ask for from car accident injuries and damages. The insurance company may even send you an offer within a few days after the accident before you’ve had time to consider hiring an auto accident attorney.
If you accept a settlement before knowing the full extent of your injury and bills, unfortunately, there isn’t much a lawyer can do as you’ve effectively signed away your legal rights. But if you hire an attorney right away, you’ll be assisted in however long it takes to reach a settlement.
What Is the Average Settlement for A Car Accident?
Like most legal matters, the amount of compensation from a car accident varies on a case-by-case basis. Your settlement offer will be a direct reflection of the extent of your injuries, your car damages, medical bills accrued, lost wages, and even pain and suffering. All these factors are considered when your auto accident attorney sends a monetary amount request to the insurance company.
Damages will be assigned under special, general, or punitive
Special damages consist of the monetary loss you obtained from the accident. General damages speak to the psychological effects, emotional trauma, and physical pain and suffering. Punitive damages can be tacked onto your claim by a judge if he/she believes you deserve more than what is being offered by the insurance company and are generally assigned if there was negligence on the other driver’s part (e.g., drunk driving).
How Much Does A Car Accident Lawyer Charge for A Car Accident?
In Florida, a car accident attorney typically charges a client in one of two ways. The first is on a contingency fee basis, and the other is an hourly fee.
A contingency fee means your car accident lawyer will only charge you if you receive compensation from your claim, and this is how we operate at K Law, PLLC. There are absolutely no legal fees associated with your case, even if we lose. Contingency fees will be determined beforehand as a percentage of your final settlement, and we have no qualms telling you it’s important to know that you can negotiate percentage pricing with your lawyer before hiring. An attorney will either suggest a percentage payment based on the net award or the gross award (how much you receive before expenses).
If a car accident attorney decides to charge you an hourly rate, this may indicate you don’t have a strong case. A lawyer who charges hourly gets paid regardless of the outcome of your case. At this point, if services are offered to you at an hourly rate, this suggests you don’t have enough evidence to back up your claim, and the chances of receiving compensation are slim.
Choosing an Auto Accident Attorney in Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Bradenton
Here are a few questions to ask that will help you evaluate an attorney in the Tampa area that fits your budget:
- What percentage of your settlement goes to the lawyer? Does it come from the gross or net award?
- What size settlement does the lawyer think you can get?
- Once you deduct the attorney’s fees and expenses, how much compensation can you expect to get?
Get Legal Advice for Your Auto Accident Today
Accidents happen every day. If you ever find yourself in a car accident and need an attorney, look no further than the professionals at K Law, PLLC.
As your auto accident attorney, we believe in getting to know your need with a more “hands-on” approach for the best results. We’ll fight to ensure you’re adequately compensated for your pain and suffering, as well as any other difficulties resulting from the accident. As a client of ours, you’ll always be able to speak with one of our attorneys and have direct access to your case.
Contact us today for a free consultation at our offices in Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Bradenton.