Tampa is one of the fastest metropolitan areas in the country, with more people calling the area home than ever before. Tampa Bay is also a sought-after locale for travelers from across the country. The increasing population has made traffic a nightmare, especially along U.S. Highway 301, N. Florida Avenue at E. Waters Avenue, and Lakewood Drive at E. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a car crash in Tampa, call a Tampa car accident lawyer from Hancock Injury Attorneys. We will stand up for your rights and fight for the compensation you need and deserve.
Why Choose Hancock Injury Attorneys for Your Tampa Car Accident Claim?
Hancock Injury Attorneys was founded in 1996 with one goal in mind — to help accident victims seek justice and recover the compensation they need to rebuild their lives. Since then, our personal injury lawyers have worked tirelessly for our clients and have recovered millions in verdicts and settlements on their behalf.
Our client-centered approach guarantees you get personalized legal representation. We handle every aspect of your car accident claim the minute you hire us, so you can immediately stop worrying about what to do, who to call, and what to say to the insurance company. We will ensure your rights are protected while we assess your case and explain all the damages you are entitled to recover. Don’t delay. Contact the car accident attorneys at Hancock Injury Attorneys today and see how we will fight for you.
Do I have a Car Accident Case?
To bring a car accident claim, you must establish that the other driver was negligent. To establish negligence, four key elements typically need to be proven. These elements are consistent with the basic principles of negligence law:
- Duty of Care: The first element is to establish that the defendant (the at-fault party) owed a duty of care to the plaintiff (the injured party). In the context of a car accident, all drivers owe a duty of care to other road users, including pedestrians and other drivers, to operate their vehicles in a reasonably safe and prudent manner. This means following traffic laws and driving with a reasonable level of caution.
- Breach of Duty: The second element is to show that the defendant breached their duty of care. This typically involves demonstrating that the defendant's conduct fell below the standard of care expected of a reasonable person in similar circumstances. For example, a breach of duty may occur if the defendant was speeding, ran a red light, or engaged in other reckless or negligent behavior that led to the accident.
- Causation: To establish negligence, it's necessary to prove that the defendant's breach of duty was the direct and proximate cause of the plaintiff's injuries or damages. In other words, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the accident and resulting harm would not have occurred "but for" the defendant's actions.
- Damages: Finally, the plaintiff must show that they suffered actual damages as a result of the defendant's negligence. These damages can include medical expenses, property damage, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other losses that can be attributed to the accident.
All four of these elements must be established to successfully bring a car accident case based on negligence. If any one of these elements is not proven, the negligence claim may not succeed.
Florida Car Accident Laws
Several Florida laws can affect the outcome of your Tampa car accident case. Here’s a closer look at a few:
Florida is a No-Fault State
Florida is a "no-fault" insurance state when it comes to car accidents. That means that when someone is injured in a car accident, they turn to their own insurance company for medical expenses and lost income, regardless of who caused the accident.
Florida law requires all drivers to carry a minimum of $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP). PIP will pay 80% of your medical bills and 60% of your lost income up to your applicable PIP limit. To qualify for benefits, Florida law requires drivers to seek medical treatment within 14 days of their accident.
In the event a loved one was killed in a car accident, your PIP would pay up to $5,000 in funeral and burial expenses.
If your medical bills and lost income exceed your PIP threshold, or if you suffered severe or permanent injuries as defined by Florida statute, then you may be eligible to file a third-party claim against the at-fault driver and their insurance company. Florida defines serious injuries as those that result in one or more of the following:
- Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function
- Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability
- Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement
Florida Statute of Limitations for Car Accident Claims
Florida has a two-year statute of limitations on car accident claims. That means you have two years from the date of your accident to file a claim for compensation. If you miss this deadline, you cannot seek compensation through the court system. Some exceptions shorten or lengthen this timeframe, so it’s best to contact a lawyer as soon as possible after your accident to ensure you don’t miss any important deadlines.
Florida’s Modified Comparative Negligence Rule
Comparative negligence is a legal concept that some states use in accident cases to determine how liability and damages should be awarded when more than one party is at fault in an accident. Under this rule, each party is assigned a percentage of fault. An injured party can still recover damages but their compensation is reduced by their percentage of fault.
For example, if a court determines that you are 20% at fault for the accident and the total damages amount to $100,000, you can recover $80,000 ($100,000 minus 20%).
Florida's modified comparative negligence rule has a 50% bar, meaning that you cannot recover damages if the court finds you 50% or more at fault.
Who May Be Held Liable for My Car Accident Injuries?
In a car accident case, liability for injuries can fall on various parties depending on the specific circumstances of the accident. Here are some of the parties who may be held liable for your car accident injuries:
The most common scenario is when another driver's negligence or reckless behavior causes the accident. If another driver violates traffic laws, such as running a red light, speeding, or driving while intoxicated, and their actions resulted in your injuries, they may be held liable.
If the at-fault driver was operating a vehicle owned by someone else (such as a company car or a borrowed vehicle), the vehicle owner may also be held liable for the accident, depending on the jurisdiction and the specific circumstances.
If the at-fault driver was on the job at the time of the accident, their employer may be held responsible under the legal doctrine of "vicarious liability." This often applies to cases involving delivery drivers, truck drivers, or other employees who were performing work-related tasks at the time of the accident.
