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. Sometimes an accident is just a fender bender where everyone walks away unscathed, and other times, excessive speed and loss of control breed tragedy.
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 personal injury attorney who has experience handling car accident claims. Dealing with insurance claims adjusters, the responsible parties, and their attorneys can feel like a nightmare at times. Consult with experienced Miami car accident lawyer Prosper Shaked today for assistance in getting you the compensation you deserve.
Should I Try to Negotiate My Car Accident Claim First?
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 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 be able to negotiate any car accident claim properly, you will need to be able to answer a few questions on your own before speaking to anyone at your insurance company. These questions include:
- How much are you actually entitled to?
- What damages are the insurance company required to pay for?
- Which insurance company or companies are responsible?
- What about my ongoing medical expenses?
- Will my medical bills go into collections?
- Which doctor should I go to?
- Am I going to the right doctor?
- What about damages for my pain and suffering?
- What about my lost wages?
- What about punitive damages?
- Is the other driver liable for anything?
- What about the repair of my vehicle?
- Am I entitled to a rental?
- How will I get to my doctor’s appointments?
You are not expected to be able to answer these 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 Miami car accident attorney who can help you calculate exactly what you are owed.
How to Choose a Miami Car Accident Lawyer
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 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 attorney is right for you, it is important to assess the following questions:
- Does the attorney have any awards or accolades from any specific legal associations?
- Does the attorney have a transparent showing of authentic client testimonials?
- Does the attorney have a good reputation in the local community and courts?
- Does the attorney have a track record for winning cases just like yours and helping people recover proper compensation?
- Does the attorney have the proper time and resources to put into your 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.
Determining Fault in a Car Accident Claim
Since Florida is a comparative fault state, that means that a determination has to be made about the level of fault apportioned for each party. The big question here is how fault is apportioned to the parties involved. 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:
- All basic information from all the parties involved. This includes names, phone numbers, addresses, any insurance and vehicle information, and driver’s license numbers for anyone who was driving.
- Any information and statements from any eyewitnesses. It is important to collect their contact information for any follow up interviews.
- Pictures of everything. 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.
- Any and all medical reports, the results of any medical exams, and medical diagnoses made by qualified doctors. Any need for continued medical care will increase the amount of your potential payout.
- Police reports. 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.
- An analysis of the crash scene and any injuries by a qualified expert. 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.
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:
- 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. If you are okay, check on all other drivers and passengers, including the at-fault driver. Safety should be your number one priority at this point.
- 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.
- Obtain a copy of the driver 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.
- Seek medical attention if you were injured. The full effect of injuries is often not readily apparent. Many severe and long-term injuries might not surface until weeks or months after an accident. It is critical to seek immediate medical attention and legal representation, even if you believe you are fine.
- Take as many photos and videos as possible.
- 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.
- Do not accept the first offer to settle your claim. Insurance adjusters rush to settle personal injury claims with individuals before they have had the opportunity to discuss their case with an attorney.
Can I Recover if I am Partially at Fault?
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.
How We Handle Car Accident Claims
Most car accident claims in Miami are handled by law firms with few attorneys and many secretaries. To keep up with the high volume of new cases, these firms are forced to delegate very important stages of your car accident claim to secretaries and paralegals who may or may not have the experience and qualifications needed to effectively investigate and maximize the value of your claim. At the Law Offices of Prosper Shaked, a licensed attorney handles all stages of the claim from the intake all the way through the settlement or verdict. Prosper Shaked uniquely tailors his approach for each of his clients because no two car accidents are the same. Car accident claims are usually pursued by proving that other driver operated their vehicle negligently. To demonstrate negligence, we must prove three things:
- The defendant owed a duty to the victim;
- The defendant breached that duty;
- The victim suffered damages as a result of this breach.
Although there are many stages in the process, the investigation is key to proving that the other driver was negligent. To investigate each claim, we do the following:
- Find and interview all witnesses to the car accident.
- Obtain all photographs from the scene of the crash, those involved in the crash, and all property and vehicles damaged during the car accident.
- Obtain all medical records pertinent to the injuries sustained during the car accident.
- Obtain insurance information from all parties at-fault.
- If there is any indication that the at-fault driver was text messaging or in any way distracted by their cell phone at the time of the car accident, we will obtain all cell phone records.
