Fort Lauderdale Car Accident Lawyer
A Fort Lauderdale car accident attorney offers more than just sound legal advice and compensation for your injuries. At Chalik & Chalik personal injury attorneys, our Fort Lauderdale car crash lawyers will always put your needs first. Traffic collisions are one of our nation’s leading causes of death each year, and Fort Lauderdale is no exception. Throughout the Sunshine State, motorists lose their lives daily or incur serious injury as a result of car accidents. Distracted driving, operating a vehicle under the influence, or inclement weather can all play a role in motor vehicle accidents.
When to Call a Car Accident Lawyer in Fort Lauderdale, FL
It is imperative that you contact a Fort Lauderdale car accident attorney as soon as possible after being in a car crash. This will set the proper process into motion and give you the best chance of being successful with your claim. Chalik & Chalik is dedicated and fights for not only you – but your family. We have worked with clients on a range of different car accidents cases and we treat every case unique. Contact the Fort Lauderdale Law Offices of Chalik & Chalik and speak to an experienced car accident attorney now to have a consultation about your case, free of charge ( 954 ) 476-1000.
Understanding the Car Accident Lawsuit Process
The hours, days, and even weeks after a car accident can be a confusing time. You may be unsure of your financial future and how to proceed. Your actions following a motor vehicle accident can have a significant effect on your claim. If you are considering filing a lawsuit against the party responsible for your car accident, it helps to have a basic understanding of the car accident lawsuit process you’ll be going through. Take the following steps to ensure fair compensation:
File Your Claim within the Legal Time Limit
First and foremost, you’ll need to file your suit within the legal time limits, known as the statute of limitations. Florida’s statute of limitations for personal injury cases such as car accidents is four years. Some exceptions apply for minors. This means you have four years from the date of injury to bring your claim. This may seem like a long time, but it’s imperative not to wait until the last minute. Should you miss the deadline, you’ll be barred from compensation for your injuries. One of your first steps following an accident should be informing your insurance company. Be honest about the nature of the accident and tell them about any injuries. Obtain a copy of the police report and give it to your insurer.
But also keep in mind that if you’re pursuing a personal injury protection (PIP) claim with your own insurance, you must seek initial treatment from a doctor within 14 days.
Stay at the Scene
Never leave the scene of an accident until a police officer says it’s okay to do so. Remember, leaving the scene, especially when someone’s injured, is a criminal offense.
Check on all the drivers and passengers, and call emergency medical services for those who need it. If you suspect a head or neck injury, don’t move until help arrives. Call the police so they can conduct an on-scene investigation and file a report, which could prove valuable to your case.
Exchange Information and Collect Evidence
While you’re waiting for the police to arrive – and if you are able, collect important information from the other drivers, including:
- Insurance information
- License plate numbers
- Phone numbers
Possible types of evidence you may use.
- Photos of the accident
- Police report
- Video footage
- Testimonies from accident reconstructionists
- Eyewitness reports
- Medical records and doctors’ prognoses
- A pain or injury journal
Be cordial and cooperate with other drivers, but don’t admit fault. Be careful not to apologize for any of your actions, as this could be admitting legal liability.
Continue Medical Treatment
If you sustain an injury during an accident, seek immediate medical care. Keep track of all the doctors, physical therapists, and other practitioners you see. Ask for copies of your medical records, bills, and other reports that may help you keep track of your economic losses later. If you incur a serious injury, try to keep a record of how your injuries impact your daily life (such as a journal or a list of activities you used to enjoy). These records may help your attorney determine damages from “pain and suffering.”
If you miss appointments or don’t follow your doctor’s orders, the defense can use your lack of treatment to refute the severity of your injuries.
- Attend all your follow-up appointments
- Stick to your treatment plan
- Document all of your appointments
- Keep a running list of all medications
- Retain receipts from transportation costs (to and from appointments)
- Other treatments
Pursue a Fair Settlement
Victims of negligence-based car accidents are entitled to receive a fair and proportionate amount of financial compensation for their injuries. It’s important that you select an attorney who will pursue the highest settlement to which you are entitled. Granted, negotiations are important and may result in a settlement prior to judgment, but you should absolutely not settle for much less than you deserve.
Calculating Compensation in Your Car Accident Claim
Step 1: Totaling Your Monetary Damages
The first step in estimating the value of your car accident claim is totaling all the monetary losses you’ve accumulated. These types of damages, referred to as special damages, are relatively straightforward to calculate using bills, financial statements, receipts, and pay stubs. Below are some of the items you’ll want to include when you calculate your monetary damages.
