Car Accident Attorney
We drive to work and the grocery store, and use our cars to transport children to school and afterschool activities. On the weekends, we drive to a favorite restaurant, visit friends, or even take a little road trip. Our cars are an integral part of our work and social lives, and make travel easy and effective.
But unfortunately, using your car more often means a higher chance of being in a car accident.
Common Causes of Car Accidents
- Distracted driving– A car can travel the length of a football field in five seconds. When you glance down at your phone to check a message, you can travel up to the length of a football field! Five seconds might not seem very long, but in a car, it can mean injuries, damages, or even death. Too few people realize the risks associated with distracted driving. However, the numbers are alarming. In 2017, there were 3,166 people killed in distracted driving incidents. Additionally, 10% of distracted driving accidents involve people between the ages of fifteen and nineteen. While young drivers have numerous apps, like Instagram and Snapchat, to distract them from the road, the high risk is also due to their lack of driving experience. Regardless of age, if a driver is distracted, they may rear-end another vehicle, drift off the road or into another lane, or be unable to come to a safe stop if an obstacle arises in front of them. There are many dangers that arise from distracted driving. Many people associate distracted driving with texting. Texting is certainly a main issue, but plenty of other activities create distractions.
- Drunk driving– While many people would never drink and drive, the statistics show that plenty of Floridians do. In 2017, there were 10,874 alcohol-impaired crash fatalities. Drunk driving accidents are often fatal because of how alcohol affects people. Impairment from alcohol affects concentration, judgement, reaction time, attention, and vision. Additionally, a drunk driver may exhibit reckless behavior, like speeding or weaving between lanes. For some people, alcohol causes drowsiness. This is an added threat, as it may result in a lack of focus, or even falling asleep at the wheel. In Florida, the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) level is 0.08. For most people, it only takes a few drinks to reach the illegal level. However, since alcohol has such an adverse effect, it’s advisable to never drive after having a drink. Even one drink can be dangerous. It’s very easy to call a cab, or ask a sober friend for a ride home. Unfortunately, many people ignore this advice, and the consequences are fatal. Oftentimes, the victims of a drunk driving crashes are occupants of other vehicles. Even the most responsible driver can become the victim of a drunk driving accident, because of the reckless choices of others.
- Drowsy driving– Operating a vehicle with insufficient sleep can carry a lot of the same risks associated with drunk driving. This condition is responsible for a lot of car accident injuries each year. Ensuring you are properly rested before operating a motor vehicle falls directly on the individual. Failure to do so could hold unique consequences.
- Driver error– The smallest error behind the wheel can have lasting effects. Car accidents that occur because of driver error or failure to comply with rules and regulations of the road can carry harsh penalties.
- Speeding or otherwise reckless driving– While speeding might not seem as dangerous as drunk or distracted driving, it is a main contributor in fatal car accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, speeding was the cause of 26% of all fatal crashes in 2017. When a driver is going over the speed limit, they may be unable to stop in time for an obstacle, like a pedestrian. They could also find themselves unable to come to a safe stop at a red light. Unlike a driver traveling at a safe speed, someone who is going over the speed limit is likely to be less aware of their surroundings. This makes them more likely to be unable to avoid a dangerous collision.
- Vehicle design defects– In some unique cases, the cause of your car accident injury may not be the fault of the other driver and rather the fault of your vehicle’s design and/or equipment. Defects with critical safety features like brakes, seatbelts, and airbags can lead to serious injuries, and the manufacture of the vehicle might be liable.
- Dangerous road conditions– Adverse conditions, from potholes to inadequate guardrails, present their own risks, and drivers are expected to adjust their style of driving based on these circumstances. If a driver is not paying attention and fails to properly react to an adverse road reaction or if they react in a negligent way to a roadway issue, they could cause an accident.
Even if you are a responsible driver, accidents can happen. A drunk driver may run a red light, or a texting driver might hit a car from behind. Unfortunately, plenty of people make reckless decisions behind the wheel, impacting other people’s lives.
In many accidents, the injuries are severe and life-changing.
Common Car Accident Injuries
- Brain and head injuries
- Neck injuries, like whiplash
- Back injuries
- Facial injuries from broken glass, debris, or collision with the airbags or interior of the car
- Psychological injuries, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
In some unthinkable cases, car accidents can be fatal. The loss of a loved one is painful. No matter the circumstances, the death of a loved one contributes to serious grief, years of painful remembrance, and physical and mental suffering. When the accident was preventable, the suffering only grows. To make matters worse, many of these accidents were likely preventable. A driver can easily make the decision to hail a cab if they have been drinking, or can resist the urge to check a text. However, not everyone makes these responsible choices, and other drivers suffer because of it.
- 32% of fatal accidents involve drunk driving
- 31% of accidents involve a speeding driver
- 16% of accidents involve speeding
- Only 11% of fatal accidents happen because of non-human reasons, like inclement weather. This truly shows that, if everyone made good decisions on the roads, the number of fatalities would greatly decrease.
