In Fort Lauderdale, the relative frequency of serious, injury-causing car accidents has led to many personal injuries and related lawsuits brought on the basis of the defendant’s purported negligence — whether the negligent party is an irresponsible driver, the manufacturer of a defective vehicle, or a public entity that built and maintains a dangerous public road. In 2016, for example, there was 395,494 total motor vehicle crashes in the state of Florida, while 165,976 of those crashes resulted in injuries (and 2,930 resulted in fatalities).
The statistics reveal an unfortunate and uncomfortable truth: car wrecks are commonplace.
Despite the fact that we live in a society where drivers and pedestrians are exposed to a significant risk of injury, many victims fail to recognize that they have actionable injury claims. As a layperson, assessing the worthiness of your claims can be difficult, confusing and quite honestly — frustrating — without the assistance of an experienced attorney. If you have been injured in a car crash, you may be entitled to recover damages to compensate you for your various injuries. It is therefore critical that you consult with a Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyer who can help you make sense of your claims and litigate them to the fullest extent possible.
Here at the Law Offices of David I. Fuchs, we take our clients and their concerns seriously. Call our office at (954) 568-3636 today to schedule a free consultation. We will do our best to serve you and answer any questions you may have about the legal process and your claim.
The Law Offices of David I. Fuchs has successfully represented clients in a variety of areas from car wrecks, to work-related injuries, to slip-and-falls and more. David Fuchs has adopted an aggressive approach to legal advocacy in that he is fully-equipped and ready to litigate your injury claims to trial, but is also willing and able to negotiate a settlement if the terms are favorable.
Successful settlements include:
In any injury lawsuit — car crash or otherwise — it’s important that your attorney demonstrates the requisite skill and experience necessary to litigate a claim at trial. The best injury lawyers should not be “all bark and no bite.” When defendants and their legal counsel understand that you are capable of successfully litigating your injury claim at trial, then subsequent settlement offers are much more likely to favor you.
Here at the Law Offices of David I. Fuchs, we handle a variety of car crash cases and related issues, including, but not limited to, issues relating to:
Whether your case involves a complicated assortment of disparate issues or is more straightforward, we are happy to help! Call in and speak with David Fuchs today to have your claim assessed and any lingering questions answered.
Florida implements principles of pure comparative fault (otherwise known as pure comparative negligence), which applies to negligence-based car wreck claims. Pure, comparative fault is a proportional fault system, which means that each party involved in the collision (each and every one of the plaintiffs and defendants) is assigned a proportion of the total fault for the injuries, based on their contribution of fault. Under this system, even the victim of a car crash may be partially at-fault for their injuries (and the damage recovery will be reduced proportionally, too).
How does Florida pure comparative fault work in the car accident context? Consider the following example.
Suppose that you are injured in a rear-end collision. The defendant-driver was speeding and did not react fast enough and change lanes or slow down to avoid a collision. Further investigation of the case reveals, however, that you were yourself driving somewhat carelessly. The court might find that the defendant-driver was 90% at-fault for the injuries suffered, while you were 10% at-fault. If your total damages are $100k, for example, then you would be entitled to recover 90% of that total: $90k.
To ensure that you recover the maximum amount for your claim, you’ll want to consult with a skilled Fort Lauderdale car accident attorney who can persuasively argue your case so that your contribution of fault is minimal.
Q: What should I do after a car crash?
A: If you’re the victim of a car crash, the situation can quickly become overwhelming. The first and most important step is to remain calm. Also, seek medical attention as soon as possible — especially if you have severe injuries. If you do not require immediate medical attention (or if you have someone with you who can take over), then make sure to collect evidence at the scene of the incident. Identify potential witnesses and obtain their contact information, take pictures of the wreck (including the vehicles) and collect the insurance information of all involved parties.
Further, if you’ve been involved in a fender bender, make sure not to sell or repair your vehicle until you have consulted with an attorney. Your lawyer may require an intact vehicle that can be investigated by a seasoned accident reconstruction expert.
Q: What if the other driver doesn’t have insurance?
A: If the other driver does not have insurance, don’t worry. There are a number of different ways in which you — the victim — can recover even if the at-fault driver is uninsured.
