Motor Vehicle Accident Attorneys
Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of injury and death in the state of Florida and across the United States every year. Not only are they shockingly common – almost everyone has been in a crash or knows an immediate family member who has been in an accident – but they are also almost always entirely preventable. Indeed, they are most often caused because drivers neglect their duty of care to others on the road, like drowsy driving.
At the law offices of Whibbs Stone Barnett, P.A., our experienced attorneys have been representing those harmed in car accidents for decades, and are prepared to provide you with the competent legal representation you’re looking for.
Types of Motor Vehicle Accidents
At the law firm of Whibbs Stone Barnett, P.A., we have experience representing those injured in all types of motor vehicle accidents, including:
- Rear-end crashes. While rear-end crashes are the type of crash that is least likely to result in serious injury, serious injuries are possible, especially when vehicles are traveling at high speeds at the time of impact.
- Sideswipe crashes. A sideswipe collision refers to an accident type in which the sides of vehicles collide, often as the result of an illegal and improper lane change.
- T-bone crashes. A T-bone crash is one of the most devastating accident types, and injuries to drivers and passengers in both vehicles are very possible.
- Head-on collisions. Head-on collisions are the least common, yet most deadly, type of accident.
You might think that aches and pains resulting from a fender-bender are just minor, and they will go away in a day or two. This is not always the case. Some injuries from rear-end collisions can be moderate to severe, especially if you are the lead driver (the driver of the vehicle that was rear-ended). Some of the most common injuries that result from rear-end accidents include:
- Whiplash and other soft-tissue injuries;
- Neck and back injuries;
- Concussions and other traumatic brain injuries (TBI);
- Spinal cord injuries;
- Internal injuries.
These injuries can have lasting effects, and in some cases (such as with injuries to internal organs), they can be life-threatening. This is why it is always best to get medical help as soon as possible, even after a seemingly minor accident.
In addition to the accidents listed above, which refer to the positions of vehicles at the time of impact, consider that truck accidents, drunk driving accidents, and motorcycle accidents also occur in Florida more often than they should. If you have been in an accident involved any type of motor vehicle, our lawyers can represent you as you seek damages.
We also handle truck accidents in Destin, FL.
Why Do Most Car Accidents Occur?
For decades, experts have been analyzing the question of why car accidents occur, and although there are certainly external factors such as bad weather that contribute to some crashes, most result from some type of human error. A few years back, Stanford Law School identified several reports and studies that looked at the cause of vehicle crashes, and although the exact percentages vary, every single report found that human error is a main contributor in more than 90% of all car accidents.
Human error can mean a lot of different things, but in a large number of cases, it refers to some type of driver negligence. Some of the most common ways that drivers contribute to car accidents include:
Because Florida has great weather most of the year, speeding is an ongoing temptation here in the Sunshine State. People seem to be in more of a hurry these days, and it is easy to push the limits by driving faster than is legally allowed.
Excessive speeding, which generally means driving at least 15 or 20 mph or more over the speed limit, is one common form of aggressive or reckless driving. Others may include tailgating, running stop signs and red lights, unsafe lane changes, unsafe or illegal passing maneuvers, sharp or illegal turns, and street racing. These types of driving behaviors greatly increase the risk of a collision. Florida takes reckless driving very seriously, and those guilty of this offense will likely face both criminal and civil liability.
Alcohol is a factor in approximately one third of all vehicle collisions. It is well-known that intoxication impairs a motorist’s ability to operate a vehicle safely, but unfortunately, far too many people still make the horrible and often fateful decision to get behind the wheel after having too much to drink.
Distractions are one of the leading causes of motor vehicle accidents today. This has largely been driven by the widespread use of smartphones and the need to “stay connected”. The end result is that a driver is entirely focused on his/her phone and away from the road where it should be.
Drowsiness is one of the leading causes of auto accidents in Pensacola. But who is most likely to drive while drowsy?
- Commercial Drivers: Individuals who drive for a living are far more likely than the general population to drive without having enough sleep. It can also happen to delivery drivers, cab drivers, and those who drive for a ride sharing services such as Uber and Lyft.
- Shift Workers: People who work long hours, extended shifts that include overtime, and shifts that run into the evening and overnight hours tend to have more difficulty staying awake while driving home when their shift is over.
- Drivers with Untreated Sleep Disorders: Individuals who have sleep disorders such as sleep apnea run a greater risk of “micro sleep” episodes. These episodes are relatively harmless if you are at home watching TV, but when they happen while driving, it is a much different story.
- Travelers: Individuals who drive long distances and particularly during overnight hours have a greater tendency to get sleepy while driving. This can also happen to those who fly a lot and frequently change time zones, such as business travelers.
- Intoxicated Drivers: Driving while under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs, or sleep-inducing medications can cause motorists to become drowsy, increasing the likelihood of falling asleep while driving.
Not all car accidents that stem from human error are caused by one of the drivers involved. There are other parties whose actions could be responsible for an auto accident, including:
- Vehicle Passengers: A passenger of a vehicle could contribute to an accident by distracting the driver, encouraging the driver to drive recklessly, or even through direct actions like grabbing the steering wheel.
- Mechanics: A mechanic or repair shop could be at fault if their negligence caused or contributed to the accident. Examples of negligence may include installing incorrect or defective vehicle parts, failing to identify a needed vehicle repair, or causing vehicle damage while making repairs.
