How to Sue After a Car Accident in Tampa, FL

sue after car accident injury

After a person experiences a car accident in Tampa, Florida, it is recommended the accident victim contact an attorney about their case.

A car accident attorney will obtain as much information as possible concerning the incident. The first attempt to obtain a fair settlement usually involves negotiations with an insurance company. An insurance adjuster and the attorney will try and reach an agreement when it comes to the settlement amount. When it appears the accident victim’s case is strong, and the insurance company’s offer is too low: the next step could be to file a lawsuit.

 

In this article, we cover frequently asked questions and topics regarding car accident lawsuits in Tampa, FL.

What is Personal Injury Protection (PIP)?

It’s important for Florida residents to know they need to seek medical attention as soon as possible after their car accident. Should they be in a car accident and wait longer than fourteen (14) days before seeking medical attention, Personal Injury Protection (PIP) may not cover any of their medical bills.

PIP coverage will pay a person for 80 percent of their medical expenses as well as 60 percent of their lost wages. The amounts an accident victim receives will be subject to the limitations of their vehicle insurance policy.

Unless an individual has suffered an emergency medical situation, their PIP benefits will not be more than $2,500. An emergency medical condition is when an accident victim experiences a medical condition so serious it requires immediate medical attention. This condition may cause a patient’s health to be in serious jeopardy.

Filing a lawsuit

Should a person need compensation beyond what is provided by PIP, it is possible for them to hire a car accident attorney and make a claim, and/or file a lawsuit. In order for such a lawsuit to be permitted to proceed, the accident victim must have suffered a permanent injury which under Florida law can consist of continued complaints of pain to your doctor. If your doctor is of the opinion that the pain is permanent you are entitled to recover money damages although the insurance company typically finds a doctor to say the injuries are not permanent. Other much more serious injuries such as traumatic brain damage, spinal cord injuries, permanent paralysis and death are much more difficult for the insurance company to dispute.

Florida Statute of Limitations

Florida has legal statutes that determine the deadline an individual has for filing a lawsuit in civil court. This is known as the statute of limitations. In the state of Florida, a person has four (4) years from the date of the incident to file a personal injury lawsuit in a civil court. Should a person not file a lawsuit before the statute of limitation expires, and the insurance company attorney asks the judge to dismiss the lawsuit, the court will do so. Should a person want to file a personal injury lawsuit against a city, county or state government, they will have a three-year time limit to notify the government entities. And four years to bring the action if they do so timely.

Comparative Negligence

In Florida, the amount of compensation a person receives could be decreased by their percentage of fault for an accident. Should a person get a $100,000 court settlement, but is found to have been 10 percent at fault, they will only be awarded $90,000.

Case Investigation

Once an attorney is hired, they will do research to get a good understanding of the accident and the injuries suffered. They will contact the insurance company directly for the at-fault party, as well as your insurance company to process medical bills. They may also contact the attorney of the party responsible for causing the accident. An attorney will keep their client aware of any major developments as well negotiations during the process. The client must give the final authorization for settlement.

Related: How Liability and Negligence is Determined in a Car Accident Case

Out of Court Settlements

Many personal injury claims in Tampa are resolved after the injured client reaches maximum medical improvement and has been discharged by their doctors. Some are resolved as the case gets closer to the start of a trial. This is often the case when it comes to vehicle accidents. It is to the benefit of all parties involved to avoid a long and expensive court trial. When an insurance company makes a settlement offer, an attorney will present it to their client and provide their opinion regarding the strengths and weaknesses of your case and whether the offer should be accepted. Should a person want to settle their case, an attorney will then file the appropriate paperwork. An attorney may believe their client has a strong case, and be of the opinion that the settlement offer is too low, and then recommend going forward with a lawsuit.

The Lawsuit Process:

Complaint and Answer

The process begins with a complaint. This is a document sent to the individual being sued. It provides the general details concerning the injuries an accident victim experienced as well as the extent of their loss. This document will be filed with the county where the accident took place. The defendant’s attorney must provide answers to the complaint within 30 days. A defendant will either admit or deny the allegations in the complaint.

Discovery

During this part of the process both sides to the lawsuit work to obtain documents, testimony, and information to prove their case. Written questions are known as interrogatories. There could be a request for various documents between both sides. Oral discovery is known as depositions. Experts, witnesses and more can be subject to a deposition.

Motions

There are a number of different motions the defendant’s and the plaintiff’s attorney can file with the court. These motions can be for the Court to dismiss the entire case or for the court to rule the Plaintiff was not at fault. There can also be a motion to dismiss various aspects of the plaintiff’s case and more. There are situations where a judge will hold a hearing to consider the position of each side in the argument.

Mediation

This is a form of dispute resolution. It is often agreed to by both sides sometimes pre-suit and sometimes after litigation has been ongoing. This will involve the defendant, plaintiff, their attorneys as well as a neutral mediator. Both sides will attempt to negotiate a settlement with guidance from a mediator.

Trial

A trial will consist of the jury selection, opening statements, witness testimony, cross-examination, and jury instruction. The jury will then deliberate and provide a verdict.

Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer in Tampa, FL

Jack Bernstein has over 31 years of experience as a car accident lawyer in Tampa, FL and can help you through this very difficult time.

You should never have to deal with the insurance companies alone. They know the average person does not understand the complex laws and rules that affect car accident cases and will try to take advantage of the situation.

Call Jack Bernstein, Injury Attorneys at (813) 333-6666 for a free evaluation of your case. There is no fee unless we win.

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