There are powerful forces involved during a car crash and serious injury can result from even a seemingly minor accident.
These injuries may have a lasting effect on both quality of life and future financial stability. Now more than ever, insurance companies answer to Wall Street, and are reluctant to provide fair compensation to accident victims for the injuries and expenses sustained from another drivers negligence.
As a result it is essential for auto accident victims to have a law firm who will fight to protect their rights and interests.
The lawyers of Shapiro Goldman Babboni & Walsh have more than 150 years of combined experience helping those injured in auto accidents get the financial compensation they need to get back on their feet.
Why Should I Hire An Auto Accident Attorney?
Often after being injured in a car accident you will be in a reduced capacity and have to rely on others to help you through this tough time. The list of people you will need after sustaining a serious injury may include family, friends, medical professionals and of course your insurance company.
While your family members will always have your best interest in mind, your insurance company will act in their financial interest not yours. This usually results in an attempt to take advantage of you while you are in need by attempting to keep the amount of money they pay as low as possible.
To do this they will rely on a variety of techniques including offering a small amount quickly, dragging out paying for many weeks or months, denying claims altogether or requesting ridiculous amounts of documentation before sending payments.
By retaining an attorney you will have secured an experienced advocate that understands Florida insurance laws and can prevent you from being short-changed in your time of need.
Depending on the nature of your accident you may be able to file a claim for additional damages and be entitled to more compensation – only an experienced attorney familiar with your rights and the complicated Florida insurance laws will be able to determine what compensation you should really be getting.
In addition to being able to protect your rights and financial interests, our law firm will lift the stressful burden of dealing with the insurance company off your shoulders, allowing you more time to focus on recovering from your injury.
Florida PIP (Personal Injury Protection) Law
While Florida law does require that drivers are covered by at least $10,000 to pay as much as 80% of medical bills and up to 60% of lost income, this bare-minimum amount is often not enough to cover the real cost of being injured in a crash.
For those seriously injured in automobile accidents it is not uncommon to have many tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills, and many weeks or months of not being able to earn money.
In such situations Florida PIP requirements fall far short.
How Can I Get More Than PIP Coverage For My Injuries?
Florida is a no-fault state and the PIP laws were designed to reduce the number of car accident Lawsuits as well as reduce insurance rates, However if you have been severely injured in a car accident and sustained broken bones, traumatic brain injury, have been permanently scared, suffered spinal damage, pain and suffering, paralysis, reduced mobility, had a loved one die in a crash or any other highly damaging injury you may qualify to file a personal injury Lawsuit for additional compensation.
How Will You Prove My Case Once A Lawsuit Has Begun?
Should you decide to go forward and file a Lawsuit you will have the full backing of an experienced law firm. Our attorneys will gather all evidence and consult with experts in many different fields to both arrive at an amount and build a demonstrable case to take to trial if need be. To do this our law firm may take the following actions:
- Work with law enforcement to collect police reports
- Purchase wrecked vehicles involved in the crash
- Collect the witness statements
- Where applicable get black box data from commercial trucks
- Review the driving records of those involved
- Review the medical condition of drivers
- Work with a professional accident re-constructionist to create a computer animated presentation of how your accident occurred based on the investigative data
- Work with medical professionals and life-time care planners to understand the long-term, needs
- Communicate directly with the insurance companies for your interests
Settlement Or Trial - What Is The Process Of Pursuing Additional Compensation For My Injuries?
Should your circumstances support filing a personal injury Lawsuit for damages, our attorneys will collect the evidence, reconstruct the events of the accident, and work with medical professionals and life-time care planners to determine the amount of money you should be compensated. Once that work has been done to our attorneys' satisfaction, our law firm will contact the negligent party's insurance company in an initial effort to recover the money.
During this time the negligent party's insurance company will do what they can to avoid paying. However, with the case for additional damages built by our law firm, a financial settlement is usually reached.
Should the negligent party's insurance company be unwilling to come to an agreement your case may need to go to trial.
If a trial has become necessary, our law firm is fully prepared. M. David Shapiro, David L. Goldman, Michael J. Babboni and Bernard F. Walsh, all have many years of in-the-courtroom experience and know how to win a case. Additionally our law firm has the resources needed to carry your case through the trial processes.
In most instances though the insurance company will avoid going to trial in part because of our reputation as an effective law firm, and in part because they do not want to put a case in front of a jury who may be more sympathetic to the injured party than the large corporation.
What If The Other Driver Has No Insurance Or Is Underinsured?
