A Team of Palm Bay Car Accident Lawyers You Can TrustAt Dolman Law Group, our experienced Palm Bay car accident lawyers have a proven track record of successfully handling insurance claims and Palm Bay personal injury lawsuits. We can help establish the other party's negligence, protect your legal rights and maximize the value of your car accident claim. We also provide support throughout the entire process of pursuing compensation, so you can focus your energy on making a full recovery. Choosing a team of experienced lawyers from Dolman Law Group gives you a better chance of recovering a fair settlement. Some of our past legal victories in securing compensation for our clients include:
- $5 million recovered for a client that suffered severe burn injuries during a car accident.
- $3.85 million recovered for our client that sustained traumatic brain damage during an accident with a semi-truck.
- $1.58 million recovered for our client that suffered two herniated discs on their spinal cord after a truck accident.
- $1 million recovered for the family of a parent that lost their life in an accident involving a rideshare vehicle.
- $775,000 recovered for the family of a father and son that suffered severe injuries in a car accident.
- $425,000 for our client that suffered lower back injuries after a car accident.
Common Causes of Car Accidents in Palm BayDrivers have an ethical and legal responsibility to follow safe driving practices that reduce their chances of hurting pedestrians or fellow motorists. Unfortunately, Palm Bay sees a lot of preventable car accidents that were directly caused by irresponsible driving. In most cases, determining who was at fault after a car accident involves examining how they violated traffic rules or contributed to the collision. The most common causes include:
Distracted DrivingAny behavior that takes the driver's eyes or attention off the road can cause them to be dangerously distracted from the primary task of operating a motor vehicle safely. In Florida, using a smartphone while driving has been illegal since 2019, but it is still a major cause of serious accidents yearly. Distracted driving can also include eating or drinking behind the wheel, adjusting the radio or GPS, talking to passengers, or applying make-up.
SpeedingWhether exceeding the posted speed limits or going too fast for the current weather or traffic conditions, driving at unsafe speeds can quickly become a tragic accident. Speeding drivers are often unable to react to other vehicles in time to avoid a collision and are much more likely to lose control of the vehicle. Accidents at high speeds also generate a very forceful impact, making them notorious for causing catastrophic injuries and deaths.
Reckless DrivingPoor judgment when following traffic rules is a significant factor in causing severe car accidents, such as running red lights or stop signs, merging without signaling, not yielding to another car's right of way, or following too closely to avoid a crash.
Impaired DrivingGetting behind the wheel while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs is a hazardous decision that can have tragic consequences for everyone in the accident. Impaired drivers have blurry vision, slower reaction time, and poor decision-making skills, leading to horrific accidents. Sleep-deprived or fatigued driving can be just as harmful since the effects of being overtired are very similar to having drugs or alcohol in your system.
Vehicle MalfunctionIn some cases, it is also possible for car crashes to be caused by defective equipment in the vehicle rather than negligent drivers. Faulty brake systems, tires, and steering systems have all been known to malfunction, causing drivers to lose control of the vehicle. In this scenario, the car's manufacturer may be held legally responsible for creating the conditions for the crash to unfold, which would make them liable for damages in a court of law.
Getting Compensation After a Car Accident in Palm BayA car crash happens in only seconds, but the financial and physical consequences can last for months or years after the incident. Negligent driving can lead to spinal cord injuries, broken or fractured bones, punctured organs, brain trauma, and other debilitating injuries requiring long recovery periods. The medical bills, lost wages, car repair expenses, and additional costs will add up quickly, which makes getting compensation the biggest concern for victims and their families. Under Florida's no-fault insurance system, drivers involved in an accident must file a claim under their own Personal Injury Protection (PIP) policy to recover compensation for their damages. However, the coverage in most policies is not nearly enough to compensate for serious injuries that require surgery, hospitalization, and a long period without being able to work. Thus, Florida law allows car accident victims with damages that reach the threshold of $10,000 or more to seek compensation under the at-fault driver's liability insurance policy. Claimants with serious injuries also have the option to escalate their claim to a formal lawsuit in the civil court system, which allows them to recover not only compensation for their economic damages but also quality-of-life costs like pain and suffering. Whether you choose to file a first-party claim with your own PIP insurance, file a claim under the at-fault driver's policy, pursue a lawsuit, or some combination of these options, a Palm Bay car accident lawyer can play a crucial role. Insurance companies are notorious for trying to lower their costs as much as possible, even if it means downplaying the injuries of their policyholder. Every strategy for getting compensation after an accident will require mountains of paperwork and solid evidence of your losses from getting injured. A skilled car accident lawyer can help prove the at-fault party's liability, negotiate with insurers, and help you get as much compensation as possible.
