Pensacola Car Accident Lawyer

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The Right Attorney When Car Accidents Happen in Pensacola & Escambia County, Florida

A car accident is a terrifying situation that can alter your life very suddenly. Facing medical bills, physical recovery, and lost income can be overwhelming. When you were not at fault for the accident, it can create additional frustration. If you are in a car accident, it’s important to talk with a Pensacola car accident lawyer. They can help you find the ideal routes for recovering damages, such as insurance claims and personal injury claims.

Car accidents frequently occur, causing personal injury to many individuals and families. In 2022, there were 397,542 car crashes in the state of Florida, according to preliminary data gathered by the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FHSMV). All these incidents involve property damage, injury, and/or fatal crashes. 3,341 of the crashes in the same year were fatal accidents, causing 3,583 fatalities, and 163,088 were injury crashes. There were 107,838 hit-and-run crashes, which caused 293 fatalities.

In Escambia County, there were 6,382 car crashes in 2022, according to the same data. These accidents resulted in 57 fatalities and 5,456 injuries. There were 1,618 hit-and-run crashes in the county, which resulted in 408 injuries and nine fatalities. If you or a loved one was one of the many people injured in a Pensacola and Escambia County car accident, a qualified attorney is your greatest chance to get the compensation you need after a life-changing accident.

Protecting Your Rights After a Car Accident

At Phil Hall, P.A., we have nearly 20 years of experience protecting the rights and needs of injured people in our community. We are dedicated to providing Pensacola clients with effective legal care. Our firm understands that a car collision, and the accompanying financial and emotional strain of the resulting injuries, is an incredibly difficult situation, and we want to support our clients as they seek the compensation they deserve.

When you are injured and disabled by an accident, we prioritize your needs and fight against insurance companies who do not want to give you the compensation you need to survive. Our team works hard to provide you with responsive, clear, and accessible legal care.

At Phil Hall, P.A., we believe that the most effective way to obtain the damages you deserve is to structure your claim to truly show the impact of the accident on your life, your enjoyment of life, your career, and your family. The injuries and damages from a car accident can alter your daily tasks significantly.

Financial compensation will not solve all the issues you face after an accident, but it can help make them easier to manage. We want to do what we can to secure your financial stability and help you move on in your life.

When Can You File a Car Accident Personal Injury Claim?

After a car accident, because Florida is a no-fault state for car accident claims, you file a claim with your own insurance provider, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. However, some accidents result in damage to your person and property that exceeds the coverage in your insurance policy. When this is the case, you may have other options to cover your damages.

If another driver was at fault for the accident and your injuries, you may be able to recover the remaining damages by filing a personal injury claim against them. You could also file other civil claims against additional at-fault parties, such as those responsible for road maintenance or the manufacturers of a defective product.

For another driver or party to be liable in a civil claim, they must be shown to be negligent, reckless, or act with misconduct. Negligence is the most common basis for fault in a car accident. If a party is proven to be negligent, they are responsible for any damages that the injured party suffered. To prove negligence, the following elements must be shown:

  1. The party owed you a duty of care.
  2. The party breached that duty of care.
  3. The party’s breach of care resulted in the accident or injury.
  4. The accident or injury caused you to suffer economic and/or noneconomic damages.

Understanding the Parties That May Be Liable in a Car Accident Claim

Depending on the type of car accident and its cause, there may be multiple parties liable for the damages. Most commonly, liable parties include:

Other Drivers

When another driver is at fault, it may be due to negligence, such as distracted driving, or misconduct, like driving under the influence (DUI). A driver can also be liable if they knew that their car needed maintenance and drove it on the road anyway. If another driver does not use reasonable care while on the road, and their action or inaction results in an accident, they are considered to be at fault.

An injured party would file a personal injury claim against the at-fault party after receiving insurance coverage. It is important to prove fault for a personal injury claim to be successful.

Product Manufacturers

Car accidents may not be the fault of any driver involved. Instead, they could have been caused by an essential car component failing. Systems such as the steering, tires, and brakes are essential to the basic function of the car. Smaller components that malfunction can also create distraction for drivers, especially airbags.

When these components are defective by design or by manufacturing and cause an accident, the manufacturer or designer of the car or the component can be held liable. The at-fault company would be liable for all the damages that the injured parties suffered in the accident.

Governmental or Private Agencies

When accidents are caused because of improper road maintenance or bad design, the agency responsible for the road may be held liable. Road maintenance hazards to cars on the road can include:

  • Potholes
  • Cracks
  • Unclear road signs
  • Foliage covering signs or lights
  • Dim lighting
  • Bad construction

Any of these could be the cause of a car accident.

Depending on the type of claim, there may be different requirements to prove fault. A defective car component has different fault standards than a personal injury claim against a driver. Claims against governmental agencies have different deadlines than other personal injury claims. An experienced Florida car accident lawyer can investigate your claim to determine what party or parties can be held liable.

