Attorneys Answer When Do You Need to Hire a Car Accident Lawyer?

Not every car accident requires the assistance of a lawyer. You might have trouble finding a car accident lawyer willing to take a case involving a fender-bender with no injuries. 

At the other end of the spectrum, some car accident claims simply demand the assistance of an experienced car accident lawyer. It is important that you know the difference when dealing with a car accident claim.

How Florida’s Auto Accident Compensation System Works

How Florida’s Auto Accident Compensation System Works

Florida applies a “no-fault” auto insurance system to car accidents. In a car accident, you normally look to your own personal injury protection (PIP) insurance to pay your claim. This is often done without even asking whose fault the accident was. 

PIP covers 80% of your medical expenses and 60% of your lost earnings. If someone dies in an accident, PIP will also pay the family $5,000 in death benefits. 

In the no-fault system, you cannot file a lawsuit against an at-fault driver. You must look to your PIP insurance for compensation. You also cannot seek noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering.

If your injuries are “serious,” as Florida law defines that term, you can escape Florida’s PIP system. This allows you to file an ordinary personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver. A “serious” injury means an injury that results in a “substantial risk of death, serious personal disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member or organ.” 

Multiple Parties Are at Fault for the Car Accident 

How do you handle your claim if more than one party is at fault for a car accident? In this case, Florida’s modified comparative negligence rules apply.

Under this system, a court will assign each driver a percentage of fault for the accident (30% your fault, 70% the other driver’s fault, for example). You will then lose a percentage of your compensation that corresponds to your percentage of fault–30% in this case. There is a cutoff, however. If your percentage of fault exceeds 50%, you will lose 100% of your compensation.

Your accident might have been a multiple-car pileup, or multiple defendants or insurance companies might be involved. Either way, having multiple parties complicates a claim and increases the likelihood that you will need a lawyer.

If liability is in dispute, the other side will likely hire an attorney. You will be at a critical disadvantage if you don’t hire one, too.

Your Injury Was “Serious”

If your injury qualifies as a “serious bodily injury”, you can file a lawsuit seeking noneconomic damages. An experienced personal injury lawyer can work with you to build a case strategy and pursue full compensation for your injuries. 

If the accident was “serious” and a child was injured, you should consult a personal injury attorney immediately.

The Defendant Is Uninsured or Underinsured

Some drivers will drive unlawfully without PIP insurance. If you are facing an at-fault driver who lacks insurance or whose insurance coverage is inadequate, a lawyer can help you pursue the compensation you deserve. 

You Need Expert Witnesses

Some types of claims routinely require the use of expert witnesses. If a defective auto part caused your accident, you will likely need an expert witness to establish liability. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you find a competent expert witness. 

The Accident Caused You Permanent or Long-Term Disability

Will you have to retire because of a disability that prevents you from working? Will you need medical treatment years into the future? In either case, you’re likely to need a lawyer to help you prove the full extent of your losses.

The Insurance Company is Playing Games With You

Insurance companies earn money by collecting premiums. They lose money by paying claims. Because of this, they will act like your ‘good neighbor’ as long as you are the one paying. However, their behavior will change dramatically once you demand payment from them. If the insurance company is bullying you or treating you deceitfully, it might be time to hire a lawyer.

Someone Died in the Accident

If the accident victim dies from their injuries, the victim’s estate can file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of survivors. These lawsuits can be complicated and overwhelming. Hiring a lawyer can help you demand the compensation needed during this challenging time. 

You’re Suing the Government

You might sue the government if, for example, the accident was caused by road construction or a malfunctioning traffic light. Special rules apply to suing the government, and a lawyer with experience in this area can be vital.

The Statute of Limitations Deadline Is Looming

You generally have until two years after the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit. You have until two years after the victim’s date of death to file a wrongful death lawsuit as well. If the deadline is looming, you must file a personal injury lawsuit to beat the deadline quickly. A lawyer can help keep track of deadlines and file your case on time.  

You’re Claiming Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages compensate you for intangible losses. It can be challenging to prove the amount of your losses when considering emotional distress or pain and suffering. An auto accident attorney can help you maximize the amount you can win by pursuing all available damages.

An Experienced Florida Car Accident Attorney Can Help

Car accident claims grow stale over time, and the sooner you get started, the better your chances of obtaining a generous settlement. Since most Florida car accident lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, you have very little to lose. Contact a car accident attorney to schedule a free initial case consultation today.