- Emergency room and hospital bills
- Diagnostic tests, treatments, and physician’s bills
- Receipts for prescriptions and any medical devices you’ve purchased for your injury
- Receipts for your medical-related transportation costs
- Your lost wages
- Visits to a mental health specialist for accident-related conditions
- Repair estimates for your vehicle
- Any other out-of-pocket expenses related to the accident and your injuries
Also include any expected future damages related to your injuries.
Step 2: Calculating Your Non-Physical Damages
The value of your car accident claim should also include pain and suffering damages. These non-tangible damages, often referred to as non-economic or general damages, are generally calculated by using a multiplier.
Step two is to estimate a dollar amount for your non-economic damages. To do this, multiply your monetary damages by a figure, often between 1.5 and five.
The specific multiplier for each case is somewhat discretionary and based on several factors, such as those listed below.
- The extent of your injuries
- Your age (younger people with catastrophic injuries may qualify for more compensation)
- Whether or not there was disfigurement and disability
- How much your injuries have affected your life and your relationships
For example, if you were severely injured but your injuries aren’t catastrophic, you might multiply your special damages by two or three. So, if your special damages totaled $200,000, you could multiply that amount by three, for example, to estimate the total value of your claim ($200,000 x 3 = $600,000).
Fort Lauderdale’s “Serious Injury” Threshold
Florida law does allow drivers to collect compensation from an at-fault driver, assuming they meet certain criteria. This is called the “serious injury threshold” and applies when you experience at least one of the following as a direct result of the accident:
- Bone fracture
- Significant disfigurement
- Permanent limitation of a body organ
- Significant restriction of a body function
- Partial or total disability for at least 90 days
If any of these conditions apply, you may file a third-party claim against an at-fault driver. Unlike your PIP benefits, these claims allow you to receive compensation for general damages such as pain, suffering, and emotional distress.
Are Car Accident Settlements Taxable in Fort Lauderdale?
Victims of car accidents in Fort Lauderdale often wonder if their settlements are taxable. The simple answer is that it depends. Certain types of damages, such as pain and suffering damages, may be subject to taxation. However, federal law protects those who seek economic damages for injuries. You won’t be taxed for compensation for medical bills and lost wages. If you have any questions about taxation in Fort Lauderdale, ask your attorney.
Being involved in a car accident is stressful, and we’re here to help. When you contact Chalik and Chalik, you’re getting one of our partners – never an associate. We’re committed to helping victims of car crashes gain compensation for their injuries. Contact us today for a free initial consultation. Let us provide a risk-free and confidential review of your legal options.
Fort Lauderdale Laws Surrounding Auto Accidents
Florida law requires anyone registered to drive a vehicle in the state to carry certain minimum amounts of insurance coverage. When you or a loved one experience a car crash, you’ll look to your insurance company for help paying for medical bills, compensating for lost wages, and covering other applicable expenses. Fort Lauderdale has no-fault insurance, which limits the available legal recourse for injured victims of motor vehicle crashes. Despite these laws, some in Fort Lauderdale don’t carry the insurance the law requires. Choosing the best Ft. Lauderdale auto accident lawyer can guarantee you will be compensated for your losses.
Some of these numbers are startling. According to Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles:
- In 2017, there were over 388,458 crashes throughout the state.
- Of those, 161,427 led to motorist injury.
- Over 246,590 Floridians incurred injury on area roadways in 2017.
- In 2017, there were 2,905 traffic fatalities due to Florida auto accidents.
- Of these crashes, 22,198 took place in Broward County.
- Broward County reported 24,297 crash-related injuries in 2017.
- 180 Broward County residents lost their lives in motor vehicle wrecks in the same time period.
- Common Types of Car Accidents in Fort Lauderdale
Rear End Collision
Almost one-third of all car accidents in the U.S. each year are rear-end collisions, making these harrowing wrecks the most common type of car accident. Rear-end collisions leave the occupants of all vehicles vulnerable to serious injuries such as broken bones, neck, back, and even head injuries. Rear-end collisions occur when one car cannot stop quickly enough, slamming into the back of another vehicle.
Side Impact Collision
Side impact collisions, also known as sideswipes or T-bone accidents, are relatively common in Fort Lauderdale. These car wrecks, which occur when one vehicle crashes into the side of another, often happen in intersections or on busy highways. They are especially dangerous because drivers and passengers often have no protection (such as airbags) to bear the brunt of the accident. These wrecks can easily lead to broken bones, back injuries, neck injuries, and even fatal head injuries.
