Car Accidents


Until you’ve been in a car accident, it can be impossible to understand how a collision changes your life. The physical and emotional trauma leave scars that may never heal.

When another person’s lack of responsibility is what caused the accident, it is only fair to make them shoulder the burden for the harm that resulted. At Zweben Law Group, we fight to hold people accountable and make sure insurance companies provide compensation for accident victims. We won’t rest until we have done all we can to assist with your physical, mental, emotional, and financial recovery.

If it’s an Accident, Can Someone Be Held Responsible?

Every accident, no matter how random it may seem, has a distinct cause. For instance, if a driver heard a phone beep and turned to look at it, that brief moment of inattention could prevent them from seeing the brake lights illuminate on the car in front of them. As a result, they failed to slow down in time and caused a rear-end collision.

The driver did not intend to cause an accident. The driver did not want the people in the car in front of them to suffer injuries such as traumatic brain injuries caused by the sudden force. But that driver’s irresponsible action–looking at a cell phone instead of the road–caused the accident.

Failure to act responsibly leads to liability. That is the essence of personal injury law. When someone owes a duty of care to others and they fail to fulfill that duty, they will be held accountable for the harm that results. In legal terms, this is known as negligence.

All drivers owe a duty of care to follow the laws and pay attention to the task of driving. Failure to fulfill these two basic duties causes the majority of auto accidents in Florida.

Causes of Accidents

Car accident lawyers who investigate the causes of collisions uncover evidence pointing to a wide range of causes that lead to crashes. Often, two or more causes combine to create the conditions that trigger a collision. If more than one person is responsible for causing your action, we may be able to seek compensation from each of them.

If your own conduct is partially to blame for the accident, don’t worry. Florida’s comparative fault rule allows you to recover damages from others at fault even if you’re also at fault. You just receive slightly less compensation to account for your share of causation.

Let’s review some of the most common causes of car accidents in Florida.

  1. Impaired Drivers

Far too often, drivers are foolish enough to get behind the wheel when they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Even legally prescribed drugs can impair a driver’s judgment or reflexes to the point where they should not be operating a motor vehicle.

Individuals who drive while impaired are not only violating their duty of care to others on the road, but they also violate very clear-cut laws. Their legal violations can make it easier to hold them liable, and in some cases may lead to an extra award of damages.

  1. Distracted Drivers

Although the dangers of distracted driving are receiving more publicity these days, these incidents still cause a disturbing number of accidents, often with devastating injuries. Distractions can take a driver’s gaze away from the road, take their hands off the wheel, and take their mind away from the complex task of driving, which requires the regular exercise of critical judgment skills. Many activities distract drivers in all three ways.

Talking and texting on a cell phone are frequent and very dangerous distractions, but they are far from the only problems. Drivers who focus on other electronics, such as music selection or GPS directions, can also easily cause an accident. 

Actions that involve no technology at all, such as eating, drinking, or looking for lost objects on the seats or floor, cause manual, visual, and cognitive distractions that can lead to a collision. In addition, drivers are frequently distracted by conversations with passengers or the actions of pets in the car.

Driving a motor vehicle is a potentially deadly activity. Any driver who allows a distraction to take their focus away from the task can and should be held accountable for the results.

  1. Drowsy drivers

A drowsy driver can be just as dangerous as an impaired driver, and for many of the same reasons. Someone who is on the verge of falling asleep loses visual acuity and focus. Of course, if they succumb and actually fall asleep, disastrous results are predictable. It is irresponsible to get behind the wheel when you are not physically and mentally prepared to drive, and when you act irresponsibly, you owe it to those who are hurt to make up for all of the losses suffered.

  1. Reckless and Aggressive Drivers

Some drivers act like they are more important than everyone else on the road. They drive in excess of the posted safe speed limit, they tailgate cars ahead of them, they pass without warning and without the proper margin, and we all wish they’d get caught doing it and get the punishment they deserve.

When reckless or aggressive driving causes an accident, requiring the driver to pay damages for the physical and emotional pain they cause is one way to see justice served and transfer some of the burden to the person at fault.

  1. Equipment Failures

Cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles, and other vehicles on the road are complex pieces of machinery. If a part is not manufactured, assembled, or maintained correctly, it can fail, and the failure can readily cause an accident, sometimes catastrophic.