- Obtain red light camera and any other video footage that may have recorded the crash.
- Perform a background check on the at-fault driver to determine their financial resources and their criminal history.
- Retain expert witnesses to assist in handling and presenting the claim.
How Long Do I have to File a Claim?
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.
When Can I Sue for a Car Crash in Miami, FL?
You can file a lawsuit immediately after the accident if that is what you would like to do. Florida is a “no-fault” insurance state, which might complicate your car accident lawsuit. It is important to talk to a Miami car accident attorney about your case to ensure that you protect your right to sue. You can still file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver and vehicle owner, even if you do not have your own insurance. Our attorney will guide you through the process of filing a lawsuit and help you maximize your compensation. You should always call an attorney before discussing your case with an insurance company or accepting any payments from them.
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.
Because Florida is a no-fault state, you first have to file a personal injury protection (PIP) claim with your own auto insurance company or with the insurance company that provides insurance to the vehicle you were traveling in at the time of the crash. We will do this all for you. Your insurance company will pay 80% of your medical bills until they have paid a total of $10,000.00 in benefits on your behalf. The 20% balance of those initial medical bills and any additional bills in excess of the first $10,000.00 in medical bills will be owed to your medical providers. Often, car accident victims incur medical bills far more than the $10,000.00 that their PIP insurance carrier covers. For example, a simple emergency room visit after an accident can cost more than $60,000.00, depending on the type of treatment provided. The Florida No-Fault Personal Injury Protection laws (PIP), are not very intuitive and hardly make any sense.
Keep in mind that personal injury protection (PIP) coverage does not compensate for any pain and suffering damages at all. The at-fault vehicle and driver should pay for all of the damage done, and it is our job to make them pay. It is important to hire a good car accident lawyer who will work to make sure that you do not come out of pocket to pay for any of your medical bills. Our purpose is to put as much money into your pocket as possible. In order to find out exactly what the value of your case is, it is important to speak to an experienced Miami car accident attorney who can best help you assess your case.
What Types of Compensation May Victims Recover in a Miami Car Accident?
The types of compensation a victim can receive after being injured in a car accident fall into two categories: compensatory and punitive. 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
- Pain and suffering
In cases where a court finds that a defendant’s actions were particularly outrageous and egregious, a plaintiff will be awarded punitive damages. The purpose of punitive damages is to make an example of the defendant so as to deter people from committing similar acts in the future. 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.
Most Common Injuries Sustained as In Car 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
Most Common Causes of Car Accidents in Miami, FL
There are numerous factors that could cause a car crash. Oftentimes, there are several factors involved when the accident results in severe injuries and fatalities. Below is a list of factors that can cause a car accident:
- Illegal substance abuse
- Prescription drugs
- Inclement weather conditions
- Excessive speed
- Reckless maneuvers
- Failure to follow traffic regulations
- Design defects in the roads
- Unfamiliar roadways
- Personal grooming while driving
- Texting and talking on the phone while driving
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 Car Accident Facts and Statistics
In 2017, the most recent year with full statistics, there were a total of 65,983 car crashes according to Florida’s Integrated Report Exchange System (FIRES). Not all of these crashes were serious, and not all of them involved two cars. 805 of these accidents involved bicycles and 1,547 of these crashes involved pedestrians. Motorcycles account for another portion of these accidents as well.
In these accidents, there was a total of 21,572 involved injuries. This accounts for almost 1/3 of the accidents – approximately 32.7%. Many crashes involve more than one injured individual, especially in cases where there are multiple injuries. A total of 32,389 individuals were injured in these crashes. If you or a loved one was hurt in an accident, you may face medical expenses and lost wages that need compensation.
In 2017, 270 of the car crashes were fatal. These accidents took a total of 285 lives. 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. 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.
Leading Causes of Car Accident Collisions in the Miami Area
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:
- Distracted or Negligent Driving – 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.
- 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.
- Alcohol-Related Accidents – 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.
- Road Design – 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.
Hit and Run Accidents
If you are the victim in a hit and run accident, then you are likely wondering what you are able to do in order to recover money for your injuries. If the other driver is not found, then you will be able to recover money from your own car insurance company under Florida’s required personal injury protection coverage. If you have this coverage, then your Florida insurer will cover up to 80% of your medical bills, and up to 60% of your lost wages all the way up to how much coverage you have. You may also be able to recover under some other type of insurance coverage, such as uninsured and underinsured motorist protection. If you have specific questions about which coverage you may have in a hit and run accident, then you will need to speak to an experienced attorney who can best guide you.
