Car accidents can change your life in a flash. You’re driving down the road or stopped at a red light, and suddenly, your car is violently hit, sending shock waves through your body. The physical, emotional, and financial impact on your life cannot be understated.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, it’s likely taking a toll on your well-being. Recovering from such a traumatic event is challenging enough without having to worry about legal issues.
That’s why it’s so important to hire an experienced Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyer that can An experienced lawyer can expertly handle the legal matters to allow you to recover both physically and financially.
Why Choose Bernheim Kelley Battista & Bliss, LLC?
If you’ve been injured in a Fort Lauderdale car accident, the attorneys at Bernheim Kelley Battista & Bliss, LLC, are ready to represent your interests. We offer a free consultation and operate on a contingency fee basis, so you owe us nothing until we secure a financial award on your behalf.
When we meet with you, we’ll review your case and lay out your legal options. Give our law firm a call and get the answers you need. Let us show you how our personal injury team can help you after your car accident. We can accommodate phone meetings, video conferences, or in-hospital visits in the Fort Lauderdale area.
Don’t hesitate to contact us today. You owe it to yourself and your family to do everything you can to get the financial resources you need to effectively recover.
Overview of Fort Lauderdale Car Accidents
Whether you’re a full-time resident, part time resident, or tourist who frequents Fort Lauderdale, you’ve spent time driving around our major roadways like US-1 or Broward Boulevard and are aware of the remarkable traffic during rush hours.
Fort Lauderdale has approximately 185,000 residents, but during the season between November and May, our traffic is commensurate with a much higher population—which unfortunately means a higher rate of accidents.
In 2018 alone, the state of Florida reported over 400,000 traffic crashes. Over 10% of those occurred in Broward County, resulting in 237 deaths and almost 25,000 injuries.
What Are the Common Causes of Car Accidents in Fort Lauderdale?
The reasons car accidents happen are numerous and varied. Accidents in Fort Lauderdale happen for many of the same reasons accidents across the country.
Causes we most often see are:
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI)
- Aggressive lane changes
- Distracted driving
- Not maintaining a safe distance between cars (tailgating)
- New or inexperienced drivers
- Texting or using the phone while driving
- Reckless driving
- Drowsy or fatigued driving
- Multi-car collisions
- Insufficient vehicle maintenance
- Road construction and detours
- Weather conditions
At BK Law, we’re familiar with the many causes of car accidents, and we know how to evaluate your case based on how it happened and who is liable. Don’t trust your case to just any law firm. Having the right legal team can be a game changer.
Complexities of No-Fault Insurance Laws
Florida operates under a no-fault insurance system, which removes the question of fault and requires drivers to turn to their own insurance to cover their injuries. This is true no matter who was liable for causing the accident.
Florida law requires that drivers carry insurance coverage that includes “personal injury protection” or PIP. This protection includes a payout for economic damages—those that are financially quantifiable, such as medical expenses—but does not cover more subjective, non-economic losses such as emotional distress.
That said, there are exceptions to this rule.
If the injuries are especially severe and meet the legal threshold of what constitutes a serious injury, you can file a third-party claim against the other driver and sue for non-economic losses unavailable through PIP.
So, what is the threshold for a serious injury? The criteria is as follows:
- Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function
- Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, other than scarring or disfigurement
- Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement
Furthermore, if the severity of your injuries does not meet this threshold but your overall expenses surpass the $10,000 minimum PIP coverage, you can sue the other driver to recover the difference. Damage to property is not required to be recovered through PIP either, so you can file against the other driver for vehicle damage as well.
To learn more, check out our blog post “Is Florida An ‘At-Fault’ or ‘No-Fault’ State? And What Does That Mean?”
Types of Injuries That Allow You to Collect Compensation
Our Fort Lauderdale car accident attorneys will fight to get you compensation for all of your accident-related injuries. At BK Law, we’ve seen all kinds of car accident injuries over the years, but the most common are:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Broken bones
- Herniations and ruptured discs
- Closed head injuries
- Scrapes and cut from shrapnel and other projectiles
Medical expenses for these injuries could be significant, depending on their severity. We understand the financial burden this brings, and we know it puts you under a great deal of stress. Rest assured, our Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys at BK Law will do everything possible to maximize your financial award.
What Is the Average Fair Compensation an Accident Victim May Obtain?
While every case is different, the average settlement after a car accident in Fort Lauderdale ranges from $10,000 to $60,000. Depending on your injuries and the circumstances surrounding the accident, that amount could be much greater. Another factor that comes into play is whether you have an aggressive, experienced lawyer who won’t back down or accept a lowball settlement offer.