Accident lawyers frequently see collisions caused by equipment problems such as:

  • Defective brakes
  • Tire blowouts
  • Software malfunctions
  • Seat belt failures
  • Airbag malfunctions

The investigation necessary to prove that a defective product caused an accident can be substantial and complex. However, when your attorney has the ability to conduct the right investigation and consult the appropriate experts, then it is often possible to obtain compensation from additional at fault parties with the proverbial “deep pockets.”

  1. Traffic Violations by Inattentive Drivers

While reckless and aggressive drivers often intentionally violate the rules of the road because they are so convinced of their own importance, other drivers violate traffic laws because they simply aren’t paying attention. Lawmakers enacted traffic rules to keep everyone safe, and violating those rules puts others at risk. Those who do so should be held accountable for the consequences of their lazy or irresponsible behavior.

  1. Hazards Created by Third Parties

Very often, car accidents are caused by people who are not even in the vehicles involved. Property owners regularly erect signs and structures that block drivers’ vision of the road. And other vehicles or property owners frequently cause accidents by allowing debris to remain on the road that causes drivers to swerve or lose control of their vehicles. Car accident lawyers can investigate to find out who’s responsible for creating a dangerous condition and work to hold that person or company accountable if it causes an accident.  

  1. Dangerous Roads and Conditions

Driving in some places and under certain conditions can simply be more dangerous than other times and places. Any competent driver recognizes this reality and should take appropriate precautions.

For instance, when you approach a sharp curve, you are supposed to slow down to avoid losing control or crossing the center line. When you are driving in a rainstorm, you are also expected to slow down to allow additional stopping time on slick roads. If a driver is acting irresponsibly under obviously hazardous conditions, they can be held liable for the injuries and damage caused in an accident.

Type of Accidents

Attorneys who help clients recover compensation after car accidents see injuries, emotional trauma, and property damage caused in many different types of accidents. They can investigate the scene to collect evidence to show exactly what happened before and during the collision and the actions that led to the accident.

Collisions are often classified by type such as:

  • Head-on
  • Rear-end
  • Side-impact/T-bone
  • Side swipe
  • Chain reaction
  • Hit and run
  • Parking lot accidents

Even accidents at low speed, such as those typically occurring in parking lots, can cause substantial losses, so investigation is crucial as soon as possible after an accident.

What to Do if You Are in an Accident

A car accident can turn your world upside down quite literally. Reviewing what to do in advance can help you prepare so you can come through the experience with as little hardship as possible. Based on our experience working with accident victims in numerous situations, we have compiled a list of suggested actions to take after an accident.

  1. Check the condition of others in your vehicle. Is anyone unconscious? Bleeding? Be ready to describe their condition to medical personnel.
  2. Move if necessary. If your vehicle is in a dangerous position and it is possible to move, relocate to a safe location.
  3. Call 911. Explain your situation briefly then answer questions from the agent on the phone. They often work from a list of questions requiring a yes or no answer, so answering “I don’t know” may delay the process. Assume the worst and move on to the next question.
  4. Photograph the scene. If you are able, take photos of the accident scene and injuries, or ask someone else to take photos and make sure you get copies. While you or your attorney may return to the scene to gather evidence later, photos taken as close as possible to the time of the accident will be the most valuable.
  5. Locate witnesses. Try to collect contact information from anyone who may have seen or heard what happened during or before the accident.
  6. Seek medical attention. Even if you feel “fine,” your rush of adrenaline can mask a wide variety of symptoms. You might also be suffering from injuries that do not manifest until later, such as secondary brain injuries or damage to internal organs. A prompt and thorough medical exam is the most important step you can take to safeguard your health. In addition, a detailed exam also provides some of the best evidence to support your claim for injuries.
  7. Contact an attorney for advice before making statements. Insurance companies and investigators often try to “trick” accident victims into saying something that can be used against them later to deny liability. For instance, your polite “I’m sorry” could be taken as admission of guilt. Or if you try to reassure someone who’s upset by saying you are “fine,” an insurance company could later assert that as evidence to argue that you were not injured at all. 

