Fort Lauderdale Car Accident Lawyers
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. At Chalik & Chalik personal injury attorneys, our Fort Lauderdale car crash lawyers will always put your needs first. Distracted driving, operating a vehicle under the influence, or inclement weather can all play a role in motor vehicle accidents. Some of these numbers are startling. According to Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles:
- As of July 2017, there were over 213,000 crashes throughout the state.
- Of those, 88,258 led to motorist injury.
- Over 135,000 Floridians incurred injury on area roadways in 2017.
- In the first eight months of 2017, there were nearly 1,700 fatalities due to Florida auto accidents.
- Of these crashes, 22,198 took place in Broward County.
- Broward County reported over 13,000 injuries in the first eight months of 2017.
- 120 Broward County residents lost their lives in motor vehicle wrecks in the same time period.
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.
Common Types of Car Accidents
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 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.
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.
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.
What To Do After a Car Injury
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. Take the following steps to ensure fair compensation:
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
If there are witnesses, ask them what they saw. Collect their information if possible, including their names and phone numbers. Take pictures of the accident, including property damage, your injuries, and the landmarks around the scene.
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.
Tell Your Insurance Company
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.
Seek 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 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.”
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.
Statute of Limitations for Fort Lauderdale Car Accident Injuries
While your legal right to file a Fort Lauderdale car accident injury claim is expansive, it is not unlimited. In fact, you have a limited amount of time after your crash to report the accident and file a claim. This is called the statute of limitations.
The statute of limitations for Fort Lauderdale car accident injury claims is four years. This time limit, though it may seem like a long time, stresses the urgency of taking action immediately after a crash. You literally have no time to waste if you want the best possible chance to win financial compensation after a costly Fort Lauderdale car wreck.
Contact an experienced Fort Lauderdale Auto Accident Lawyer
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.
“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