If the insurance company denies your claim or won’t play fair, our personal injury attorneys aren’t afraid to take them to court and let a jury award your compensation. It’s possible going to court could result in an even larger award. Insurance companies know this and often don’t want to take that risk. Insurance companies are more willing to settle out of court when they know you are being represented by a tough law firm like BK law.
What If You Are Hit by an Uninsured or Underinsured Driver?
If the other driver is uninsured, you may have to file a lawsuit to get the compensation you deserve. In some cases, the other driver may not be in a financial position to pay. A personal injury attorney can help you negotiate a viable payment plan to you get the money you need.
If the defendant doesn’t pay according to the payment agreement, there are other options you can pursue, including:
- Garnishing wages
- Garnishing their bank account
- Liens and levies against property
You can also seek to have the state suspend the other driver’s license until the settlement is paid off.
What Does a Car Accident Lawyer Do on Your Behalf?
When you’ve been in a car accident, do not try to navigate the legal system alone. Personal injury law is complex and can often be confusing if you don’t have years of legal education and experience. It’s critical to have a car accident attorney in your corner to give you the best advantage.
At BK Law, we’ll put our expertise to work for you. Here are just a few ways we can help:
- Conduct an investigation into the accident
- Gather and review evidence, including crash reports, medical documents, surveillance footage, and witness statements
- Consult with experts, such as medical professionals and accident reconstructionists
- Negotiate with insurance companies to maximize your settlement offer
Call us today to speak with one of our Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyers at Bernheim Kelley Battista & Bliss, LLC. We know how difficult it can be to relay the specifics surrounding a traumatic event. Trust us to provide a reassuring environment as we treat you with compassion and dignity.
What Damages Are Available in Personal Injury Cases?
Compensatory damages are intended to make you whole and allow you to return to your life as it was prior to the accident (to the greatest extent possible).
In most personal injury cases, compensatory damages fall into two categories: economic damages and non-economic damages.
What Are Economic Damages?
Economic damages relate to losses that have measurable dollar values. They’re the kind of losses that leave a paper trail like bills, receipts, and invoices. For car accident victims, these damages could include:
- Medical costs
- Therapy, both physical and emotional
- Lost income
- Loss of future earning potential
- Job training
- Medical assistance equipment such as wheelchairs
- Household services
- Transportation during recovery
- In-home nursing care
What Are Non-economic Damages?
Non-economic damages are for personal losses that are more difficult to calculate and are not easily assigned a dollar figure:
- Loss of a limb
- Emotional distress
- Limitation in mobility
- Loss of consortium/companionship
- Visible scarring
- Loss of one or more senses
- Mental distress
- Pain and suffering
- Cognitive impairment
In addition to the above compensatory damages, in rare cases, punitive damages may also be awarded. Punitive damages go beyond seeking compensation and are designed to punish the defendant for malicious or extremely reckless actions.
Our personal injury lawyers at BK Law know what damages we can seek on your behalf based on the specifics of your case. We’ll consider all possible sources of compensation and leave no money on the table.
Statute of Limitations for Fort Lauderdale Car Accidents
Florida state law limits the amount of time you have in which to file a claim after a car accident. This time frame is known as the statute of limitations.
For personal injury cases such as car accidents, Florida mandates that you bring your case within four years of the date of the accident or the date you first realized you were injured. If the accident resulted in the wrongful death of a loved one, the statute allows only two years from the date of death.
While this time may seem long enough, getting started as soon as possible gives you the best chance at maximum compensation. Car accident cases have so many factors that must be considered, and building a case can become complex. Gathering and reviewing evidence, drafting documents, contacting witnesses—all these things take time.
There are additional considerations if your accident occurred during the course of your job. In that situation, your accident may qualify for workers’ compensation.
Workers’ compensation is an insurance system subscribed to by employers to cover employee injuries while on the job. The process has its own rules and requirements, which means you could incur delays in payout if you wait too long.
The sooner you contact an attorney and get started, the more likely it is that you’ll have a strong case you can use as leverage in settlement negotiations. Insurance companies are more likely to offer a fair settlement if they know you have a solid case and are ready to take them to court if necessary. Most insurance companies will do whatever they can to avoid the risk of losing in court and being assessed a large verdict.
What Are Different Car Accident Types?
