How to Protect Your Best Interests After an Accident
It is understandable if you feel frightened and confused after a serious accident. Your world changes in an instant and you may feel overwhelmed by your injuries and your inability to work. While contacting a Florida personal injury lawyer may be the furthest thing from your mind, you may want to consider it. You most likely know that your accident was wrong—and preventable—had the other person used care. Discussing your accident with a skilled personal injury lawyer can provide you with the knowledge you need to move forward with your life.
Car Accidents, Liability, and Your Injuries
One of the most devastating types of personal injury is that of a car accident. No matter how defensively you drive, dangerous drivers surround you every day on city streets and highways. A driver’s license is a privilege—not a right—however many drivers fail to share the road responsibly.
With more than 15 million licensed drivers in Florida and millions of visitors each year, the risk for harm is very real. If a dangerous driver engaged in one of the following behaviors, leaving you with serious injuries, they may be liable for your damages.
Examples of the types of behaviors behind the wheel that can change your life forever include:
Distracted driving – According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there are three main types of distraction:
- Visual: takes your eyes off the road.
- Manual: takes your hands off the wheel.
- Cognitive: takes your mind off driving.
The CDC reports that approximately 9 people are killed in distracted driving-related crashes and as many as 1,000 suffer injuries. Texting behind the wheel is of special concern for most drivers because it involves all three forms of distraction. Other types of distractions include eating, drinking, applying makeup, and reaching for items.
Drunk driving – Despite tougher laws and multiple public safety campaigns, people continue to drink and drive. Research shows that alcohol can trick the brain into feeling invincible, leading some to make the dangerous decision to drive. Teen drivers who choose to drink and drive are especially dangerous due to their inexperience behind the wheel.
Consider this alarming statistic from the Children’s Research Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute:
- More than 16 percent of teens nationwide report riding with a driver who had been drinking at least once in the past month.
- Teens who participated in underage drinking or who ride with an impaired driver are more likely to drive drunk themselves.
Aggressive driving – Short tempers and the need to get somewhere fast can lead to aggressive driving. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that as many as 80 percent of drivers admit to the behavior at least once within the past month.
Aggressive driving includes the following reckless actions:
- Purposely tailgating.
- Running red lights.
- Purposely cutting off other vehicles in traffic.
Aggressive driving can quickly escalate into road rage. When a driver’s behavior enters this level of danger, they place everyone in harm’s way:
- Ramming or sideswiping vehicles.
- Throwing objects at vehicles.
- Forcing a vehicle off the road.
More than 100 million drivers purposely tailgate, according to AAA research. If you experienced an angry driver who used their vehicle as a weapon, consider contacting a personal injury attorney today. Never try to confront the driver—it may only infuriate them more and result in more harm for you and your passengers.
Drowsy driving – A poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation found that 60 percent of respondents admitted to driving while drowsy. Drowsy driving is similar to drunk driving due to delayed reaction times and impaired judgment.
These are just a few examples of the types of risky behaviors people choose to take behind the wheel. When you see an out-of-control driver speeding toward you, there is little you can do to avoid a serious crash. If you experienced serious injuries due to a dangerous driver, fight for justice.
You should not pay out-of-pocket for your mounting medical costs. Depending upon the severity of your injuries, you may never return to your career or to activities you once enjoyed. This is not fair.
A personal injury lawyer helps to protect the rights of accident victims and to pursue the compensation victims deserve. No one should suffer physical, financial, and emotional stress due to the careless actions of another driver.
A driver who fails to use the same care behind the wheel that a reasonable person uses in similar circumstances is often negligent. A car accident lawyer can determine liability for your car accident injuries. Knowing that someone is looking out for your best interests can provide you great comfort during such a traumatic time.
Common Car Accident Injuries and Associated Costs
A violent collision between two or more vehicles can impact your life forever. Several types of serious injuries can leave you—or a loved one—completely changed from the way you were before the accident. Simple daily tasks such as bathing and dressing can go from easy to difficult.
Here are just a few examples of the type of traumatic injuries that can affect your quality of life:
Traumatic brain injury – The CDC defines a traumatic brain injury as a bump, blow, or jolt to the head that disrupts normal brain function. A severe brain injury can affect the following:
- Motor function: can affect muscles, balance, and coordination.
- Cognitive function: possible memory problems and critical thinking skills.
- Sensation: may impact vision, hearing, taste, touch, and other senses.
- Behavior and emotions: a once calm and happy loved one may now experience anger and depression.