In 9% of fatal accidents nationwide, the victims are between the ages of 16 and 20. The loss of a young person is especially tragic. They have their whole lives ahead of them, but everything is cut short by one reckless decision.
Do You Need a Lawyer After a Car Accident?
If there are serious injuries after a car accident, seeking medical treatment is, of course, the most important step. However, if you believe that another driver caused your injuries, you may also want to start considering a personal injury lawsuit.
After a car accident, an experienced car accident attorney can help with important steps like:
- Interviewing witnesses and obtaining photographs of the accident scene, including pictures of the vehicle damages
- Obtaining your medical records, which can be used to show how the accident has impacted your health and life
- Advising you before you speak to an insurance adjuster or anyone else involved in the accident
- Most importantly, a car accident attorney can help you win the compensation you deserve!
Car Accident Frequently Asked Questions
In the absence of extraordinary circumstances it is not advisable to do an investigation of the facts of an automobile accident on your own. First, an experienced investigator knows the important steps to take and the best way to gather the needed information or proof. Second, your activities as an “investigator” will be characterized later by an insurance company adjustor or attorney as proof that you were determined to make a claim no matter how serious the injury turned out to be. Third, a professional investigator can testify effectively to interviews and other results of his efforts as a witness independent from you. Fourth, your energies immediately after an accident that results in an injury should properly be directed to other matters, such as seeking medical treatment.
A claim made against another driver or vehicle owner is called a tort claim. It is usually based upon the concept of carelessness or negligence, although it can also be based upon an intentional or reckless act. There are three categories of issues that typically arise in a tort claim after an automobile accident:
- Insurance Coverage
Liability refers to the question of who is at fault and to what degree. These are very important questions. Did the other driver exceed the speed limit? Did you fail to stop at a stop sign? Were the brakes on the truck properly maintained? These are the kinds of questions that must be answered by solid proof. The insurance company defending your claim obviously wants to minimize or eliminate the fault of its driver and maximize your fault.
Damages refers to the injuries or losses that were caused by the accident. You are only entitled to compensation for those injuries and losses. This is where the detailed records and, if necessary, the testimony of your treating doctors becomes important. It is also the responsibility of your attorney to document the ways in which you and your family have been impacted, in the past and in the future, by your injuries. Insurance coverage is frequently not as simple as might be expected. Often there are disputes over which of several coverages is first in line. There are also efforts by the insurance company to deny or defeat coverage. And, where uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage (UM) is involved, there are multiple issues that must be resolved to assure maximum financial recovery. The entire area of insurance coverage is virtually a minefield that is best not entered without a competent attorney.
You should talk to a car accident lawyer and a law firm that has the experience, dedication and ability to maximize your compensation and minimize the frustration, delay and confusion that you will experience in making a claim for an injury.
There are many ways to select a doctor, but the primary goal in the selection process remains the same–to be treated by a competent physician who is genuinely interested in maximizing your physical and emotional recovery and is prepared to provide the necessary assistance to you in making any claims that prove necessary. The latter point is extremely important because some excellent treating doctors are not prepared to provide detailed reports or to give testimony about their treatment. A good starting point for medical care is your primary care physician or family doctor. He or she is usually very familiar with your state of health prior to the accident and can more easily recognize the nature and extent of the injuries caused by the auto accident. Often, your family doctor will make a referral to a specialist, such as an orthopedist (bone and joint) or neurologist (nerve). In making the referral your family doctor is usually knowledgeable about the qualifications of the available specialists and their willingness to provide care to accident victims. Another possibility is to consider the recommendation of an emergency room physician who has evaluated you immediately after your accident. Friends, relatives and neighbors are also good sources for good treating doctors. They may know firsthand an excellent physician who has helped them in the past. An experienced personal injury attorney has interacted with many of the doctors in your community over the years. He or she should be able to literally provide a list of conscientious physicians in various medical specialties for your consideration. After you retain an attorney it is wise to inform the attorney of any planned change in doctors because the attorney may be able to provide useful information about a doctor’s competency to treat a particular condition.
There are some steps that you should take as soon as possible after an automobile accident in order to protect your rights. These steps are particularly important if you or a passenger in your car has been injured.
- Obtain the names, addresses and phone numbers of any witnesses. Report the accident immediately to the police and your insurance company. Cooperate with the police in preparing an auto accident report. Photograph the exterior and interior of the autos involved in the accident. See a physician if you are having any pain without delay. Get legal advice before filling out insurance documents or giving recorded statements to any insurance company or meeting with any insurance company representative. Photograph your injuries. Gather all automobile insurance policies in your household for evaluation by an attorney. Get legal advice before signing any check or document from any insurance company.
- Call Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes for a free consultation if you do not have an experienced car accident attorney.
Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes (formerly Perenich & Carroll) was founded in 1955. We are exclusively invested in helping personal injury victims— and their loved ones — win compensation and find justice. We approach every case with passion, experience, and dedication, and strive to provide the answers you need, when you need them.
If you are seeking the help of a car accident attorney, please contact us. We’ll see you through.