Miami Car Accident Lawyer
Miami is a city of fast-paced living—its roads are no exception. The roads and highways in South Florida are always busy, whether it be tourists driving through the state or residents commuting to and from work. Miami never slows down. Unfortunately, this means that car accidents are a fairly common occurrence and it’s easy to find yourself as a crash victim.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident in the greater Miami or South Florida area, it is vital that you consult a car accident lawyer who has experience and success handling auto accident claims. Dealing with insurance claims adjusters, the responsible parties, and their attorneys can feel like a nightmare at times. Call for a free consultation with the experienced car accident attorneys at The Law Offices of Prosper Shaked today for assistance in getting you the money you are entitled to.
How to Choose the Best Accident Attorney in Miami
One of the most important decisions you will make after suffering an injury in a car accident is which attorney you choose to help you recover compensation. It is essential to hire an attorney who has not only the experience in this area but also the time and attention to detail that is necessary for you to get the best possible recovery in your case. You should speak to multiple car accident attorneys before you make your decision. If an attorney tries to pressure you or make you uncomfortable, then it is important to understand that you can simply leave and seek help from someone else. Do not believe any guarantees from an attorney about the outcome of your case; the only thing that an attorney can guarantee is the effort that they will put into your case. In trying to decide which Miami car accident lawyer is right for you, it is important to assess the following questions:
- Does the car accident attorney have any awards or accolades from any specific legal associations?
- Does the attorney have a transparent showing of authentic car accident client testimonials?
- Does the attorney have a good reputation in the local community and courts?
- Does the attorney have a track record for winning car accident cases just like yours and helping people recover proper compensation?
- Does the attorney have the proper time and resources to put into your car accident case?
- Will the attorney work on your case, or will you speak with their assistant every time you call?
At The Law Offices of Prosper Shaked, we lean on our successful experience in helping victims of Miami car accidents recover for their injuries. We use this past success to help guide us towards future victories for people just like you.
Should I Try to Negotiate My Car Accident Claim Without an Attorney?
You do have the option of speaking with your insurance company first to settle your car accident claim. The downside with doing this is you will be facing an insurance company car accident attorney or claims adjuster whose job is to minimize payouts to people who are insured by their company.
You may be a “client” of an insurance company, but you are a client simply because you pay for their service, not because you have an actual relationship with the insurance company. If you look to negotiate your claim, you will also find that you are competing with a company with resources and experience that far outweigh whatever you can present on your own. To successfully negotiate any car accident claim, you should know the answers to the following questions:
(1) How much is my case worth?
(2) What damages are the insurance company required to pay for?
(3) Which insurance company should I file a claim with?
(4) Which insurance company is paying for my medical bills?
(5) Will my medical bills go into collections if they are not paid on time?
(6) Which doctors should I go to?
(7) Which insurance company is responsible for paying my lost wages?
(8) Which insurance company is responsible for paying for my vehicle’s repair?
(9) Am I entitled to a rental car while my vehicle is at the body shop?
(10) How will I get to my doctors appointments?
You are not expected answer these car accident questions on your own. Insurance companies know this and are trained in how to deal with those trying to represent themselves. Any settlement offers made to you by an insurance company are likely most beneficial to the insurance company, not you. If you don’t know what your case is worth to begin with, how can you properly negotiate your claim?
The amount of money you might be entitled to is not just a number that is conjured out of thin air. It is a number that is calculated from the actual, recoverable expenses that you incur as the result of a car accident. In order to best understand what you can recover, it is important to seek the advice of an experienced car accident attorney who can help you calculate exactly what you are owed.
What Should I Do if I Was Involved in a Car Accident in Miami?
While we cannot provide legal advice to individuals who are not our clients, here are some basic concepts that you should keep in mind if you find yourself involved in an accident:
Step 1: If possible, safely move your vehicle out of the roadway. If you are a passenger and can move freely, make sure to safely exit the vehicle and move away from any traffic. Safety should be your number one priority at this point.
Step 2: Do not leave the scene of the accident. Leaving the scene of an accident can be a crime in the State of Florida. Call 911 to report the accident. Make sure to alert the authorities of any person needing an ambulance or fire rescue. Cooperate with law enforcement, but do not answer any questions that you feel may be self-incriminating.
Step 3: Obtain a copy of the driver’s exchange of information from the police officer at the scene of the crash. This document contains important information needed to pursue your claim. Failure to obtain this information may delay your personal injury case.
Step 4: Seek medical attention if you were injured. The full effect of injuries is often not readily apparent. Many severe and long-term injuries do not surface until weeks or months after an accident. It is critical to seek immediate medical attention and legal representation.
