The Cloud Law Firm represents clients who have been injured in a Sebring motor vehicle accident.
Prior to your auto accident, you may have believed that you would never need to hire an attorney. However, your car accident may be the most violent and stressful thing that has ever happened to you. Now your life is in disarray, and you’re simply trying to recover the cost of your vehicle repairs, medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
The insurance company will likely try to rush you to settle your claim for a small fraction of your actual loss. The decisions you make shortly after the accident, such as contacting the right Sebring, Fl car accident lawyer, will play a large role in determining the strength and value of your injury claim. You will only get one bite at this apple. You need a compassionate and experienced Sebring auto accident attorney who will out-think and outwork the at-fault party and their insurance company.
If you or your loved one has been involved in a car accident, please contact an Sebring Personal Injury Attorney now for a free consultation at: (863) 402-2207. We will be happy to speak with you over the phone or meet with you in person at our Highlands County office located at 205 S Commerce Ave, Sebring, FL 33870. We want you to know your rights and we will provide the advice and help you are searching for. If you retain us, we will get to work on your case right away. You have nothing to lose by calling because there are no attorneys’ fees unless we win your personal injury case.
Causes of Auto Accidents
There are myriad causes for motor vehicle accidents. They commonly occur at stop lights, in intersections, on highways, and everywhere in between The fact is, automobiles are part of our everyday lives here in Florida. Most of us drive or ride in some type of motor vehicle (be it a car, truck, bus, or motorcycle) almost every day. Because of this, we often forget just how dangerous automobiles are and how serious car crashes can be.
Car Accident Injuries
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration there were more than 11 million motor vehicle accidents in 2015, resulting in more than 22,000 fatalities. Indeed, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control, auto accidents are one of the leading causes of injury and death in the United States. Moreover, of those who survive these car accidents, nearly half suffer permanent injuries or serious ailments that negatively affect them for the remainder of their lives.
Car crashes caused by roadway hazards and negligent drivers can range from moderate to very severe. Common Sebring auto accident injuries include: cuts and bruises; sprains; broken bones; neck, back and spinal cord injuries; shoulder, arm, wrist and hand injuries; hip, knee, ankle and foot injuries; joint dislocations; concussions; traumatic brain injuries; and even death. Many of these types of injuries require costly surgical and/or long term treatment.
Florida Statutes Concerning Operation of Motor Vehicle
The Florida Uniform Traffic Control Law, codified in Chapter 316 Florida Statutes, contains many of the statutory laws which govern the rules of the road in the State of Florida. Within this Chapter, are many of the rules concerning operation of motor vehicles, such as: the right of way, yielding, stopping, parking, passing, use of lights and signals, interaction between cars, pedestrians, and bicyclists, etcetera.
Proving Negligence in a Sebring Bicycle Accident Case
Most auto accident claims are based on the legal cause of action called “negligence.” Simply put, every person and business owes a duty to use reasonable care. If a person or business fails to use reasonable care, then they have acted negligently. If that negligence injures someone, the injured person has a civil cause of action against the negligent party for money damages. Without getting too technical, in car accident cases, negligence is typically proven based upon the circumstances of the accident and/or violation of applicable Florida statutes (e.g. speeding or failing to obey a traffic control device), which may be used as evidence of negligence.
Florida follows the rule of “pure comparative negligence.” This means that the jury may determine that more than one person negligently contributed to an accident, and allocate a percentage of fault for the accident to each of the negligent persons. The negligent persons may include the injured person, to the extent he or she contributed to the accident. If the jury allocates fault to the injured person, following the trial, the court will reduce the injured party’s award of money damages by the percentage of fault allocated to the plaintiff in the lawsuit.
Car Accident Victims Are Generally Entitled to PIP/No-Fault Insurance Benefits
Under Florida law, every motor vehicle owner is required to maintain $10,000 Personal Injury Protection (PIP) auto insurance coverage that pays 80% of his or her own medical bills and 60% of his or her lost wages, up to the $10,000 PIP benefit limit, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. § 627.733, Fla. Stat. Irrespective of who was at fault for the accident, pedestrians and bicyclists qualify for PIP: (1) from your own auto insurer if you have auto insurance; (2) if you do not own a vehicle, from a resident relative’s auto insurer; or (3) if the foregoing are not applicable, and you were a passenger in someone else’s vehicle, from the host driver’s auto insurer.