Common Types of Pensacola Car Accidents

Although each car accident is influenced by several factors, there are often patterns within the same type of car accident. Finding an attorney who is familiar with the unique type of accident that you were in can be helpful. The attorney is likely to know the damages available to you, what evidence is needed to prove fault, and other useful information. Some types of car accidents include:

  • Head-On Collisions: These collisions are among the most dangerous, especially when vehicles are moving at high speeds. When drivers are distracted, fatigued, or under the influence, they may swerve across the center line, causing a head-on collision. These accidents frequently result in catastrophic injuries and fatalities.
  • T-Bone Accidents: T-bone accidents often occur at intersections. They can be catastrophic, depending on the speed and size of the vehicles involved. These often cause neck and spinal cord injuries. Such accidents may be the result of poor road signs or DUI drivers.
  • Rear-End Collisions: Rear-end collisions are common when drivers are distracted or otherwise not aware of sudden changes on the road or in traffic. However, the vehicle in the back is not always the at-fault party. It takes extensive investigation by a qualified attorney to determine who was likely at fault for a rear-end collision.
  • Rollover Accidents: Rollover accidents are more common in cars with high centers of gravity as well as trucks and vehicles that are overloaded or loaded improperly. These accidents can cause catastrophic injuries.
  • Sideswipe Accidents: Sideswipe accidents often occur when drivers do not signal or check lanes before changing lanes. These accidents may result in minor property damage, or they may result in a multiple-car pile-up.
  • Multiple-Car Pile-Ups: When these accidents occur, they can cause extreme damage to many involved parties. Filing insurance and personal injury claims can be very complicated, as multiple parties could be partially liable. It takes a skilled attorney to piece together the cause of these accidents and hold the liable party responsible.
  • Hit-and-Run Accidents: It is illegal for a driver to cause an accident and leave the scene. Unfortunately, it is incredibly common, and just over 25% of the total crashes in Escambia County in 2022 were considered hit-and-run crashes. To file a claim against a hit-and-run driver, an attorney or law enforcement officer must identify and find that person. This is not always possible. An attorney can help determine other options for compensation.

Common Types of Injuries in Car Accidents

While some car accidents are minor fender benders, others can result in severe and even fatal injuries to drivers and passengers. More severe injuries result in higher medical costs, and they could cause future medical complications. An insurance and personal injury claim should account for the increased damages from severe injuries. Some common types of car accident injuries include:

  • Broken and fractured bones
  • Spinal cord injuries, including paralysis
  • Traumatic brain injuries, including concussions
  • Head and facial injuries
  • Injuries to the neck and back, including whiplash
  • Burns and road rash
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Loss of limbs
  • Long-term or permanent disability
  • Wrongful death

If you are in an accident, it is essential to get medical care as soon as possible after reporting the accident. This step is useful to provide documentation that you received medical care. However, it is also vital to your own personal health.

Some injuries, particularly traumatic brain injuries caused by the collision, do not show any symptoms for some time after the accident. If you begin developing symptoms later and try to file a claim, you may be denied because you seemingly did not have any injuries at the time of the accident. Getting medical attention can help you get care more quickly and prevent a potential claim denial.

Common Causes of Collisions

Based on collision statistics from 2018 to 2020, the most dangerous stretch of road in the state is a nearly five-mile portion of U.S.-19, going from San Marco Drive to Denton Avenue. This portion of the highway saw 28 fatal crashes and the same number of fatalities during that period. While some car accidents are caused by manufacturer defects or road hazards, many are caused by the negligence and recklessness of drivers on these roads.

Many drivers try to remain safe and drive defensively. Unfortunately, accidents are unpredictable and can occur no matter how safe a driver is. Accidents are commonly caused by drivers who are not safe and fail to maintain the expected duty of care to others on the road.

Some of the most common causes of accidents due to driver negligence include:

  • Distracted Driving: Any action that takes a driver’s focus from the road is considered distracted driving. Although many people are aware that texting or calling is considered distracted driving, actions such as eating, drinking, managing the GPS or music, or even letting your mind wander are distracted driving. Distracted driving caused 8% of fatal accidents from 2018 to 2020 in Florida.
  • Impaired Driving: Driving under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or both to the point of impairment is illegal. Drunk driving was the highest cause of fatal accidents in the state from 2018 to 2020, causing over 21% of fatal car accidents. In Escambia County in 2022, there were an estimated 114 crashes due to driving while alcohol-impaired, eight crashes due to driving drug-impaired, and three crashes due to driving drug-and-alcohol-impaired.
  • Speeding and Reckless Driving: Speeding, failing to yield to the right-of-way traffic, ignoring traffic signals, aggressive driving, and breaking other traffic laws are all considered reckless driving. Speeding increases the risk of an accident by lowering the time that a driver has to react. It also increases the damages of an accident.
  • Fatigued Driving: Driving fatigued is considered almost as dangerous as driving impaired. When a driver is tired, their reaction speeds are lower, and their ability to think rationally is also lessened. Falling asleep behind the wheel could result in a head-on collision from drifting across lanes, which can cause catastrophic injuries.

