Car Accident Lawyer in Panama CityWhether you’re on Panama City’s roads as a resident or a visitor, this state and area has its share of dangerous and deadly crashes. If you or someone you love was involved in a serious accident due to no fault of your own, you may be entitled to damages from the responsible party.
At Whibbs, Stone, Barnett, Attorneys at Law, our personal injury attorneys have decades of experience protecting the rights of auto accident victims and their families. While it may be tempting to try to handle these matters on your own, we urge you to seek the advice of a qualified accident lawyer as soon as possible after a crash. We always provide personal injury clients with a free consultation, and if we accept the case, it is on a contingency fee basis, meaning you only pay attorney fees if we win your case.
Understanding the Causes of Car Accidents in Panama City
The state of Florida has the third highest number of fatal car wrecks in the nation. In 2017 alone, there were 2,922 fatal crashes in Florida resulting in 3,112 deaths. In Bay County, where Panama City is located, there were 4,051 total crashes in 2017, resulting in 2,192 injuries. On average, 33 people lose their lives in this area each year to fatal car wrecks.
While there are a handful of reasons that people get into car crashes, some are more common than others. Thousands of people make Panama City their home, but it is also a popular year-round vacation destination. Collisions in this area often occur because of:
- Drunk drivers
- Distracted drivers
- Reckless driving
- Failing to yield the right of way
- Drowsy driving
- Wrong way driving
- Unsafe lane changes
- Following too close
- Vehicle design defects
Determining Who is At Fault in Your Accident
In Florida, a person is considered to be at fault in an accident if they were negligent. The legal definition of negligence is quite specific, and it would be your responsibility to show that the other party’s actions fell short of what a reasonable person would or wouldn’t do under similar conditions. As a rule, you would have to show that these things are true:
- Duty. You’ll need to show that the other party had a duty of care to you. For example, by driving a car, they had a duty to do so safely and follow the rules of the road.
- Breach of duty. You next need to show that the person breached their duty. So, by speeding, driving drunk, or crossing the center lane, they put you in jeopardy.
- Causation. The breach of duty caused your injuries. In other words, your medical condition, emotional state, and/or inability to work are a direct result of the breach of duty.
- Damages. You have damages, such as medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
After the accident, someone might have informed you that Florida is a no-fault state, so you have no personal injury case. This is true and not true at the same time.
It’s true that all drivers in Florida must have a minimum of $10,000 Personal Injury Protection (PIP), which provides coverage with or without fault. However, these limits are low and do not provide for damages in the event of permanent injury or death. If either of these conditions is present, you can pursue the at-fault party for compensation.
If your damages exceed the $10,000 PIP limit, you can also sue the negligent party for your remaining bills and such things as pain and suffering. In cases like these, you not only have to prove negligence but also deal with Florida’s comparative fault laws. In short, if you were found to be partially at fault in the accident, the amount of your award could be reduced by your degree of fault.
Since these cases can be complex at best, it’s always a good idea to speak with an attorney about your legal options.
Why Hire a Car Accident Attorney?
It’s not uncommon for someone who’s been in a crash to think, “I don’t need a lawyer. I’ll just deal with the insurance company myself.” While this makes sense on the surface, too many people find out the hard way that insurance companies don’t treat accident victims fairly.
Insurers are in the business of maximizing their profits, and paying you what your claim is worth isn’t going to help them achieve their business goals. Instead of being taken care of and receiving the compensation you deserve, you might find that your claim has been denied or that you are being offered much less than your case is worth as a settlement.
There are a wide variety of damages that you can claim after a serious car wreck. While it might be simple enough to calculate lost wages and medical expenses, it’s more of a challenge to put a monetary value on your diminished quality of life. But an injury that causes long-term disabilities and permanent impairment can result in significant damages, and you have the right to full compensation.
A skilled personal injury attorney can not only take over the handling of your claims process, but also the negotiation of a fair settlement. When you hire the right lawyer, they will fight for your rights and give you the time and space you need to recover from your injuries.
Speak with an Experienced Panama City Car Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one are dealing with the aftermath of a serious car crash, this isn’t something you need to handle on your own. At Whibbs, Stone, Barnett, Attorneys at Law, our goal is to take as much of the burden of recovery as possible off of your shoulders so that you can focus on reclaiming your life.
We will deal with the insurance company on your behalf and work tirelessly to get you maximum compensation for your injuries. If a fair settlement can’t be reached, we are always ready and willing to take your case to court to get the justice you need and deserve.
Contact our office today at (850) 500-1111 or reach out to us online to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.