Car Accident Lawyer in Tampa, FL
Car accidents can be devastating physically and emotionally, but they can also be disastrous financially. Farah & Farah has recovered millions over the last 35 years, helping individuals and families get back on their feet and return to their lives. Each car accident case is thoroughly investigated to uncover all the facts. The process can be daunting and difficult, but our experienced car accident lawyer in Tampa are equipped with skills, knowledge, and determination. Because we know it matters to you, as your representative, it matters to us, unlike your insurance company whose interests are its profits and not your-well-being. If you have been involved in a car accident in Tampa, Florida, contact our office today to speak to a qualified car accident lawyer about the specifics of your case.
What the Data Tells Us About Car Accidents in Florida
The most recent data from the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles available to us indicates that overall, car accidents in Florida are on the rise. More property damage, more injuries, and, unfortunately, more deaths were recorded in 2015 than in 2014. The following chart provides the positive percent change in car accidents throughout Florida from 2014 to 2015 per the data taken from the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles October 2016 Annual Report.
|Average Crashes per Day||943||1,025||8.70|
|Property Damage Only||192,408||211,848||10.10|
Notice that each category experienced an increase from 2014 to 2015. To make matters worse, Hillsborough County, where Tampa is located, has experienced higher percent change rates than the state’s average listed in the above chart, and well over half of those statistics are attributed to the Tampa metropolitan area. And though complete data from 2016 is not yet available, there was an indication within the first six months that car accidents in Tampa were up 43 percent to the 2014 statistics.
|Hillsborough County (Tampa)||2014||2015||% Change|
|Property Damage Only||11,019||12,635||14.67|
What do these statistics suggest? In short, car accidents continue to increase and wreak havoc in Tampa, as well as throughout the rest of Florida. Over an extended period of time, since the year 1992 when data started to be collected in the State of Florida, the number of car accidents and personal injuries and fatalities that stem from the accidents continue to increase, with limited exceptions. Car accidents continue to happen in great numbers without a real reason to suggest they will start to decline anytime soon, not until at least smart vehicles outnumber manual vehicles on Florida’s roads, and that’s likely many years into the future. As for now, when statewide there is a 65 % chance, and across the county, there is a 77% percent chance to suffer personal injuries from auto collisions, you need to know your rights in case you find yourself involved in an accident.
Florida’s No-Fault Rule
Though Florida adheres to the pure comparative negligence rule for personal injuries, it also follows the no-fault car insurance doctrine in matters of personal injuries as a result of auto accidents. Only 12 states follow the no-fault rule because, on its face, it seems to limit the rights of and options for victims of car accidents that result from the negligence of other persons or entities.
The no-fault rule generally means that if you are in a car accident, you do not have a right to demand compensation from the other party. In lieu of the latter, no one is considered at-fault from an insurance perspective. Your own insurance company will cover the expense of some or all of your medical bills and lost earnings no matter who was actually at fault. That may sound easy enough, but there are two caveats: (1) insurance companies are principally profit-oriented businesses and have their bottom lines as their primary concern; and (2) nuances of the law make for tricky legal maneuvering in Florida car accident cases. Combined, these two limitations contribute to the real fact that many victims recover compensation less than what they are owed or deserve. That alone is reason why if you live in or around Tampa, Florida, and you are in a car accident, particularly if you suffer personal injuries, you need to hire a car accident lawyer as soon as possible.
Car Insurance Benefit Minimums
You might think that in a no-fault state, minimum insurance requirements might be high, but they are actually low, which also helps keep premiums low. If you are a car owner, you likely know that the State of Florida requires you to carry the following minimum insurance:
- $10,000 in property damage liability (PDL) benefits. This insurance covers the other party if you or a family member were at fault for the accident and subsequent property damage.
- $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) benefits. This insurance covers you, your family, or other passengers in your car who are in want of PIP insurance, whether or not you were at fault for the accident. It also covers pedestrians or bicyclists who are injured by vehicles.
Not required by Florida but which is required by almost all other states is bodily injury liability (BIL). This insurance covers medical expenses and/or funeral costs and offers more protection should you be in an auto collision and the personal damages amount to more than $10,000, or whatever your minimum is if you purchased PIP insurance for more than $10,000.