How to Strengthen Your Case After an AccidentYour actions in the immediate aftermath of an accident, as well as in the days, weeks, and months that follow, can have a significant impact on the ability to receive adequate compensation. Here are some critical steps to protect your claim and help ensure insurance companies cannot take advantage of you throughout the legal process.
Gather information at the sceneAfter being involved in a car accident, your only priority should be to make sure you are out of danger and can get emergency help for yourself and anyone else who was injured. If you are physically able to gather some information, take notes on your phone about the circumstances that caused the accident, as well as photos or videos of the scene. Collecting the contact information or insurance details of all drivers, passengers, or witnesses is also helpful. Once police officers are at the scene, talk to them and provide your side of the story but avoid accidentally incriminating yourself. The police report may be crucial to substantiate your car accident claim in the future.
Follow your doctor's ordersRight after an accident, you need to have an EMT assess your condition even if you do not feel you have been injured. Remember that you might not immediately realize you are badly hurt because you are in shock from the crash and flooded with adrenaline. Also, many of the most common injuries in accidents will not show up immediately, especially neck and back injuries. People often feel fine at the scene, but within a day or two, they are in so much pain that they cannot move. Following all medical advice is critical for helping you physically recover, and increasing your chances for a successful automobile accident claim. Your medical records will be closely examined throughout the legal process, especially by insurance companies looking for a way to downplay your damages. For example, skipping any physical therapy sessions or follow-up appointments can be used as proof that you were not seriously hurt. If you need continuous medical treatment, such as more surgeries, your claim for damages needs to reflect this. Otherwise, you may end up paying for your accident-related costs later on, out of your own pocket.
Keep a JournalApart from the financial costs associated with getting injured, car accident claims in Florida that involve serious injuries can also cover compensation for emotional and psychological consequences that do not have a specific price tag. Keeping a daily journal throughout your recovery is one of the best ways to strengthen your case for recovering these intangible damages. Write down moments when you feel severe pain, emotional distress, or frustration about not being able to continue your regular activities. For example, if you were in too much discomfort to go to your child's game or a family social event, share how this makes you feel.
Talk to a LawyerAfter a car accident in Florida, you should call a lawyer as soon as possible. The financial strain from suffering significant injuries can make it very tempting to accept the insurance company's first offer, even when it is not nearly enough to cover your damages. Without an experienced lawyer, car accident victims can end up walking away with much less compensation than they deserve or even be unfairly blamed for the circumstances that led to the crash. Working with an experienced lawyer is highly recommended, even if you believe your case is simple and that you are guaranteed a payout.
Frequently Asked Questions About Having a Car Accident In Palm Bay
What happens after my insurance company denies my car accident claim?Just because an insurance company initially denies your car accident claim does not mean you will never be compensated for your damages. You have to keep in mind that insurers turn a profit by collecting more in premium payments than they have to spend on approved claims. That incentivizes them to turn down claims whenever possible and generally pay out the minimum amount of money. While Florida insurers follow a no-fault system, they still have the discretion to reject claims for several reasons. For example, they can argue that you have not provided enough documentation of the medical costs or lost wages you are claiming. The good news is you have the right to contest a car accident claim denial within a certain amount of time, especially if you have any new evidence or information that the insurance company did not consider the first time. The denial letter you receive includes an explanation of why you are being turned down and instructions for requesting another review of your case. These letters tend to have a lot of insurance jargon and legalese that is hard to understand, so you should consult our Palm Bay car accident lawyers. Your attorney can review the company's reasons for the denial, collect additional evidence to bolster your case, and help you figure out a strategy to get the compensation you deserve. An experienced lawyer can also help you navigate the insurance company's administrative appeals process and handle all the paperwork.
