Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of car accidents in Port Charlotte, Florida. Whilst most drivers keep their attention firmly on the road, it only takes one momentary distraction to cause a serious accident. These types of driving accidents can cause devastating consequences to drivers, passengers, and pedestrians and can sometimes be fatal.
If you’ve been injured by a distracted driver in Port Charlotte, FL., you could be facing high medical costs, significant impairment as well as damages you may not know how to cover. In this case, it’s important to receive some advice from a legal professional to understand your rights in terms of compensation.
Here at The Law Place, we help you to find the right accident attorney for your case. Our team of skilled professionals offers a free case evaluation to all of our new clients to ensure you’re confident in your legal representation. We are a Florida law firm committed to defending our clients. So, whatever the specifics of your case, we can help.
Most Common Reasons for Distracted Driving in Port Charlotte, FL.
- Checking a cell phone.
- Texting while driving.
- Talking to passengers.
- Driving whilst fatigued
- Driving for a long time without rest breaks.
- Driving whilst intoxicated.
- Eating or drinking whilst driving.
- Reading a map or looking at a GPS device.
Personal Injury Compensation From a Distracted Driving Accident
If you’ve been injured in a car accident with a distracted driver, you could be facing serious injuries, which can come with expensive medical bills, trauma, and time away from work. In this case, there are a number of options available to you if you are looking to receive compensation.
Your Insurance Cover
The first option you have is to use your own insurance cover. Florida Statute 627.736 states that all Florida motorists need to possess insurance cover for a minimum of $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP). This type of insurance will cover costs (up to your coverage limit) for:
- Medical benefits – 80% of medical bills in the case of serious bodily injuries or harm. This includes medical expenses such as ambulance travel, doctors’ fees, rehabilitation, prosthetics, and medication, as well as diagnostic services such as X-rays and tests.
- Disability benefits – 60% of any loss of gross income as a result of an injury or disability caused by the car accident.
- Death benefits – If an individual is killed in a car accident, their next of kin will receive $5,000 in death benefits to cover emotional suffering as well as funeral costs.
A serious injury, as laid out in Florida Statute 316.192, is one which causes:
- Substantial risk of death.
- Serious disfigurement.
- Damage to the brain.
- Loss of an internal organ.
- Impairment of an internal organ or bodily function.
If your injury is not severe enough to meet the requirements as laid out in your PIP cover, you might be entitled to up to $2,500 worth of benefits.
Pursuing a Claim Against an at-Fault Distracted Driver
In many cases, your medical expenses and disability costs can be significantly higher than your $10,000 personal injury protection cover. In fact, the average hospital stay in Florida sits at around $60,000. In this case, you can work with a distracted driving accident lawyer to pursue a claim against the at-fault driver.
This process involves communication between the lawyers of both parties in order to try and reach a settlement agreement, paid by the distracted driver for damages including medical bills, lost wages, property damage, as well as emotional damages such as pain and suffering. Many individuals prefer to pursue this route instead of filing a lawsuit as it avoids lengthy court battles and limits legal fees you will need to pay. This stage can also involve an independent mediator who can help both parties to achieve a settlement amount.
Filing a lawsuit
If your injuries are severe and your medical costs exceed the $10,000 cover provided by your personal injury protection insurance, you are permitted to sue the at-fault driver. If your driving accident lawyer feels that you may be entitled to more compensation than you are being offered in an out-of-court agreement, they may suggest filing a personal injury lawsuit.
According to Florida Statute 95.11, the statute of limitations for negligence lawsuits is four years. After this time, you will be unable to sue the distracted driver. Bear in mind that personal injury lawsuits in Port Charlotte, Florida, can take 2-3 years to receive a court date. So, you’ll need to work with a distracted driving accident lawyer as soon as possible in order to make sure you receive the amount of compensation you could be entitled to.
Florida’s Comparative Fault Rule for Personal Injury Cases
Personal injury law can be complicated, especially in the case of car accidents. It is rarely as black and white as one driver being 100% at fault and another driver being 100% a victim. In many instances, accident victims can be partially at fault for a car accident – even if another driver was engaging in distracted driving. For example, one driver may have caused an accident by being distracted. However, you could have been speeding. In this case, both parties will have contributed to the car accident.
Florida law operates under a comparative fault principle for accidents like these. This means that as long as you are less than 50% at fault, you can still claim damages. Your payout will simply be reduced by the percentage at which you are found to be at fault. For example, if you are 20% liable for the accident, then you will receive 80% of the compensation you are owed.
What to Do Following a Distracted Driving Car Accident in Port Charlotte, FL.
If you’ve been involved in a traffic accident in Port Charlotte, there are a number of key things you will need to do in order to protect your rights, fulfill your legal obligation and ensure you don’t lose out on compensation.
Remain at the Scene of the Accident
The first thing you’ll need to do if you’re involved in a car accident is to check yourself for any injuries. According to Florida Statute 316.061, you will need to remain at the scene of the accident until the police arrive, along with any paramedics and medical assistance. You will likely need to provide your insurance details, as well as your contact details. If you fail to do this, you will face legal consequences which may harm your chance of receiving the right level of compensation.
Seek Medical Attention
You’ll need to seek medical attention within 14 days after a distracted driving car accident in order to receive anything from your PIP insurance coverage. If you fail to do this, you will not receive a reimbursement.
You should bear in mind that even if you do not feel injured following an auto accident, it’s still a good idea to get yourself checked by a medical professional. This is because shock and adrenaline can cause you to feel well, but your injuries could become apparent later.
Contact Your Insurance Company
Insurance companies in Port Charlotte, Florida, require you to report driving accidents as soon as possible, most often within 24 hours. This does not mean that you need to file a claim within this time; it just means that you have to make your insurer aware that an accident has occurred.
How Can an Injury and Accident Lawyer Help?
You should never assume that you can handle a personal injury case on your own following a traffic accident. This area of Florida law is particularly complex, and there are many ways in which you could jeopardize your chances of receiving compensation for damages.
Car accident attorneys can support you by providing a number of key services, including:
- Liaising with your insurance company – Insurance companies in Port Charlotte, FL., can be difficult to handle without legal representation. They are usually looking for any way possible to reduce the amount of compensation you will receive. Even something as simple as saying that you feel well after an accident can harm your claim even if you later realize that you have been injured. Car accident lawyers can communicate with any insurance companies involved in your case to give you the best chance of receiving the right level of compensation.
- Providing legal advice – If you do not work with an injury and accident attorney, you may be unaware of your rights and may not realize that you are entitled to a higher level of compensation. Accident attorneys can advise you whether pursuing a claim or filing a lawsuit would be beneficial, helping you to achieve the right level of compensation for your case.
- Building a strong legal defense – It could be possible for the other driver involved in your accident to pursue a legal case against you if they feel that you were also at fault. In this instance, your accident attorney will be able to build a strong legal case in your favor in order to defend you in court and try to reduce any damages you may be liable for.
Contact The Law Place – Port Charlotte Car Accident Lawyers
If you’ve been injured in a Port Charlotte car accident caused by distracted driving, you do not need to suffer alone. You could be entitled to compensation beyond what your own insurance provider will cover, and one of our skilled Port Charlotte accident lawyers will advise you on what you may be eligible for.
The Law Place is a Florida law firm with significant experience winning cases like yours. We work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to provide legal support to our clients and to help them achieve the compensation they deserve.
Schedule a free consultation with a car accident and personal injury attorney today by calling (941) 444-4444.