Coral Gables Car Accident Lawyer
In 2009, 338,633 drivers were involved in 235,778 accidents in Florida. This averages out to about 646 accidents per day.
Specifically, in 2009 there were 42,244 accidents in Miami-Dade County, 25,957 accidents in Broward County, and 13,398 accidents in Palm Beach County. Source: FL Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Traffic Crash Statistics Report 2009. http://www.flhsmv.gov/hsmvdocs/CS2009.pdf.
Car Accidents in Miami FL are Caused by Countless Factors
Car accidents are caused by countless factors, such as: bad weather, damaged roads, tire problems, or road construction. However, the main cause of car accidents is driver negligence. If you have been injured in a car accident, you should retain an experienced personal injury lawyer to represent your interests against insurance companies and other parties involved in the accident. Injuries frequently seen include:
– Bone Fractures: Carpal or Metacarpal Fracture, Metatarsal and Tarsal Fractures, Tibula and Fibula, Malleolar Fractures, Patella Fracture, Condylar Femur Fractures, Subtrochanteric & Supracondylar Femur Fractures, Pelvic Fractures, Clavicle Fractures, Scapula Fractures, Humerus Fracture, Radius Fracture, Ulna Fracture
– Crush Injury & Amputations
– Cuts & Puncture Wounds
– Dislocations: Elbow Dislocation into Radial Head, Intercarpal Dislocation, Radiocarpal Dislocation, Pericarpal Dislocation, Dislocation of Glenohumeral/Sternoclavicular/Acromioclavicular Joints, Hip Dislocation involving Articular Cartilage, Carpal-Metacarpal or Metacarpal-Phalangeal Dislocation
– Ligament, Muscle, and Tendon Injuries: Ligamentous Tears: Meniscus Tears; Ruptures/Lacerations: Achilles Tendon Rupture/Laceration, Collateral or Cruciate Ligament Tear, Patellar Tendon Laceration; Muscle Sprains
– Nerve Damage: Radial Nerve Transection, Ulnar Nerve Neuroma, Medial Nerve Injury, Sciatic Nerve Injury, Peripheral Neuropathy
– Neck & Back Injuries: Neck (Burst Fractures, Cervical Hyperextension/Hyperflexion Injuries, Longitudinal Ligament Injuries, Vertebral Fractures, Sprains/Strains); Back (Lumbar Vertebral Fractures, Compression Fractures, Spinous Process Fractures, Spondylolisthesis, Spondylosis)
– Spinal Injuries: Contusion, Central Cord Syndrome, Compression of Spinal Cord, Lumbar Spinal Strains, Spinal Stenosis (narrowing of the lumbar or cervical spinal canal)
– Disc Injury: Disc Herniations (often, these are described in lay terms as a “slipped disc” or a “ruptured disc”), Anular Tears, Disc Bulging, Extruded Nucleus Pulposus in the Cervical, Thoracic or Lumbar Sacral Areas.
– Head & Traumatic Brain Injuries: Concussion, Contusion, Basilar Skull Fracture, Linear Skull Fracture, Acute or Chronic Subdural Hematoma, Brain Herniation from Intracranial Pressure, Subarachnoid Hemorrhage, Intracerebral Hemorrhage, Skull/Parietal Bone Fracture (open head injury), Tinnitus Diplopia, Anosmia, Diffuse Axonal Injury
– Paralysis: Paraplegia, Quadriplegia
In cases involving such injuries, our attorneys have consulted with medical practitioners, accident reconstructionists and biomechanical experts to collect evidence to illustrate the mechanics of an accident and the resulting injuries. Our attorneys are knowledgeable in Florida accident law, and specifically understand the no-fault Florida Personal Injury Protection (PIP) laws. At the law firm of Jeffrey R. Davis P.A., our lawyers have represented automobile accident victims in personal injury and wrongful death cases for 25 years.
