Clearwater is famous for its stunning beach with white sand and bright blue water and opportunities to surf the waves, and if you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse at dolphins. The perfect place to relax and enjoy the beaming Florida sunshine. Beyond the beach, Clearwater has it all, world-class restaurants, live entertainment, and year-round festivals.
It’s no wonder then that the population and the number of tourists who visit Clearwater and Florida, in general, each year is slowly increasing. The Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FHSMV) reports that in 2019 in Florida, there were over 400,000 car accidents resulting in over 255,000 injuries and 3,000 fatalities.
If you have been injured in a car accident, then you need advice from Clearwater personal injury attorneys who have experience in dealing with car accident cases in Florida. At The Law Place, our team has over 75 years of combined experience. We work as a team so that you can benefit from our combined knowledge. We are knowledgeable in Florida law, and we even offer a free consultation.
We recommend that anyone who has been involved in a car accident gives us a call to receive some free, unbiased advice so that they can make an informed decision on their next steps. Phone us today on 941-444-4444.
What Causes a Car Accident in Clearwater, FL?
The majority of car accidents are a result of drivers behaving negligently. It is not uncommon in Florida for accidents to be caused by things such as distracted driving, especially phone use, or driving under the influence. You should not be left to suffer medical bills and car damages after an accident that wasn’t your fault.
The most common reasons for a Clearwater car accident are:
- Distracted driving – An auto accident often occurs when someone becomes distracted while driving. According to The National HighwayTraffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2018, 2,841 people were killed by distracted driving across the United States. Looking at your phone, eating, or looking for something all contribute to these statistics.
- Mobile phones – Mobile phone use is a kind of distracted driving. However, it deserves its own section because of the sheer number of people that are guilty of using their phone while driving. Whether you are adjusting the sat nav, changing the music, checking social media, or texting, you run the risk of causing serious harm to yourself and to those around you. Any time spent looking at your phone takes your eyes away from the road and increases your risk of being in a car accident.
- DUI – Driving under the influence has lead to some serious and fatal crashes. The FHSMV reported 5,125 accidents caused by driving under the influence in Florida in 2017 and 350 fatalities. The majority of fatalities were young people aged 25-29. You should never drive when your cognitive abilities are impaired by any substance, including alcohol, illegal drugs, and prescription medication.
- Driving tired – When people drive tired, they may not be able to pay full attention to the road. Furthermore, people falling asleep at the wheel can cause serious crashes. It is insufficient to roll down the window or play loud music if you feel tired, then pull over somewhere and take a nap.
- Speeding – Driving faster than the speed limit or faster than the road conditions allow can contribute to serious car accidents.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a pedestrian accident in Clearwater, you need a dedicated and experienced Clearwater pedestrian accident lawyer on your side. Our team of legal experts is here to help you navigate the complexities of your case, ensuring you receive the compensation and justice you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation and let us fight for your rights.
The No-Fault Insurance Laws in Florida
In accordance with Florida Statute 627.7407, Florida is a no-fault state. As a result, after a car accident in Clearwater, you should initially seek damages from your own insurance company.
Florida Statute 627.736 lays out the minimum insurance coverage every driver in Florida is required to carry. The minimum insurance you must have in Florida is:
- $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP).
- $10,000 in liability insurance for property damage.
Following a Clearwater car accident, our insurance company is required to pay 80% of your medical bills up to your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) limit and 60% of your lost wages, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. Unfortunately, this leaves many people out of pocket.
However, your insurance is only required to pay 80 percent of your medical bills up to your PIP limit and 60 percent of your lost wages, leaving many people out of pocket.
This coverage is designed to pay towards:
- Medical expenses related to your auto accident injuries, including medical bills and transport to and from hospital appointments.
- Compensation for lost wages if you are unable to work due to injuries sustained in the car accident.
- Death benefits for relatives who have lost a loved one in a car accident.
If you have been in a car accident that has resulted in a serious injury or substantial property damage, then your damages are likely to exceed the limits of your PIP protection. Or you may want to fight for your right for compensation for your pain and suffering, which may not be covered by your insurance, such as any emotional anguish or loss of enjoyment. If so, you will need a Clearwater personal injury lawyer to help you fight for compensation from the at-fault driver or their insurance company.