You should also know that in order to qualify for PIP benefits, you must seek treatment within fourteen (14) days following the accident. Treatment during that period qualifies a person for $2,500 PIP benefits. To qualify for the full $10,000 PIP benefits, a doctor must certify that you have suffered an “emergency medical condition.”
Please Read the Frequently Asked Questions Below
For additional information, please read the frequently asked questions presented below:
What should you do if you are involved in an auto accident?
This is a non-exhaustive list of things you should do if you are involved in an accident:
1. Call 911 and file a police report. The police officer will perform an investigation and record pertinent information about the accident, the vehicles involved, the at-fault driver and the parties’ auto insurance carriers.
2. Seek immediate medical attention and tell your physician everything you can about the pain and other symptoms you are experiencing. If you are disoriented, confused or having trouble remembering things, you should report it then.
3. Get all witnesses names, addresses and telephone numbers.
4. Take a lot of pictures of the accident scene, the vehicles involved, any witnesses, and all visible injuries of all victims. Keep the photographs in a safe location, not just on your cellular phone.
5. Do not talk to anyone other than the police officer, your physicians, and your attorneys about the accident or your injuries.
6. Retain an attorney to help you through your car accident claim.
7. Before you sign anything, such as a statement or property damage release, consult your attorney.
8. Report the car accident to your own auto insurance company.
Should you hire a lawyer?
Absolutely. The average person does not have the experience necessary to value a personal injury case, to prepare the case, or to negotiate the intricacies of personal injury law. For example, do you know how to obtain and evaluate how much insurance (e.g. BI, UM, PIP, etc.) is available to resolve your claim? Do you know which, if any, of your collateral source providers (e.g. a health insurer) must be reimbursed from your personal injury settlement or what to do if the collateral source isn’t being responsive or reasonable? An experienced attorney will be familiar with applicable Florida laws and how they apply to your particular circumstance and will be a great benefit in helping you obtain maximum recovery.
What does a car accident attorney do for clients?
This is a non-exhaustive list of things a car accident attorney handles for clients:
1. Investigate the claim, such as: interview witnesses, obtain the police report, obtain photographs the scene and vehicles; obtain and analyze all of the client’s medical records, obtain and evaluate all applicable insurance policies, and research applicable law.
2. Advance all the litigation costs incurred in pursuing the claim. Litigation costs generally include things like charges for copies of medical bills, costs charged by the Court, court reporters, and process servers, and costs charged by experts. In cases that go to trial, litigation costs are often tens of thousands of dollars.
3. Represent the client in dealings with the client’s own insurance company, including PIP claims, property damage claims, and UM claims.
4. Represent the client in dealings with the at-fault driver and their insurance company.
5. Represent the client in Court.
6. Negotiate any settlement.
7. Negotiate payment of outstanding liens and medical bills following settlement.
When should I contact the Cloud Law Firm about my auto accident claim?
Immediately! The attorney, Mia Cloud, will provide a Free Consultation and get to work immediately on your case.
How long does a car accident case take to resolve?
This depends on a lot of variables outside the client and attorney’s control, including: the client’s injuries and course of treatment, the amount of insurance coverage available, the number of insurers involved, and the insurers’ willingness to discuss a reasonable settlement. With those factors in mind, a standard personal injury case usually takes anywhere from three months to two years to complete. One of the reasons it takes so long is because it is unwise to settle before the accident victim substantially completes their treatment as you only get one bite at the apple and cannot go back for more later if it turns out you need additional treatment. Also, if the case goes into litigation, it can take more than a year to get the case through the congested court system.
What items of damages are you entitled to recover?
Car accident victims are entitled to recover the following types of damages:
1. MEDICAL BILLS: You are entitled to recover payment for all of your medical bills which are reasonable and causally related to the accident. This includes future medical costs which are necessitated by your injuries.