Try to say as little as possible to anyone before you talk to your lawyer for advice. Once you hire a personal injury lawyer, your attorney can handle questions and statements directly on your behalf so that you can focus on healing.

Insurance Coverage in Florida

Most car accidents in Florida are covered by insurance in one form or another. Florida is a “no-fault” state when it comes to auto insurance. That means the first $10,000 in medical expenses is usually paid by the driver’s insurance company, regardless of fault. The driver’s uninsured motorist coverage might also cover part of a claim.

In most cases, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will also pay some of the claim, and some money might also come from the insurance of a third party, such as a property owner who created a dangerous condition on the road that led to the accident.

Common car insurance coverage types in Florida include:

  • Personal injury protection—covers your medical bills and lost income up to $10,000
  • Property damage liability—covers damage you cause to the property of others
  • Bodily injury liability—covers your liability when your actions are deemed responsibility for someone else’s injuries
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist –covers injuries and damage caused by others when they lack insurance or have insufficient coverage

When can you recover from another driver’s insurance company under Florida’s no-fault rules? Your claim passes the threshold to file a claim or personal injury lawsuit against the at fault party when your injuries result in permanent losses of bodily function, permanent injury, significant scarring, disfigurement, or death. There are exceptions and sometimes even smaller injuries qualify.

Florida is a Comparative Fault State

When dealing with insurance companies, it is important to remain cautious and wary. While advertisements make it look like insurance companies are on your side, in reality, they are all out to make money. They maximize profits by paying as little as possible. Car accident lawyers know accident victims must beware of some insurance company tactics such as trying to get a victim to make a statement against their own interest or pressuring victims to accept a settlement offer that is far below the value of their claim.

When you work with an accident attorney’s assistance early on after the accident, your lawyer can handle the insurance company, saving you the hassle and reducing the potential for costly mistakes.

Types of Injuries

Some car accident lawyers only want to work with clients with certain types of injuries. They might not be interested in accident victims unless they think they are likely to get millions out of the case. Zweben Law Group takes a different approach. We believe all accident victims deserve the best possible treatment and fair compensation for all their losses.

The fact is that car accidents in Florida result in a wide range of injuries. Some are extremely serious and may even lead to a claim for wrongful death. Others may cause you to suffer considerable pain and inconvenience, but you may have a prognosis that calls for you eventually making a full recovery. Does that mean you do not have a valid claim for damages? Absolutely not. It just means you need to find the right auto accident attorney who will treat your case with the attention you deserve.

Car accident injuries often include:

  • Brain damage. Brain injuries in car accidents range from minor concussions to traumatic brain injuries. Even minor brain injuries can leave long term effects and cumulative damage. Accident victims often have difficulty concentrating and performing basic tasks for work and self care.
  • Spinal cord injuries. Since the spinal cord controls movement and sensation throughout the body, injuries to the spinal cord often lead to paralysis and nerve damage. Many victims never recover from these injuries and face a future with limited mobility.
  • Back and neck injuries. The spine, like the spinal cord it protects, is a fragile yet essential component of the body. Injuries often lead to debilitating pain that can be so intense that victims are unable to rest comfortably in any position, even while lying completely still. Trying to work or complete basic household tasks can become excruciating experiences. Instead of improving over time, the effects of back and neck injuries often grow worse as the years pass.
  • Fractures. Broken bones sound like minor temporary injuries to many, but the reality is that many fractures require surgery and extensive intervention to fuse appropriately, and some never heal properly. Car accident victims suffer fractures to all parts of the body, and often these injuries involve bones that are crushed beyond repair. Broken facial bones in the area around the eye can lead to permanent blindness.
  • Damage to internal organs. Modern cars are built to be as lightweight as possible and crunch to absorb the impact in a crash. Unfortunately, they often compress drivers and passengers in a way that causes damage to internal organs. Airbags can deploy with enough force to bruise the liver, lungs, spleen and other organs.
  • Burns. Generally considered one of the most painful of all injuries, burns from car accidents leave both physical and emotional scars that no amount of time or care can erase.
  • Whiplash. Soft tissue injuries such as whiplash are extremely common in car crashes as the force of impact causes victims’ necks to snap back and forth rapidly. These injuries make it painful or even impossible to undertake ordinary movements. Even if they eventually heal, these soft tissue injuries impair an accident victim’s ability to work and function normally for a considerable time after the collision.
  • Lacerations. Contact with sharp objects during impact often leaves lacerations, but car accident victims also suffer over-stretching lacerations and split lacerations. Lacerations that are deep or that occur over a joint can lead to complications and the need for extensive treatment.
  • Emotional injuries. Often, some of the longest-lasting effects of a car accident stem from the emotional trauma. Victims often have trouble sleeping or focusing, and often find it very difficult to return to “normal” life. When an accident leads to permanent disabilities, the accompanying depression can lead to emotional paralysis.

