Dolman Law Group Car Accident Attorneys of Bradenton, Florida
For some people, car accidents are a minor inconvenience. For others though, car accidents are life-changing. Persistent pain, headaches, and sleeplessness plague many Bradenton car accident victims, and it’s challenging to focus on treatment while fighting with car insurers. Bradenton personal injury attorneys do more than file litigation.
Bradenton car accident lawyers often work with claimants to file for no-fault benefits, arbitrate insurance denials, settle personal injury claims out of court, and recover needed compensation without any upfront costs. Retaining an experienced Bradenton car accident attorney at the Dolman Law Group and Sibley Dolman may alleviate your administrative burdens and help you recover damages from negligent drivers.
Contact the Dolman Law Group and Sibley Dolman’s Bradenton car accident lawyers today for your free claim evaluation.
The Most Common Types of Serious Car Accident Injuries
Millions of Americans are injured in car accidents each year, while millions more continue to suffer from painful car accident injuries. Some victims of negligent driving hesitate to seek compensation because their pain is manageable, or because they were already suffering from another health condition. It’s common for car accidents to exacerbate old injuries, and victims shouldn’t have to live with persistent pain when compensation may alleviate their suffering.
Bradenton car accidents commonly cause the following serious injuries:
- Herniated (slipped) discs – These occur when one or more of the cushions between the bones in your spine slips out of place. The displacement is painful in itself but it can also push on the delicate nerves in the spinal cord, causing radiating pain and numbness. The force of a car accident can cause major herniations that require multiple surgeries and physical therapy. Serious spinal damage can even result in paralysis.
- Knee and shoulder tears or fractures – Even minor injuries to knees and shoulders can significantly restrict basic movement. Knees commonly strike the dashboard during a car accident, and seatbelts often cause shoulder injuries.
- Concussions and facial fractures – Airbags save lives, but they can also cause injuries. High-impact crashes may result in an airbag causing facial fractures or a traumatic brain injury.
- Burns – Cars contain a lot of flammable fuel and materials, and car fires often happen quickly. Occupants may be trapped in their vehicles when a fire starts, which can quickly result in life-changing burns.
Back and neck injuries, including whiplash, also plague most Florida car accident victims. No-fault insurance often covers treatment for these injuries, but Bradenton claimants may have to consider litigation to recover for more serious injuries.
Overview of Florida Car Accident and No-Fault Laws
Special insurance laws apply to Florida car accident cases. In Florida, the type and severity of a claimant’s injuries generally dictate if he or she can sue for compensation. Bradenton residents injured in a car accident must prove they’ve suffered a serious injury to pursue personal injury litigation.
A serious injury must fall into at least one of the following threshold categories:
- An injury that resulted in a bradenton wrongful death
- An injury that caused a permanent disability in at least one important part of the body
- An injury that the claimant can never recover from
- An injury, such as a burn, that causes significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement
Car accident victims suffering from serious injury may file litigation that seeks direct compensation for financial loss, as well as compensation for pain, psychological trauma, anguish, suffering, and lifestyle inconveniences.
Coverage for Car Accident Injuries Under Florida No-Fault
If the injuries weren’t permanent or significant, claimants can seek compensation through their no-fault insurance policies. Florida law requires Florida vehicles to carry at least $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) insurance to cover minor injuries and expenses after a car crash. This insurance kicks in regardless of who caused the accident, and covers a portion of an injured occupant’s emergency room expenses, doctor bills, and lost wages after a Bradenton car accident.
Victims must apply for no-fault benefits and submit the certification paperwork required to maintain coverage. If you’ve exhausted the no-fault policy, perhaps due to required surgery or bills that cost more than $10,000 in out-of-pocket expenses, speak with an experienced Bradenton car accident attorney about whether or not you meet the serious injury threshold.
While Florida’s no-fault rule does ensure that people have to go through their own insurance coverage first, it does not mean that those with especially severe injuries that their
Appropriating Driver Liability After a Florida Car Accident
It’s rare for negligent drivers to take full responsibility for a car accident. Even when they do, insurance companies often try to mitigate their overall financial liability by placing blame on the injured party. This is called comparative fault or contributory negligence in Florida.
Insurance adjusters who disagree about liability may try to settle the claim 50-50, even if that’s not accurate. Keep in mind that insurance liability determinations are not binding in Florida courts. An experienced Bradenton personal injury attorney may help you fight an insurance determination or arbitrate insurance denials. A comparative liability finding is only binding if appropriately determined by a Florida judge or jury.
