Ocala, FL Car Accident Lawyer Near You
Being involved in a car accident is always an unnerving experience. Even if you are not at fault and don’t think that you’re injured, the mere fact that the accident happened can be enough to throw your life into disarray. Following a car wreck people often find themselves asking, “Car accident, do I need a lawyer?” or “Should I get an attorney after a car accident?” Contacting a specialized car accident lawyer in Ocala, FL may be the smart course of action, especially if the situation is more serious and complicated if anyone involved in the accident has been injured. From the initial call to the police and trip to the emergency room to follow-up doctor visits and missed time at work, the whole experience is time-consuming and often very stressful.
Fortunately, our nearby car accident lawyer is here to help. Our aim is to take the stress out of the process and provide peace of mind to our clients while pursuing maximum compensation for their injuries. In addition, our Ocala injury lawyers can handle the paperwork and details with the insurance company to pursue your claim against another at-fault driver. If necessary, we will hire expert witnesses to testify about any disputed issue. Contact us by calling 352-484-0775 for a free consultation.
Car accidents are among the most significant risk for personal injury in Ocala and around Marion County. Florida’s Integrated Report Exchange System shows very clearly just how dangerous this risk really is. In 2017, Marion County had 6,691 car accidents, with 3,233 of those resulting in injuries. 5,136 individuals were injured in those accidents. 83 of those accidents were fatal, resulting in 91 total fatalities. Hiring an experienced Ocala car accident lawyer will help those in need get the compensation they deserve.
Commercial vehicles, such as large trucks, also cause many serious accidents. There was a total of 733 Ocala truck accidents in 2017 alone. Meanwhile, 143 pedestrian accidents, resulting in 15 deaths, and 73 bicycle accidents, resulting in 3 deaths.
These statistics cover just a few of the many practice areas we focus on at Glover Law Firm. No matter what accident caused your injuries, know that you are not alone. We are available to help you seek justice and compensation after an injury caused by someone else’s negligence or recklessness.
Jump to: Types of Auto Accident Claims, First Steps After a Car Accident, Settling Case Without Trial, Calculating a Car Accident Settlement, How Long Does it Take for a Settlement From a Car Accident?, Filing a Car Accident Claim, Car Accident Trial Process, Expert Witnesses in the Case, Types of Compensation After a Car Accident, Types of Recoverable Damages, Mistakes to Avoid After a Car Accident, Contact an Ocala Car Accident Lawyer
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When Another Driver is At Fault
In simple terms, another driver is at fault when they are judged to have caused the accident. From the insurance company’s perspective, this is simply a way to place blame on one of the drivers. The law looks at this question in a slightly different way.
In order to collect compensation from an at-fault driver, a plaintiff must be able to prove that the defendant was negligent. This is a multi-step process that involves in-depth legal analysis.
To prove negligence, people injured in car accidents must be able to show that:
- They were owed a duty of care by the defendant
- The duty of care was broken or breached
- The breach of the duty of care caused their injuries
The first portion is almost always present in car accident cases since all drivers assume a duty to care for everyone else on the road. This duty extends to other drivers and passengers, bicyclists, and pedestrians.
It is also almost always a given that a breach of the duty of care caused the injuries. While there may be rare instances of plaintiffs attempting to claim preexisting conditions in a car accident case, most claims are backed by solid medical evidence that points directly to the accident as the cause of the harm.
The most contested portion of a negligence claim is whether the duty was broken. In some cases, this question is made moot by a police report citing a driver for a traffic violation. Known as the legal concept of negligence per se, the law states that if a person is guilty of breaking a law and this violation causes an injury, the defendant is assumed to be civilly liable
However, most cases involve examples of contested viewpoints as to who is at fault. In these situations, accident attorneys can perform investigations of the accident by speaking with witnesses, examining the crash scene, and researching case law that deals with similar questions of liability.
Types of Auto Accident Claims
- Accidents Involving Bad Weather — Florida doesn’t have to deal with the problems caused by snow and ice in colder climates, but Ocala does face occasional tropical storms. Torrential rains and hurricanes can lead to flooding in some areas and create an increased risk of vehicles losing control on wet roads. Inclement weather may make driving more difficult, but a motorist who decides to try and drive in these conditions must try to operate safely and can still be held liable for accidents caused by failure to do so.
- Accidents Involving Cellphones — Distracted driving remains a pressing concern for motorists of all ages. Cell phone use is one of the primary causes of distracted driving accidents. Whether a person was responding to a notification or typing a text message, cellphones are extremely dangerous because they often take a driver’s eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, and mind off of driving safely. A car accident attorney may be able to subpoena a negligent driver’s phone records in order to prove they were using a cellphone at the time of the crash.