If your loved one suffered a severe brain injury, they may require more care than you can provide. As much as you may want them at home, they may need the 24-hour care of a skilled living facility. Such care is very expensive, with an average cost of $8,365 per month. When the brain injury is the result of the careless actions of another person, this expense should come from the pocket of the liable party—not yours.
Spinal cord injury – The spinal cord performs a vital function in communicating with the brain. This important communication involves sensation and movement. When injured, this communication becomes disrupted or simply stops. Patients with a spinal cord injury typically experience paralysis and require a power chair for mobility. To accommodate a power chair, many patients require home modifications. The expenses continue to climb as they need accessible transportation and new power chairs throughout their lifetime.
These costs can escalate into the millions of dollars throughout their life and this is not fair. The costs associated with their care should not be their—or your—burden to bear. A personal injury lawyer can help you fight for the compensation your loved one so desperately needs and deserves.
Broken bones – The human body contains hundreds of bones that can break in different ways. A severe break of bones in your limbs can require future surgeries, physical therapy, and the need for personal care.
Some accidents may result in a serious crushing bone injury. If the injury is quite severe, doctors may have no option but to amputate. Losing a limb because someone chose to speed or to drink behind the wheel is why you need a personal injury lawyer on your side.
There are additional types of injuries, such as burns, internal bleeding, and others. All injuries require some form of medical care and procedures. The rising cost of medical care means that your care can only become more expensive—not cheaper.
A personal injury lawyer can help you navigate civil action against the responsible party. Pursuing a civil case is your right under Florida law. If you or a loved one experienced a serious injury due to a negligent driver, consider discussing your case with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.
Cases Involving Wrongful Death
Losing a loved one in a car accident is devastating. When you learn their death was due to the reckless actions of another person, the news can leave you feeling angry. Depending upon your relationship with the decedent, you may be entitled to a wrongful death claim.
Wrongful death cases typically involve economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages generally include compensation for medical bills. These types of damages are easy to understand with a defined expense. Noneconomic damages are more difficult to assign a numeric value to and include a loss like that of companionship.
Relaying the true economic and emotional impact of your loss to a jury is important for a successful outcome. A personal injury lawyer will most likely try to settle your case out-of-court. If they can’t secure the settlement you deserve, they must be willing to go to trial. Hiring a lawyer with trial experience is vital to protecting your best interests moving forward.
The statute of limitations varies from state to state, but it’s not a long time when you are mourning the loss of a loved one. If you miss the deadline for filing your lawsuit, you may be barred from pursuing compensation forever.
Do not miss your chance to hold the responsible person accountable for their actions. Most personal injury lawyers offer free case evaluations, leaving you nothing to lose by reaching out to one today.
Protecting You from Aggressive Insurance Companies
Insurance companies are often quite aggressive when it comes to settling accident claims. They may use high-pressure tactics to get you to accept an initial settlement offer. The ultimate goal of most insurance companies is to settle quickly and for the least amount of compensation possible.
Do not give in to the pressure and do not sign anything without legal representation. By doing so, you may lose your right to pursue possible civil action later. This is especially troubling if your medical condition worsens.
Personal injury lawyers are often very aware of the tactics insurance companies use to save money. As for-profit businesses, insurance companies are out to protect their best interests and not yours. Having someone on your side throughout this difficult time is essential for protecting your best interests.
Why You Need to Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer Today
A traumatic car accident turns your world upside down. Your painful injuries or the loss of your loved one can leave you feeling stressed about your finances. This time is one of great vulnerability and not the time to deal with insurance companies.
Contacting a personal injury lawyer is probably the last thing on your mind. However, the longer you take to contact a personal injury attorney, the less time they have to prepare your case. A personal injury lawyer needs time to carefully review such evidence as police reports, witness statements, and accident scene photos take time.
Allowing a personal injury lawyer to represent you with insurance companies is a smart idea. If they can’t secure the settlement you deserve out-of-court, they need time to prepare for trial. Time is not on your side when it comes to civil procedures. The sooner you contact a personal injury lawyer, the better.
While we all take a risk each time we get behind the wheel, no one expects to never return home or to experience a serious injury. When another driver fails to use the same care as you and abuses their driving privileges, hold them accountable. By pursuing civil action, you may just prevent the same thing from happening to another person.
Contacting a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible is one of the most important actions you can take after your accident. Always seek immediate medical attention, be mindful of what you share and who you share it with, and contact a Florida personal injury attorney. Your car accident injuries are not fair. Let a personal injury lawyer help you on your journey toward justice and possible compensation. Reach out to a personal injury law firm today to learn more about your legal options.
Michael T. Gibson, P.A., Auto Justice Attorney
2420 S. Lakemont Avenue
Orlando, FL 32814