Have you been involved in a car accident in Lakeland? If so, you may be dealing with significant medical bills, lost wages, and perhaps disability due to your injuries. On top of all that, navigating the legal system can be intimidating and complex.
If someone else caused your accident, you might be entitled to financial compensation from the person or party responsible for it. You may be wondering what to do next. Ask Dave and his team of Lakeland car accident lawyers about your rights and legal options.
We offer free, no-obligation consultations.
Trust the Qualified Lakeland Car Accident Lawyers at Our Firm
A case is only worth as much as the judge or jury will award, which is why hiring a qualified, experienced attorney in Polk County is vital.
An experienced trial lawyer will know how to present the evidence in a way that the jury will understand, allowing them to make an informed decision.
Our firm was founded by David C. Dismuke, a Florida board-certified civil trial attorney with more than 20 years of legal experience. Ask Dave how we can get you a settlement that will do more than get your medical bills paid.
For a free legal consultation with a car accidents lawyer serving Lakeland, call 863-250-5050
Compensation After an Automobile Accident
No two car accidents are the same, and neither are the resulting injuries and hardships. Traveling speed, the force of impact, collision angles, and reaction time all play a role in the severity and effects of a car crash.
The amount of money you can expect after an accident can vary depending on the circumstances and severity of the crash.
As an auto accident victim, you may be entitled to compensation for economic and non-economic damages, including:
- Medical care
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earnings
- Other financial losses stemming from your injuries
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium
- Diminished quality of life
- Wrongful death
In rare cases, punitive damages are also awarded.
Lakeland Car Accident Lawyer Near Me 863-250-5050
Determining Your Case’s Value
Our auto accident attorneys consider a few key factors when determining the value of a personal injury claim:
The first is that you have to be able to establish liability. You and your auto accident lawyer must prove that someone else’s negligence (such as distracted driving) led to your injury.
For example, if you were struck by a driver who failed to stop at a stop sign, you likely have a valid legal claim. The driver neglected to pay attention to the sign, which led to them hitting your car.
Since their carelessness led to your injury, you and your personal injury attorney should be able to claim damages and recover the losses they caused.
Additionally, you must show that the incident caused significant losses. These losses include economic damages and non-economic damages.
A car accident lawyer in Lakeland, FL, will work with you to assign a monetary value to these losses and let you know whether a lawsuit is worth pursuing.
Certain costs and fees come along with such an action, and it is important to determine whether the potential payoff will be worth the expense.
Determining How the Accident Relates to Your Injuries
Another important thing to consider is how the accident caused or aggravated your pre-existing injuries. You must determine your injuries’ seriousness and the treatment you need.
Lost Wages or Earning Potential
If you must miss work while you recover, you will need to determine the financial impact of those lost wages. If you will no longer be able to perform the same work, or if you will no longer be able to work at all, you should also consider this.
If you sustain an injury that you will never fully recover from, this can greatly affect the value of your case. In this situation, it is important to be under the care of a qualified doctor who will diagnose, treat, and document your injuries.
Past, Present, and Future Treatment
Additionally, your healthcare providers should maintain regularly updated documents of your treatment progress and changes in your condition. It is vital to your case that the jury can see and understand your expenses and the extent of your injuries.
Your lawyer can collect documentation of your medical expenses and prognosis and use it as evidence in your pursuit of fair compensation.
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Do I Have To Call the Police after a Car Accident?
After experiencing the shock of a car accident, you may wonder if you should call the police. If the collision was minor, you might be tempted to exchange information with the other driver and handle the matter privately. However, it is almost always in your best interest to alert law enforcement.
According to Florida Law, you must notify local authorities immediately after a car accident if:
- Anyone involved claims to be injured.
- There appears to be property damage above $500.
If I Call the Police, Am I Going To Receive a Citation?
When the Lakeland Police Department responds to an accident scene, they are there to ensure the safety of everyone involved, as well as file a detailed report of what happened.
Often, minor fender benders are unfortunate accidents. You will only receive a citation if you have committed an obvious infraction.
Should I Call the Police Even If I’m Not Legally Obligated To?
The answer to this question is almost always yes. Even if the other driver seems honest and cooperative, it is common for stories to change over time. A law enforcement officer can act as an unbiased third party, objectively recording details and investigating the cause of the accident.
Please make sure you clearly explain the details of the accident to the officer since the information in the police report must be accurate.
Additional Steps You Should Take
Be sure to record the officer’s name, badge number, and the agency they belong to so you can easily obtain a copy of the police report once it is filed. Ask the responding officer for the report number as well.
This information is critical in handling your insurance claim and any potential lawsuit. A car accident attorney in Lakeland can review your police report and handle the claims process.
Driver’s Exchange of Information
If you’re going to do an information exchange with the driver and not call law enforcement, here’s what you should know:
- The law requires you to contact local law enforcement if someone reports being hurt or if there appears to be more than $500 in property damage.
- The law stipulates that you must exchange your names, addresses, and car registration numbers. However, you may need more information. Ideally, you should snap a photo of the other person’s driver’s license, insurance card, license plate number, and VIN.
- The “dangerous instrumentality” doctrine holds that car owners in Florida are responsible for the collision. Sometimes the vehicle owner provides insurance when the vehicle driver does not.