- Drunk Driving — Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or a controlled substance is a criminal offense in Florida. A conviction for DUI could entitle a victim to punitive damages in some cases, but it is important to keep in mind that a criminal case is completely separate from a civil action. This means that even if a drunk driver is acquitted, they can still be held civilly liable. You will have to file a civil suit to recover compensation from the reckless driver even if they are convicted in a criminal court.
- Failure to Yield — Failing to yield the right of way can result in devastating accidents because the driver who has the right of way does not expect to encounter another vehicle. Some of the most common kinds of failure to yield accidents involve four-way stops, flashing traffic lights, left turns, and parking lot driveway exits. Failure to yield accidents are not limited to just other vehicles, as pedestrians and bicyclists can also be injured because of a driver’s failure to yield.
- Head-on Collision — When two motor vehicles collide front end to front end, the injuries are much more likely to be fatal. Head-on crashes at high speeds are especially catastrophic, but even lower speed accidents can still carry devastating consequences. According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), only 2 percent of all crashes in the United States in 2015 were head-on collisions, but these types of accidents accounted for 10 percent of motor vehicle fatalities.
- Highway Accident — Some of the nearby major highways that run through Ocala include Interstate 75 (I-75), U.S. Route 27 (US 27), U.S. Route 301 (US 301), U.S. Route 441 (US 441), Florida State Road 40 (SR 40), Florida State Road 464 (SR 464), and Florida State Road 200 (SR 200). These roadways generate high amounts of traffic and are thus very frequent sites of crashes. Major highways can be extremely stressful settings to try and collect important information after an accident, so victims should try to retain legal counsel as soon as possible to do so on their behalf.
- Hit and Run Accident — Leaving the scene of an accident in Florida is a misdemeanor when the crash only involves property damage, but any hit and run crime resulting in injury or death is a felony offense. An experienced Ocala car accident lawyer can not only work with law enforcement to locate the hit and run driver, but also assist you in filing a claim with your own insurance company if the driver cannot be found.
- Major Road Accident — In addition to the highways listed above, Ocala has a number of other streets that have fairly high volumes of traffic. Other roads on which accidents are common include Northwest 35th Street, Northwest 27th Avenue, Old U.S. Highway 301, West Anthony Road, Southeast 25th Avenue, and Southwest 42nd Street.
- Parking Lot Accident — Parking lots are especially common sites for collisions because negligent drivers fail to spot other vehicles while pulling into or out of parking spots. Crashes also frequently occur at the entrances and exits of parking lots. In most cases, negligent drivers are at fault, but parking lot facilities may be liable in some cases involving improper signs or lack of directions.
- Rear-End Collision — Many rear-end accidents are the result of one driver not stopping in time. In some cases, the negligent driver may have been speeding, but other cases may involve distracted driving. While low-speed collisions are usually limited to property damage, higher-speed crashes can result in serious injuries. In some cases, the force of these collisions may be enough to throw people from vehicles.
- Side Impact Collisions — Also known as T-bone accidents, these types of crashes involve one vehicle striking the side of another. These types of accidents most commonly occur at intersections, usually when one driver has violated a stop sign or signal. The occupants seated closest to the side impacted by such accidents often suffer severe injuries.
- Rollover Accidents — The types of vehicles most prone to rollover accidents are usually sport utility vehicles (SUVs). Other kinds of automobiles may roll over though, and the types of injuries victims can sustain are often debilitating. The causes of these accidents can vary. Some rollover crashes occur because of defective parts, but others might involve defectively designed vehicles themselves.
- Teen Driving Accident — Teenagers with learner’s permits or provisional licenses are still learning to drive and are subject to certain restrictions. Teen drivers can be involved in crashes caused by the negligence of other motorists, but insurance companies for the negligent drivers will often use a teenager’s supposed inexperience to try and argue they were somehow at fault. Any teenager or parent of a teenager will want to be sure to quickly contact an Ocala car accident attorney following an accident involving a teen driver.
Our firm also handles isolated crashes not involving other vehicles that may be the result of defective parts or improper repairs.
First Steps a Lawyer Takes After a Car Accident
People often wonder when to get an attorney for a car accident, and the answer is as soon as possible following the incident.
The plaintiff’s attorney will gather all evidence regarding the defendants’ liability, which can include photographs of the accident scene, the vehicles involved, and witness statements. An auto accident injury attorney will also want to make sure that they have all medical records and billing information for the victim and that it is provided to the at-fault party’s insurance company. Most car accident lawsuits are filed in Circuit Civil Court. In some instances, depending upon the parties involved and the location of the accident, it may need to be filed in Federal Court.
