Ocala Car Accident Lawyer
Being involved in a car accident is always an unnerving experience. Even if we are not at-fault and we think that we are not injured, the mere fact that the accident happened can be enough to throw your life into disarray.
The situation may become more serious and complicated still if anyone involved in the accident is injured as a result. 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, an Ocala 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 accident lawyers can handle the paperwork and details with the insurance company to pursue your claim against another at-fault driver. Contact us by calling (352) 205-4495 for a free consultation.
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, Ocala car accident lawyers 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.
The Glover Law Firm handles many kinds of complex automobile accident claims, including:
- 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. An Ocala car accident lawyer 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 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 any 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.
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.
Length of Litigation
In Ocala car accident cases, it may be at least a year before a case gets to trial. However, 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.
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.
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.
What are the Potential Categories of Compensation?
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.
For example, victims of car accidents often are forced to miss significant time at work due to pain and months of rehabilitation appointments. A thoroughly constructed demand package may insist upon compensation for both physical injury and other less direct—but no less valid—harms.
Mistakes to Avoid After an Ocala 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 Ocala car 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 Ocala car 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.
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 professional attorney is one of many common mistakes to avoid after an Ocala car accident.
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.
Our Ocala car 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 fair settlements.
Let an Ocala car accident lawyer help you move forward in your life with the compensation that you deserve. Contact us at (352) 205-4495 today.