According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, there were a total of 41,123 accidents reported in 2019 and 204 fatal accidents during that same time. While high-speed collisions tend to be associated with severe injuries, even a small rear-end collision in a parking lot can lead to a moderate but painful case of whiplash that can require months or years of recovery to heal properly.
Whether your vehicle is stopped at a traffic light, a stop sign, or in a line of cars leaving the mall or grocery store, rear-end collisions are by far the most prolific types of crashes in Fort Lauderdale. They are also a leading cause of whiplash, a common injury that often occurs at low speeds.
A sideswipe collision happens when two vehicles are heading in the same direction and one moves into the other’s lane, crashing into the side of the other car. This type of Fort Lauderdale auto accident occurs most commonly when a driver changes lanes without using the turn signal or ensuring it’s clear to proceed. Drivers distractedly veering into another lane can also cause sideswipe collisions. Because both vehicles are moving, it can cause one or more drivers to lose control of their cars, causing severe injuries.
These accidents usually occur at intersections when a driver fails to yield the right of way. The results can be devastating to the occupants of both vehicles. T-bone crashes can happen when a driver makes a left turn in front of oncoming traffic or because a driver ignored a stop sign or red light and drove into the intersection without stopping.
Some intersections have traffic cameras that can help prove fault in your Fort Lauderdale car accident, but this footage is only saved for a short period. Contact a car accident attorney in Broward County as soon as possible to obtain access to time-sensitive evidence that can help support your case.
When two vehicles strike each other head-on, the speed at impact is the sum of the speed of the cars. That means if both cars are driving 35 mph, the impact is the same as a vehicle traveling 70 mph hitting a brick wall. Drivers and passengers can be ejected from the vehicle or suffer injuries from forceful airbag deployments.
Head-on collisions are often fatal. Fortunately, they aren’t as common as other types of accidents around Fort Lauderdale, FL.
Motorcycles offer no exterior protection for the rider. Almost all motorcycle accidents involve injury to the rider, even at low speeds that would be considered a minor inconvenience between two cars. Even if you’re wearing your helmet and protective gear, it is still possible to be severely injured.
Commercial Truck Accidents
Semi-trucks and 18-wheelers are called “big rigs” for a reason. Their sheer size means accidents where big rigs are involved can result in injuries far more severe than in accidents between two cars.
Commercial vehicles and their drivers are regulated by both the Department of Transportation and the state of Florida. They’re held to specific standards that go beyond expectations for someone operating a passenger motor vehicle.
Personal injury lawyers in Fort Lauderdale are familiar with the requirements for commercial drivers and can determine driver compliance at the time of the crash.
People walking or riding a bicycle or e-scooter are at a distinct disadvantage when they come in contact with a car. As is the case with motorcycle accidents, the victim has no outer protection. Consequently, this type of accident is often quite severe and may even result in death.
What Should You Do after a Car Accident in Fort Lauderdale?
The immediate aftermath of a car accident can be confusing and disorienting. However, maintain your composure and take the following steps to preserve evidence in the event you decide to pursue legal action.
All auto collisions are different; therefore, not all of these steps will be applicable. Use your discretion, and make sure that your top priority is the health and safety of you and your passengers.
Make Sure You’re in a Safe Location
This could mean staying in your car or getting out and moving to the side of the road. Before exiting your vehicle, make sure that you aren’t putting yourself in harm’s way which could affect you and other drivers.
Call 911 before exiting your vehicle to ensure that police, fire, and EMTs are immediately dispatched to the scene. Making the call before you speak to the other driver will also help you avoid feeling any pressure if the other driver prefers to handle the collision without involving police. In some cases where there’s severe injury or damage, you could be punished for not contacting the police.
Take Photos and Videos at the Scene
If you can do so from a safe vantage point, take photos and videos with as much detail as possible. Try to include damage to the vehicles, injuries to yourself and other parties, debris on the roadway, geographic indicators, and anything else that you believe could help depict the accident.
If possible, provide narration over the video that explains any necessary details. Do not edit or alter your video content, and be sure to tell your lawyer that you have it.
Exchange Contact Information
Make sure you get contact information and insurance details from the other driver. If the police haven’t arrived on the scene, speak to possible witnesses. Ask anyone who has stopped or was nearby if they saw anything.
If they need to leave the site, ask for their contact information. Witnesses will often leave as soon as they confirm that injuries aren’t life-threatening.
Seek Medical Attention
Even if you think you aren’t injured, make sure you get checked out. Some injuries may appear gradually, so obtaining medical records shortly after the accident can help prove origin of injuries.