For example, if you have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage (UM/IM), then your policy will cover you for the damages you suffered due to the negligence of an uninsured motorist. If you do not have such coverage, however, all is not lost. You may be able to bring in other defendants who are also liable for your injuries, thus expanding the pool of defendants from whom you can recover.
Q: What if the other driver is not from Florida?
A: If the other driver is not from Florida, you may still be able to sue them in a Florida court, so long as the incident occurred in-state. You will have to serve the driver with a notice to their personal residence, however. After the defendant has been served, they will have to defend their case in a Florida court. As the process can be a bit confusing for the layperson, and as notice must meet strict legal requirements, it is a good idea to work with an experienced lawyer to determine the applicable jurisdiction and serve the defendant accordingly.
Q: Is there a deadline for my claim?
A: The statute of limitations applies to all claims, though the deadline can vary significantly depending on the circumstances of your particular case. The statute of limitations for injury claims in Florida is four years from the date of injury, while, for claims involving public defendants (such as a public transportation agency in a bus driver case), the state agency must be put on notice of the claim within three years of the wreck. It is critical that you make the deadline, as missing the deadline may lead to your legal claim being barred — which means you may no longer be entitled to litigate your claim in a court of law.
Under certain circumstances, however, the statute of limitations deadline may be extended. If you are injured in a car crash, for example, but your injuries are not immediately apparent, then your limitations period may be “tolled” — in other words, suspended — until the date of discovery.
Q: What damages am I entitled to recover?
A: Damages vary substantially from case to case, depending on the particular circumstances of each case. Generally speaking, damages can be separated into two primary categories: 1) compensatory damages and 2) punitive damages. Compensatory damages are those damages meant to help “fix” the losses you suffered due to the accident, whereas punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant for, particularly egregious behavior. Punitive damages are much less commonly awarded but can increase damage awards substantially.
Compensatory damages include, but are not necessarily limited, to wage loss, loss of future earning capacity, emotional distress, pain and suffering, property loss, medical expenses, and more.
Q: Will my insurance rates increase after a car accident?
A: This is a difficult question for which there is no uniformly-applicable answer. In reality, whether your insurance rates will increase depends almost entirely on the insurer and your coverage. Most insurers are quite lenient on raising rates for first-time offenders and when you are not at-fault. If you were at-fault, however, or if it is your third or fourth car wreck, then your insurer may increase rates more severely.
Q: Should I accept the insurer’s offer of payment?
A: As a general rule, it’s not worth accepting the insurer’s initial offer of payment. It is important to understand that all insurers are in a position where they are trying to minimize how much they have to pay out. They are not your friend. Always consult with an attorney and avoid communicating with the insurance company directly. This will not only put pressure on the insurance company to put forth an offer that is more favorable to your interests but will also protect you from making statements that could lower the value of your claim.
Q: How can a lawyer help me secure compensation?
A: From consultation all the way through to trial litigation, your lawyer will provide a variety of services to help you secure full compensation for your injuries. Your attorney will identify relevant parties and witnesses, investigate the claims, work with experts in the field, send demand letters to the defendant, conduct discovery, negotiate and engage in mediation, potentially secure a settlement, and if need be, take your case to trial and litigate the claims in a court of law.
David I. Fuchs has nearly 30 years of experience litigating cases for clients located in Fort Lauderdale and throughout the state of Florida. David has dedicated his career to providing client-focused, communicative legal advocacy, and he has successfully represented victims who have been involved in different kinds of car accidents, from multiple car pileups to pedestrian injury cases.
If you have been injured in a car crash due to the fault of another, then you may be entitled to recover damages. Here at the Law Office of David I. Fuchs, we understand that car accident can be overwhelming experiences for those unfamiliar with the litigation process. You may be confused about whether you have a legitimate claim or how much your claim is worth, to begin with. The most important thing is to consult with a trusted lawyer who will be able to assess your claims and determine the best path forward. Consultation is free, so there’s no risk at all — give us a call!
Call us or contact us online today to set up a free consultation. We look forward to hearing from you.