Don’t Deal With the Insurance Company Alone. Call Viles & Beckman Today!
Automobile accidents happen in the blink of an eye. They are incredibly disruptive to one’s life, emotionally traumatic, and often cause accident victims significant pain. Some car accidents are serious enough to cause devastating injuries, long-term pain and suffering, and even wrongful death. Regardless, almost every Fort Myers car accident causes some degree of economic hardship or personal distress.
At Viles & Beckman, LLC, our Fort Myers car accident lawyers understand how frustrating and difficult any car crash experience can be. We have helped countless car accident victims in Fort Myers and throughout Southwest Florida during our more than 40 cumulative years in the practice of law.
Some car accidents result in severe, catastrophic, and fatal injuries. If you have suffered injuries in a car accident caused by another party’s negligence, Florida law entitles you to seek compensation for damages related to your injury in civil court. You shouldn’t have to shoulder the financial burden which often accompanies severe accident injuries, when another person’s careless decisions behind the wheel caused an accident.
The skilled Fort Myers car accident attorneys at Viles & Beckman have experience dealing with insurance companies, investigating accidents, and helping clients recover damages for their injuries. Let a qualified attorney handle the details of your case.
Advocating for Those Injured in Car Crashes Since 1995
The legal team at Viles & Beckman has more than 40 years of experience helping injured clients recover the compensation they deserve for losses related to car accidents and injuries caused by negligent parties. The firm’s continued dedication in advocating for their clients has led to the recovery of millions of dollars from negotiated settlements and court-awarded damages. It’s impossible to guarantee results because each case has distinctive characteristics, but our team will advocate for you, and do our best to build a strong case against liable parties to obtain the best outcome for your individual situation.
Holding Negligent Drivers Accountable for Causing the Crash
It is important from the start that victims of negligence know that they are not responsible for the costs of someone else’s carelessness. Even when the at-fault driver doesn’t mean to cause anyone harm, victims may be able to recover financial compensation for their injuries and any relevant suffering.
Car accidents can occur for many reasons, but most are preventable. Traffic collisions are often a result of the negligence of one or more drivers. Some negligent driving behaviors which often lead to accidents include:
- Speeding. Drivers are in a hurry to reach their destination. Maybe they are impatient or maybe they are running late. In any case, speeding causes severe, sometimes fatal, accidents. Drivers who speed put others in danger because they have a higher likelihood of losing control of their vehicle. At the very least, reacting to other vehicles and road hazards becomes more difficult, especially in high winds and stormy weather.
- Drowsy driving. Driving without proper rest remains a problem for Florida drivers. Fatigued drivers have slow reaction times and impaired senses, which can affect vision and spatial perception. Drowsy drivers can fall asleep at the wheel and cause catastrophic and fatal accidents. Shift workers, professional drivers, and those with untreated sleep disorders pose the most risk to other drivers on the road.
- Driving while impaired. Although driving under the influence typically involves alcohol, drug use also impairs Florida drivers. In either case, unwinding on the weekend, having a few drinks after work, celebrating a holiday with alcohol or drugs, or enjoying too much wine at dinner, result in too many drivers choosing to get behind the wheel. The most dangerous aspect of using alcohol and drugs is the fact that they affect each person differently. While a driver might think they haven’t had enough to impair driving, they are often wrong. This mistake can lead to severe and deadly collisions.
- Distracted driving. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) defines distracted driving as “anything that takes your hands of the wheel, your eyes off the road, or your mind off driving.” Drivers need to be focused on the road so they can see and react to other vehicles and hazards. Those who are distracted cannot react and put others at risk for severe accidents. Some examples of distractions besides cell phones include eating, adjusting climate controls or the radio, daydreaming, personal grooming, interacting with passengers, or watching another event outside of the vehicle.
- Tailgating. Impatient, careless, and inexperienced drivers often follow other vehicles too closely. Driving instructors recommend leaving a two to four second gap between vehicles. Those who tailgate don’t allow enough space or time to react to a vehicle which needs to turn or stop quickly. Tailgating often results in rear-end collisions, which can be severe at medium to high speeds.