What to Do After a Clearwater Car Accident
After a car accident, your first and most important steps will be to move out the way of any danger such as oncoming traffic, check the safety of anyone else involved in the accident, and phone emergency services.
In Florida, in accordance with Florida Statute 316.062, you are required to call the police to the scene if there has been an injury or substantial property damage. Otherwise, Florida Statute 316.066 allows you up to ten days to report it.
At the Scene of the Car Accident
- Collect evidence – Once everyone is safe, if your injuries do not prevent you from doing so, you should begin collecting evidence. Take photographs of the cars, any injuries, and anything else that could be relevant to your accident, such as road conditions or signs. Write down the name, phone number, car, and insurance information of the other driver, as well as contact details for any witnesses. If the police are called to the scene, then get their badge number and name also.
- Draw a sketch – While everything is still fresh in your mind, draw a sketch of the accident. Draw the road and label the cars ‘A’ and ‘B,’ with arrows showing where each car was coming from.
- Contact a Clearwater personal injury attorney – We recommend speaking to a Clearwater car accident lawyer before you speak to your insurance company. This will ensure that you have a clear headspace and do not say anything that could devalue your claim. Your lawyer will advise you on what your next steps should be.
After the Car Accident
After you have spoken to your Clearwater car accident lawyer, your next priority is to recover. Do everything your doctor tells you to do, follow your treatment plan as if you fail to it could affect the outcome of your accident claim.
If you proceed with a car accident attorney, then they will take over the investigation of your case for you, including dealing with insurance companies and contacting witnesses.
However, if you do not have a car accident attorney working your case, then you will need to contact your insurance company. Sometimes, you have a limited amount of time to do this in order to be covered by your insurance, your policy will tell you how long you have, but it could be 24 hours.
Keep in mind that it is in your insurance companies’ interests to pay out as little as possible, therefore avoid saying anything that could devalue your claim. For example, you might say something simple like you ‘feel ok,’ but this could work against you.
You should try to document as much as possible about how the auto accident has affected your life. Document all of your medical appointments, any missed work, and loss of earnings. You should also document your pain and any changes to your everyday life. Your car accident attorneys will be able to use this information to strengthen your case.
If you’ve lost a loved one in a car accident due to someone else’s negligence in Clearwater, our experienced wrongful death lawyer in Clearwater is here to help you seek justice and compensation. We understand the pain you’re going through, and we’re committed to fighting for your rights.
2023 Changes To Comparative Negligence Laws
In 2023, Florida made a significant shift in its approach to negligence in personal injury cases by moving from a pure comparative negligence system to a modified comparative negligence system. This change has substantial implications for how damages are awarded in lawsuits where multiple parties are found to be at fault for an accident or injury.
Under the previous system of pure comparative negligence, a plaintiff could recover damages even if they were found to be 99% at fault for their own injuries. Their recovery would simply be reduced by their percentage of fault. For instance, if a plaintiff was awarded $100,000 in damages but was found 60% at fault, they would still recover $40,000.
With the adoption of modified comparative negligence, Florida has imposed a 50% threshold for recovery. This means that if a plaintiff is found to be more than 50% responsible for their own injuries, they are barred from recovering any damages from other at-fault parties. This aligns Florida more closely with other states that have implemented thresholds to limit recoveries to plaintiffs who bear a lesser degree of fault.
What Will, Your Attorney in Clearwater, Do for You?
When you hire a personal injury attorney Clearwater, they become your advocate. They have a duty to protect your legal rights and defend you from anything that could go against you.
It is not uncommon for insurance commons to ask deceiving questions in order to try and lower their liability after an accident. They could also offer a low-ball settlement in hopes that you will accept it, and waiver your right to claim any further compensation. They hope to do this before you have a chance to speak to an accident lawyer.
Your attorney in Clearwater, FL, will handle insurance companies for you. All correspondence can go through them if you do not want to speak to insurance companies directly.
Just by having a lawyer by your side, you are more likely to be offered a higher settlement. Your attorney will seek the compensation that you deserve. Armed with the knowledge of Florida law, they will be able to take on large insurance firms and their legal teams.
The sooner you contact a personal injury lawyer, the better, as they will be better able to gather evidence from your case.
The Value of Personal Injury Attorneys in Clearwater
While it is possible to obtain compensation without a lawyer, research has shown that 90% of cases involving an accident lawyer result in a payout, and that payout is, on average, 60% higher. This, of course, depends on the case at hand.