Evidence is Critical After a Car Accident

To recover compensation from those responsible for a car accident, you need evidence to prove why they are liable for the accident and resulting injuries. The best evidence is only available right after the accident, so it is wise to have someone start gathering evidence as soon as possible.

As time passes, the accident scene will change, witnesses will become harder to locate, and their memories will fade. Traffic footage showing the events leading up to the accident, if available, is likely to be recorded over unless you take prompt action to save it. Your car accident lawyer can assist with the process of collecting and preserving evidence, which is another reason to start working with an attorney soon after your accident.

Evidence to support your claim for damages might include:

  • Traffic camera footage
  • Photos of all aspects of the accident including:
    • Vehicles (up close and far away)
    • Tire marks
    • Setting and obstructions
    • Injuries
  • Police reports
  • Medical records
  • Witness recollections
  • Opinions from experts in accident reconstruction

This evidence can initially be used to persuade insurance companies to offer an appropriate settlement amount. If they decline to offer sufficient damage amounts to cover your losses and meet future needs, the same evidence can demonstrate liability in court.

Liability in Florida

You might be surprised to learn how many different people could be held responsible for your accident. Of course, the other drivers involved might be at fault, as well as passengers in their vehicles who may have caused distractions.

People not at the accident scene could also be liable. If property owners or vehicle operators created a hazard in the road with debris or obstructions blocking visibility, they can be held accountable. If someone failed to complete vehicle repairs or inspections properly or manufactured parts in a faulty manner, they could be liable for accidents that result from their negligence. If a restaurant or bar serves too much alcohol to a driver who causes an accident, it may be possible to hold the owner liable. Your attorney could review the circumstances to determine all the parties who may be at fault.   

If your conduct contributed to the cause of the accident or severity of your injuries, the amount you receive can be reduced, but you are not prevented from receiving damages just because of your contribution to causation. For instance, if you were not wearing a seatbelt and the defense presents evidence to show that your injuries would not be as bad if you had worn a seatbelt, a court might determine that your action was responsible for 10% of your injuries. If the court awarded damages of $100,000, the amount you receive would be reduced by 10% to $90,000. For this reason, even if you think you may have had some fault in causing the accident or making your injuries worse, you should still consult with a car accident lawyer who may still be able to recover money for you to compensate you for at least some of your damages.

Damages Available to Car Accident Victims in Florida

The aftermath of a car accident can affect nearly every aspect of your life. Those responsible can never turn back the clock to erase the damage they’ve caused. The only remedy available through the civil justice system is the payment of compensation referred to as damages.

Car accident victims can receive damages to make up for a wide variety of effects of the accident. These include both losses that have a direct economic cost as well as intangible effects that don’t necessarily involve monetary losses but still have a tremendous impact on your life.

A damage award could include amounts to cover economic losses such as:

  • Medical bills (past and future)
  • Lost wages due to time missed from work (past and future)
  • Caregivers or modifications to your home
  • Rehabilitation expenses
  • Property damage

In addition to losses you’ve already experienced, your attorney will calculate the value of future anticipated losses such as decreased future earnings and the cost of future medical care.

Often, the most significant part of a damage award includes compensation for non-economic losses such as pain, suffering, emotional anguish, loss of companionship, inconvenience, and loss of enjoyment of life. Your car accident lawyer can calculate a value for these intangible losses based on legal precedent. This gives you a base to evaluate the fairness of settlement offers received.

FAQ’s About Car Accidents in Florida

In the overwhelming moments and days after a car accident, victims have many questions. We’ve compiled answers to some of the most common questions.  