- Vehicle Part Manufacturers: If a car accident happened because of a faulty vehicle or vehicle part, it may be possible to bring a claim against the product manufacturer or distributor. Common examples when this might occur include faulty brakes that failed to bring the vehicle to a stop to avoid a crash, and defective tires that blow out after being newly installed on a vehicle.
Who is At Fault for a Multi Car Accident?
One of the most common ways that a multi-car accident might happen is when one car rear ends the vehicle in front of them, setting off a domino effect in which several other vehicles get rear-ended. For a chain reaction accident like this to occur, the initial collision usually happens at a higher speed with the momentum of the crash triggering the subsequent crashes. Chain reaction rear end crashes often happen on the highway when there is a sudden slowdown and one of the drivers is not paying attention.
Another type of multi-vehicle accident that often occurs on the highway is one that is triggered by a semi-truck that jackknifes and blocks several lanes of traffic. For example, the truck may be traveling at 55 mph when one or two of its tires blow out and the driver loses control of the vehicle. This happens so quickly that other drivers rarely have the opportunity to slow down and avoid a collision.
During a chain reaction collision, the driver who caused the first crash is often looked to as the one responsible for the accident. This makes sense since that driver is seen to be in the best position to prevent the collision, however there are exceptions to this.
Our attorneys have decades of experience handling complicated Pensacola accident lawsuits. We understand how insurance companies and opposing attorneys evaluate cases, and we use that knowledge to our clients’ benefit.
Will My Pensacola Car Accident Case Settle?
Most auto accident lawsuits settle before going to trial, but not always. We prepare all of our cases as though they will go to trial. This increases the likelihood that opposing attorneys and insurance companies will agree to our settlement terms.
One key factor in proving your case is proper documentation of your injuries. It is important that you get a medical evaluation immediately following your accident, even if you think you did not suffer any injuries. Many injuries are not noticeable until days or even weeks following an accident.
Some serious injuries that often go undetected immediately following an automobile accident in Pensacola are:
- Herniated discs
- Fractured bones
- Spinal injuries
- Closed head injuries
Understanding Fault and Recovering Compensation after a Motor Vehicle Accident
Even if the other driver was 100% to blame for your crash, Florida’s no fault insurance laws prevent you from bringing a claim against that driver. In fact, under Florida’s no-fault laws, all drivers involved in a crash, regardless of fault, must file a claim with their own insurance company’s PIP (personal injury protection) coverage first.
There are some circumstances in which drivers are permitted to step outside of the no-fault system, though. Indeed, if a driver suffers injuries that are considered severe as defined by Florida’s serious injury threshold, a claim can be filed against the at-fault driver’s insurance, or a lawsuit can be filed directly against the at-fault driver.
The Importance of a Post-Accident Investigation
The post-accident investigation in a personal injury lawsuit is critical. There you can obtain evidence that can hold the negligent parties liable for your injuries and losses. Additionally, personal injury attorneys can evaluate the evidence gathered to determine whether there are grounds for a lawsuit or not. Involving a skilled attorney from the beginning will ensure that a proper value is set on the claim.
Dos and Don’ts of Car Accident Claims
- Do compile information and details about your accident.
- Don’t admit liability for the accident.
- Do report the accident to your insurance company.
- Don’t give a recorded statement to the at fault party’s insurer.
- Do follow all of your doctor’s recommendations.
- Don’t give the insurance company a blanket release of your medical records.
- Do contact an experienced auto accident attorney.
- Don’t accept a quick settlement offer.
How Are Damages Calculated in Accident Cases in Florida?
Accident damages do not have a set amount because they vary from case to case, depending on the severity of the accident and the injuries involved. There are specific categories, however, for which claimants can file for damages. According to Florida State Law under Section 501.2 which addresses personal injury and property damages, “There is no exact standard for measuring such damage. The amount should be fair and just in the light of the evidence.” The following categories fall under accident damages in Florida:
- Pain, injury, disfigurement, disability, and loss of capacity for enjoyment of life, past or future for the injured party.
- Medical expenses for the claimant or for minors injured in an accident, past or future.
- Lost wages, lost time, and lost earning potential, past or future.
- Loss of companionship and services to a spouse of the injured, past or future.
- Parental damages for caring for an injured child, and the resulting loss of services, earnings, and earnings ability, past, present and future, until the child reaches legal age.
- Loss of a child’s love, companionship, affection, social activities, and solace due to a significant injury resulting in permanent disability, including future loss until the child reaches legal age.
- Loss to an unmarried dependent of their parent’s comfort, services, companionship, and society in the past or future due to a significant injury to the parent.
- Property damage to the vehicle and other personal property including repair, towing, storage, and loss of use.
Why Work with Whibbs Stone Barnett, P.A.
There are a number of different attorneys in Florida that you can work with. What sets our law firm apart?
One reason our law firm is one of the best choices for legal representation throughout the state is that we have decades’ worth of combined legal experience, which has allowed us to perfect our method and strategy for building clients’ claims. We also have trial experience.
In addition to our experience, we also stay abreast with all changes in the law so that we always know the best approach to your claim, and are always aware of which laws might affect your ability to recover compensation.
We also have multiple highly skilled lawyers working for our firm, as well as a large staff that is able to handle all aspects of your car accident case, from an initial investigation to a final settlement award. We have the connections and resources your case demands.
We know that a car accident can change your life. We want to be here for you to help you recover the compensation you need to improve your future. Please visit our law firm today, send us a message.