Over 35,000 people die every year from fatal car crashes. Whether due to alcohol or other driver error, auto manufacturing defect, or unsafe roadways, if you have had a loved one killed in a fatal car crash, you deserve some form of justice and relief. Even aside from fatalities, car accidents can lead to serious injuries that can keep you from working, limit your ability to enjoy life activities, and result in exorbitant medical costs. If you or your family are suffering as a result of a negligent or reckless driver, you need the help of a strong, competent, and effective legal team.
At The Law Offices of Marc L. Shapiro, P.A., our car accident attorneys understand the intricacies of the motor vehicle accident law, especially trucking laws. We use this knowledge to maximize the financial compensation our injured clients are entitled to, based on their injuries and case. We aggressively pursue financial compensation for all the losses you have endured, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, property damage and more.
What Causes Car Accidents?
A variety of factors can cause car crashes. Often, multiple factors are at play in any accident. However, most serious car crashes are caused by some form of human error. Traffic accidents are typically avoidable, and when someone causes a crash and people get hurt as a result, they should be held liable for the damage they cause.
The Naples car accident legal team at The Law Offices of Marc L. Shapiro, P.A. is prepared to help you recover for your damages regardless of the cause of the accident. We have recovered damages for our clients after car accidents resulting from any number of causes, including the following:
Drunk or drugged driving. Every year, thousands of people are killed across the country by drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Intoxication impairs a driver’s ability to make quick decisions, perceive hazards on the road, remain focused and alert, and react appropriately to unexpected dangers. Drunk driving remains one of the leading causes of car accidents and accident-related deaths across the country today.
Distracted driving. Distracted driving has rapidly become one of the biggest dangers on the road in Florida and across the country. Studies have shown that people recognize the dangers of texting or emailing while driving, and yet a huge number of drivers continue to do it. Drivers who take their hands off the wheel, their attention off of driving, or their eyes off of the road are significantly more likely to cause an accident.
Aggressive driving maneuvers. Speeding, lane-splitting, tailgating, passing on the shoulder, or any number of other aggressive driving maneuvers may shave a few seconds or minutes off of a commute, but they put everyone on the road in danger. Drivers who cause an accident because of unnecessary, aggressive actions behind the wheel must pay for any injuries they cause.
Drowsy driving. Drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. Commercial drivers, such as taxi drivers, truckers, limo drivers, and rideshare drivers, work long, punishing shifts, often with little rest in between. The typical commuter is also often operating on limited sleep. According to safety experts, being awake for 18 hours has the same effect on cognition and reaction speed as having a BAC of 0.05%; after 24 hours with no sleep, reactions are equivalent to having a BAC of 0.10%, over the legal limit for driving. Drivers need to plan ahead, get enough sleep, and follow commercial driving safety regulations in order to avoid accidents.
Inclement weather and roadway hazards. Florida is known for its unpredictable weather. Whenever there is severe rain, hail, fog, or another serious weather condition, drivers on Florida roadways must take extra care to protect themselves and other drivers on the roadway. Drivers who fail to slow down and pay more attention as a result of weather, or who are too inattentive to notice objects on the road such as animals or felled trees, are likely to cause a serious accident.
What to do After an Accident?
Everyone reacts differently when they get hit in a car crash. Some get angry, others get frightened, and some forget all about themselves and try to comfort the other driver who caused the wreck. There’s no question that being in a car accident is a confusing time, and probably the first thing on your mind is not, How do I go about filing a claim for damages? Regardless, the things you say and do (or don’t say and do) at the scene and in the days following the accident can have big impacts on how well-positioned you are to get the best results when it comes time to settle your case. See below for some tips on how to handle an accident, and call The Law Offices of Marc L. Shapiro, P.A., if you’ve been hurt in a crash in Naples, Orlando or Fort Myers.
Get yourself to safety. If you are on a highway or in a highly-trafficked area, you need to find a way to get yourself and your vehicle out of traffic safely. If your car is obstructing traffic, Florida law says you should “make every reasonable effort” to move your vehicle or have it moved so you are not blocking the regular flow of traffic. This might involve calling a tow truck if your car is not drivable.
Seek medical attention. Don’t be shy about calling 9-1-1 if you or anyone at the scene needs emergency medical attention. That’s what this number is for. Otherwise, apply First Aid to yourself and others as needed, and wait for the police to arrive. You might need to go to the hospital or have someone drive you home.
Collect evidence. Take pictures of the vehicles and the road, including debris and skid marks. Talk to witnesses and get their contact information. Exchange information with the other driver as well, including name and contact info., driver’s license and license plate numbers, and insurance company and policy number. Don’t offer specific information about your insurance, such as how much coverage you have, and don’t admit fault or discuss what happened with the other driver. Your lawyer can investigate the accident scene as well, but some evidence may already be gone, so it’s good if you can make a record of the scene while you are there, if you are able.