In some cases, a car accident may be caused or worsened by a defect in the vehicle itself. If a defect in the design or manufacturing of the vehicle is found to be a contributing factor to the accident or the severity of your injuries, the vehicle manufacturer or distributor may be held liable.
Poorly maintained roadways or inadequate traffic signage can contribute to accidents. If the accident was caused or worsened by a road defect or a lack of proper road maintenance, a government entity responsible for the road's upkeep may be held liable.
Pedestrians or Bicyclists
In some cases, pedestrians or bicyclists can contribute to accidents by behaving negligently, such as jaywalking or riding a bicycle against traffic. If their actions lead to an accident, they may share liability.
Passengers in a vehicle involved in an accident may sometimes be considered partially liable if they engaged in distracting or dangerous behavior that contributed to the crash.
The 3 Most Important Things to Do After a Car Accident
The actions you take after a car accident can greatly improve your chances of successfully recovering the maximum compensation in your case. Here are the three most important things you should do after suffering injuries in a car accident.
1. See a Doctor Within 14 Days of Your Accident
You must have medical treatment within 14 days after the accident. If you don’t, then you forfeit your right to use any of your $10,000 in Florida No-Fault PIP insurance benefits, which pays for medical bills, lost wages, and replacement household services.
Also, if you are experiencing pain after a car accident, seeking medical care within 14 days gives you the best chance to make the quickest physical recovery from your injuries. Professional athletes seek immediate medical treatment and weeks of physical therapy to get themselves back on the playing field as quickly as possible. You deserve nothing less. In addition, doing so results in medical documentation of your injuries.
Further, if there is any possibility you will make a personal injury claim, failing to seek medical treatment soon after your car crash will be used against you by the insurance adjusters to minimize the value of your case. Even if the property damage to the vehicles was minor, many of our clients who initially thought their pain would go away have gone on to suffer permanent injuries requiring months, as well as years, of medical treatment.
If you are suffering from any of the following, even if you believe the pain will go away within a few weeks, seek medical treatment within 14 days: Muscle pain or joint pain; concussion; headaches; neck pain or back pain; and shoulder, hip, or knee pain. Tell your doctor how the accident happened and of all your symptoms, including any soreness, muscle spasms, pain, loss of sensation, numbness and/or tingling in your arms, hands, and in your legs and feet, headaches, and loss of balance or dizziness.
2. Don’t Make Any Statements to Insurance Adjusters
The other driver’s insurance company adjuster will likely contact you. Do not give any statements, recorded or otherwise, to any insurance adjuster without first consulting with an attorney.
The insurance company's goal is to pay you as little as possible or deny your claim entirely. Insurance adjusters are specially trained to ask you questions in such a way that elicits answers that will minimize your recovery and/or allow them to argue that you were comparatively negligent. Giving a statement to any insurance adjuster could hurt your case.
3. Consult a Car Accident Attorney
Have a free consultation with an expert in car accident injury law before you talk with any insurance adjusters. Avoid being taken advantage of by insurance adjusters. This is what they do for a living, and they are trained very well.
How Can a Lawyer Help with My Tampa Car Accident Case?
An experienced lawyer handling your claim increases the likelihood of a favorable outcome in your car accident case. They can alleviate the stress of legal proceedings, allowing you to focus on your recovery while they handle the complexities of the legal process. Here are some ways a lawyer with Hancock Injury Attorneys can be beneficial in your case:
Our personal injury lawyers understand the legal complexities of car accident cases. They can navigate through statutes, regulations, and legal precedents relevant to your case.
Your lawyer can conduct a thorough investigation into the circumstances of the accident. This may involve gathering evidence, interviewing witnesses, obtaining police reports, and collaborating with accident reconstruction experts to build a strong case.
Identifying the party or parties at fault is crucial. Your lawyer can assess the evidence to determine who may be liable for the accident, whether it's another driver, a vehicle manufacturer, or a government entity responsible for road maintenance.
Negotiating with Insurance Companies
Dealing with insurance companies can be challenging. Your lawyer can handle communications with insurance adjusters, negotiate on your behalf, and work to ensure you receive fair compensation for your injuries and damages.
Your lawyer can help you assess the full extent of your damages, including medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering. They can also help you understand what future expenses may arise due to ongoing medical treatment or long-term disabilities.
Filing Legal Documents
Legal procedures often involve a significant amount of paperwork. Your lawyer can ensure that all necessary documents are properly prepared, filed, and submitted within the required deadlines.
Representing You in Court
If a fair settlement cannot be reached through negotiations, your lawyer can represent you in court. They will present your case, cross-examine witnesses, and advocate for your rights in front of a judge and jury.
Throughout the legal process, your lawyer can offer guidance and advice tailored to your specific situation. This includes advising you on settlement offers, potential legal strategies, and the likelihood of success in court.
Contact the Tampa Car Accident Lawyers from Hancock Injury Attorneys Today
Life can change in the blink of an eye, especially after a car accident. If you're feeling overwhelmed, know that you're not alone. The Tampa car accident attorneys at Hancock Injury Attorneys are here to guide you through the legal process. Your well-being matters to us, and we're committed to fighting for the justice and compensation you deserve. Let us shoulder the legal burden while you focus on recovery. Contact us today at 813-915-1110 or through our online form for your free case consultation and to discuss your legal options for financial recovery.