Damages as a Result of an Automobile Accident in Miami FL
In addition to your PIP benefits and property damages, your attorney may file a lawsuit to recover monetary damages or negotiate a settlement to cover your remaining expenses. Expenses typically include medical, dental, rehabilitative therapy, loss of wages, pain and suffering. Under certain circumstances, you may also be entitled to additional damages beyond the compensation for your actual loss. These extra damages are known as punitive damages, which may be awarded in cases when the other driver acted “recklessly”, “willfully” or “intentionally” to cause the harm. Under Florida accident law, a driver who is “voluntarily intoxicated” has been found to meet this standard.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer in Miami FL
Learn about your legal rights and how to receive compensation for your automobile accident injuries. Jeffrey R. Davis P.A. is always prepared to pursue maximum compensation for your injuries. Please submit your free case review today.
Important Information for Potential Clients
What should you do immediately at the accident scene?
– Seek medical treatment if injured (*Please do not delay urgent medical attention to gather evidence*.).
– Take pictures of the accident scene and damage.
– Get witnesses’ names and numbers.
– Do not sign any forms until you have consulted with an experienced accident attorney.
– Personal Injury Protection (PIP): In Florida, owners of motor vehicles are required to carry a minimum of $10,000 of personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. This PIP requirement applies to self-propelled vehicles, with four or more wheels that are both registered and licensed in the state of Florida. Under the Florida no-fault insurance system, your own insurance company will make payments for your bodily injury and lost wages claims regardless of who was at fault in an accident up to $10,000. These are known as PIP benefits. PIP benefits will cover:
- (1) 80% of all reasonable and necessary medical expenses from services lawfully provided by a licensed doctor/dentist/chiropractor,
- (2) 60% of lost services, which includes loss of income or loss of earning capacity (these disability payments are typically made every 2 weeks), and
- (3) death benefits equal to the lesser of $5,000 or the remainder of unused personal injury protection benefits per individual.
- * Please note: Property damage done to your car should still be covered by the at-fault party.
– Who is covered under your PIP benefits? PIP benefits will apply in many different situations. PIP benefits are available to you as the “insured,” whether you are in your own car or a car owned by another person. If the accident is in Florida your PIP benefits will apply to you, relatives that live in your house, people operating your car, passengers in your car, and people/pedestrians hit by the car, covering damages up to the $10,000 limit. If the accident is outside of Florida (but still within the U.S. or Canada) it will cover only you and members of your household. FLA. STAT. §627.733.
– Timeliness. It is crucial that you file your PIP claim with your insurance company as soon as possible, and consult a lawyer before you sign any documents. You may unknowingly damage your case by signing agreements you do not understand.
– Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM)/Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM): UM and UIM coverage protects you as a driver and your passengers by providing benefits for bodily injury or death caused by other drivers who either do not have auto insurance (Uninsured Motorist-UM) or that do not have enough auto insurance due to insufficient bodily injury (BI) coverage that will not fully pay for the injuries caused (Underinsured Motorist-UIM). In Florida, if you have purchased UM insurance and are injured in an accident with a driver that is uninsured or underinsured, your own insurance company will pay you for your injuries up to the amount of the bodily injury (BI) insurance limits of your own plan (Note: Florida law does not require a driver to carry bodily injury coverage, but in order to purchase UM/UIM coverage you must have bodily injury coverage on your policy). Although BI coverage is not required under Florida law, if you do elect to get BI coverage you will be required to get at least $20,000 per accident/$10,000 per person. Your UM/UIM coverage will either have to match your BI limits or can be lower than your BI limits (but not lower than the $20,000/$10,000 mandate) and your UM coverage cannot be higher than your BI policy limits. FLA. STAT. § 627.727.
– Traffic Citations/Tickets and Accident Reports
- Traffic citations do not change your right to compensation for your injuries. Traffic citations are of little to no value in your personal injury case, because the actual ticket itself or testimony regarding the ticket is inadmissible in civil trials. Golden v. Tipton, 723 So. 2d 871 (Fla. 1st DCA 1998).
- Accident reports and statements given to the police to be used in a crash report are also inadmissible, and will not be used in any trial. FLA. STAT. § 316.066(7).
– Special Situations
- Permissive Use Accidents: A permissive use accident is an accident involving a car where the owner of the car has authorized and permitted another person to use their vehicle. Exactly who will be held financially responsible in a permissive use accident case is mainly determined by the rules of vicarious liability (meaning to be held legally and financially responsible for the acts of another) and the “dangerous instrumentality doctrine.” Florida law holds the owner of a vehicle liable for the acts of the driver. However, the facts of each situation will determine legal outcomes. Please consult a personal injury lawyer.