How do I know if I need to see a doctor after an accident?

It is always a good idea to receive a thorough medical exam after an accident even if you do not believe you have severe injuries. The doctor can detect medical issues that are not immediately apparent. Not only does a prompt medical exam provide the best chance for a full physical recovery, the records from your exam provide evidence to help with your financial recovery. Additionally, in Florida in order to utilize your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Insurance on your car policy to pay for medical bills, you need to see a doctor within 14 days of an accident.  This makes it that much more important to get a medical exam as soon as possible after an accident.

What should I say to the insurance company?

If possible, say nothing directly to either your insurance company or insurance companies representing others. Instead, have your car accident attorney answer questions and provide statements on your behalf. If you have not yet hired an attorney and you need to speak with the insurance company, provide only factual information you can confirm. Do not speculate on the causes of the accident or the actions of others. Remember that anything you can be taken out of context and used against you later to deny liability.

Do I need an attorney if the insurance company has already offered me compensation?

When an insurance company offers a damage award, you may feel like you’ve won your case with no effort. So why would you want to share any of that award with an attorney? It would only be worthwhile if your attorney could help you get considerably more money.

Usually, they can. Insurance companies offer to settle a case quickly if they know they are likely to lose in court or have to pay more money if an attorney gets involved. But they will generally offer far less than you would be likely to receive if you hired an attorney, and will pressure you to accept the offer quickly before you discover the truth.

You can get an honest opinion of the true value of your claim from a dedicated car accident lawyer, but it is usually not possible to calculate the value properly until the accident victim has reached maximum medical improvement (the point at which they are at their maximum level of medical recovery) and investigations have been completed.

Can I still recover damages if I was partially to blame?

Yes! Florida’s comparative fault rule allows you to receive compensation from the others responsible even if your action contributed to the cause of the accident or your injuries.

When do you need to report a car accident?

Florida law requires you to report a car accident to the police if there are injuries or death involved, a hit and run accident, an accident with an intoxicated driver, or damage estimated at $500 or more. If police investigated the scene of the crash, then they will file a report.

What if I don’t have a police report?

It is best to contact the police from the scene of an accident, because virtually any accident will trigger the reporting requirement. If police do not come to the scene, take photos and collect other evidence on your own, such as witness contact information and the other driver’s license and insurance information. Make sure to get a medical exam to document your injuries. Have your lawyer file requests for any available traffic camera footage.  

If police investigated the accident but you do not have a copy of the report, you can contact municipal, county, or state law enforcement headquarters to get a copy.

Why does my insurance have to pay if I’m not at fault?

Florida’s no-fault insurance rules require drivers to carry personal insurance to cover at least $10,000 of their own losses due to physical injuries. This requirement is supposed to speed up the claims process because the insurer should know that they will be expected to pay without taking time to determine who is at fault for causing an accident. In reality, insurance companies can still drag their feet when it comes to paying claims.

Can I make a claim against the other driver’s insurance?

The answer depends on the situation. You can file a claim for damage to your vehicle and if the other driver is found to be at fault, your damage should be covered by the other driver’s property damage liability coverage. This should include providing a rental car to you while your car is being repaired. To file a claim with another driver’s insurer for your injuries, pain, suffering, and other effects, you need to meet the injury threshold under Florida’s No-Fault law.

When should I accept a settlement?

Most car accident cases settle pre-litigation (before filing a lawsuit).  Of the cases that are in litigation (filed with the Court), most of those settle before going to trial or before a trial concludes. So how do you know when it’s time to accept a settlement? You need to be sure that the settlement offers a fair and reasonable amount to compensate you for your economic and non-economic losses. An experienced accident attorney familiar with the jury verdicts and settlements in cases with different circumstances can help you determine whether a settlement offer is fair or whether it makes more sense to proceed with litigation.

What if I’m hit by an uninsured driver?

The methods of handling cases involving uninsured motorists vary depending on a number of factors. If you have uninsured motorist coverage on your insurance, your company should provide compensation. But there are many other factors to consider. Are others potentially at fault for the accident? Is it possible to hold the at fault driver’s employer liable? Does the driver have assets or income available? Your lawyer can help you explore available options for recovery.