Step 5: Take photos and videos of the scene of the accident and the vehicles involved.
Step 6: Do not provide a recorded statement to any person or insurance company. These statements can and will be used against you regardless of what you say. Insurance adjusters are trained to ask questions that set you up to admit fault, even in situations where it was clear that the other driver caused the accident. If you retain a car accident attorney, they will handle all communication for you.
What is PIP?
Personal injury protection or “PIP” is a type of first-party automotive insurance coverage that pays for medical benefits and lost wages. PIP is required on all personal car insurance policies in the State of Florida. If you were the passenger or driver of an insured vehicle registered in Florida, then PIP will likely apply in your case.
These medical payments are made directly to the medical providers, and the lost wages are paid directly to the accident victim so long as the claim is submitted correctly to the insurance carrier. At the Law Offices of Prosper Shaked, we ensure that your PIP claim is properly handled so that you receive the full extent of your benefits.
What Does No-Fault State Mean?
Florida is a called “no-fault” state because all vehicles are required to have PIP insurance coverage. The PIP coverage pays up to $10,000.00 in medical bills and lost wages regardless of who caused the accident. However, this does not mean that accident victims cannot or should not still pursue a personal injury case against the driver and/or owner of the vehicle that caused the accident.
Why Hire an Attorney if Florida is a No-Fault State?
There are several reasons to hire an accident attorney and pursue a personal injury case even if you are eligible to receive $10,000.00 in No-Fault or “PIP” benefits:
(1) PIP insurance pays just 80% of all medical bills until a total of $10,000.00 has been paid out. This means that you will be left to pay the remaining 20% balance for any medical bills that PIP helped pay. For example, if PIP paid $10,000.00 in medical benefits, you will have a minimum of $2,000.00 in unpaid medical bills.
(2) PIP insurance often includes a $1,000.00 deductible.
(3) PIP insurance coverage does not provide compensation for non-economic damages like pain and suffering.
(4) PIP insurance coverage is limited to $10,000.00, which is wholly insufficient to pay for medical bills, lost wages, and pain in suffering in most cases.
In order to make a full recovery, it is necessary to pursue a claim against the at-fault parties. As with most car accident lawyers in Florida, we work on a contingency fee basis. This means that our fee is a percentage of the final recovery. However, we do not take any portion of the PIP benefits that you receive. Our clients regularly receive their full $10,000.00 in PIP benefits before their accident case against the at-fault driver is resolved.
How Much Money Can I Recover For My Case?
The total amount of money that we can recover in an auto accident personal injury case depends on the following factors:
(1) The type of insurance available;
(2) The seriousness of the injuries;
(3) The cost of medical treatment;
(4) The severity of the property damage to the vehicles involved;
(5) The comparative fault of each driver; and,
(6) The amount of past and future lost wages.
The types of compensation available are compensatory damages and punitive damages. The purpose of compensatory damages is to make the plaintiff “whole.” Compensatory damages are divided into two subcategories, economic – lost earnings, property damages, etc. – and noneconomic – Pain, suffering, etc.
Economic damages include damages that can easily be calculated using documents, bills, and witness testimony. Some examples of economic damages that a person injured in a car accident might receive are:
- Present and future lost earnings
- Present and future medical expenses
- Vocational rehabilitation
- Property damages
- Wrongful death damages
- Household services
- Any other calculable and foreseeable economic loss as a result of the accident.
Noneconomic damages are more difficult to calculate but are nevertheless recoverable in a personal injury claim for car accident injuries. Some examples of noneconomic damages include:
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment
- Emotional distress
- Mental anguish
- Pain and suffering
Although quite rare, there are instances where a court can find that a defendant’s actions were particularly outrageous and egregious. In these cases, a plaintiff may be awarded punitive damages. The purpose of punitive damages is to punish the defendant driver and make an example of them. Punitive damages are most often available in accidents caused by drunk and/or impaired drivers, drivers who were racing, and drivers who fled the scene of the crash. Many states put a cap on the amount of punitive damages that may be awarded in a personal injury cause of action. In the State of Florida, an injured party can collect up to the greater of three times the amount of compensatory damages awarded or $500,000.
What are the Most Common Types of Injuries Sustained in Auto Accidents?
Every car accident is different and, in large part, the driver’s speed and the location of the collision are determining factors in the types of resulting injuries. The harm caused could be as slight as a small bruise and as severe as quadriplegia or death. Some of the most commonly observed injuries in car collisions are listed below:
- Back and neck injuries
- Broken bones
- Cuts and lacerations
- Spinal injuries
- Brain injuries
- Knee and leg injuries
- Chest and arm injuries
- Internal bleeding
Common Causes of Car Accidents in Miami, Florida?