Should I Get a Lawyer After a Car Accident in Florida?

While you are not required to get legal representation to file an auto insurance or personal injury claim, it can greatly benefit your case. When you are only filing an insurance claim, you must still negotiate with your insurance to cover the medical bills, property damage, and lost income from the accident. Negotiating with an auto insurance provider or other insurance company can be frustrating and painful.

An attorney can conduct these negotiations for you. This allows you to rest and recuperate. It also makes your claim more likely to obtain higher compensation. An experienced car accident attorney knows the tactics used by insurance companies, and they also know how to calculate the fair financial compensation you deserve. When you negotiate without an attorney, you could accept a settlement amount that does not truly cover your current and future damages.

There are several other benefits to working with an attorney, including:

  • Extensive Legal Knowledge: Working with a local and experienced car accident attorney provides you with a firm’s resources, professional connections, and knowledge. There may be unique state and local laws that apply to your car accident claim. An attorney knows how to work within these statutes, file your claim correctly, and meet the deadlines.
  • Investigation of the Accident: Attorneys have more resources to look into your accident, including finding proof from traffic camera footage and other CCTV cameras, working with professional accident reconstructionists and medical professionals, and interviewing those who were in or witnessed the accident. The more information about the accident, the stronger a case is likely to be.
  • Prove Damages and Fault: For your claim to be successful, you must prove who was at fault for the accident, along with the damages that you need to be compensated for. An attorney can use the information gathered in the investigation and additional documentation to provide the necessary proof.
  • Litigation Representation: Many car accident claims are settled in negotiation. However, if the insurance providers are unwilling to give you the proper compensation that you deserve, your attorney can take the claim to court and explain why you need this compensation to recover from your injuries.
  • Guide You Through the Claims Process: The claims process can be confusing and stressful if you are unfamiliar with it, but an attorney can describe the legal aspects to you clearly. They can explain the chances of your claim succeeding, provide you with your options for compensation, and help you make informed decisions about your legal rights.

How Much Does an Attorney Charge for a Car Accident in Florida?

For personal injury claims like car accidents, most attorneys will charge a contingency fee. If the attorney obtains a settlement for you, they will be paid a percentage of that final settlement. In Florida, this is typically 25 to 40%. An attorney will receive the higher end of that range for cases that go to court and require complex legal work. If an attorney does not earn you compensation, you do not owe them legal fees.

A contingency fee enables you to feel secure that your attorney is working hard to obtain the most compensation. It assures you that, if you don’t get a settlement, you will not have additional large costs on top of lost income and medical bills from your car accident. It is always important to discuss fees and costs with your attorney during a consultation. That way, you know what to expect.

What Damages Are Available in a Pensacola Car Accident Claim?

When another party is at fault for your injuries, you have the legal right to reclaim compensation for any legally recognized damages that they caused you. Typically, this includes both economic and noneconomic damages.

Economic Damages

Economic damages have objective financial values, and they result directly from the accident or injury. These damages include:

  • All medical costs, past and expected
  • Lost wages from missed work
  • Wages from diminished earning capacity
  • Property damage
  • The value of services that you must hire due to your injury
  • Any damages from the accident that are deemed relevant

Noneconomic Damages

Noneconomic damages are those that have no set prices but are instead subjective losses from an accident. It can be difficult to determine a fair value for noneconomic damages, but an attorney has significant experience determining how to maximize a claim using noneconomic damages while still accurately reflecting the harm that you suffered. Noneconomic damages include:

  • Physical pain
  • Emotional suffering and trauma
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Loss of society
  • Loss of consortium
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

Punitive Damages

In rare cases, a personal injury car accident claim results in punitive damages. Unlike economic and noneconomic damages, punitive damages do not recover any losses by the injured party. Instead, these damages are assigned solely to punish the at-fault party for gross negligence and intentional misconduct.

An injured party must have clear and convincing evidence of these actions. Punitive damages are often awarded in impaired driving accidents. In Florida, punitive damages are limited to either $500,000 or three times the rest of the damages awarded, whichever amount is higher.

Car Accidents and Wrongful Death Claims

Sometimes, a loved one was involved in a car accident that was another party’s fault, and they died in the accident or from their injuries. You, as a surviving family member, may be entitled to wrongful death damages. A wrongful death claim is similar to the personal injury claim that the deceased would have been able to file if they had survived the incident.

In a wrongful death claim, you could be able to obtain damages such as:

  • The income and financial support that your loved one would have provided in their lifetime
  • The loss of companionship, support, and marital relations
  • Any medical costs from the accident before they passed
  • Funeral, burial, and other final costs

Financial compensation is never going to make up for the loss of a loved one. However, it can give you and your family some stability and breathing room after a significant loss.

Discuss Your Car Accident Case in Pensacola

Phil Hall, P.A., wants to support you after a car accident. We can help you get the closure and compensation you need. Contact our team today to see how we can assist you in navigating your legal options.

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