Who's at Fault for Your Car Accident?The sudden and traumatic impact of a car accident can leave you dazed and confused. Understanding what just occurred is one thing—understanding the how and the why of the accident is best left to law enforcement. The officers who arrive at the scene are responsible for determining who is at fault. The documentation of a police report can serve as important evidence when it comes to possible litigation. While Florida's no-fault law may cover some of your expenses, it will not cover them all, especially in cases involving catastrophic injuries. Car accident scenarios, who's at fault? Seeking the advice of a Florida auto accident attorney is one way to determine your next course of action. No matter what type of accident you experienced, consulting with an attorney can help you understand the legal process.
Five Scenarios of Car AccidentsAll types of vehicles surround you as you travel busy Florida highways and city streets. No matter how defensively you drive, not all drivers have an interest in sharing the road. Cars and other types of vehicles can come at you from various directions, resulting in a serious crash that leaves you with personal injuries. Here are 5 scenarios of the most common types of car accidents:
Scenario One: Head-on CollisionsPerhaps one of the most deadly types of accidents is a head-on collision. Sometimes referred to as a frontal crash, this type of accident occurs when two vehicles strike one another while traveling in opposite directions. When the fronts of two vehicles collide, it is often at high speed. Survival may depend upon the stretch of road, the reaction time of one or both drivers, and the type of vehicles involved. With the front end of the car receiving the brunt of the impact, larger and heavier vehicles protect occupants better than smaller, lightweight cars. Consider the weights of the following vehicles and the force of the impact when they meet, head-on, at high speeds:
- Car (SUV): 3,778 pounds
- Pickup truck: 5,217 pounds
- Minivan: 4,485 pounds
Scenario Two: Side-impact AccidentsIntersections top the list of places where most side-impact crashes occur. When a driver fails to yield the right-of-way or races through a red light, the result is often a “t-bone” or side-impact collision. A t-bone collision is so-called because of the front of one car striking the middle of another, resulting in a serious crash. Another type of side-impact crash is an angle crash when another car strikes you at an angle. Studies show that rear-seated passengers are typically more vulnerable to injury than front-seated passengers. This is due, in part, to the availability of safety technology that better protects the driver and a front-seat passenger. A speeding, drunk, or distracted driver can easily run a stop sign, causing a serious crash that results in life-changing harm for your passengers.
Scenario Three: Rear-end AccidentsA read-end collision is often the result of another driver simply not paying attention to the traffic in front of them. By the time a distracted driver realizes stopped traffic is ahead, it is too late. Depending upon the speed and weight of the vehicle, a rear-end collision is catastrophic for those hit by the sudden force against their gridlocked vehicle.
Scenario Four: Chain Reaction Car AccidentsThe force of an initial rear-end accident can push your car into the car in front of you, creating a “chain-reaction.” Three or more cars become involved due to the actions of one driver.
Scenario Five: Rollover Car AccidentsAn accident with a rollover tends to involve a truck, such as a semi-truck or a tanker truck. For a truck carrying hazardous material, the danger of fire or poisoning is real. If a truck driver takes a turn too fast and their load shifts, everyone around them is at risk for serious harm. Tanker trucks that leak upon impact may delay first responders from reaching you due to dangerous conditions.
Determining Fault of a Car AccidentDefensive driving is always a good idea, however, drivers who participate in reckless behavior surround us every day. No matter how careful you are, someone near you chooses to operate their vehicle in one or more of the following dangerous ways: Distracted driving-As smartphones and texting continue to make distracted driving headlines, other behaviors cause distraction too. The CDC describes distracted driving as:
- Visual - Taking your eyes off the road
- Cognitive - Taking your mind off driving
- Manual -Taking your hands off the wheel
- Purposely tailgating: 104 million drivers
- Yelling at another driver: 95 million drivers
- Honking to show annoyance or anger: 91 million drivers
- Making angry gestures: 67 million drivers
Understanding Florida's No-Fault LawFlorida is one of several states that has a no-fault policy when it comes to car accidents. Florida law requires residents to carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance coverage. This insurance pays for covered medical expenses for injuries from a vehicle accident for the insured, regardless of fault. Coverage typically includes the policyholder, passengers, and relatives residing in the policyholder's household. Failure to have PIP coverage can result in the suspension of the driver's license and vehicle registration. PIP coverage, at best, will pay a minimum of $10,000 toward your recovery. If a loved one dies due to their injuries, PIP coverage pays an average of $5,000. Additionally, the insured must file PIP claims within 14 days of the accident—a strict timeline when dealing with painful injuries and grief. These amounts do little to cover your need for extended medical care and to pay for funeral expenses. Florida law allows victims to recover damages for “pain and suffering, mental anguish, and inconvenience because of bodily injury, sickness, or disease arising out of the ownership, maintenance, operation or use of such motor vehicle only in the event that the injury or disease consists in whole or part of:”
- Significant or permanent loss of important bodily function
- Permanent injury with a reasonable degree of medical problems other than scarring or disfigurement
- Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement
The Continuing Costs of Serious InjuriesThe sudden impact of a car accident can change your life forever. Depending upon the type of injury, you may face a lifetime of expensive medications, future surgeries, extended rehabilitation, costly medical equipment, and personal care. The following injuries and their associated expenses are just a few examples of why planning for your future medical needs is vitally important: Traumatic brain injury (TBI) - The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) defines a TBI as a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, or penetrating head injury that disrupts normal brain function. Vehicle accidents are second only to falls in causing TBIs. There are 4 major areas that a TBI can affect:
- Cognitive function (memory, attention)
- Motor function (impaired coordination and balance)
- Senses (vision, hearing, taste)
- Behavior (changes in emotions, signs of aggression/anger)
What to Do Immediately After a Car AccidentThe most important step immediately after a car accident is to seek medical attention. Even if you feel fine, accept transport to the nearest hospital. Internal injuries are often invisible to the naked eye while causing serious harm to your organs. Only a medical professional can determine the true extent of your injuries. Do provide as much information as you can to law enforcement. If possible, take pictures of the accident scene and if you are too injured to do so, ask a witness to take them for you. Collect the contact information for witnesses and most importantly, try to remain calm. Do not approach or talk to the other driver. In the days following your accident, aggressive insurance company representatives may offer you a settlement. Their goal is to settle the case quickly and their best interest is the company's bottom line and not you. No matter how attractive the settlement offer may appear, do not accept it and reach out to a Florida personal injury attorney instead. Never admit fault following a car accident. Always allow the investigation to run its course. While each case is different, you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. When a reckless driver causes you serious injury, hold them accountable for their actions. By doing so, you stand a better chance of protecting your financial future.
Clearwater Location 800 N Belcher Rd. Clearwater, FL 33765 Phone: (727) 451-6900https://www.dolmanlaw.com/florida-car-accident-lawyer/