It is extremely important that someone who is involved in a motor vehicle accident take pictures of the accident scene, of the vehicle, and of the injuries as well as documentation of the injuries, the impact that they may have life, and a record of any and all treatment. Speak with an auto wreck attorney to learn more about filing an Ocala car accident claim.
Immediately after being retained, an attorney may start gathering evidence. This will include evidence of their victim’s economic damages. The attorney may wait until the victim reaches their maximum improvement and is finished treatment before attempting to settle. The time frame for collecting evidence is dependent upon the case. Attorneys may usually wait until the victim has reached maximum medical improvement and finished treatment to file suit.
Some evidence that an attorney may gather after a car accident includes photos of the accident scene as well as statements by witnesses and parties involved. An attorney may retain an expert to inspect the accident scene. These experts are usually accident reconstruction experts. An attorney may also gather their victim’s medical bills, records, lien information, and wage loss information to determine the victim’s damages.
Settling a Car Accident Case Before Trial (Litigation Process)
In many car accident cases, it may be at least a year before a case gets to trial. Most of the time, an attorney will attempt to resolve a car accident case before filing an Ocala car accident claim. If the attorney is unable to come to a settlement, with the approval of their victim, a lawsuit will be filed against the at-fault party. After a lawsuit is filed, there are several steps in the litigation process that must be completed before an actual trial will take place and evidence presented.
In Florida, all cases are required to go to mediation before trial. Mediation takes place after discovery where information is exchanged between the plaintiff and defendant. This happens six to nine months after the case is filed. The success rate for mediation is very high. Even if the case does not settle at mediation, negotiations can continue until a jury verdict is reached.
There are many factors that may influence the length of a case. For example, multiple defendants or other complex issues could prolong the case. If a plaintiff is severely injured and needs multiple treating physicians, this could also lengthen the case. If there are minimal injuries and the negligence of the defendant is not an issue, the case goes to trial much sooner.
Calculating a Settlement After a Car Crash
Most Ocala car accident settlements offer pre-suit which are based on the injured party’s injuries and damages. The insurance companies may look at liability, the severity of the injury, the number of medical bills, and any lost wages or other economic damages. In Ocala, one can settle their claim at any time. However, it is important to not settle too soon and to not do so until one is finished treating. In Florida, the statute of limitations for a negligence claim is four years.
Insurance companies determine their settlement offers. However, the plaintiff ultimately makes the decision as to whether or not the settlement offer is acceptable. It is important for an injured person to look at jury verdicts of similarly-situated plaintiffs who sustained similar injuries as the plaintiff. They should also discuss settlement offers with their attorney to determine if the attorney feels that the offer is reasonable under the circumstances.
How Long Does It Take to Receive a Car Accident Settlement?
Generally, most Ocala car accident settlements are made once the injured party has finished treatment. However, if there is minimal coverage, the settlement process can be expedited. It can be expedited by doing a quick time limit o demand that is sent to the at-fault party’s insurance carrier immediately after the accident.
Issues Negotiating a Fair Settlement
Some issues a person may encounter are dealing with outstanding medical bills, health insurance liens, and/or Medicare liens. Any and all liens for accident-related medical treatment must be resolved before any settlement proceeds can be disbursed to the injured party.
It is important for the injured party to seek and receive medical treatment as soon as possible after a motor vehicle accident to help determine the nature and extent of the injuries. This may help the attorney with settlement negotiations with the at-fault party’s insurance carrier and ensure that any settlement is reasonable and made in a timely manner.
Filing an Ocala Car Accident Claim
Usually, one would file a claim against the at-fault party’s insurance company following a car wreck in Ocala. If the claim is not resolved, the individual will have the opportunity to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party. Attorneys may make a pre-suit demand against the at-fault party’s insurance carrier before filing a lawsuit.
Included in this demand package are a victim’s medical records, bills, lost wages, and evidence regarding the at-fault party’s liability. If the claim is not resolved after making a demand, a lawsuit is usually filed. Speak with a seasoned car accident attorney to learn more about filing an Ocala car accident claim. The first thing the injured party must prove is that the defendant is at fault. The injured party will also have to prove and present evidence of their injuries and damages, as well as evidence that the accident caused those injuries and damages. An action can be dismissed with or without prejudice at any time.
Reasons to Go to Trial for a Car Accident Case
It is ultimately the victim’s decision as to whether to settle or go to trial. If the defendant’s insurance company makes an unreasonable offer, the attorney may likely recommend filing suit against the at-fault party. As a result, in order to receive the compensation that one deserves, they are forced to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party.
