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Articles Posted in Personal Injury

Legal terminology can be complicated for anyone without a background in law, which is why there is often confusion over what happens after someone is hurt in a personal injury accident. Even if you know that you have options to recover compensation for the party responsible for causing your injuries, exercising your legal rights does not always mean going to court. You may be able to obtain monetary damages, including medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering, through a settlement. 

This scenario and other details often lead people to misunderstand the difference between a “claim” and a “lawsuit.” In short, these two terms describe two distinct – yet potentially overlapping – stages of the legal process. You can learn the specifics by speaking to a Miami personal injury lawyer, but an overview of claims versus lawsuits may be helpful.

Claims Involve Insurance Companies

Witnesses to a Miami car accident are valuable resources when you are filing insurance claims for your injuries, as well as if you resort to litigation. These individuals may have details regarding the incident that you may not know; plus, eye witnesses are typically neutral parties in your case when it comes to fault. Their statements and testimony are generally viewed as being more credible than your own because they do not stand to gain. According to the Florida Rules of Evidence, almost anyone is competent to be a witness – as long as they have personal knowledge of the circumstances. 

As such, it is important to communicate with potential witnesses at the scene, starting with names and contact information. This may or may not be possible depending on the nature of your injuries, but do what you can if you are physically able. Your Miami car accidents attorney will handle the legal details, but you should follow a few tips for talking to witnesses after the crash.

Find Out the Witness’s Location

gemma-evans-IAKIkREkRzY-unsplash-copy-300x225There are more than 31,350 people injured in Miami-Dade County auto accidents every year according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles’ Crash Dashboard, a figure that may not surprise you given the number of careless drivers on the road. However, you might be shocked to learn that an estimated 95% of victims settle their claims with an insurance company rather than go to court. There are multiple advantages of settling, especially since you resolve your case faster and enjoy certainty in terms of the result.

 
The first stage in pursuing settlement will be preparing a packet with your claim and supporting documentation, topped off by a demand letter to the responsible driver’s insurance company. It is wise to trust a Miami car accidents attorney to handle these initial tasks, but you might find an overview to be helpful.

 
Supporting Documentation for Your Demand Packet

daniel-thurler-511435-unsplash-copy-300x191Every U.S. state requires motorists to carry certain minimum levels of auto insurance, and Florida is no exception. However, insurance laws related to motorcycles and motorcycle accidents ARE very different in ways that may surprise you. In short, most of the familiar insurance regulations established by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) only apply to vehicles with four or more wheels. Motorcycles and trikes, a.k.a. three-wheeled motorcycles, are covered by an entirely distinct set of rules. 

In some situations, the relevant regulations may have a significant impact on your rights if you were injured because of another driver’s negligence. You should speak to a Miami motorcycle accidents lawyer about your rights, and read on for important information about Florida’s insurance laws.

Motorcycle Insurance Requirements

helloquence-51716-unsplash-copy-300x200According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Traffic Crash Facts, there are more than 248,000 people hurt in Florida car accidents every year, and almost 32,500 injured victims in Miami-Dade County alone. For many of these individuals, the legal process for recovering compensation starts with filing an insurance claim. You might be working with your own insurance company, since Florida is a no-fault state; however, in some cases, you will file a third-party claim with the insurer for the responsible driver.

In either situation, you may be presented with a “release,” a document that carries very important implications for your rights as a victim. As such, you should always consult with a Miami car accident lawyer before signing, and these warnings about releases should convince you of the reasons why.

  • You Give Up Your Rights: The point of a release is to resolve your auto crash claim with the insurance company. In exchange for your signature, the insurer will offer a payout to cover your losses, with the stipulation that you have no further rights or remedies. When you are injured and facing an uncertain financial situation, the settlement amount may seem attractive. However, by giving up your rights, you risk being under-compensated. 

jacek-dylag-PMxT0XtQ-A-unsplash-copy-300x200The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Crash Dashboard indicates that there were 1,607 pedestrian accidents in 2019, leading to 87 fatalities and almost 1,200 injuries to victims. Many of these incidents are caused by driver errors, such as failure to yield, running a red light or stop sign, and many other careless actions. However, if you were hurt in an incident while on foot, you should realize that your own conduct may also be a factor. Even though you probably suffered more extensive injuries being a vulnerable road user, you do not get a reprieve when you were also at fault.