- Common Permissive Use Situations. The owner of a car may be either an individual or a company. Many permissive use car accidents involve company cars where injured parties seek damages from the company and the company’s insurer. Another common situation involves parents and children. Generally, the parent or guardian who signed the parental consent form for the minor to receive their driver’s license becomes financially responsible for harm caused by that child’s negligent operation of a motor vehicle. FLA. STAT. § 322.09. A major factor in these parent-child cases is title. Whether or not the title to the car is in the parent’s name, is also another basis for parents to be vicariously liable for harm caused by their children while driving their car. Despite general rules, liability in a permissive use accident case is a very fact-specific determination. Please consult an attorney to have your case reviewed.
- Lease and Rental Car Accidents: If you were driving a rental or leased car, there are specific rules that will apply. A general rule is that the car lease/rental company’s insurance is the primary insurance and responsible for providing up to the $10,000 limit of no-fault personal injury protection (PIP) coverage required under Florida law. However, it is possible for the rental or leasing company to change this rule and shift the primary insurance back over to the renting or leasing party (by including certain language in the rental/lease agreement you signed). FLA. STAT. § 627.7263. (Note: Recent federal law has been interpreted by Florida courts to restrict financial responsibility of rental car owners. Under the Graves Amendment, a lessor of a motor vehicle will not be held liable under state law for harm arising out of use of the vehicle during the lease period if the owner/lessor is engaged in the business of renting vehicles and there is no owner negligence of criminal wrongdoing. This new federal law preempts state law, which in the past imposed vicarious liability on automobile lessors. When renting a car in Florida, buy supplemental liability insurance to protect yourself!). 49 U.S.C. §30106; FLA. STAT. § 324.021(9)(b)(2); Kumarsingh v. PV Holding Corp., 983 So. 2d 599 (Fla. 3d DCA 2008).
- Low-Impact Car Accidents: A low-impact car crash is an accident where the cars were traveling at slower speeds at the time of the collision. This type of accident will often include what is referred to as “fender benders” and rear-end collisions. There may be very little damage to the automobiles at such low speeds, but serious bodily injuries are still possible. Property damage is an unreliable predictor of injury risk or outcome in low speed crashes. “Whiplash” injuries are “soft tissue” or “connective tissue” injuries of the neck, back or other parts and are very common in low-impact accidents. These are hyperextension injuries that occur when muscles and ligaments stretch beyond their normal limits. The symptoms of a whiplash injury may include pain and stiffness in the neck, back, head, chest muscles, and headaches. Symptoms may be temporary or gradually worsen over time. It is also possible that medical conditions existing prior to the accident are worsened despite the low speed involved in the crash.
- Punitive Damages & Voluntary Intoxication Cases: Under Florida law, a jury may award punitive damages in car accidents involving a drunk driver who is “voluntarily intoxicated.” This rule has even been followed in cases where there was proof of carelessness or abnormal driving by the plaintiff injured by a defendant drunk driver. Ingram v. Pettit, 340 So. 2d 922 (Fla. 1976). Punitive damages are awarded here because “voluntary intoxication” has been deemed to rise to the level of “an intentional infliction of harm” and “reckless.” Behavior rising to these levels gives the court authority to make an intoxicated party pay punitive damages as punishment. Punitive damages are awarded in addition to the damages the plaintiff will receive for their actual injuries.
- Under Florida law a punitive damages award may be more than your bodily injury (BI) limits in your insurance policy.
- Florida law places “caps” on punitive damages award, limiting how much they can be to meet constitutional requirements. FLA. STAT. § 768.73.
A person injured in a car accident may recover punitive damages even though she is subject to no-fault law and does not cross the no-fault “threshold” specified by Florida law in order to be able to recover compensatory damages for pain and suffering and other noneconomic losses beyond the $10,000 no-fault limit. Nales v. State Farm Mut. Auto Ins. Co., 398 So. 2d 455 (Fla. 2d DCA 1981).
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