Navigating Car Insurance Frustrations After a Car Accident
Injured victims often forget that insurance is a business. Private companies reduce their bottom lines by making it difficult to recover compensation and assigning blame to innocent parties.
Injured claimants commonly experience the following car insurance frustrations in Florida:
- Repetitive requests for evidence, such as witness information, that doesn’t exist or was already provided
- Constant need to recertify medical paperwork
- Periodic submission to independent medical examinations where the claimant’s injuries are not fully assessed
- Repeated denial of coverage for medical bills or lost wages due to paperwork needs and/or errors
- Claims that the injuries were preexisting or resolved
- Denial and/or discontinuation of benefits
- Inaccurate assignment of liability
Bradenton personal injury attorneys can assist clients with insurance paperwork, arbitration, and no-fault recovery. Most car accident cases are settled with the liable insurance company through the help of a zealous Bradenton personal injury attorney.
Direct Damages Potentially Available to Bradenton Car Accident Victims
Florida law recognizes three types of compensation in car accident cases: direct economic damages, non-economic pain and suffering damages, and punitive damages. Direct economic damages are calculable expenses resulting from the car accident.
Examples of recoverable economic damages include:
- Medical bills
- Co-pays and over-the-counter medical supplies
- Medical or assisted living devices
- At home or facility nursing care
- Physical and occupational rehabilitative therapy
- Lost wages and bonuses
- Lost promotional opportunities and career goals
- Vehicle damage
- Medical transportation costs
- Assistance with cleaning, cooking, dressing, or other activities of daily living
These damages are calculable, and claimants should consider past, present, and future economic damages before making monetary demands. Expert economists may help claimants calculate the cost of these direct losses for the anticipated duration of their work lives.
Pain and Suffering Damages Available to Personal Injury Claimants
Most Floridians have health, disability, and motor vehicle insurance to cover direct expenses after a Bradenton car accident. That being said, money can’t adequately compensate for the pain, suffering, and emotional turmoil associated with life-altering car accident injuries or the loss of a loved one. Pain and suffering damages are real, but their value is hard to calculate.
Examples of non-economic damages include compensation for:
- Mental anguish and suffering
- Limitations associated with daily living, such as the inability to dress or bathe without assistance
- Lifestyle inconveniences
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Inability to engage in hobbies and activities
- Loss of physical and emotional intimacy with a spouse
Expert physiological evaluations and detailed testimony from the victim, friends, and family members are often necessary to establish and assign value to these non-economic damages. It’s impossible to fully compensate a victim for mental anguish after a serious accident, but payment may alleviate certain stressors associated with the suffering, and help injured claimants establish new hobbies and social relationships.
Punitive Damages in Bradenton Car Accident Cases
Some of the largest lawsuit payouts in history included substantial punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded to claimants to punish a liable party for intentionally harming another or for particularly reckless behavior. They are not based on the direct or indirect losses suffered by an injured claimant, but are awarded in addition to economic and non-economic damages. Punitive damages are rarely available in Florida car accident cases because ordinary negligence doesn’t merit financial punishment. Further, punishing an insurance company does little to actually punish a defendant for his or her reckless conduct. Punitive damages must typically be recovered directly from the defendant, not a car insurance company.
Despite the difficulties associated with obtaining punitive damages in personal injury cases, they are available after serious Bradenton car accidents. To receive them, a plaintiff must prove that the defendant intentionally caused the injuries, knew his or her behavior was wrong, or the defendant acted with such reckless disregard for the life and safety of others that he or she should be penalized.
Car Accidents That Commonly Involve Punitive Damages
- Bradenton drunk driving crashes
- Driving under the influence of illegal drugs
- Intentional run-over accidents
- Injuries caused by drag racing or reckless driving
- Injuries to passengers caused when a driver intentionally crashes a vehicle
The distinctions are important when a Bradenton jury is awarding damages, but a claimant’s losses are commonly grouped together during insurance negotiations. More often than not, insurance companies will review all claimed damages and offer eligible claimants a lump-sum settlement without distinguishing between these categories. The claimant waives any additional claims against a defendant and insurer after accepting a settlement.
Gathering Evidence After a Florida Car Accident
Many victims injured in Bradenton car accidents are denied essential compensation due to a lack of evidence. The burden is on the claimant to prove a threshold injury and liability, which means they must present reliable evidence to insurance companies and courts. The more evidence of liability, loss, and hardship a claimant has, the more likely the claimant can recover compensation in Florida.
