Miami Car Accident Lawyer
Every year, there are thousands of serious injuries and deaths resulting from car accidents. Most people will experience at least a mild fender bender at some point in their lifetime, but some accidents can destroy property and leave permanent damage. If you are involved in a car accident, it’s important to know your rights when it comes to handling the costs of the accident. If another person or entity was at fault for your accident, it’s vital to understand the process of holding them accountable for their actions.
Car accidents may involve damaged or destroyed property, injuries, and the possibility of permanent disabilities or deaths resulting from those injuries. To successfully pursue a car accident lawsuit, you’ll need the assistance of a qualified, reliable car accident attorney. At STEINLAW, our top priority for every case is to maximize our client’s recovery. Review the following car accident information if you’re considering a lawsuit. If you think you may have a case, reach out to the STEINLAW team for a free consultation so we can discuss the details of your case and review your options.
Choosing the Right Car Accident Lawyer
Injuries resulting from car accidents typically fall under the purview of personal injury law if another driver was involved. If another person was responsible for your accident and injuries, you may have to sue them to get adequate compensation for your injuries. Personal injury cases function under the concept of negligence. To win your case, your attorney must prove the other driver or drivers were negligent by proving three things to the court:
- The defendant (the person or entity being sued) had a duty to act with reasonable care. In car accident cases, this means establishing that he or she was responsible for the safe operation of the vehicle at the time of the accident.
- The defendant breached this duty by some action, or in some cases, inaction. Drivers must follow the rules of the road, obey traffic signals and posted speed limits, and stay focused on the road while behind the wheel. Failure to do any of these things can easily result in a car accident.
- The plaintiff’s (the person suing) injuries were a direct result of the defendant’s negligence and would not have happened had the defendant exercised reasonable care while operating the vehicle.
If your attorney can establish these facts to the court, you have a very good chance at winning your case. If the other driver was speeding, disregarded a stop sign or other traffic signal, was using a cell phone instead of paying attention to the road, eating while driving, or otherwise unsafely operating his or her vehicle, a judge will more than likely consider this person negligent and responsible for the crash.
Other Causes of Car Accidents
Perhaps you’ve been in a car accident but an issue with the vehicle itself was the cause of the accident. If this is the case, your attorney will pursue a product liability claim against the vehicle manufacturer, retailer, or service provider, depending on the nature of the accident. Product liability laws exist to ensure manufacturers produce safe and effective products that perform as intended. Manufacturers must also warn consumers of any potential hazards or risks associated with use of a product, as well as instructions for proper use.
In cases involving vehicle defects, there may be more than one defendant in your case. Essentially, the court may deem any person or entity along the chain between production of the product’s components to assembly to the final sale to the consumer as responsible for the accident and resulting injuries. Product liability law extends to three types of defects:
- Defective designs. Manufacturers must carefully construct product designs for safety and so that the product performs as the makers intended. A defective design means there is a flaw in the base design of a product that the designers may not have noticed or addressed before production and sale.
- Defective manufacturing. Manufacturers must use consistent practices and materials in production to ensure consistent quality. They must also properly maintain equipment, and employers must be fully train employees in the correct use of all the machinery necessary to performing their jobs.
- Marketing defects. Manufacturers must accurate and honestly market their products, meaning manufacturers must clearly define the product’s intended uses, label it correctly according to industry standards, and include any and all applicable safety warnings.
A product liability case concerning a defective vehicle may not only target the manufacturer of the vehicle. For example, a vehicle may have been completely within acceptable standards when it left the manufacturer’s original production line and wound up with its first owner. That owner may later decide to sell the vehicle, and the buyer may service the vehicle with aftermarket parts instead of the original manufacturer equipment. In doing so, the buyer may endanger whoever purchases the car next. If another person purchases that vehicle and an accident results, the seller may be held accountable for the damages if the service to the vehicle is the cause of the crash.
In some other cases, a dangerous roadway hazard may cause an accident. A roadway construction crew may have failed to erect warning signs about dangerous road conditions at the proper locations. Roadway lighting may malfunction, creating a visibility issue for motorists. Someone’s pet may escape into the road, forcing you to swerve. Car accidents can arise from countless possible scenarios.
If another party is to blame or shares in the fault of your accident, there is no reason you should have to bear the burdens that accompany a car accident alone. Your attorney will help you determine the type of case you need to pursue and what evidence will be necessary to obtain a settlement or win in court.
Common Injuries Associated with Car Accidents
Even seemingly mild car accidents can result in injury. If you’re involved in a car accident that damaged property or resulted in an injury – no matter how apparently mild – call the police so there will be a documented report of the accident. This police report will play a pivotal role in your case.
While waiting for the police, once you assess everyone’s injuries (if any), take as many photos as possible of the scene, including skid marks on the road, the nearby traffic signals and lane designations, and any visible property damage. Be very careful what you say to other parties involved and the police. An insurance company may later deem things like “I didn’t even see them coming,” or “I’m sorry” as an admission of guilt. Provide responders with the facts and nothing else, and be sure to address injuries before anything else.
If you are injured, do not dismiss any injury as trivial. Sometimes the effects of a car accident take time before they become noticeable issues. If you are even slightly injured, seek medical attention. Your doctor can likely identify problems that may not be immediately apparent. Once you’ve been checked by a doctor, a medical report of your injuries will be another vital document in a subsequent lawsuit.