The no-fault rule requires that you first, and sometimes only, seek compensation from your own insurance company, and that’s the purpose of PIP insurance. That said, for many victims of car accidents, $10,000 does not begin to cover the costs and expenses they incur.
Exceptions to the No-Fault Rule
Fortunately, there are times you will be able to seek additional compensation from the other party’s insurance company:
- If the auto accident was caused by a product defect, you can sue the manufacturer.
- If your injuries are considered “permanent,” then you can pursue a claim against the at-fault party.
- If there was only property damage, then the no-fault rule does not apply, and you can file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company.
Florida’s no-fault system can make life difficult for the injured party. It may be hard to secure adequate compensation, but our car accident lawyers in Tampa know the system well. We know just how to move forward with a settlement that will cover both your short- and long-term recovery goals.
What Damages Can be Recovered in Florida after an Auto Accident?
Depending on the circumstances, for some of you, you may qualify only for the $10,000 covered by your PIP insurance, and a lot of times you will qualify for much less than the $10,000. In many of those cases, your injuries may not require that you receive more so that works to your benefit.
In other cases, if your personal injuries are severe and your damages are numerous, your ability to recover compensation should be expected, and yet, it’s not what is realized. A consultation and possibly a thorough subsequent investigation into the matter may be required to determine what your compensation should look. For those of you who qualify for additional compensation, the types of compensation cover an extensive list of damages, and there is no cap on the amount of compensation you can recover. We, at Farah & Farah, have recovered, collectively, millions of dollars for our clients Each case is unique, and compensation is dependent on the specific facts. The court will use expert testimony to determine the right amount of compensation, and that’s where our resourcefulness at Farah & Farah is exceptional: we know and have excellent rapport with the experts, and we use them to maximize your returns.
The types of compensation recoverable in auto accidents are lumped into two categories: (1) economic; and (2) non-economic.
You may financially suffer from the accident due to the medical expenses, property damage and any earnings lost, but you can recover those financial losses in part, if not in total. Economic damages may include any of the following:
- Past, current and future medical expenses;
- Past and future lost income;
- Lost support and services;
- Replacement value of lost personal property; and
- Any other economic loss that would not have occurred but for the car accident and injury.
As you may know, it is not always possible to recover physically, emotionally and mentally from an accident. Non-economic damages are meant to compensate for the decline in quality of life stemming from your personal injuries sustained from an auto accident. If your injuries are serious, and especially if they are considered “permanent,” then you can recover damages for the following:
- Pain and suffering;
- Mental anguish;
- Loss of consortium;
- Loss of enjoyment;
- Inconvenience; and, potentially,
- Any other non-economic loss that would not have occurred but for the car accident and injury.
Regardless of the assumption behind the no-fault rule in Florida, you have a right to recover the compensation that is just and appropriate for your particular circumstances, especially if it surpasses the $10,000 minimum of most PIP auto insurance coverage. At Farah & Farah, it is our goal to hold any and all at-fault parties accountable for their negligent, careless, willful or reckless actions so that you can recover financially, emotionally and physically as soon as possible.
Types of Accidents in Florida
Accidents in Florida are almost always caused by human error, negligence, carelessness or recklessness.
The five primary sources of human error are distracted driving, speeding, drunk driving, failure to yield the right of way, failure to obey traffic signals. Below is a brief description of each.
Distracted driving is a serious cause of accidents, but one that can completely be corrected if only drivers would pay full attention to the road (i.e., eyes, ears, hands on wheel) rather than paying attention to passengers, gadgets, radio, food, or anything else that takes their attention away from the road. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration points to statistics that nine people die each day in the United States due to distracted driving. Today, a lot of talk about distracted driving is the cell phone, and it is indeed a distraction, particularly texting. 42 states have banned texting while driving, but Florida is not one of them. In fact, just this year it came up for debate and a vote, but the legislature failed to pass the bill. That’s unfortunate. Consider if you are driving 40 mph, which doesn’t seem altogether that fast, but that’s 58 feet per second. So, if you text for 5 seconds, taking your eyes off the road and hands off the wheel, by the time you look up, there might be a stopped vehicle or person in the road, and it’s way too late for you to stop in time. Distracted driving is serious, and even more so in Florida where the laws inadequately address it. At Farah & Farah, if distracted driving was the cause of your accident, we will aggressively take action against the at-fault party. In the meantime, it’s best to keep the distractions to a minimum and keep your hands on the wheel.