What should I do if my car accident involves a commercial vehicle?Commercial trucks are defined as any vehicle for transporting cargo, such as eighteen-wheelers, delivery trucks, and other large vehicles. Due to the massive size and weight discrepancy between the vehicles involved, when a passenger car collides with a tractor-trailer or other large truck, the smaller car just is not strong enough to withstand the crash. This is why commercial truck accidents frequently result in devastating injuries with long-lasting effects that need to be fairly compensated. The negligent behaviors that create the conditions for these catastrophic accidents to unfold can include: driving too many hours during a 24-hour period without resting, not loading truck cargo according to appropriate safety standards, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or being distracted by a smartphone. Suppose you have been injured in an accident with a commercial vehicle. In that case, several liable potential parties may be held liable for your damages, depending on the details of the case. The driver, the owner of the truck, and the trucking company that employs the driver can all be held responsible for negligence. For example, you may also be able to assert that the trucking business was careless when it hired, trained, or supervised the driver that caused your accident. Victims in this difficult situation have to be aware that it is common for large trucking companies to offer a quick settlement that is not enough for your damages as a way of getting you to accept considerably less than you deserve. A Palm Bay car accident lawyer with experience handling complex commercial vehicle cases can help you assess the extent of your damages, identify the parties that should be held responsible, and pursue the most effective strategies for helping you recover fair compensation.
What is the value of my car accident case?Many factors help determine the true worth of your claim, and many of them will not be known until several weeks after the accident. It is difficult to predict the total cost of your medical care or all the short-term and long-term ways serious injuries will affect your life. This is especially true if your health has not stabilized yet. However, after examining all of the facts and available evidence, a knowledgeable Palm Bay car accident lawyer should be able to estimate the possible value of your claim using their best judgment and experience with past cases. In general, the severity of your injuries is the main element for calculating your damages, using variables like current medical bills, the projected cost of future treatments, and the amount of income you have lost or will continue to lose due to your injuries.
How long do I have to pursue compensation for my car accident injuries?Florida law imposes time limits on how long residents have to file a lawsuit after being injured due to someone else's negligence. For car accidents, the statute of limitations is four years. If you are not able to pursue your claim within this time frame, you would essentially forfeit your right to seek compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages caused by getting into an accident. While four years may seem like a long time, delaying legal action can significantly reduce your chances of recovering reasonable compensation for your damages. Building a strong car accident case takes time, and it is also possible for important evidence to eventually get lost or misplaced. If you have been harmed in a severe car accident, you should contact an experienced Palm Bay lawyer sooner rather than later to get started with the claims process.
What happens if my car accident case has to go to a court trial?Florida sees fewer car accidents reaching the court trial stage than other states because no-fault rules are designed to prevent them in most cases. However, you can file a lawsuit against the other party if you suffered injuries that meet the legal threshold for being “severe.” In some scenarios, taking your case to court is potentially the best option for getting your damages fully covered. Most first-party insurance policies will not be enough to compensate for severe injuries, especially since they typically only cover 80 percent of the policyholder's hospital bills and 60 percent of their lost wages. PIP insurance also does not include non-economic damages like physical pain and emotional distress, which are often very significant aspects of the harm victims suffer due to serious car accidents. Suppose you have exhausted the PIP limit and the at-fault driver does not have a liability policy that can kick in to cover your additional costs from getting injured. In that case, you may be entitled to pursue a formal lawsuit. Even if you take your car accident case to court, there is still a high chance of reaching a settlement with the at-fault party before the trial. Going to trial takes a long time and also costs much more in legal fees, so both sides have a good reason to come to their own agreement outside the judicial system. However, you should never feel pressured to accept a lowball settlement that is insufficient for all your costs from the collision. Having a skilled car accident attorney by your side to evaluate the at-fault party's offer and negotiate on your behalf is essential for getting fair compensation. If your car accident case does proceed to trial, proving the at-fault party's negligence and documenting the extent of your damages will be critical to having a good outcome. The jury will determine the judgment by looking at all the economic damages the victim suffered from the accident, such as hospital bills, lost wages, car repairs, and other out-of-pocket costs. They also consider the intangible quality-of-life costs that come with getting injured, which are also eligible for compensation in Florida courts. Once the jury calculates the plaintiff's monetary compensation, they will also figure out how much of the accident was your fault. Florida follows a “pure comparative negligence” system, which means your award in a personal injury claim gets reduced by your percentage of blame for the circumstances that caused your injuries. For example, if the jury gives you $100,000 but assigns you 10 percent blame, you would receive $90,000.