Many times the negligent driver has low insurance coverage amounts or sometimes no insurance at all. In these situations you will need to get financial compensation from your uninsured motorist coverage. Sometimes this may be enough to cover your needs but in the case that uninsured / underinsured coverage amounts are insufficient or if you do not carry this kind of policy our attorneys may pursue other avenues. Only an experienced attorney who fully understands the circumstances of your case will be able to determine if damages can be recovered from other avenues, some of which may include seeking compensation from the driver's homeowners policy, your health insurance company, or your insurance company. However this action can be very complicated and depend on the specifics of your case.
What Kinds Of Claims Can Be Made For An Automobile Injury Case?
While the circumstance surrounding each car crash are as varied as the drivers involved there is a narrow set of Lawsuit types available for pursuing claims. Car accident Lawsuits usually fall into one of the following categories:
Cases Involving Negligence
Negligence which is defined as a failure to exercise the care that a reasonably prudent person would exercise in like circumstances such as operating a motor vehicle. Negligence cases are by far the most common type of automobile accident related Lawsuit. In civil law, negligence is treated as gross carelessness that results in accidental harm. In auto accident cases that involve negligence, it must be proved that the negligent party did not take reasonable care required by the law and those actions resulted in your injuries.
Cases Involving Wrongful/Accidental Death
The nature of a Lawsuit changes for all involved if a death has occurred. The stakes are much higher especially for the victims surviving family members or dependents. In a wrongful death Lawsuit the plaintiff's attorney will need to prove that negligence of the defendant caused the death of your loved one. Insurance companies will frequently fight hard in wrongful death cases so only an experienced law firm should be trusted to represent such cases
Cases Involving Faulty/improperly Marked or Designed Roads
Roads, bridges, traffic signals and other transportation infrastructure all must be designed and constructed and maintained to meet operational and safety codes and specifications. In some cases infrastructure failure, design flaws or poor construction and maintenance practices can lead to injuries on Florida's roads. If such a flaw in the roadways caused or contributed to your injuries a case can be brought against those responsible for maintaining the infrastructure.
Cases Involving Defective Vehicles
Defective vehicles have been frequently in the headlines. Sometimes a design flaw or faulty part from a manufacturer can cause a vehicle to crash. Examples of this have been seen in almost all major automobile manufacturers. In such cases those injured may be entitled to compensation from the car-maker. However such cases can be challenging and complex to pursue.
What Kinds Of Injuries Commonly Result In Pursing Compensation Above PIP Limits?
With Florida's Personal Injury Protection Coverage minimum at just $10,000 it is not uncommon for the accident victim to need to pursue additional compensation for serious injuries common in auto accidents such as:
- Broken Bones
- Brain Injuries
- Head Injuries
- Damage to Joints
- Permanent Scars
- Damaged Knees
- Being Paralyzed
- Loss of an arm or leg
- Serious muscle injuries
How Is Compensation For Auto Accident Injuries Calculated?
Compensation for the damage to your person and life from an auto accident is called compensatory damages. This is money paid to you as compensation to cover your expenses which can be enormous and long-term after being involved in a serious crash.
Compensatory damages are awarded to the injured party for the following:
Medical Expenses – payment to cover your immediate medical bills including emergency room, surgery, drugs, and other services needed after the crash.
Long-term Medical Expenses – payment for ongoing medical bills that may be due for additional treatment including, surgeries, therapies, specialists, ongoing care
Lost Income – Compensation for the money you lost because your injury prevented you from earning your income. The time between the accident and end of the settlement is usually included.
Loss of earning capacity – should your injuries permanently damage your ability to continue with your profession, you may receive compensation for a reduced earning capacity and being forced to take jobs that provide less income as a result of your injuries.
Pain And Suffering - In some cases you may be compensated for pain and suffering caused by the crash. Often it will be up to a jury to decide the amount.
Emotional Suffering - In some cases compensation may be awarded by a jury for the mental pain and emotional damage caused by the crash.
Other Less Common Types Damages May Also Be Awarded By A Jury:
Loss of Consortium – Some accidents can result in a drastic reduction in the quality of life for married couples. A serious accident can take away someones companionship, comfort, affections and having a normal sexual life. A jury may award compensation for such a devastating and long-term situation.
Punitive Damages – Punitive damages are intended to punish the negligent party. Punitive damages are not all that common in negligence cases however should the circumstances of the negligent party indicate some form of intentionally egregious behavior, punitive damages maybe awarded.
The Lawyers Of Shapiro Goldman Babboni & Walsh have represented people across Florida who have been injured in a wide variety of car accidents including, rear-end collisions, side impacts, head din collisions, wrong-way crashes, pedestrian-car strikes, commercial trucking accidents, motorcycle crashes and more.
What Areas In Southwest Florida Do You Serve?
If you have been invovled in a car wreck anywhere in southwest Florida our attorneys can help. We have offices in Bradenton, Sarasota, St. Petersburg and across southwest Florida including:
- St. Petersburg
- Port Charlotte
- Punta Gorda
- Ft. Myers