She was on her way to work. She had just hopped on to the Interstate 275 on-rampm to head south to her job in downtown Tampa. Traffic was bad, as usual. But she still was on time for work, and not in a hurry.
She didn’t see it coming. At the last second, she glanced at her rear-view mirror. She saw the truck crash into her. Her head slammed forward and back. Her vehicle jerked forward. She crashed into the vehicle in front of her. Her head whipped forward and back again.
She got out. Thank God, she could get out. She checked on the other driver. He said he was sorry. Everyone was “ok.” Thank God, no one was dead.
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Members of the Tampa Police Department and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department arrived. She got an accident report. A tow truck driver arrived. Her vehicle was towed.
She felt “off” when she went to bed that night. But when she woke up, she knew that something was very wrong. Her neck hurt. Her back was in pain. She knew she needed to go to urgent care. Or should she go to the ER? Should she call her primary care doctor? It was hard for her to think; she also had a headache coming on. And insurance reps kept calling her. From her insurance company. From the other driver’s insurance company. Everyone wanted to talk to her. She knew that the insurance companies were not her friends.
She was worried. Worried about her vehicle. Worried about getting to work the next day. Mostly, she was worried about the throbbing pain in her neck that radiated to her arms. She had to talk to someone who would be on her side. She knew she needed to call a Tampa car accident lawyer.
Why Hiring an Auto Accident Attorney Makes All the Difference
You may think you are tough, and everything will be fine.
But human beings have not evolved enough to withstand the traumatic force of two vehicles colliding.
You don’t feel like you’re going fast when you are cruising along the road at 50 miles per hour. But you are. And if your two-ton vehicle collides with another two-ton vehicle at a high speed, your soft tissues will suffer trauma.
These soft tissues are delicate. We’re talking about ligaments and tendons. The stress from a high-speed impact can cause a disc to tear. Or a herniation. Or a disc bulge. These injuries hurt. Medical treatment is necessary for these injuries to heal. Ironically, soft tissue injuries can have more long-lasting implications than hard tissue injuries like broken bones, which actually heal back stronger than before.
If you have been injured in a car accident, then the bodily injury you have suffered may have economic value (we call this “settlement value”).
You have a car accident injury claim if:
- You were injured by a motor vehicle.
- The injury is a direct result of another person’s or a corporation’s negligence and/or recklessness.
In other words, if the at-fault driver acted negligently and injured you, then you deserve to be able to pay for the expenses associated with your medical treatment as well as to receive economic compensation for your pain and suffering, mental distress, and other troubles.
Because the reality is that these car accident injuries are severe and have long-lasting, sometimes permanent consequences. If the at-fault party can’t fix you permanently, the least they can do is have their insurance company make things right with you.
But the problem is that insurance companies don’t want to pay you to settle your case. At least, they don’t want to pay you the full value of your personal injury claim.
Insurance company adjusters get paid for saving the insurance company money. That is the entire scope of their job. And the insurance companies know that if they can get you to take no money or very little money for your claim, then they win — big time.
Therefore, your Tampa car accident attorney’s job is to get a fair settlement for your injuries. Your lawyer just wants to put you in the best position possible by getting the best legal settlement value for your claim.
Of course, in reality, your Tampa personal injury lawyer does more than that. An injury lawyer will also work on any property damage claim at the onset of your case. Sometimes, property damage adjusters can be a bit unfair when you are trying to resolve the issue of how much money you will get for the damage to or loss of your car (when the mechanics say your car is “totaled”).
Also, keep in mind that liability is often not crystal clear. When there is a head-on collision, a rollover accident, or a side impact collision, the insurance adjuster and the at-fault driver may try to pin the blame on you. In these situations, your lawyer works to build your entire case from the ground-up by interviewing witnesses, analyzing police reports, scheduling and then taking depositions of third-party witnesses, getting expert witnesses to test the cars and trucks involved in your accident, and even testing road conditions.
A car injury lawyer also works with the doctors who treat you in order to gather medical reports and documents. The medical reports that are created while you get better are often the best evidence of your medical economic damages. They also help explain your pain and suffering, as how you report your pain level and how your doctors observe your pain level will be noted in your medical records.
Many times, your attorney will be able to settle your case well before having to get into extensive personal injury litigation. This is ideal when possible, as it allows you to move on with your life quickly.
But sometimes the big insurance companies (think GEICO, Progressive, State Farm, USAA, and more) refuse to be fair. And when this happens, you want a Tampa car accident lawyer with significant trial experience who can quickly file a lawsuit and aggressively push the insurance company to fairly settle your claim.
Types of Car Accident Cases
Different Types of Car Accident Cases Require Different Game Plans
Rear End Collisions: The benefit of rear-end car accident cases is that liability is usually pretty clear. Florida law presumes that the driver who rear-ends another driver is the party who caused the accident. Members of the Tampa Police Department and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department routinely ticket drivers for careless driving when there is a rear end collision.
Side Impact Collision: Side impact collisions often cause unique injuries to the spinal column and the neck. If you are in a vehicle and you are hit on the side closest to you, the injuries can be much worse. Side impact collision cases often have contested liability, meaning your Tampa auto accident lawyer will aggressively fight from the beginning of your case to prove that the other party is at fault.