Call an attorney. The sooner you call a lawyer, the better. Your attorney can advise you on how to notify the insurance company about the crash or, better yet, make the call for you. Your lawyer can also help you find a doctor who can check you out and treat your injuries if you don’t have somebody to go to. As mentioned above, your attorney will want to get started right away investigating the accident and securing evidence to build the strongest case. In Naples, Orlando or Fort Myers, call The Law Offices of Marc L. Shapiro, P.A.
Notify the insurance company. This has to be done promptly after an accident to secure your right to make a claim, usually within a day or two, if possible. The insurer will want to know the details of the accident, and they’ll probably ask your permission to record the call. It’s better if you decline to give any recorded statements at this time, as the insurer is already building its case to get out of liability or pay as little as they can. If you’ve already got a lawyer, you can refer them to your attorney or have your attorney call on your behalf.
See a doctor. If you declined treatment at the scene, you should still follow up with a doctor very soon after the accident. Some injuries don’t become immediately apparent, but you should be assessed in case of any injuries such as a concussion or internal bleeding. You might also feel okay at the scene due to the adrenaline rush but start to feel sore the next day. Seeing a doctor promptly also helps document your case and build a record for your settlement. The Law Offices of Marc L. Shapiro, P.A., can help you find a doctor who will evaluate and treat you on a lien basis, meaning they won’t charge you upfront but will take their fees after you get your settlement.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Settle My Case?
You have insurance, or the other driver has insurance, and surely one of those policies will cover the accident and pay for your injuries. So, if all you are doing is filing an insurance claim, do you really need a lawyer? First of all, getting a fair amount of compensation for your injury requires more than just making a phone call or filling out a form. Dealing with an insurance claim is serious business that requires skilled and knowledgeable assistance from an experienced lawyer. Here’s why.
Your interests are adverse from the insurance company’s interests. You want as much compensation as you can get for your injuries. You certainly want as much as you need and as much as is fair. What does the insurance company want? They want to pay as little as they can get away with. Thinking the insurer is on your side and will offer you full value for your claim is most often a mistake.
Your attorney works only for you. Whether you are dealing with your insurance company or the other driver’s, insurance companies have divided loyalties that conflict with paying you what they owe. Insurance corporations owe a duty to maximize profits for their shareholders, and they can get sued or fired if they don’t maximize their bottom line. By law and contract, insurers have to pay valid claims, but nothing keeps them from interpreting the facts in their favor and limiting or denying payment when they think they can get away with it.
Your attorney doesn’t have any divided loyalties. Your lawyer is duty-bound to represent you and to put your interests above anything else. Also, since personal injury law firms work on a contingency fee basis, the more they recover for you, the larger their fee. Your lawyer has both ethical duties and economic incentives to do the best job for you.
The insurance company has trained, expert claims adjusters and defense lawyers on their side. These people adjust and settle claims every day; it’s what they do for a living. Unless you are more unlucky than most, you likely only have to deal with a car accident claim once or twice in your lifetime. There’s no way you can acquire the knowledge, skills and experience of a claims adjuster or defense lawyer. You can, however, hire a plaintiff’s personal injury lawyer with skills and experience that match or exceed those on the other side.
A personal injury plaintiff’s lawyer knows what your claim is worth. You might know what the accident has cost you so far, but you probably don’t know your long-term needs or the impact the accident will have on your life going forward. At The Law Offices of Marc L. Shapiro, P.A., our experienced injury attorneys know how to calculate what your claim is worth, and we know how to demand it and get it.
You need to focus on yourself and your family. You don’t need the added time and stress trying to negotiate a settlement, deal with paperwork and document requests, and do what it takes to build your case. You need to focus on getting better and getting life back in order. A personal injury attorney will take care of all of the following while you are recuperating and taking care of yourself and your family:
- Make sure to meet all required notice and filing deadlines
- Know what evidence to get and how to get it
- Represent you in talks with the insurance company, including telephone negotiations and emails and formal, written demand letters
- Negotiate a settlement with the insurance company with the skills of an experienced, expert negotiator
- Prepare your case for trial, and go to court if necessary. This may never happen, but without the capability and preparedness for trial, your claim is much weaker in the eyes of the insurance company
Get Help From a Seasoned Naples Car Accident Lawyer
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car crash, the dedicated and compassionate traffic accident lawyers at The Law Offices of Marc L. Shapiro, P.A., are here to help you recover the money you are owed for the harm you have suffered. Call our Naples, Florida car crash law office at 239-649-8050 today for a free consultation.