CAR ACCIDENT FAQ
ANSWERS TO COMMONLY ASKED CAR ACCIDENT QUESTIONS
What are the first steps to take following a car accident?
The time following a car accident can be one of the most complicated, confusing times possible. If you are involved in a crash, it is important to remember that there are several things that you can do at the scene of the accident to both take care of yourself, and ensure that the claim process proceeds as smoothly as possible. The first thing is to dial 911 for emergency medical treatment. If you feel dizzy, stay in your car until help arrives. If you feel okay, lend aid to those who need it.
You should also immediately begin to document the scene of the accident by taking photographs; take pictures of everything from the vehicles involved to the scenery around it from every angle. These photos could prove to be invaluable later. You should also immediately gather important information, such as the contact and insurance information from the other drivers, license plate numbers, and contact information from any witnesses. Finally, you should make sure to call local law enforcement to report the accident.
The injuries I suffered in the accident are permanent. What can I do?
Thousands upon thousands of car accidents occur every single year. Most of these are minor fender-benders where occupants walk away unharmed, or with mild bruises and scrapes. This, however, is not always the story when it comes to car accidents. On many occasions, car accidents victims suffer from life-altering injuries that may even be permanent in nature. When this occurs, it changes the entire nature of the personal injury case.
It becomes absolutely crucial that comprehensive compensation is sought; this will help to cover not only past and current expenses, but also ensure that the victim is cared for throughout their entire life. For this reason, it is important that the case is not started too early. In fact, you may be prompted to wait until you have reached Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI), which is the point where you will no longer get any better. Due to the complications of claims involving permanent injuries, having knowledgeable representation becomes even more crucual.
How would fault be determined in a car accident?
For many victims of a car accident, the first question they want answered is how to prove that the other driver(s) were at fault. This, however, cannot be answered with an exact formula, and there is no step-by-step process where fault is determined. Rather, it's an art where several different factors are evaluated. For example, the first thing that may be looked at is whether or not someone was breaking a law at the time of the accident. This could be someone who was exceeding the speed limit, under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, or making an illegal left turn.
All of these could easily pinpoint fault. Another step that may be taken is determining what kind of car accident happened. Was it a rear-end crash? While not always, in most rear-end accidents, the driver behind is usually at fault. That being said, there are cases where they are not; for example, if they were cut off or if the driver in front of them started reversing. Due to these complications and gray areas, it is important to have a lawyer on your side to help protect your rights.
What are some of the most common causes of car crashes?
In most cases, car accidents are caused by the humans driving them. In the Traffic Crash Statistics Report 2010, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles stated that the number one contributing cause of crashes was careless driving—accounting for nearly 40 percent of that year's crashes. Other main causes included: drunk or drugged driving; failure to yield the right-of-way; exceeding the stated or safe speed limit; disregarding traffic signals; improper turns; wrong-way driving; and improper passing. That being said, the behavior of drivers is not the only source of causes for car accidents. Crashes can also be caused by faulty auto parts, inclement weather, dangerous roadways, or even an animal appearance.
What is whiplash?
Whiplash is a common neck injury sustained in car accidents. It occurs from the neck being distorted past its normal range of motion by being over-extended. For example, when hit from behind, the jolt of the vehicle can cause the neck to extend forward and then be thrust back when the driver's body hits the seatbelt. Reports estimate that whiplash is the most common nonfatal injury sustained in car accidents, with more than a million people suffering from it each and every year. What makes this injury so common is that the car accident does not even need to be severe for it to happen; it can be sustained at speeds as low as 15 mph.
What if I was partially at fault for the car accident? Can I still recover?
Part of the Florida legal system is what is known as contributory fault, which is explained under Florida Statutes §768.81 (2012). Per this section of the law, if you are pursuing a negligence action and are found to be partially at fault, you are still able to recover damages; however, economic and noneconomic damages which would be awarded will be diminished in proportion. What this means is that if you are determined to be 20% at fault for the accident, and were going to recover $100,000 in damages, it would be reduced in proportion to how much you were at fault and, instead, would only recover 80%, or $80,000.