Proving Car Accident Injury Economic Damages
Economic damages are easy to quantify. Simply keep all receipts for expenditures related to your injuries and losses after a Bradenton car accident. Keeping them all in a special folder is helpful, and you can write out receipts for housekeepers or cooking services if they’re not otherwise provided. Car accident attorneys often work with economic experts to track these damages and calculate your future needs. For serious and permanent injuries, Florida courts and insurance companies will typically consider certified expert reports as evidence of economic damages.
Proving Car Accident Injury Non-Economic Damages
It’s difficult to gather evidence of non-economic damages, even though this often accounts for claimants’ most serious injuries. Keeping a mood or pain journal, whether by hand or the use of a phone application, helps prove the reality of the pain and suffering caused by a car accident. Ensuring a psychologist is keeping records for car accident-related counseling is also helpful, as is evidence of any drugs prescribed to mitigate physical and emotional pain.
Before-and-after evidence of lifestyle changes is also essential to recovering non-economic compensation in Bradenton. Examples of such evidence include gym records, hobby photos, or testimony from gym trainers to prove you commonly enjoyed certain activities before an accident. Friends and family can then testify how the accident has affected a claimant’s mood and prevented him or her from engaging in previously enjoyed activities.
Bradenton Car Accident FAQs
What should I do if I just got into a car accident in Bradenton?
Safety is always your first priority after a car accident. While it is helpful to have pictures, videos, and drawings accurately reflecting the scene, sometimes you have to move the vehicles to stay safe. If possible, find a parking lot or emergency zone and get away from smoking cars.
Once everyone involved is as safe as possible, address any immediate medical needs. This may mean calling 911 or asking for help after a serious Bradenton car accident. Moving injured drivers and passengers isn’t recommended without professional help, unless necessary for immediate safety.
If you’re unsure what to do after a crash, call your car insurance company. A representative will typically walk you through the steps you need to take immediately after a Florida car accident. This may include calling the police, filing a preliminary claim, or summoning roadside assistance.
What to Do at the Accident Scene While Waiting for Help
- Get the insurance information from all the vehicles involved.
- Ask the driver for his or her name and, if possible, to see his or her ID.
- Check to make sure the insured vehicle and ID match the vehicle and driver involved.
- Take pictures and/or videos of the vehicles, license plates, damage, and scene of the accident.
- Get the names and contact information of any witnesses.
- Take pictures of the nearest intersection and photos depicting the weather and road conditions.
- Record the addresses of any nearby homes and buildings where someone might have witnessed the accident.
The more information you can gather at the scene, the easier it will be to determine liability. If another driver refuses to provide insurance or vehicle information, call the police and record vehicle information and driver/passenger descriptions. Unfortunately, insurance fraud often occurs after a Florida car accident. It may not seem important to record the number of people in the other vehicle or ensure the information matches the liable vehicle, but these issues do arise after Florida car accidents.
Don’t be afraid to go to the hospital or seek medical attention if you were injured in a Bradenton car accident. Florida no-fault insurance typically covers any emergency medical expenses and immediate lost income. If a negligent driver in Bradenton seriously injured you, consider speaking with a Bradenton car accident lawyer before speaking with an insurance company.
Do the police have to come to the scene of a car accident in Florida?
Police officers may delay their response to an accident if no serious injuries are reported. Further, drivers may want to handle minor vehicle damage without involving insurance or the police. Generally, if there are no injuries and vehicle damage appears minor, such as a small dent or paint damage, you do not have to call the police.
Keep in mind that you do have to call the police to the scene of a Bradenton car accident if any of the following are true:
- The other driver appears to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- The other driver provides you with false or expired information.
- There are injuries, even minor ones.
- The vehicle damage is extensive and/or a vehicle needs to be towed.
- You were involved in an accident with a large truck or commercial motor vehicle.
- The accident was a hit-and-run.
If the police do not respond, you still have to file a police report. You have 10 days to file your own police report with the local police department, but it’s preferable to have an independent officer do this. Calling the police is typically wise immediately after a Bradenton car accident because it can help establish fault, and liable drivers have less time to develop a false story about how the accident occurred. Most police officers are proficient in determining when someone is lying about a car crash, as Bradenton officers respond to car accidents every day.
Is it okay if I didn’t go to the hospital or file a police report after a car accident in Bradenton?