 
The reason is that Florida has a statute on comparative fault, and it could have an impact on the monetary damages you can recover. You should discuss the implications with a Miami pedestrian accidents attorney, but an overview may be useful.

 
Comparative Fault in Florida Personal Injury Cases

People over the age of 65 account for almost 20% of all pedestrian deaths, according to NHTSA data. A pedestrian dies in a car accident every 1.5 hours. Seniors are uniquely vulnerable to becoming pedestrian accident victims. If you are a senior citizen, or your loved one is a senior citizen, how can you avoid becoming the next statistic? Here are a few tips for keeping yourself safe from becoming a Miami senior pedestrian accident victim. 

Be Extra Cautious About Distracted Driving

One of the biggest causes of Miami senior pedestrian accidents is distracted or inattentive drivers. Reckless, distracted driving can cause drivers to fail to stop at stop signs or turn carelessly in front of pedestrians in an intersection. Distracted drivers often disregard red lights. Common causes of distracted driving include the following:

Since the advent of smartphones with cameras, there have been deaths associated with people taking pictures of themselves, or “selfies.” An intoxicated man from Mexico shot himself accidentally while taking a selfie. A Romanian woman was electrocuted while taking a selfie on the top of a train. A man in Indonesia fell into a crater while taking a selfie. A man was gored during Spain’s annual running of the bulls while taking a selfie. Deaths while taking selfies now outnumber deaths by shark attacks. These events even prompted the Russian government to launch a campaign to persuade people to be more cautious while taking selfies. As you can see, most of these deaths were ultimately caused by the environment in which the selfie was taken; it is important to note that dangerous situations are not the best time to take pictures.

Shark attacks result in deaths each year in Florida, as well. Interestingly, the most likely group of people to be injured in a shark attack are surfers. Fishermen, scuba divers, and swimmers are also at high risk of being attacked by a shark. While sharks get a lot of attention in the media for being dangerous animals, the likelihood of being attacked by a shark is extremely low, and the odds of being killed in that shark attack are even smaller. 

Comparing the danger of selfies against the danger of shark attacks is a good exercise in thinking about risk. Even though more people have been killed while taking selfies, that does not mean taking a selfie is inherently dangerous. Every instance in which someone was killed while taking a selfie, their own negligence. In legal terms, this is called contributory negligence or comparative negligence. For example, In Japan, a 66 year old man fell down some steps and had a heart attack after taking a selfie. If the steps were slippery because something had been spilled there, and the property owner was aware or should have been aware of the hazard, then the owner could be partly responsible for the man’s injury. In Florida, the court would compare how much each party was at fault and only compensate the injured party to the extent they were not at fault for their own injuries.

When you read the data regarding the frequency of car accidents around Miami, you will probably be surprised by the numbers. In its Traffic Crash Facts for 2018, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) reports that there are almost 65,000 auto collisions every year in Miami-Dade County. Based upon a three-year average, close to 300 people are killed and more than 32,000 victims suffer injuries in these incidents. 

However, it is even more concerning to know that most of these crashes are preventable, and that certain careless acts by drivers are behind them. You may qualify to recover monetary damages if you were injured or lost a loved one, and a Miami car accidents attorney can assist with the process. You may also benefit from knowing some of the most common causes of motor vehicle collisions, and what you can do to avoid them.

  • Distracted Driving: You know the importance of putting away all electronic devices when you are in the driver’s seat, but many motorists ignore both the safety issues and the laws prohibiting cell phone use. In 2018, there were 236 fatal crashes linked to distracted driving, and more than 45,000 accidents that involved injuries. Note that some of these were not associated with cell phone use, but using the radio, eating, and drinking can also be dangerous forms of distracted driving.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety recently issued a report on red light running and its impact on car accidents, and the findings may come as a shock to some. More than 14 people are killed every week on U.S. roadways by motorists who drive through red lights. Data collected from 2012 to 2017 reveals that there are almost 950 fatalities annually linked to red light running, which is a 10-year high. Thousands more suffer injuries in crashes under similar circumstances. Additional data shows that these incidents are preventable, and usually the result of careless or reckless driving. 

Fortunately, Florida law protects victims by providing legal options to recover monetary damages. A Miami car accidents attorney can assist with the process, but you might find the following information useful.

Statistics on Red Light Running

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