Car accidents claim thousands of lives each year, and many more result in injuries. Some of those injuries may lead to permanent conditions or disabilities. Some of the most common injuries resulting from car accidents include:
- Traumatic brain injuries. Sudden shifts in momentum or direction, impacts from another vehicle, flying debris, or being thrown about inside a vehicle may all damage the brain. A traumatic brain injury describes any injury from the brain shifting inside the skull or projectiles forcefully entering the brain. Concussions are a milder form of traumatic brain injury but still require close medical attention. Some traumatic brain injuries may result in hemorrhaging, loss of motor skills, sensory functions, or other faculties, or death.
- Spinal injuries. Your brain is the command center of your body, and the spinal cord is how it controls the rest of you. Unlike other parts of the body, the spinal cord cannot self-repair, meaning any damage done to it is permanent. Spinal cord injuries are serious and can easily result in permanent paralysis or other disabilities. If an accident wounds your spinal cord, the site of the injury will determine the severity of the effects. The higher up on the spine, the more of the body is affected.
- Maxillofacial injuries. Injuries to the face are very common in car accidents when victims hit their steering wheels, dashboards, windshields, or are hit by an inflating air bag.
- Broken bones. The force of the car accident may result in bone fractures. Broken bones can be extremely painful and may require extensive medical attention. Broken bones can also cause other health problems including a heightened risk of infection, blood loss, or internal damage.
- Superficial injuries. Car accidents can also result in lacerations, severe scrapes, bruises, and internal damage. Even if a wound seems insignificant, it’s always a safe bet to see a doctor after a car accident.
What NOT to Do After a Car Accident
There are plenty of resources about what to do after a car accident. Even the back of your car insurance card should have a few sentences about how to react after a crash. However, there are also things you should not do after a collision. Some things you say and do can worsen your injuries, hurt your chances of receiving compensation for your damages, and lead to legal trouble down the road. Here are a few general things you should never do following an accident.
- Flee the Scene
Even if you don’t think you caused any property damage or bodily injuries, it is your legal duty to remain on the scene until you’re sure it’s okay to leave. Check to see if anyone has injuries and needs medical attention. Get the okay from police before exiting the scene of the crash. Fleeing the scene of an accident can lead to major trouble if police catch you – which they likely can, using eyewitness statements and surveillance footage. Police can then charge you with a hit-and-run, leading to a criminal case on top of a civil one.
- Admit Fault
It can be tempting to apologize to the other driver or to say that the accident was all your fault – especially if you have reason to believe you caused the crash. While you should be calm and polite with the other driver, do not admit fault. There may be other factors involved that you can’t know about. For example, the other driver may have been texting and driving, and he or she may have contributed to the crash even though you rolled through a stop sign. It can be difficult to backtrack and use the comparative negligence defense after you’ve already admitted fault to the other driver. Instead, wait for police to arrive and decide fault with an investigation.
- “Work It Out” With the Other Driver
Never let another driver convince you not to call the police or report the accident to your insurance company. Even if the other driver gives you his/her information and promises to pay for your expenses out of pocket, it’s best to involve the police and insurers to have an official record that the crash ever occurred. Otherwise, you run the risk of the other driver giving you false information or leaving the state without ever paying. Don’t trust other parties involved, especially if they were at fault for the crash. Call the police, report to your insurer, and do things by the book. Rules are in place to protect car accident victims.
- Fail to Seek Prompt Medical Attention
Delaying medical care won’t only put you at risk of worsened injuries – it can also hurt your chances of pursuing compensation from the at-fault party. From the court’s point of view, it can look like your injuries weren’t that painful or severe if you didn’t have to go to the doctor right away. The defense can use this fact against you to argue for a lower compensation amount. In worst-case scenarios, your insurance company could accuse you of fraud. Seek medical care as soon as possible to protect your health and your rights.
- Wait Too Long to Speak to an Attorney
The statute of limitations or deadline for filing a claim in Florida is four years from the date of the accident or discovery of injury. Trying to file after this time limit will mean the courts refusing to hear your claim, no matter how much evidence you might have. While this is a longer deadline than many other states, it doesn’t mean you should wait four years to file. Waiting too long to pursue compensation can lead to the destruction of important evidence or problems like undependable eyewitness testimony. Instead of waiting, contact our Miami car accident attorneys as soon as possible after a car accident. We’ll set you up with a free consultation right away.
What to Do After a Crash
The top priority after a car accident is ensuring the safety and health of everyone involved. Address any injuries, and notify the police about the accident. Document what you can about the scene, obtain a copy of the police report, and save your receipts for any resulting expenses, including towing costs, transportation from the accident scene, the costs of any necessary repairs, and any necessary insurance documentation. Once you’ve tended to your injuries and obtained a medical report from your doctor, your next step should be contacting an attorney.
At STEINLAW, our mission is to secure the maximum compensation possible for our clients. This means we’ll explore all the facets of your case to ensure we hold the responsible parties accountable for the damage they cause. If you’ve been injured in a car accident, you may be eligible to claim damages for:
- Medical bills, including emergency services and the cost of ongoing treatments.
- Property damage, including your vehicle and any personal property in the vehicle that may have been damaged or destroyed by the crash.
- Pain and suffering for significant injuries and the necessary treatments as well as psychological trauma.
Every case is different, so this list is by no means exhaustive. Once you begin the process of suing for damages after your car accident, the legal team at STEINLAW will consult with top experts and conduct a thorough investigation of every aspect of your case. Car accidents can be devastating, and it’s vital to hold the responsible parties accountable for their negligence. Reach out to STEINLAW for a free consultation about your car accident injury in Florida today.