Personal Injury Lawyers Helping People Throughout Miami-Dade County
How dangerous are Florida’s roads? Based on official state figures from 2021, there are an average of 1,100 car accidents every day in the Sunshine State. That adds up to over 400,000 crashes per year. And while many people walk away from an accident unscathed, there is still an unacceptably large number of injuries and fatalities.
Indeed, in 2021 alone there were 3,741 deaths resulting from auto accidents throughout Florida. More than 16,000 people sustained “incapacitating” injuries. And hundreds of thousands more suffered less-serious injuries that still required medical attention.
If you have been injured or lost a family member to a car accident, you have a few potential options for seeking compensation. Your own insurance company will likely cover minor injuries and out-of-pocket expenses. And if your accident was the result of another driver’s negligence, then their insurance company may be on the hook for more serious injuries and losses. A skilled Palmetto Bay car accident lawyer can review your case and assist you in seeking legal damages.
At Dolan Dobrinsky Rosenblum Bluestein, LLP, we represent car accident victims and their families. We work on a contingency-fee basis in personal injury cases. This means that you will never have to pay any upfront fees or court costs. We only get paid if we recover compensation for you, either by a negotiated settlement or a jury verdict in your favor.
How Do Car Accidents Happen in Palmetto Bay, Florida?
A car accident is typically the result of negligence. This means that while a driver did not necessarily intend to cause a crash, they acted in a manner that was reckless or unsafe for a reasonable person in their position. Some common examples of driver negligence include:
- Failing to obey the rules of the road. Traffic laws exist to keep everyone safe. When drivers disregard road signs or markings, they are far more likely to collide with another vehicle whose driver is obeying the rules of the road.
- Excessive speed. Drivers in Miami-Dade are often in a hurry. This leads to traveling at unsafe speeds, often in violation of posted speed limits. This is why excessive speed is among the most common causes of preventable car accidents.
- Drugs and alcohol. Taking any amount of drugs or alcohol, even legally, can impair a driver’s functioning behind the wheel. Excessive consumption of either renders a driver legally intoxicated. But even just one or two drinks may dull a driver’s reflexes just enough to enable a crash.
- Distracted driving. While drunk driving tends to draw more public attention, the reality is that distracted driving is a far bigger problem on the roads of places like Palmetto Bay. A driver who is distracted by looking at their phone, fiddling with their car’s controls, or simply talking to their passengers may take their eyes off the road just long enough to cause an accident.
- Not adjusting to road conditions. The weather in South Florida can turn on a dime. Drivers need to adjust accordingly. What may be safe driving practices under sunny, daytime conditions is not the same as driving through a rainstorm when visibility is low.
- Refusing to share the road. People driving cars and trucks often act as if they own the road. But operators of other vehicles, such as bicycles and motorcycles, as well as pedestrians, have just as much right to be on the public streets as anyone else. Motorists therefore need to make sure they keep a proper lookout for others sharing the road with them, especially in potential blind spots.
What Are My Damages in a Palmetto Bay, Florida, Car Accident?
When we talk about damages in personal injury law, we are referring to the full measure of losses that a victim suffered as the result of a driver or other party’s negligence. Florida law generally divides compensatory damages into two categories: economic and non-economic.
Economic damages covers those out-of-pocket costs that can be readily quantified in terms of dollars. This includes your past, present, and future medical bills. Keep in mind, an auto accident can cause a wide range of serious and potentially catastrophic injuries. You may require months–or even years–of active medical treatment and physical rehabilitation. And even then you may sustain a permanent impairment that will never fully heal. You can seek economic damages as compensation for all of these losses and more.
Economic damages also cover your loss of past and future income. If you are unable to return to work following a car accident, you may lose a substantial amount of your regular income. And if you do suffer a long-term impairment, that may permanently reduce your future earning capacity.
In contrast to economic damages, non-economic damages look at the psychological and emotional injuries you suffered in an accident. It is practically impossible to quantify such losses in terms of dollars. But non-economic damages assigns a value to them anyway, as that is the best the law can do in these cases. Non-economic damages therefore cover losses such as your ongoing pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment of life due to your physical and psychological injuries.
Does My Insurance Cover My Damages Following a Palmetto Bay, Florida, Car Accident?
Many Palmetto Bay residents are confused by the nature of Florida’s “no-fault” auto insurance system. Many people assume that their insurance carrier will fully cover them for any damages they suffer in an auto accident. But the no-fault system is actually quite limited in its coverage.
Florida law requires all motorists to purchase insurance with Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. This is what most people think of as “no-fault” insurance. Basically, if you are injured in an accident, you need to look at your PIP coverage first rather than going after the negligent driver who caused the crash.
The problem is that most Florida drivers only carry the minimum amount of required PIP coverage, which is $10,000. On top of that, PIP coverage does not even fully cover losses under that minimum. The insurance company is only required to pay 80 percent of an accident victim’s “reasonably incurred” medical expenses up to the $10,000 limit. The victim can also receive 60 percent of any lost income, again up to the policy limit. But victims do not receive any compensation for their non-economic damages under a PIP policy.
All that said, it is still possible to pursue a personal injury claim against a negligent driver notwithstanding any no-fault coverage. Florida law permits such lawsuits when the victim can prove they suffered a serious injury. So what exactly qualifies an injury as “serious”? Essentially, your injury must satisfy one or more of the following tests:
- The injury led to a significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function.
- The injury is permanent, at least within a reasonable degree of medical probability.
- The injury caused significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement.
- The injury led to the victim’s death.
In cases where a victim dies in a car accident, their estate and surviving family members can pursue a special type of personal injury claim known as a wrongful death lawsuit. In all other cases, the victim can bring their own personal injury lawsuit against the responsible parties. In either case, the parties bringing the claim are not bound by the limits of Florida’s no-fault insurance system.
What Do I Need to Know Before Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Palmetto Bay, Florida?
Even if you end up suing a negligent driver, you will likely end up dealing with their insurance company, which is potentially on the hook for any damages you sustained. Many Palmetto Bay car accident victims make the mistake of talking to an insurance company on their own without speaking to a lawyer first. This is always a mistake. Insurance adjusters have a good deal of experience in under-valuing accident claims and even getting victims to admit possible fault for an accident.
Indeed, you should never give any sort of formal statement to an insurance company–even your own–without first speaking to a qualified Palmetto Bay car accident lawyer. Anything you say to an insurance company can and will be used against you later. And in many cases you may not actually be aware of all of the facts and circumstances surrounding your own accident. An attorney can assist you in conducting a full and proper investigation before sitting down to talk with the insurance company about a possible settlement.
And when a settlement is not possible, you need an attorney who will stand by you in court and argue your case in front of a judge or jury. So if you have been injured in an accident–or lost a family member in a crash–and need legal advice on what steps to take next, call Dolan Dobrinsky Rosenblum Bluestein, LLP, today at 305-371-2692 to schedule a free initial consultation.