2. LOST WAGES: You are entitled to recover payment for all of your lost wages which are causally related to the accident. This includes wages lost in the past, as well as loss of future earning capacity.
3. PAIN AND SUFFERING: You are entitled to recover payment for all of your pain and suffering related to the accident, both past and present. Pain and suffering damages should not be considered lightly. Depending on the circumstances, pain and suffering awards can sometimes be quite significant.
4. OUT OF POCKET EXPENSES: You are entitled to recover all of your out of pocket expenses, including mileage to and from treating physicians and the costs associated with prescription medications. Be sure and keep track of these amounts as they can be difficult to reconstruct.
5. PROPERTY DAMAGES: You are entitled to recover property damages, such as: vehicle repair costs, diminution in value to your car, and loss of use of your vehicle.
6. PUNITIVE DAMAGES: Under some circumstances, such as the case of a drunk driver, you may be entitled to recover punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended to punish a wrongdoer for gross negligence and/or intentional acts. The Florida legislature has passed several statues which serve to define punitive damages and limit the award of punitive damages. However, you should know that under proper circumstances, punitive damages are recoverable.
How much is your case worth?
Your top priority should be your health. If you are in pain or are experiencing symptoms/limitations, you should seek medical treatment regardless of the potential positive or negative effects to the value of your claim. Setting that aside, the value of your case depends on numerous factors, such as the following: the facts of the accident (inflammatory facts makes the value go up), the degree to which you may share comparative fault in causing the accident, the credibility and likeability of the parties and witnesses, the victim’s injuries, course of medical treatment, and future prognosis, the total medical bills, liens and write-offs, and may other factors. An experienced car accident attorney will consider the circumstances of your case and help you evaluate the settlement value of your case.
Do I have to go to Court?
No. Many clients want to avoid going to court and we are generally able to secure a reasonable settlement offer without filing a lawsuit. However, insurance companies can be stubborn and sometimes a lawsuit must be filed before the insurance company makes a reasonable settlement offer.
How much are the Cloud Law Firm’s fees?
The Cloud Law Firm provides services to car accident victims for a “contingent fee.” We get paid only if we win your case by obtaining a settlement or jury verdict in your favor. If we win your claim, the fee is 33.3% to 40% of the recovery depending on whether we had to file a lawsuit to resolve your claim.
What are Personal Injury Protection Benefits (PIP)?
Under Florida law, every driver is required to maintain $10,000 Personal Injury Protection (a/k/a PIP) auto insurance coverage. If you are in an accident, your own insurance company is required to pay 80% of your medical bills and 60% of your lost wages, up to the $10,000 PIP benefit limit, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. Unlike most other collateral source providers (an entity which pays some of your losses), your auto insurer cannot assert a lien for PIP benefits paid and PIP benefits are not required to be repaid at the conclusion of your case. However, the at-fault driver is entitled to a setoff for all PIP benefits paid or payable (e.g. if your auto insurer paid10,000 PIP benefits and the jury awards you $20,000 the at-fault driver is entitled to have your award reduced $10,000 for the PIP benefits paid by your insurer).
What if the other driver doesn’t have auto insurance?
We see this all the time. Under Florida law, drivers are required to purchase PIP coverage to cover their own injuries, but are not required to purchase bodily injury coverage to cover the injuries of a person they harm in a motor vehicle accident. If the at fault driver does not have insurance, there is very little an attorney can do to help you, unless you purchased Uninsured Motorist (a/k/a UM) from you own auto insurance carrier. UM insurance covers your injuries caused by the fault of an uninsured, or underinsured, driver. Due the prevalence of uninsured drivers in Florida, it is very important that you purchase UM coverage to protect you and your family.
“I was involved in an automobile accident in 2017. Cloud Law Firm was recommend to us. Mia was very professional and caring. It was a long process but Mia and her staff took time to answer our questions and kept us informed all along the way. We did not have to deal with other attorneys or insurance companies. Cloud Law Firm handled it all relieving us from that pressure and allowing me to heal. Mia is very thorough and knows what she is doing. She fights for her clients! We are so thankful for her! We highly recommend Cloud Law Firm!”-Chris M. ? ? ? ? ?
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