Car accidents and the injuries that follow can be caused by a variety of driver errors. The following list contains the most common causes of car accidents in Miami:
Alcohol, Illegal Substances, and Prescription medications – Despite local and national campaigns, increased penalties and awareness, driving under the influence is still a major cause of accidents on Miami roads and highways. Impaired drivers continue to present a risk to other motorists.
Negligence and Distractions – Negligent driving is a broad category of careless conduct, usually involving distracted drivers. Drivers are required to operate their vehicles in a safe, responsible manner. Accidents occur when a driver’s attention is diverted and they are unaware of the surrounding traffic conditions. Some common examples of conduct that could constitute negligent or distracted driving include cellphone use, eating, or changing radio stations.
Inclement Weather Conditions – It rains heavy and frequently here in South Florida. The constant rain and flooding pose risks to drivers that often cause accidents.
Speeding, Reckless Maneuvers and Tailgating – Miami is home to some of the worst drivers in the country. Reckless and careless drivers are abundant.
Traffic Violations and Ignoring Street Signs – Accidents often occur because a driver either misses or ignores a traffic sign. Other times, a driver may willfully ignore a stop or yield sign.
Roadway Design Defects – Sometimes, car accidents are the result of road conditions or poorly designed highways, roadways, or signage. Insufficient mergers, poorly maintained or constructed roads, or restricted visibility could all contribute to an accident. Any party that failed to reasonably do their job and jeopardized the safety of drivers could be held liable for any injuries sustained. Some common examples of conditions that could contribute to an accident include debris or hazards on the road such as potholes or tree branches, improperly designed speed bumps, curbs, or barriers, unreasonably steep roads, and restricted visibility of street signs or traffic lights.
This list is not exhaustive and there are certainly many more factors that can cause a collision. Consulting an experienced personal injury attorney can help you assess the damages owed for injuries sustained during a crash.
Miami, Florida Car Accident Statistics
In 2019, the most recent year with full statistics, there were a total of 401,867 car crashes in Florida, according to the The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles annual report. Of these 401,867 accidents, 65,143 of the crashes occurred in Miami, Florida. This means that in 2019, 16.25% of Florida’s car accidents occurred in Miami-Dade County, Florida.
Further studies by The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reveal that 31,698 individuals were injured as the result of auto accidents in Miami, FL in 2019. In fact, 298 of these car crashes resulted in death. While this accounts for less than half of a percent of the total number of accidents, these accidents still took a toll on hundreds of families and thousands of people. In fact, 22 of the individuals who died as the result of car accidents in Miami, Florida in 2019 were victims of alcohol related collisions. If you lost a loved one in a car accident, you should not hesitate to consider taking your case to a Miami car accident lawyer.
How Long Do I Have to Sue For a Car Crash in Miami, FL?
In Florida, you have 4 years from the date of the accident to file a claim against the at-fault driver and/or vehicle owner. However, if your loved one died as a result of the accident, you only have two years from the date of death to file a wrongful death claim. If you are covered by an uninsured motorist policy, you will have up to 5 years to file a claim against the uninsured motorist insurance carrier.
It is vital to talk to an attorney before accepting any payments from the insurance company. If you accept a settlement from the insurance company or the at-fault driver, you may miss the opportunity to claim full damages. Our attorneys will guide you through the process of filing a lawsuit and help you maximize your compensation.
Can I Pursue a Case if My Family Member Was Killed in a Crash?
If a family member was involved in a fatal car crash in Miami, then you may be able to hold the driver financially responsible for the accident through a wrongful death claim. Pursuant to Florida’s wrongful death law, specific immediate family members can file suit and seek financial compensation for the loss of their loved one if it can be proven that the death was the result of another’s negligence or misconduct. Liability here is typically proven under state negligence laws, as you have seen on this page.
If you are able to prove a defendant’s liability for the death of your loved one, then you are entitled to receive both economic and non-economic damages. You are entitled to have specific expenses covered that resulted from the accident, which includes any medical expenses, and funeral and burial expenses. If you are a dependent of the deceased, then you may be able to be compensated for the lost financial support you would have had otherwise, along with loss of companionship and any pain and suffering. To best understand what your options are after a fatal accident involving a loved one, it is important to speak to an experienced attorney immediately.
Can I Pursue a Personal Injury Case If I Was Partially at Fault for Causing the Accident?
Yes. In some situations, the person you are suing in your car accident claim may point the finger back at you and claim that you are the actual cause of your injuries. Some states prevent someone from recovering any money for an accident they were partially or more than 50% at fault for. The law in the state of Florida is more forgiving, as it is a ‘comparative fault’ state. Under the comparative fault approach, the fault of each side is determined by a court and is based on all of the available evidence. A percentage of fault is apportioned to each side based on this determination, which will then affect recovery payouts.