Not seeking care or refusing to let the EMTs at the scene examine you may be used by the insurance adjuster to downplay the extent of your injuries in hopes of reducing the payout.
Call Your Insurance Carrier
Be sure to call your insurance company to notify them of the accident. Depending on the terms of your insurance agreement, failing to notify may give them leverage to deny your claim. However, don’t sign anything, and do your best to stick to general information regarding the accident. Don’t discuss fault or other details until you’ve talked to an attorney.
Talk to a Fort Lauderdale Accident Attorney
At BK Law, we’re happy to take your call and discuss your case. During our initial consultation, we’ll go through the details of your situation and give you a clear sense of how we can help you get the money you deserve. Hiring us is the best thing you can do for yourself after a car accident in Fort Lauderdale.
What Not to Do after an Accident?
Just as there are steps you should take following a car accident, there are also a number of things you should not do if you want to be successful in your accident claim.
If you’ve been in a car accident, do not do the following:
Leave the Scene
Leaving the scene of an accident could be a crime, resulting in a misdemeanor or felony charge. Stop and stay at the scene even if you believe no harm has been done.
It’s natural after an accident to feel the need to apologize if you think you did something wrong. This is a mistake. First of all, you don’t have all the facts yet, so it’s possible the accident wasn’t entirely your fault. Second, any declaration of fault you make can be used by the other driver or by the insurance companies. Always consult an attorney before discussing the accident in any detail or speculating on liability.
Speak to the Other Driver’s Insurance Company
Not all insurance companies act in good faith, so don’t try to handle discussions and negotiations with the other driver’s insurance company without consulting your car accident lawyer. A lawyer can help you determine what to say to the insurance company or even speak to the insurance company on your behalf.
FAQs about Car Accidents in Fort Lauderdale
The following are answers to “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQs) from our clients and potential clients. Please keep in mind this is general information. The best way to get a specific answer regarding your unique situation is by contacting BK Law and speaking with a car accident attorney today.
Why Do I Need a Car Accident Attorney?
If you’re injured in an accident, the insurance company will be more than happy to settle with you directly. The adjuster may show up at the accident scene or in the hospital and offer to cut you a check for your medical expenses, lost wages, vehicle damage, and a little extra for your inconvenience.
You will, however, be required to sign a waiver of liability absolving them of further responsibility. Unfortunately, that means once the money runs out, you can’t come back for more—even if more evidence comes to light in your case.
How Long Will It Take To Get a Settlement?
It’s difficult to answer this question given the complications that could arise during negotiations. Settlement negotiations could go on for months or even years. Keep in mind the deadline to file a lawsuit is four years, after that the claim is barred forever. On the other hand, in the case of a lawsuit, you’ll need to follow the guidance and schedule of the courts.
Will I Need to Go to Court to Get the Money I’m Owed?
While it’s true that most personal injury claims are resolved without a lawsuit, and even more are resolved before the case goes to trial, this doesn’t guarantee that your case won’t be put through a full trial.
There are many steps between initiating a claim with an insurance company and reaching an out-of-court settlement or final award at trial.
What If I’m Partially Responsible for the Accident?
Florida uses the theory of pure comparative fault to assign fault in a personal injury claim. Under this rule, you’re entitled to seek compensation even if you partially contributed to the accident. Your final award is simply reduced according to your percentage of fault.
For example, if you were driving over the speed limit during a car accident with someone who failed to yield, you might be ultimately held partially responsible. If the decision is that you were 10% responsible, and your damages equal $100,000, it would be reduced by 10% and you’d walk away with only $90,000.
How Much Does a Car Accident Attorney Cost?
Personal injury attorneys typically work on a contingency fee basis, which means they’re paid from the proceeds of your settlement or award.
Attorney fees in Fort Lauderdale are governed by the Florida State Bar Association, which sets the guidelines for contingency fees in personal injury cases. However, unlike some states, the Florida Bar doesn’t set a schedule—only that fees must be reasonable. You should always review the law firm’s fee schedule is in advance of hiring them.
Contact BK Law for a Free Consultation Today
For decades, our Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyers at BK Law have been providing injured clients with exceptional legal representation. Our efforts have garnered hundreds of millions of dollars for our clients. We have extensive experience in Broward County courtrooms, so you can trust that we know our way around the courts and legal community. The insurance companies know they’ll have a tough time when they go up against BK Law.
If you’ve been injured in an accident, don’t settle for a lesser firm. Give our law offices a call today to schedule your free consultation. The sooner we get started, the sooner you’ll have the financial resources you need to get your life back.