Rollover Accidents: Rollover accidents can lead to head trauma and brain injuries, among other injuries. Much like side-impact collisions, the accident lawyer seeks from the beginning of the case to prove that the other party is liable.
Head-On Collisions: Head-on collisions have the greatest chance of traumatic injury or death because two vehicles are traveling at high speeds towards each other. Victims of head-on collisions can often benefit from using the services of an auto accident reconstructionist expert at the beginning of their case.
Pedestrian Accidents: Pedestrian accidents often cause extreme injuries. The reason is obvious: a person walking on foot is no match for a two-ton vehicle. Cases with more severe injuries might need expert witnesses to make the insurance company (or a judge or a jury) truly see how the injuries suffered will impact a victim’s future.
Truck Accidents: As part of the Interstate 4 corridor, Tampa’s highway system sees massive truck traffic yearly. With massive truck traffic comes trucking accidents.
Motorcycle Accidents: Motorcycles are no match for cars and trucks. Motorcycle accident cases also have unique insurance and injury issues.
School Bus Accidents: Like trucks, school buses are dangerous machines that require special care to protect the public.
Types of Car Accident Injuries and Compensation
We see the same types of injuries over and over.
Specifically, injuries that our Tampa car accident lawyers collect compensation for in an accident case may include:
- Back strains
- Herniated (bulging) discs
- Head injuries
- Knee injuries and damage
- Shoulder injuries and damage
- Joint injuries and damage
- Muscle injuries and damage
- Neck injuries and damage
- Other types of physical injuries and damage
- Wrongful death
Predicting the Settlement Value of Your Case
The settlement value range is determined after we know the extent and the degree of permanency of your injuries. As we move through the process, we help you understand the settlement value and will encourage you to allow us to pursue the maximum amount possible.
We work towards predicting the settlement value of your case from the moment we take the case.
First, we determine what insurance coverage is available. Although you technically can sue the at-fault driver personally, most of the time insurance coverage is the single best source from which to draw a settlement.
Next, we find all possible insurance sources. This includes personal injury protection (PIP) bodily injury, uninsured motorist (UM), umbrella policies and, in some cases, even homeowner’s insurance policies.
Once we know what we are working with in terms of coverage, we need to understand what your medical bills are as well as the nature of the injuries you sustained from the accident. Your injuries, how you respond to your medical treatment, and the pain and suffering that you deal with because of the accident all play into how we value the settlement.
Of course, we have our own way of valuing a claim. But we also want to know how the insurance company will value your claim, so we know what to expect going forward.
We can calculate a range of settlement possibilities while you are still being treated for your injuries. After your treatment is complete and you have reached what the doctors call “maximum medical improvement,” we can really nail down the settlement value of your case. Then it is our job to make it happen.
Factors That Influence the Value of Your Settlement in Your Injury Case
Some of the biggest factors that can affect the value of your settlement claim include:
YOUR TREATMENT PLAN
Your job is to get better. The more you listen to your doctors and do everything you can to get better, the better arguments we can make on your behalf. After all, it would not make sense for us to argue to a jury that the accident greatly impacted your life when you are not trying to heal through the best medical treatments that are available.
THE NATURE OF THE ACCIDENT
The degree of impact is important for your Tampa car accident attorney in determining the value of your settlement claim. Certain types of motor vehicle accidents are known in the medical community to cause more permanent injuries.
THE EXTENT TO WHICH LIABILITY IS CLEAR
The clearer it is that the other side caused the accident, the higher the value of your claim. That’s because with Florida’s contributory negligence laws, you cannot recover a settlement for injuries that were your fault. So if you are 20% at fault for your injuries, expect the value of your claim to be reduced by 20%.
THE SERIOUSNESS OF YOUR MEDICAL TREATMENT
Naturally, if your treatment is chiropractic in nature because your injuries are less severe, then the value of your case will have a certain cap. But if you need injections or even surgery because you are really, really hurt and in serious pain, then expect the value of your claim to naturally increase with the seriousness of your treatment.
Hiring a Tampa Car Accident Attorney
The process for hiring a Tampa car accident attorney is as follows:
- Pick up the phone to reach out to our office. We have staff available 24 hours a day to take your call. If it’s after regular office hours, we have legal assistants who will take a message and forward your information to an on-call attorney or a car accident paralegal. You can always expect a call back within 15 minutes.
- Set a meeting with one of our intake specialists or car accident lawyers. We can do this in one of our offices, which are conveniently located throughout the Tampa Bay area. Or we can come see you. We can meet you at the hospital, at your doctor’s office, or at another location that you choose. In today’s digital world, we can even set up a Skype or a Google Hangout video call for our initial consultation.
- If you wish to proceed, you simply sign an engagement letter that allows us to work on your behalf. We’ll also have some authorizations and releases for you to sign so that we can speak with your doctors and representatives of the insurance companies as well as hire third-party experts (if necessary for your case).
Throughout the process, we will keep you informed through regular meetings and provide summaries of your case.