When is it too late to file a claim for a car accident?

The Florida statute of limitations typically allows accident victims four years to file a claim for damages after a car accident. If you try to file a claim after that time, the court is likely to dismiss it. There are situations that decrease that time limit to two years, such as wrongful death cases.  In rare situations, however, a court may allow extra time to file a claim if extraordinary circumstances prevented you from filing within the deadline. It is imperative that you consult with a car accident attorney well before the statute of limitations expires.

Do I have to give a statement to the other driver’s insurance company?

Generally, you are not required to speak with the other driver’s insurance company. Your attorney or an insurance adjuster from your own insurance company can communicate with them on your behalf. If you do speak with an insurance company associated with someone else involved in the claim, be very careful with your statements to avoid jeopardizing your own recovery.

Does it matter if I’m driving for work at the time of an accident?

If you are involved in an accident where you are at fault while you are driving for work or even while volunteering for a nonprofit organization, your employer (or the organization) may be held liable in addition to your own personal liability.

How do the attorneys’ fees work?

At Zweben Law Group, we work for clients on a contingency fee basis. Unlike some attorneys who charge an hourly fee regardless of the outcome, we only collect a fee if we succeed in winning compensation for you. When you are awarded damages, we receive a percentage of your award to cover our fees.

How long will my claim take?

Every case is different, so it is not easy to estimate how long it will take to receive compensation to conclude your case. Our first priority will be to make sure that you receive appropriate care for your injuries and we know the resources that will be necessary to meet your needs in the future. Even if you are offered a settlement right away, it will be too early to know whether the amount offered is appropriate. Your case could conclude within a few months or a year or more if litigation is necessary.

Will someone pay for damage to my car?

Damage your car suffers in an accident may be covered by your own auto insurance company, or it could be covered by another driver’s property damage liability insurance, personal resources, or other means. Your car accident lawyer can help you find the best options. Typically we try and get the at fault party’s insurance company to pay for your car damage. However, sometimes that takes too long and it is quicker to go through your own insurance if you have collision coverage.  If you do go through your own insurance, your insurance company will work to get your deductible back for you from the at fault driver’s insurance company.  

How much is my case worth?

One of the most common questions clients ask a car insurance lawyer is “how much can I expect to get?” It is really difficult to determine this amount until we know the full extent of injuries, property damage, and future anticipated losses. Your lawyer can make an estimate based on previous cases, but so many factors affect the final damage award that it is truly hard to make an accurate guess early on.

What if I was hit by a car while I was walking or riding a bicycle?

Pedestrians and bicyclists suffer severe injuries in collisions with motor vehicles far too often. If you were the victim of a collision while walking, running, or cycling, you could receive compensation from a variety of sources, but make sure you work with an attorney who handles pedestrian and bicycle accident claims as well as car accident cases. Many of the rules regarding car accidents apply to pedestrian and cycling accidents, including the use of Personal Injury Protection insurance to pay for medical bills, and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage if available.

What’s the difference between PIP and bodily injury coverage?

Personal injury protection (PIP) protects you personally, regardless of fault, and pays for a certain amount of your medical bills and sometimes lost income due to a car accident. Bodily injury (BI) coverage (liability insurance) is the coverage you pursue against the at fault party for all of your damages over and above what PIP has covered, including additional medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering.   PIP coverage is required in Florida while BI coverage is optional.  This is why it is so important in Florida to carry uninsured motorist coverage to protect yourself if someone without BI coverage hits you.

A Dedicated Car Accident Attorney Can Answer Your Questions and Fight for Your Recovery

Any car accident–even one that seems minor at the time—can have far reaching impacts physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially. It can be difficult to know what to do and how to do it.

One of the best things you can do to protect yourself is to get advice from someone with experience handling these situations. At Zweben Law Group, we exist solely to help those injured by the negligence of others, including car accident victims. Our aim is to help you recover and move forward to your best life ahead.

We would be more than happy to answer your questions. Should you choose to work with us, we pledge to dedicate our resources to get you the best treatment and recovery possible. Call us today for a free consultation and case evaluation to learn more. We only collect a fee if we win your case, so you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

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