What is the serious injury threshold in Florida, and how do I know if my claim qualifies?The serious injury threshold is an exception to Florida's no-fault laws, which typically limit drivers involved in an accident to only pursue compensation from their own PIP insurance policy. You can only go outside this system to sue the at-fault driver in civil court under specific circumstances, such as injuries that affect your day-to-day activities for a significant period. To meet this standard, the accident must have caused considerable loss of a bodily function, total or partial disability for at least three months, disfigurement, or wrongful death. For example, broken bones will typically qualify because they result in significant, long-term impairment of your daily life. Another informal rule of thumb is that if the accident caused you more than $10,000 worth of damages, it is likely to qualify as a severe injury.
How do contingency fees work when paying a car accident attorney?After getting injured in a serious car accident, some victims put off hiring an attorney because they are under the wrong impression that they cannot afford it. This causes them to miss out on all the strategic advantages of having professional legal representation throughout the process, which is often the deciding factor between getting fair compensation or walking away with much less. The Palm Bay car accident lawyers at Dolman Law Group accept new cases without the client having to make upfront payments. We also bear the costs associated with gathering evidence and preparing your case. After winning compensation for your damages, either through a settlement or a court decision, we collect a percentage of the amount recovered for our legal fees. We will not bill you for attorney's fees if we do not recover any compensation. During our first consultation, we also explain every aspect of the contingency fee structure and work to ensure you understand all the terms before becoming a client. In the end, the benefit of having a skilled car accident attorney by your side is getting a better settlement or judgment award than you could recover from handling the process yourself, even after paying the contingency fee.
How long will it take to resolve my car accident case and receive compensation?After a serious accident, victims will often have to cope with growing medical expenses, lost wages, and a range of other costs, from getting hurt, as well as uncertainty about how to get their life back on track. With so much financial pressure, getting compensation as quickly as possible is a huge priority. Unfortunately, there are so many factors at play when pursuing a car accident claim that it is impossible to predict how long the process will take. The main variables include the severity of your injuries, the case's complexity, and whether settling is an option or you would be better off filing a formal lawsuit. It is also difficult to resolve your matter without a reasonable estimate of how much your future medical care will cost and how long the physical consequences of your injuries will last, which can take weeks or months to determine. One general guideline for how long it takes to resolve a car accident claim is that after accepting a settlement and signing all the paperwork, Florida insurers are legally required to send the payout within 20 days. Your lawyer will receive the check, pay a certain percentage to cover their legal fees and send you the remainder. If your claim advances to a formal trial, getting compensation can take longer, especially if there is an appeal. Even after being awarded a judgment from the court, there is the possibility that the liable party will not pay the judgment right away or does not have the financial assets to cover the total amount. Sometimes, the victim will have to take other actions to collect compensation even after winning the trial. Your car accident lawyer can assist you in navigating the post-trial process and help you get paid as quickly as possible.
How Can Dolman Law Group's Palm Bay Car Accident Attorneys Help You?Being in a severe car accident is scary, expensive, and incredibly disruptive. The process of getting compensation under Florida's system is complicated and requires a mountain of paperwork, but you do not have to navigate it all by yourself. While you are not required to hire a lawyer after a car accident, legal representation can provide crucial support and improve your chances of recovering fair compensation. The right attorney specializes in car accident cases, knows the insurance code inside and out, and has the skills to help you get the most out of your claim. At Dolman Law Group, our team has spent almost two decades fighting for car accident victims in Palm Bay and throughout Florida. We have a proven record of success in recovering fair insurance settlements, litigating cases in the civil court system, and helping our clients get life back on track after suffering severe injuries in a car accident. Some of the ways we can advocate for your best interests include:
- Investigate the accident and establish fault by reviewing all available evidence, interviewing witnesses, and consulting with car accident reconstruction specialists.
- Handle all communications with insurance companies, file all paperwork, and safeguard your claim at every stage
- Substantiate your economic and non-economic damages, including any future consequences, such as ongoing physical therapy or having a reduced earning capacity from the long-term effects of getting injured
- Negotiate with insurers to reach a reasonable settlement offer or, if necessary, escalate your car accident case to a personal injury lawsuit