Throughout the U.S., according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, speeding is cause for one-third of all car accidents in the U.S. Speeding can mean either exceeding the posted speed limit, which is the primary definition one thinks of, but it can also mean driving too fast for the conditions, whether those conditions be the road, whether or traffic. With the two scenarios combined, speeding is a leading cause of car accidents in Tampa and throughout the country. It is also a leading cause of catastrophic injuries. Whether it’s for the mere pleasure of speeding or impatience, the results can be the same: serious injuries and/or death. Look at the statistics as taken from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Annual Report 2015.
There is also another reason people tend to speed: drinking and driving. In 2012, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that 42 percent of the speeding drivers had BACs of .08 or higher (the legal limit) compared to 16 percent of non-speeding drivers. In addition to speeding because of the thrill of it or mere impatience, if you have been drinking, you are also more likely to speed than if you had not been drinking.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 8,476 people were killed in crashes involved drunk drivers from 2003 to 2012 in Florida. Florida’s rate is higher than the national average. The below chart, the data of which was taken from the Centers for Disease Control, compares the rate of deaths by age (per 100,000 population) between the national average and Florida.
There are a number of campaigns that occur, but even so, the accidents involving drinking and driving remain high, and injuries and deaths that stem from those accidents also remain high. Always have a plan when drinking so that you don’t have to drive. And if you’re in an accident and the other party was drinking, we will pursue the case aggressively so that you get the compensation you deserve.
Failure to Yield the Right of Way
Failure to yield the right of way is often an intersection type of accident or oncoming traffic accidents. According to Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, in 2015, 696 persons were killed in intersection accidents alone, and that’s over 100 more than fatalities that occurred in 2014 (588 fatalities). Injuries are more staggering with 7,019 incapacitating injuries, 21,710 non-incapacitating injuries, and 44,774 possible injuries in 2015, all of which were well over the previous year’s rates. A lot of times, these kinds of accidents can happen due to the above three causes of accidents: distraction, speeding or drinking and driving. They also happen, however, by not judging the amount of time to cross the intersection or come onto a lane without hitting or being hit by another vehicle.
Failure to Obey Traffic Signals
Failure to obey traffic signals is another leading cause, and it’s fairly simple: drivers need to follow the rules of the road. Rules are there for a reason: your protection. And yet, drivers do not obey traffic signals for any given reason. At Farah & Farah, we will investigate the exact nature and cause of the accident so that the responsible party is held accountable.
Distracted driving, speeding, driving while intoxicated, failing to yield and failing to obey traffic signals are the leading and primary causes of human error-related accidents. As such, each one is preventable. These decisions or errors contribute all types of accidents that can lead to personal injuries or fatalities, and these types of accidents include but are not limited to:
- Head-on collisions;
- T-bone collisions;
- Rear-end collisions;
- Rollover Accidents; and/or, among others,
- Hydroplaning Accidents.
Collisions can also be caused by mechanical error, product malfunction, or environmental problems. Mechanical error or product defect usually points to the manufacturer or supplier as the liable party, and you have the right to sue. Environmental matters usually indicate that the government or other private entity may be responsible, i.e. whoever controls the road and did not design it properly or keep it maintained appropriately. In these case, you probably have a right to sue, too. At Farah & Farah, we take in all the facts, investigate and then determine the appropriate path to recover y of your rightful and just compensation.
Why Contact the Car Accident Lawyer at Farah & Farah in Tampa, Florida?
If you or someone you know have been in a car accident in Tampa, Florida, you will want to contact an experienced car accident lawyer to protect your rights. Our team of car accident lawyers are knowledgeable and experienced in all kinds of auto accident or auto accident-related issues, including but not limited to the following:
- Car Accidents
- ATV Accidents
- Black Box Technology
- Motorcycle Accidents
- Truck Accidents
- Pedestrian Accidents
- Bicyclist Accidents
- Bad Faith Insurance
- Wrongful Death Auto Accidents
- Rideshare Accidents
- Among many other types.
Contact us today to get a free consultation. Our lawyers are ready to meet with you and discuss the specifics of your case.