For example: If a court determines that the plaintiff is 30% at fault in a car accident, then their maximum potential recovery will be reduced by 30%. This means that the defendant would only then be financially liable for 70% of the plaintiff’s medical expenses based on this apportionment of fault. What this means in the state of Florida is that even if you are more than 50% at fault, you can still recover money for your injuries. To best understand what your potential recovery for injuries suffered in a car accident claim can be, it is important to speak to an experienced Miami car accident lawyer like Prosper Shaked as soon as possible.
What If I Received a Ticket?
The big question here is how fault is apportioned to the parties involved in a car accident. The basic and necessary thing that you need here is evidence. Every bit of evidence that you are able to present showing that the other party is at fault for the accident will be crucial in your recovery. The main types of evidence that are important to seek and collect include:
Information and Statements From Witnesses – It is important to collect their contact information for any follow up interviews. These witnesses can help you prove that the accident was not your fault.
Photograph and Videos – This includes any damage sustained to the vehicles involved or any nearby property, the scene, any traffic control devices such as stop signs or traffic lights, and any other evidence that is relevant to help show how a driver was driving at the time of the accident.
Surveillance and Red Light Camera Footage – Unfortunately many of the red light cameras in Miami-Dade County are no longer functional. However, video footage of the accident is the most compelling evidence available. For this reason, it necessary request all red light camera video footage and surveillance footage from nearby homes and businesses. There are cameras everywhere nowadays, and there’s usually a good chance that their is a video of the accident somewhere. It’s up to your attorney to find it if it is out there.
Police Crash Report – These are crucial as law enforcement will do their own investigation and make their own determination of fault regarding a car accident. These reports can be refuted when they are incorrect or are not complete. The police reports are not evidence of anything and cannot be introduced into evidence at trial. It does not matter whether the police officer decides that you were at fault, the police officer’s decision has no bearing on the outcome of your personal injury case.
Accident Reconstruction Expert – An analysis of the crash scene and vehicles by a qualified expert witness. This information can be critical towards convincing an insurance company, a court, or a jury who was at fault and how an accident happened. Not all experts are able to do this type of work, it is important to make sure you have an accident reconstruction expert who has the necessary experience to be able to help you.
Event Data Recorder “Blackbox” – Most newer vehicles come equipped with event data recorder, also known as a Blackbox. This device records the vehicle’s activity during the seconds leading up to and after a crash. An accident reconstruction expert should be able to download the electronic data of the vehicles involved to help determine how the accident occurred. The Blackbox data is extremely important when trying to prove that a vehicle was speeding or that the driver failed to apply their brakes before impact.
During our free consultation we will discuss all of these factors with you to help determine if your case is the type that we can help you with.
Uninsured and Underinsured Drivers In Miami
Many drivers in the Miami area (a) cannot afford car insurance, (b) do not have bodily injury coverage, or (c) have bargain insurance policies through cheap auto insurance companies like United Automobile Insurance Company . In fact, Florida does not require drivers or vehicle owners to purchase bodily injury insurance coverage.
However, vehicle owners can purchase uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage to pay for injury related damages sustained in an accident caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver. If you purchase uninsured motorist coverage in Florida you receive both uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage applies when the at-fault driver or vehicle do not have bodily injury insurance. Underinsured motorist coverage applies when the at-fault driver or vehicle have bodily injury coverage, but the amount of their coverage is not enough to fully compensate you.
When a driver who is responsible for an accident has limited bodily injury insurance or none at all, the amount of compensation available might not be sufficient to cover all of the costs and damages they caused. Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage will even provide you with coverage in the event that the at-fault vehicle flees the scene of the crash before anyone can collect their information.
We regularly take on clients who retained and were subsequently rejected by other law firms who informed them that there is no insurance available. When you call to discuss your case with us we will thoroughly analyze all of the available insurance policies to make sure that we can successfully pursue a personal injury case on your behalf. We find that many of our clients have no idea that they have uninsured motorist coverage. It is our job to make sure that all avenues are exhausted.
Contact Miami Auto Accident Attorney Prosper Shaked for a Free Consultation
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, do not wait any longer to retain an attorney to help you prove your case. The Law Offices of Prosper Shaked can give you an honest assessment of your case in a free initial consultation, develop a plan of action for recovery, and assist you from the beginning of litigation until your case is resolved. For a free and confidential consultation, call (305) 694-2676 or schedule a consultation using our online contact form. At The Law Offices of Prosper Shaked, we will do our best to use every resource available to help you get back on your feet and obtain the compensation you deserve.