If the police didn’t respond to the scene of a car accident, you typically don’t have to file a police report if the damage was very minor and there were no injuries. Some insurance companies do require you to file a police report, and it’s typically wise to do so.
It’s common to suffer from latent injuries after a Florida car accident. Whiplash may not bother you until the next day, and adrenaline often masks pain immediately after a car crash. If you’re experiencing any type of shock or discomfort after a Bradenton car accident, go to an emergency room, walk-in clinic, or see your primary care physician as soon as possible. The personal injury insurance included in most Florida car insurance policies will typically cover these expenses.
The longer you wait to seek treatment after an accident, the more it may seem to other parties like insurance fraud and you will make it harder to recover compensation.
What should I do if I was injured in a Bradenton hit-and-run?
You must call the police and file a police report if the other driver fled the scene. This is a crime in Florida, and police will do their best to find the negligent driver. In the interim, your car insurance policy likely includes hit-and-run coverage (uninsured motorist coverage). This means you can recover for another driver’s negligence from your own policy if you were injured in a hit-and-run. Your insurance company may seek reimbursement if the liable driver is eventually discovered.
Should I speak with an attorney before giving an insurer a sworn statement?
It’s always wise to speak with a car accident lawyer before giving a sworn statement to an insurance company. It is a crime to give a false statement, and you may unwittingly admit to liability during the conversation. A liable insurance company may try to trap you into admitting some negligence to reduce their own liability. You are permitted to have an attorney on the phone with you while giving these statements, and a Bradenton car accident lawyer can object to certain questions or direct you not to answer.
How do insurance companies determine who caused a Florida car crash?
Once you make an insurance claim, the car insurance companies involved will conduct an investigation. They will typically:
- Take sworn statements from each party.
- Take sworn statements from witnesses.
- Request medical records.
- Examine the damaged vehicles.
- Gather photographic evidence of the scene.
- Order and review the police report.
The adjusters will go back and forth to apportion liability between the parties. For example, a driver rear-ended at a red light may have 0 percent liability while the rear driver has 100 percent liability. If the rear-ended driver was speeding and stopped short before he or she was rear ended, however, that driver may have 40 percent liability.
Insurance determinations are not binding on Florida courts. They are simply used to determine who pays what percentage of the damage between insurance companies. A Bradenton car accident can challenge a liability determination, as many Florida drivers disagree with liability apportionment. Sometimes such determinations are rushed to close a claim or because it is based on false statements.
What types of injuries are common after car accidents?
Close to 3 million Americans are injured in car accidents each year. The type of injury often depends on how the accident happened, the type of car accident that occurred, the speed of the vehicles, and the overall health of the injured occupants.
Car accident victims commonly suffer from the following injuries:
- Whiplash – This is a strain or sprain of the ligaments in the neck and back that occurs when the head is forced forward and then snaps back. It’s very common after rear-end car accidents.
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) – This may occur when the force of the vehicle’s impact causes the brain to strike the inside of the skull. This may result in anything from a minor concussion to permanent disability or death. The force of the impact itself often determines the seriousness of the TBI.
- Knee injuries – Car accidents often cause occupants’ knees to hit the lower dashboard. These injuries are very common after car accidents.
- Shoulder injuries – Seatbelts or side impacts commonly cause shoulder injuries.
- Back or spinal cord injuries – Disc herniations and spinal cord damage often occur from car accidents, especially in individuals over the age of 40. The spine weakens as a person ages, and so back injuries are often more serious in older individuals.
If you were injured or reinjured yourself in a Bradenton car accident, your age and prior condition shouldn’t affect liability. Negligent drivers are often responsible for any injuries caused or aggravated after a car accident, no matter how unexpected or the condition of the plaintiff.
What is Florida no-fault insurance, and how can I use it?
Florida is among a handful of no-fault insurance states. Florida motor vehicle owners must carry at least $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. This is called no-fault insurance because it doesn’t matter who was liable for the accident. PIP insurance typically covers a percentage of an injured occupant’s initial medical bills, medical needs, and lost wages up to the policy limit.
You must apply for no-fault benefits within a certain amount of time, and it covers all injured vehicle occupants, not just the policyholder. In exchange for a quick disbursement of benefits, injured occupants cannot typically sue for minor injuries covered by no-fault.
Why isn’t no-fault paying my medical bills?
Don’t be surprised if you receive no-fault denial letters or requests for independent medical examinations (IMEs). Using your no-fault benefits typically means applying for these benefits, and using doctors who accept no-fault insurance and can submit the proper medical paperwork. Employers must also fill out the proper lost wage application, and no-fault must be periodically recertified.