Florida Is a No-Fault State
Florida is a no-fault auto insurance state. According to Florida insurance requirements, most auto accident victims in Lakeland must file accident claims under their personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. PIP coverage can help with medical expenses, lost earnings, and other losses, regardless of who caused the collision.
There are exceptions, however. It is possible to file a third-party claim or lawsuit against the driver who caused your accident if you have experienced catastrophic physical injuries. These may include:
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Significant and permanent loss of a bodily function
- Permanent injuries
Filing a third-party insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit against the negligent driver also opens the door to recovering non-monetary damages. These include losses like pain and suffering, which are not recoverable in a no-fault insurance claim.
An experienced auto accident attorney can explain the criteria for filing a personal injury lawsuit and whether your case is eligible. Call the 1-800-Ask-Dave legal team to learn more!
Determining Fault in Car Accidents
One of the most important steps in a car crash case is identifying the at-fault party. Although most collisions are caused by driver error, the involved parties often have differing opinions about who is responsible.
Since there are always two sides to a story, it can be up to a judge or jury to decide who was at fault. Different states have different systems of determining financial responsibility. In Florida, we operate under a system known as “pure comparative negligence.”
What Is Pure Comparative Negligence?
Under the pure comparative negligence standard, each party can be, and often is, partially responsible for the accident. Each party is assigned a percentage of fault, depending on their role in the accident.
This percentage is determined by details such as:
- Police reports.
- Witness statements.
- Driver statements.
- Vehicle damage.
- Any available photo or video evidence.
Florida uses this comparative fault method because the cause of the accident is not always black and white, and both parties are often in the wrong.
Rear-end collisions can involve partial fault. At first glance, the person who rear-ended the other party would be at fault. However, this is not always the case.
These are a few scenarios in which the driver who was rear-ended could also have played a role in causing the accident:
There is an expectation that drivers travel in a forward direction. Traveling in reverse when it could endanger other drivers does not uphold that expectation.
If you put your vehicle in reverse on a roadway and are rear-ended, you will likely have a degree of fault for that accident.
Failure To Signal
Drivers are expected to signal before making turns. Failure to do so can put themselves and others in harm’s way. Imagine you’re driving down the road, and just as you are approaching an intersection, you realize that you are about to miss your turn.
Instinctively, you slam on your brakes and attempt to turn before it is too late. In your haste, you fail to use your blinker and stop suddenly, giving the driver behind you no indication that you are stopping to make a turn.
This scenario would likely result in your being found at fault in the accident, even though you were hit from behind.
Non-Functional Brake Lights
Drivers are expected to ensure that their brake lights are working properly, as they are essential to their safety and that of others on the road. Brake lights indicate to the driver behind you that you are slowing down, and driving without them is hazardous.
If a driver is rear-ended while driving without functioning brake lights, they will likely share fault in the accident.
Can I Make a Claim If I Was Partially At-Fault in a Car Accident?
Unlike other fault determination standards, the comparative fault rule allows involved motorists to file damage claims even if accident responsibility is unequal.
This system has an advantage over other determination methods that prohibit drivers who are 50% or more at fault from recovering damages. Under pure comparative negligence, the damages each driver can recover are limited by the degree to which they were at fault.
For example, if a motorist was in an accident and was determined to be 70% at fault, they could seek to recover 30% of their damages.
Contacting a Car Accident Attorney in Lakeland
Auto collisions are stressful, and their effects can be devastating. At our personal injury law firm, our mission is to help clients rebuild their lives after severe injuries.
We accomplish this by handling each claim with care and competence, securing a fair settlement or award. Our highly qualified personal injury lawyers will pursue the best possible outcome.
Why Choose Us for Legal Representation?
Several factors set our law firm apart from other car accident lawyers:
- A board-certified civil trial lawyer leads our firm.
- Our team includes a former insurance defense attorney.
- We have recovered millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements.
- We operate on a contingency fee basis; there are never fees unless you prevail.
We also offer a free initial consultation to help you understand your options and whether you need legal counsel. You can count on our honesty when we assess your case.
What We Provide Our Clients
When you trust us with your car, truck, or motorcycle accident case, you can count on our legal team to:
- Investigate the accident scene.
- Collect evidence, including medical records, accident reports, and photos.
- Determine the value of your compensation.
- Communicate with the insurance company and other parties, allowing you and your family to heal peacefully.
- Handle all insurance claims and negotiate for a fair settlement value with the insurance company.
- Represent your interests in court (if your case doesn’t settle).
We can also answer questions regarding your accident, the law, and insurance. As we work on your case, we’ll inform you of any new information or changes along the way.
Our qualified lawyers have decades of experience serving Lakeland and are committed to recovering the compensation you deserve.
Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer in Lakeland
At Dismuke Law, we understand how our clients are affected by accidents, and we bring that empathy and experience to the settlement table and courtroom.
Furthermore, our firm’s successful case results speak for themselves. We have won tens of millions of dollars in settlements and judgments resolving car accident cases for our Lakeland clients.
Please pick up the phone and call Dave today. Our Polk County legal team is ready to go to work for you. We offer free initial consultations, and there are no fees unless we win your case. Contact us to schedule your free consultation.