When is someone guilty of a hit and run? Drivers are required to do certain things if they are involved in any sort of an accident, including:
- Stopping immediately at the scene of the accident, only moving as far as necessary to stop in a safe place away from traffic.
- Calling the police and ambulance if necessary, to help render aid.
- Exchanging information with all other drivers, which includes name, address, and insurance information
If a driver does not stop or do any of the following things above, then they can be held liable as a hit and run driver and will likely also face criminal charges for leaving the scene of the accident. In some cases, a driver might not realize he or she hit anybody and continue on as nothing happened. With the amount of technology in our cars today, that argument has become more and more difficult for hit and run drivers to make.
As a hit and run victim, the most helpful thing you have in your favor is the fact that Florida is a no-fault state. This fact allows you to seek recovery from your own insurance, which required you to buy specific hit and run coverage that you probably would not have bought if not required by the state of Florida.
Teen Driver Accidents
Teen drivers face a fatality rate per mile that is three times higher than drivers who are age 20 and over. The newest drivers who are aged 16 or 17 are at the highest overall risk of being in a fatal crash. Because of these facts, younger drivers have more restrictions on their ability to drive a vehicle. New drivers must first obtain a ‘learner’s license’ and next an ‘intermediate license’ before they graduate to a full Florida driver’s license. Both of these types of licenses that teens are issued before they obtain their full Florida driver’s license impose driving restrictions. For example, a teen who holds an intermediate driver’s license is only allowed to drive between the hours of 6 a.m. and 11 p.m., unless he or she is joined by an adult over the age of 21 who is a licensed driver. The adult driver must also be riding in the front passenger seat next to the teen driver.
Teen drivers are more likely to be involved in a car accident in Miami than any other age group. Their lack of experience and susceptibility to be distracted can cause serious and even fatal injuries due to car accidents. A teen driver can also be held responsible for his or her failure to act with reasonable care as he or she may lack the ability to properly assess driving risks due to inexperience behind the wheel. Other behaviors such as speeding, texting while driving, or even driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs can result in the teen driver being found negligent as a matter of law since they failed to follow required road regulations. Any driver under the age of 21 who is found to have driven with a blood-alcohol level of .02% or more will have their license immediately suspended by the state of Florida. These actions can and will likely lead to criminal charges for the teen driver, which can also infinitely strengthen your claim against the teen driver.
Elderly Driver Accidents
Miami is a place that is full of people, young and old. It is a hugely popular place for elderly people to retire and live by the beach for the rest of their days. The popularity of Miami for elderly people means that more elderly people are on the congested and crazy roads of Miami, inevitably leading to accidents. While older age may mean a slower pace of life, this slower pace is not shared by those who are younger. Elderly people find themselves in a world that is constantly evolving and moving more and more quickly. Age generally decreases people’s vision, hearing, and reaction times, which are critical to avoiding accidents on the road.
Florida has the highest number of drivers over the age of 65 who are involved in fatal car crashes. The state requires drivers who are over the age of 80 to pass a vision test before renewing their Florida driver’s license. Older drivers are also subject to other medical guidelines and review in relation to their ability to drive in the state of Florida. If you have been involved in an accident with an elderly driver, it is crucial to find out all of the information about the driver, as they may have a specific medical condition which affected their ability to drive safely.
Fatal Miami Car Accidents
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.
Miami Car Accidents Involving Uninsured or Underinsured Motorists
Often, drivers in the Miami area cannot afford car insurance or are underinsured. Drivers can carry uninsured motorist coverage that would pay compensation for injuries sustained in an accident caused by an uninsured driver. Additionally, this coverage would also apply if an individual is injured by an unidentified vehicle.
A Miami driver can also opt for underinsured motorist coverage. When a driver who is responsible for an accident has limited liability insurance, the amount of compensation available might not be sufficient to cover all of the costs and damages. Underinsured coverage pays the additional compensation required. It is important to talk with our experienced car accident attorney to review the types and coverages of insurances involved in your claim.
Contact Miami Car Accident Lawyer 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.