Most no-fault insurers also require claimants to attend independent medical examinations to certify the insured’s injuries, but these doctors are often in the insurance companies’ pockets.
Don’t be surprised if your no-fault insurer denies your claims after a Bradenton car accident. Most Bradenton car accident attorneys can assist you with the no-fault claims and the certification process
Can I seek compensation from the other driver for my injuries and lost wages after a Bradenton car accident?
Victims of serious car accidents may sometimes seek compensation from a negligent driver. The liable driver’s insurance company normally pays this compensation, but injured victims can often sue a negligent driver/vehicle owner to recover damages.
Bradenton residents injured in car accidents might recover for any losses, direct or indirect, sustained as a result of the car accident, including:
- Unpaid medical bills and increased medical insurance premiums.
- Out-of-pocket medical costs and over-the-counter medications.
- Medical accommodation devices, such as wheelchairs or back braces.
- Home medical and companionship care.
- Medical transportation expenses.
- Lost wages and bonuses.
- Lost career opportunities.
- Vehicle repair costs.
- Compensation for pain and suffering.
- Compensation for loss of enjoyment of life.
- Compensation for loss of spousal support and comfort.
Just because things like pain or lost career opportunities are difficult to quantify doesn’t mean you’re not entitled to compensation. Expert occupational therapists and economists can help calculate the value of these losses, as well as your future anticipated needs.
How long will it take to get compensation if I was seriously injured in a Bradenton car crash?
This depends on the seriousness of your injuries and liability determination. No-fault insurance provides most claimants with immediate relief so they can seek medical care, but this runs out quickly.
A liable car insurance company may offer a small settlement for minor injuries within a few months, but it can take longer to recover compensation for serious injuries. You may have to sue a negligent driver or fight a liability determination in Florida courts. Furthermore, many Bradenton residents injured in car accidents suffer from permanent or ongoing injuries.
It takes time to determine and calculate your future needs when an injury is serious. We generally don’t recommend settling a Bradenton car accident claim before you’re done receiving treatment for your injuries unless we’ve accounted for future needs and losses resulting from the car accident. If you suffered a fracture, disability, or permanent injury after a Bradenton car accident, speak with our Bradenton car accident attorneys to discuss your options for recovery.
How Much Will a Car Accident Attorney Cost Me?
Car accident attorneys are more than aware of the fact that their clients will typically come to them while dealing with severe financial issues as a result of their accident. It is because of this that personal injury attorneys do not expect payment for their services by the hour. Personal injury attorneys like those at Dolman Law Group work on a contingency fee basis which means that they take their payment out of the money that they manage to get you from a claim or a lawsuit. This fee will typically be a percentage between 30-40% most often 33.3% taken out of a settlement or a case award. If a personal injury attorney fails to successfully negotiate a settlement or represent you in court resulting in no compensation then they do not get paid. This helps to ensure that the attorney working for you is personally invested in getting you the most compensation possible.
For example, if you managed to get a settlement of $100,000 from your case and your personal injury attorney had an agreement with you making their contingent fee 33.3% then you would get $67,000 while your attorney would get $33,000 and that is not taking into account. any legal expenses that would come with the case that can include expert witness fees, filing fees, investigators, etc. that can cost a couple of thousand dollars. Yes, this is a portion of the money that is from a settlement mean for you but attorneys take that into consideration when they are negotiating. The common consensus is that while hiring an attorney may seem daunting, the rewards reaped from having their expert help on your case far outweigh the risk of taking on a case by yourself and failing. It has been shown that despite contingent fees, lawyers regularly get their clients more money with their assistance than those that try to handle their case on their own.
Speak to Our Experienced Bradenton Attorneys in a Free Consultation Today
Whether you are struggling to claim no-fault benefits or were permanently disabled after a Bradenton car accident, the Dolman Law Group and Sibley Dolman may help. No injury is too big or small for our compassionate Bradenton car accident lawyers. Personal injury compensation may be available without the need for time-consuming litigation or up-front costs.
Contact our Bradenton personal injury attorneys today for a free, no-obligation personal injury case review. With offices across both Florida coasts, you can easily reach Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, and Sibley Dolman Accident Injury Lawyers, LLP, at 833-552-7274 (833-55-CRASH), or you can write to us using our online contact page.
6703 14th Street West Suite 207
Bradenton, FL 34207
Phone: (941) 961-8841
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