You shouldn’t handle the stress of obtaining compensation alone. When you hire a reputable lawyer, you will be able to rest and recover while they do the work. A skilled accident lawyer will seek maximum compensation for your economic and non-economic damages.
Most cases never go to court; however, if the insurance company refuses to offer a fair settlement, then your lawyer will be ready to fight. They will have already built up a strong case and will be prepared to go to court if necessary. If this happens, it is good to have the support and guidance of an experienced accident lawyer.
What Is the Average Settlement for Car Accidents in Clearwater?
The amount that you might be able to claim for after an auto accident depends on a range of factors, such as:
- The fault.
- How severe your injuries are.
- How costly medical bills have been,
- The potential for future medical expenses.
- The degree to which the accident and your injuries have impacted your day-to-day life.
- The age of the person with injuries.
All of these factors are quantifiable, the insurance company will input this data into their computer, and their algorithm will provide a figure. Your first offer will almost always be a low amount, and we advise that you refuse it.
We will judge what a fair settlement should be using the evidence from your case. We will use this to negotiate a better settlement.
Damages You May Bet Entitled To Claim
One of the primary forms of economic damages in a car accident case are medical expenses. These costs include emergency room visits, hospital care, surgery, medication, medical equipment, and ongoing physical therapy. If long-term or lifelong care is necessary, future medical costs can also be claimed.
Car accident victims often miss work due to their injuries, resulting in lost wages. Economic damages cover the income you’ve lost and will also take into account the loss of earning capacity if your injuries prevent you from returning to your previous employment or from working altogether.
Compensation for property damage typically covers the cost of repairs to your vehicle or the market value of the car if it’s a total loss. It can also extend to personal items damaged in the accident, such as phones, laptops, and other valuables.
These damages include any additional costs incurred as a result of the accident. It could be transportation fees if you can’t drive due to your injuries, costs of hiring help for household chores you can no longer perform, or modifications to your home to accommodate a disability from the accident.
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering compensation is for the physical discomfort and emotional distress you experience due to your injuries. This non-economic damage accounts for the impact the injuries have on your quality of life, including ongoing pain, discomfort, anxiety, stress, and the loss of enjoyment of life.
Separate from pain and suffering, emotional distress damages are meant to compensate for psychological impact, such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD, which can be especially prevalent after severe accidents.
Loss of Consortium
If a car accident victim was married, their spouse could claim loss of consortium, which covers the loss of companionship, affection, and support. In some cases, children may also claim loss of parental consortium.
If injuries from the accident leave permanent scars or other disfigurements, victims may be entitled to compensation for the physical and psychological impact of living with disfigurement.
Reduced Quality of Life
When injuries from a car accident lead to a reduced quality of life, such as an inability to engage in hobbies or activities you once enjoyed, or a need for life-long care, you may receive damages to compensate for these limitations and changes in your lifestyle.
In a car accident case, calculating economic damages tends to be more straightforward as they are based on actual financial losses. Non-economic damages are more subjective and typically require a nuanced legal approach to quantify. Working with an experienced car accident attorney can help ensure that all potential damages are accounted for and that you receive the full compensation you are entitled to for both economic and non-economic damages.
Who Is the Best Car Accident Attorney in Clearwater?
We believe that we are the best accident attorneys in Florida, we are proud of our success and have a strong team that is eager to support you. However, if you want to do your own research, then here are a couple of things to look for.
Avoid companies that have little reputation or evidence of successful claims, but a big advertising presence. Often law firms will spend a large amount on TV ads or billboards so that they receive clients even if they have a bad track record. A good law firm will receive business from recommendations.
A reputable law firm will want you to feel confident and comfortable with your decisions. They will not put pressure on you, and they should offer a free consultation, where they are prepared to answer any questions that you have before you commit to working with them.
Finally, they should have experience in Florida law that allows them to fight for high settlements. They should not give in at the first offer.
FAQ: Car Accident Cases and Legal Representation in Clearwater
What should I do if I’m involved in a car crash in Clearwater?
Immediately after a car crash, seek medical attention even if you think you are not seriously injured, as some car accident injuries, like traumatic brain injuries, may not be immediately apparent. Then, consult with an experienced car accident lawyer to discuss your car accident claim.