Speeding is a common practice for many drivers, that should not diminish the fact that speeding is both dangerous and illegal. Driving over the limit increases your risk of causing a Fort Lauderdale car accident: nearly 1/3 of all car accidents can be attributed in some way to speeding.
Fort Lauderdale as a whole has unique considerations when it comes to motor vehicle crashes. For example, Fort Lauderdale experiences a disproportionate amount of elderly injury and motor vehicle crashes compared to the rest of the country, owing to our large retirement population. In fact, Florida regularly leads the nation in the number of senior citizen car wreck deaths. These drivers are especially vulnerable because of impaired vision, limited mobility, and slower reaction times.
While some accidents may be more common here in the Sunshine State, anyone can get into a motor vehicle crash. In fact, simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time can lead to devastating consequences. When you or a loved one sustains injury in a motor vehicle collision, it’s helpful to know your legal options and how to proceed in the days and weeks that follow. That’s why our Fort Lauderdale car accident attorneys know exactly how to handle cases that range in severity.
How Does No-Fault Insurance Work?
After a car accident in Fort Lauderdale, your own insurance (called the “personal injury protection” plan) will pay for your financial losses, regardless of who is responsible for the accident. No fault claims work differently than typical personal injury claims. For example, you can’t seek compensation for “pain and suffering” or other non-monetary damages as you would in a “fault” state.
Unfortunately, this is only one issue with Fort Lauderdale’s no fault rules. The other major issues concerns minimum amounts of coverage. In Fort Lauderdale, motorists must carry:
- A minimum of $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP), and;
- At least $10,000 in property damage liability coverage.
Fort Lauderdale and other areas in the state does not require drivers to have liability insurance for bodily injury coverage for other motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists. In other words, if you incur serious injury as the result of someone else’s legal fault, you may not be able to get satisfactory compensation for your injuries under your own policy (or another person’s policy if they’re underinsured). If your insurance only allows for $10,000 in PIP benefits, you might find your insurance premiums don’t cover all of your monetary damages.
Common Car Accident Injuries
Ejection From a Car
According to the National Highway Safety Transportation Administration, people ejected from their vehicle during a wreck are three times more likely to die as a result. This elevated risk after ejection in a Fort Lauderdale car crash is a result of two main factors. First, there are more hazards outside the vehicle, where someone can slam against the pavement or some other object. Second, modern cars are designed to have a “crumple zone” that protects those still in the car from the brunt force of a violent collision.
Skull Fractures & Brain Injuries
- Severe trauma to the head can result in a skull fracture, which typically occurs when the bone of the skull breaks or cracks. When this happens, it increases the risks of brain damage. However, there are many different types of skull fractures – some more severe than others, including:
- Linear skull fracture is when the cranial bone breaks without splintering or distorting the bone. This type of fracture can lengthen when the brain swells.
- Simple fracture results when the bone breaks without damaging the skin.
- Depressed skull fracture is when a break in the cranial bone causes a portion of the skull to crush in toward the brain. This type of skull fracture causes contusions and bruising to the brain,
- which may require surgery.
- Compound fracture results when the break in the cranial bone causes splintering of the bone or loss of skin.
- Penetrating skull fracture is when something pierces the skull and causes a localized injury to the brain tissue.
A broken pelvis is one of the most painful and dangerous injuries a victim can sustain. One of the unseen dangers is the risk of internal bleeding and possible organ damage, making many instances life-threatening. Given the severity of a broken pelvis from an accident, recognizing this injury when it occurs is crucial. Some of the symptoms of include:
- Extreme pain in the hip
- Inability to walk or stand
- Swelling or bruising
- Signs of internal bleeding
When a high impact crash occurs, victims of that wreck may suffer spinal injuries. When the spinal column is damaged from the stress of a violent car wreck, a disc that separates the vertebrae can move out of place. When this disc moves, it can press against the spinal nerves and cause excruciating pain.
Whiplash is an injury of the soft tissue of the neck, so called because the neck and head movement that causes this injury resembles someone cracking a whip. Drivers might suffer this injury if someone strikes their car from behind in a rear-end accident.
“I just wanted to extend my gratitude to Wally & Chalik & Chalik for all their help. She has been amazing and very fast to respond to my emails and questions, and I much appreciate her patience with me. I will definitely be recommending your firm.” -Nissan Benjamin