Trial Process after a Car Accident
The trial process for a car accident in Ocala starts with a complaint filed against the defendant. The complaint and summons are served on the defendant and the defendant has 20 days to file an answer with the court. At this point, the discovery process begins with information exchanged between the plaintiff and the defendant’s attorney. Depositions then take place and the defendant may subpoena the plaintiff’s medical records and wage lost documentation.
After the discovery process ends, the parties attend mediation with the neutral third-party mediator. If the case is not resolved at mediation, the case will proceed to trial. The trial process can be long and complex, which is why it may be in the plaintiff’s best interest to contact a seasoned lawyer who is familiar with car accident trials in Ocala.
Other Important Elements of the Trial
During the trial, the plaintiff’s attorney needs to establish that the defendant is at fault and is liable for the accident. The lawyer also needs to prove that the plaintiff was injured and the injury was caused by the accident.
If a case is not resolved pre-suit with the defendant’s insurance company, it is important for the injured party’s attorney to file a lawsuit as soon as possible. It is also essential that the plaintiff continues to treat their injuries, keep the attorney informed on their treatment, and be responsive to the attorney when requests are made.
If you have been hurt in a car wreck, contact an accomplished lawyer who is well-versed with car accident trials in Ocala. An attorney could make all the difference in your ability to receive a fair compensation for your accident.
Expert Witnesses Impact on a Car Accident Case
A lawyer may suggest using an expert witness during the trial to testify regarding the defendant’s fault or the plaintiff’s injuries and the cause of those injuries. An expert may also help establish the plaintiff’s damages both in the past and in the future. An expert witness can give credibility to the plaintiff’s claims and greatly enhance their case, especially when there is a dispute with regards to liability or the plaintiff’s injuries and damages. However, the weight of an expert witness’ testimony may vary from case-to-case, depending upon the expert’s credentials and testimony.
For example, if the plaintiff’s expert and the defendant’s expert disagree regarding the plaintiff’s injuries and the cause of those injuries, a jury will likely look at the expert’s experience and education, whether there is a relationship with the party or their attorney, and the amount of time the expert put into the case. There are situations when a person may not want some expert witnesses in Ocala car accident cases. A plaintiff may not want an expert witness if there is an issue is uncontested or if there is sufficient testimony from lay witnesses or the by the plaintiff’s treating physicians. These type of situations could potentially harm the plaintiff’s chances of recovering damages.
There are many types of expert witnesses for a car accident that the plaintiff’s attorney may use. An attorney may retain an accident reconstruction expert to testify about the cause of an accident and the defendant’s liability for an accident. The lawyer may also have medical experts to testify about the plaintiff’s injuries and the cause of those injuries. An economist could be brought in to talk about the economic impact the car collision has had on the injured individual.
Types of Compensation After a Car Accident
All car accident cases that rely upon negligence as a cause of action must be rooted in a physical injury. However, there are many other forms of damages that can be just as severe. Some common types of compensation include:
- Current and future medicals bills
- Rehabilitation Expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Emotional trauma
- Punitive damages
- Pain and suffering
- Wrongful death
A thoroughly constructed demand package may insist upon compensation for both physical injury and other less direct—but no less valid—harms.
3 Basic Types of Recoverable Damages in Auto Accidents
There are three basic types of Ocala car accident damages a person could potentially recover:
- Economic damages include medical expenses, lost wages, as well as property damage or damage to the contents inside of one’s vehicle.
- Non-economic damages include pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of consortium by a spouse.
- Punitive damages are awarded to punish a defendant for his or her gross negligence.
When a person is not at fault for an accident, they are entitled to their economic damages which include lost wages, as well as reimbursement of medical expenses and the payment of damages for one’s vehicle and contents of the vehicle.
Calculating Non-Economic Damages in Florida Car Accident Claims
In order to recover non-economic Ocala car accident damages such as pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and mental anguish, a party to an accident in Florida must meet a certain threshold. The way one meets the threshold is with either death, loss of a bodily function, scarring, or a permanent injury.
Non-economic damages are awarded by a jury in a motor vehicle accident just like any other personal injury case. They are at the discretion of the jury. However, they must be commensurate with the economic damages awarded.
Receiving Punitive Damages
One circumstance where punitive damages are awarded is when the at-fault party is under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident. They can also be awarded when the at-fault party was either grossly negligent or intentionally caused damage or injury to the plaintiff. When there is a potential for punitive damages, it is important for the car wreck lawyer to gather as much evidence and information possible in order to support such a claim. This includes interviewing witnesses and potentially retaining experts to assist with the punitive damage claim.