How can a Clearwater car accident attorney assist me?
A Clearwater car accident attorney can help you understand your rights and the intricacies of personal injury law. They will represent you in dealing with insurance adjusters and ensure that your auto accident claim is filed correctly to seek financial compensation for damages.
What if the car accident resulted in serious car accident injuries?
If you’ve suffered serious injuries, a Clearwater car accident law firm can assist you with filing a personal injury lawsuit. These firms have experienced personal injury attorneys who can advocate for car accident victims and their right to compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and other losses.
Why is it important to hire an experienced personal injury attorney after a motor vehicle accident?
An experienced personal injury attorney can navigate the legal process and has in-depth knowledge of Florida car accident statistics, which can help build a strong personal injury claim or car accident lawsuit.
How do Clearwater car accident lawyers help with insurance claims?
Clearwater car accident lawyers can negotiate with insurance providers on behalf of car accident victims to ensure they receive a fair settlement. They understand how to counter the tactics of insurance adjusters who may try to minimize the payout.
Are car accident victims in Clearwater entitled to compensation for a car accident injury?
Yes, car accident victims can file an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit to seek compensation for their car accident injury, especially if the other driver was at fault. This can cover both economic and non-economic damages.
What are my options if I’ve been in a clearwater auto accident with a drunk driver?
Victims of a drunk driving accident should immediately seek legal representation. Auto accident attorneys can help pursue legal action against the at-fault party, and in cases involving drunk driving, there may be grounds for a lawsuit beyond insurance claims.
What should I do if my car needs repairs after an auto accident?
For auto accidents resulting in property damage, contact an auto accident lawyer to help you recover the costs of car repairs. They can assist you in dealing with insurance claims and ensure you get the compensation needed to cover repair expenses.
How does a personal injury law firm calculate compensation for accident victims?
Compensation is calculated based on the extent of physical injuries, the cost of medical treatment, and other factors such as lost wages and the need for prolonged medical care. A personal injury law firm will use this information to maximize the financial compensation you receive.
If I’ve been in a clearwater car accident, when should I file a personal injury lawsuit?
It’s best to consult with Clearwater car accident attorneys as soon as possible to discuss your case. They will guide you on the appropriate timing to file a personal injury lawsuit based on the specifics of your personal injury case.
Can car accident lawyers assist with personal injury lawsuits resulting from car crashes?
Absolutely, car accident lawyers specialize in personal injury lawsuits that arise from car crashes. They understand personal injury law and can help you navigate through the legal system to ensure your rights are protected.
What are the risks if I don’t seek medical attention after a car accident?
Failing to seek medical attention can lead to undiagnosed injuries, such as a serious injury that could worsen over time. It can also affect your insurance claim, as insurance companies often use a delay in medical treatment to dispute the severity of injuries.
Why should I consider a personal injury law firm for my Clearwater car accident case?
A personal injury law firm brings collective experience from multiple attorneys, often increasing the chance of a successful outcome for your case. These firms are equipped to handle complex personal injury cases and have the resources to take on large insurance companies.
How do I know if the at-fault party’s insurance provider is offering a fair settlement?
It’s important to consult with personal injury lawyers who can assess the offer. Insurance providers may offer a settlement quickly to minimize their costs, but a personal injury attorney can advise you on whether it reflects the true value of your claim.
How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Law Firm?
At The Law Place, we work on a contingency basis. This means that our fee will be deducted as a percentage of your eventual settlement. We will outline our fee structure with you before you commit to having representation with us. That way, you can be assured that you do not receive any surprise bills.
Contingency fees are monitored by the State Bar Associations; they set limits for what lawyers can charge. Furthermore, the costs must be upfront and laid out in a simple to understand manner.
Contact The Law Place Today!
The decision to hire a team of skilled injury lawyers is an important one. If you have received life-changing injuries, then it could affect the rest of your life.
Here at The Law Place, we have a team of knowledgeable accident lawyers who are ready to support you and fight for your right to compensation. They will represent you to the best of their ability and will make sure you are treated fairly. We have over 75 years of combined experience dealing with similar cases across the state of Florida.
Our no-strings-attached free consultation will allow you to receive some free unbiased and honest advice so that you can make an informed decision on your next steps.
Don’t deal with the stress alone, contact The Law Place today on 941-444-4444.