- Not using turn signals. Data about using turn signals is sparse, but a recent landmark study revealed more than half of 12,000 drivers didn’t use their signals when changing lanes, and about a quarter didn’t signal their turns. The study concluded that up to two million car crashes per year are a result of drivers who don’t use turn signals. Using signals conveys a driver’s intentions to other drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians, so they can react appropriately.
- Not clearing blind spots. All vehicles have blind spots which require drivers to use all of their mirrors and maybe even glance to the side to make sure another vehicle isn’t present when they are turning or changing lanes. Inexperienced drivers or those who only focus on the view directly in front of them are in danger of striking another vehicle, a motorcycle, a bicycle, or a small car, all of which can easily be missed in a blind spot.
- Accelerating through yellow lights. Some drivers make it a habit to speed up to make it through a yellow stoplight before it turns red. Many times drivers don’t make it completely through the light because they don’t know exactly how long the yellow light will last. In heavy traffic, this can result in serious car accidents, which cause severe injuries or fatalities.
Fatal Car Accident Statistics in Lee County, Florida
Common Injuries after a Florida Car Accident
Car accidents are one of the most common causes of injuries. It is a simple equation. Car cause humans to go way faster than they could with their own two feet, combined with heavy hard objects, and you get injuries. Some of the most common injuries after a car accident are:
- Whiplash, strain to the neck and back
- Soft Tissue Injuries, like bruises and strains
- Scrapes and Cuts, like lacerations to the face
- Head Injuries, like a Traumatic Brain Injury
- Broken Ribs, often caused by steering wheel or seatbelt
- Broken Bones, like a broken femur in the leg
- Herniated Disc, which is a common source of long-term pain for injury victims
- Internal Bleeding, which can be serious and life threatening
- Spinal Cord Injuries, which can be extremely painful and have life-long consequences
- Knee Trauma, which can take months or years to rehab from
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which can debilitate a person’s ability to drive after accident
- Emotional Distress, which is much more common than people talk about
Florida Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Insurance Coverage
Under Florida’s no-fault insurance laws, drivers who register a vehicle must carry a minimum of $10,000 of personal injury protection (PIP) coverage and $10,000 of property damage liability (PDL) coverage. When a car accident occurs in Fort Myers or elsewhere in Florida, injured parties must file a claim under their PIP coverage before seeking compensation from the other driver or his insurance company.
In Florida, PIP covers 80 percent of medical expenses and 60 percent of lost wages from an accident. Being involved in a moderate to severe car accident often meets or exceeds policy limits quickly. Once this happens, you can seek compensation for damages from the other driver and/or his insurance carrier. Your car accident attorney will guide you through this process and ensure you bring any necessary lawsuit within the statute of limitation that applies to your particular case.
Defense Strategies in Florida Car Accidents
Those who are named in a personal injury lawsuit as a result of a car accident will go the extra mile to avoid liability. Some strategies which the defense might use to reduce the value of a claim include:
- Blaming the plaintiff. Florida courts apply comparative fault to personal injury cases, including those involving car accidents, to assess the extent to which a plaintiff might have contributed to causing an accident. If the court finds the plaintiff partially at fault, they reduce any awards by the corresponding percentage of fault they assigned to the plaintiff. Comparative fault motivates the defense to blame the plaintiff and they might argue that he or she was violating traffic regulations such as speeding, driving under the influence, or driving while texting.
- Downplaying the plaintiff’s injuries. In order to pay less in a settlement or court-awarded damages, the defense might claim the plaintiff’s injuries aren’t as bad as they claim. They specifically might argue about the cost of medical treatment and the amount of recovery time needed before returning to work. The defense might also claim the car accident did not cause the plaintiff’s injuries; instead, the plaintiff had a preexisting injury which is causing distress.
- Offering a low settlement. When parties to the defense, especially insurance companies, know they hold some or all liability for damages, they might make a quick and low settlement offer shortly after the accident. Initial offers are meant to entice plaintiffs to avoid going to court, so the defense doesn’t have to pay out a much larger claim later on. These offers are often far lower than what a plaintiff deserves to compensate them for losses incurred as a result of a car accident. Once a plaintiff settles, they waive their right to litigation.
A skilled personal injury attorney anticipates the tactics the defense might use in a particular case, and can fight against them to ensure liable parties are held accountable for their actions.