Some of the factors that may influence an award of punitive damages are driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, intentionally hurting the plaintiff, or if the defendant is grossly negligent. In some cases, punitive damages are awarded based upon the conduct of the defendant.
Damage Cap & Auto-Insurance Coverage
When an individual is involved in a car accident with a vehicle that is owned by a governmental entity, there are statutory caps. That means that what the plaintiff’s recovery is limited to those caps. In some cases, a car accident attorney can circumvent the caps with the passage of a claims bill.
The at-fault party’s insurance will pay for economic damages that are caused by the accident, as well as non-economic damages if the threshold is met. Most policies, however, will not cover punitive damages.
Mistakes to Avoid After a Car Accident
Auto collisions are a common occurrence everywhere. However, people still commit the same mistakes following an accident. These mistakes could be not calling the authorities, not receiving medical treatment, or getting in contact with a well-versed auto wreck attorney to learn more about mistakes to avoid after an accident.
If you are involved in a motor vehicle accident in Ocala, you should never admit fault. Florida is a comparative negligence state. What that means is that, even if a person is partially negligent, the defendant can also be negligent, and it would be up to the jury to decide the party’s percentage of fault. If a person admits fault, however, that statement can be held against them.
While people may want to apologize after being involved in a motor vehicle accident, it is best to not to say anything. This is because, if a person does make a statement at the
scene of the accident, it may be brought up when they make a personal injury claim.
Refusing Immediate Medical Assistance
It is extremely important to receive immediate medical treatment after an accident. People tend to be in shock and they may not have any immediate complaints at the scene of an accident. However, if a person leaves the scene of the accident without receiving treatment from a first responder, or does not follow up with a medical provider and later develops symptoms, the fact that they did not get treatment at the time of the accident may raise questions as to the cause of their pain and symptoms.
Without having a record of treatment and documentation of a person’s injuries and symptoms, a jury may not truly understand and appreciate the magnitude and extent of the plaintiff’s damages. Or, if they attempt to settle the case before filing a lawsuit, the adjuster may not give fair value to the claim without complete supporting documentation from a treating physician. Not following a doctor’s orders is one of many common mistakes to avoid after an accident.
When an individual has a gap in treatment, the at-fault party’s insurance company or attorney will attempt to argue that the gap in treatment means that the plaintiff is not injured or that the injuries are resolved.
Most people work for 40-plus hours per week and have a family and therefore may not have time to seek treatment. They may also feel that they cannot afford treatment if their personal injury protection benefits are exhausted and they do not have health insurance. However, there are medical providers who will provide treatment to individuals without insurance and to individuals who may need to come in late at night or on a weekend.
The Danger of Giving Recorded Statements
It is never good to give a recorded statement to the at-fault party’s insurance company after an accident before consulting with an attorney. Often times an injured party will make an inaccurate statement or become confused with the insurance company’s questions and may not answer them correctly or factually. This can come back to haunt the individual later when dealing with the insurance company and attempting to settle their case.
In cases where liability may be disputed, insurance companies may usually attempt to call all parties, including the injured party, after an accident. If an individual or injured party is not represented by an attorney, they may speak with the insurance company and provide a statement to them in an attempt to cooperate even if the insurance company does not have their best interests in mind.
In cases in which a party is injured as a result of a motor vehicle accident, the insurance company for the at-fault party will attempt to settle the case and offer a check to the injured party for less than the true value of the case. If the injured party decides to cash the check, they cannot come back at a later date and attempt to request additional money, even if the true value of the case is significantly higher. Reaching a settlement before contacting a car wreck attorney is one of many common mistakes to avoid after a car accident in Ocala.
What Our Clients Say
“My daughter was a passenger in a horrible rear-end collision. The driver at fault didn’t have a driver’s license or insurance. When we met with Gordon, he immediately put us at ease. He walked us through every phase of the settlement process with two different insurance companies. We were very pleased with Gordon’s knowledge and professionalism. Through his diligence and hard work he was able to recover much more than my insurance company initially offered. I highly recommend Gordon Glover to anyone with a personal injury claim.”
Let Ocala Car Accident Lawyers Take the Lead
Every stage of a car accident claim can be a confusing mess and potential detriment to the case if not handled properly — from knowing how to obtain a police report of the incident, to obtaining proper medical documentation, to dealing with aggressive insurance companies.
Now that you’ve read this, you’ll never have to ask Google to find an “auto accident attorney near me.”
Our auto accident lawyers help clients to properly and skillfully gather information, present it in a persuasive manner, and demand proper compensation for their injuries. Most cases, properly framed and negotiated, never need to go to trial and result in a fair car accident settlement.