Were you injured in a car accident recently in Tampa? Are you unsure of how you’re going to pay medical bills or get compensation for pain or missed time from work?
Distasio Law Firm is experienced in pursuing a settlement for car accident injuries. We have decades of experience receiving settlements for clients who initially received lowball offers from insurance companies.
The Distasio Law Firm advocates for the rights of injury victims throughout West Central Florida. We represent people who have been hurt in all types of accidents, from truck accidents and bike crashes to uber accidents and fatal car crashes. To schedule a free initial consultation with our Tampa car accident attorneys, reach out to our law offices today.
How to Get a Settlement for Your Tampa Car Accident
If you are hurt in a car accident, then you may be entitled to a settlement for your losses. The question for many people is how exactly they can get a settlement.
First, someone else had to be at fault for the crash in some way. This could be due to a person speeding, driving drunk, or simply not paying attention when they caused the accident. In some cases, an accident could be caused by something like a faulty car part or even a poorly maintained road.
If someone else was at fault in some way, then you can likely file a claim with their insurance company. This can sometimes be complicated to figure out, so if you have any questions, you should not hesitate to schedule a free consultation with a Tampa car accident lawyer.
The second step is filing a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. While you can do this yourself, or wait for an insurance adjuster to contact you, this is usually a bad idea. Insurance companies are in business to make money – which typically means using a variety of tactics to pay you as little as possible for your losses.
A better plan is to hire a personal injury law firm to represent you. They will start with a full investigation of the accident, including interviewing witnesses, reviewing accident reports, and analyzing photos and videos of the accident scene. They will also research Florida personal injury law to build the strongest possible claim for compensation.
Third, your lawyer will put together a demand letter to send to the insurance company. This letter will spell out the facts of the case and why their policyholder is liable for the accident, and then make a demand for damages (money). The insurance company will likely have already done its own investigation, and so will respond with a counteroffer.
The overwhelming majority of personal injury claims are resolved outside of court. However, it may still be necessary to file a lawsuit to protect your legal rights. In Florida, the statute of limitations is 2 years. To ensure that you don’t lose your ability to file a lawsuit, your attorney may advise that it is best to file now while you continue negotiations.
Throughout the pretrial process, the parties will continue to talk to try to reach an agreement – up until the eve of the trial. It is only if the insurance company refuses to offer you a fair settlement that your legal team will take the case to trial.
What Is Included in a Car Accident Settlement?
A car accident settlement typically consists of two types of damages: economic and non-economic damages. Both are considered compensatory damages because they compensate an injury victim for their losses. A third type of damages, punitive damages, is usually awarded by a jury and is rarely part of a personal injury settlement.
Economic damages pay an accident victim (plaintiff) for their direct financial losses. They are usually fairly easy to prove with documentation such as repair estimates, medical bills, invoices, and pay stubs. Examples of economic damages include property damage, lost wages, reduced earning capacity, medical bills, and future medical care. Some other types of losses – such as money spent renovating a house to accommodate a disability – may also be included in economic damages.
Non-economic damages compensate a plaintiff for their intangible losses. They include things like pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, scarring, disfigurement, and emotional distress. Insurance companies often try to minimize this part of a car accident settlement, because it isn’t easy to put a dollar figure on something like pain and suffering. However, these damages are often crucial to get an accident victim as close as possible to being “whole” again.
Finally, punitive damages are meant to punish someone who engaged in intentional or reckless conduct – like driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. Because most car accident cases are based on a theory of negligence (or carelessness), they are not always available. Punitive damages are usually awarded by a jury at trial and are not typically part of a car accident settlement. Your Tampa car accident attorney can help you understand whether your case may qualify for punitive damages, and if it makes more sense to accept a settlement or go to trial.
Is There an Average Car Settlement Amount?
Like snowflakes, each car accident settlement is unique. The value of any personal injury claim depends on several factors, such as the severity of the injury, whether liability is contested, and the at-fault party’s insurance coverage. For example, if someone suffers a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and is permanently disabled as a result, they will likely receive a better settlement than a person who suffered cuts and bruises.
During a free initial consultation, your Tampa personal injury lawyer will listen to your story and then offer you legal advice on your rights. They will also provide you with a ballpark estimate of the value of your case. This number could increase or decrease as the case proceeds and more information is learned.
For example, consider a situation where you were badly hurt in an accident where a person pulled onto the highway and your cars collided. Initially, it seems clear that the other driver was 100% at fault because you had the right of way. However, if the facts reveal that you were actually on your phone at the time of the crash – and therefore may have contributed to the accident – then the value of your case will likely go down. Under Florida’s comparative negligence laws, you can still recover for an accident if you were partially at fault – but your total recovery will be reduced by the percentage that you were to blame.
Studies show that people who are represented by counsel recover an average of 40% more than people who represent themselves. Insurance companies know that if you have a lawyer, you won’t accept a lowball settlement offer because you don’t understand the true value of your claim. The best way to get top dollar for your car accident settlement is by working with a Tampa car accident attorney.
When to Contact an Attorney
In the days and weeks after a motor vehicle accident, you may be approached by an insurance adjuster. They may ask you to give a statement, to sign some paperwork, or tell you that they accept liability. The adjuster may even offer you a settlement.
You may be tempted to just take what the insurance company offers so that you can pay your bills and move forward with your life. In most cases, taking a settlement offer without first talking to an attorney is a mistake.
Insurance companies do not have your best interests at heart. Their goal is to resolve a case for as little money as possible. Ideally, they will resolve a car accident claim without paying anything at all – or by paying pennies on the dollar.
These initial settlement offers are rarely sufficient to cover the full scope of your losses. If you accept this type of agreement, then you may find yourself without enough money to pay your bills – let alone your future medical expenses. You may also not get any money to cover your emotional losses, such as the pain and suffering that you went through as you experienced and recovered from your injuries.
Giving a statement or signing any paperwork could seriously undermine your case and potentially even waive your legal rights. You should always talk to a lawyer before making any decisions about a car accident claim. This is the best possible way to protect yourself and your interests.
Initial consultations with a car accident attorney are always free of charge. During this meeting, you will get a better understanding of what your case is worth and your options for pursuing a claim. The lawyer can also review any paperwork that the at-fault driver’s insurance company may have given you to sign.
If you decide to hire a Tampa car accident attorney, you won’t have to pay anything out of pocket. Instead, the case will be handled on a contingency fee basis. This means that you pay nothing upfront, and only pay a fee – a percentage of your total recovery – if they get money for you through a settlement or verdict at trial.
Because of contingency fee agreements, you have nothing to lose when it comes to hiring a lawyer – and potentially a lot to gain. For this reason, it is important that you reach out to an experienced attorney as soon as possible after a car accident. In any event, you should absolutely talk to a lawyer before you sign anything or make any statement to the insurance company.
Remember: Florida has a 2-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims. While 2 years may seem like a lot of time, it can go quickly when you are dealing with doctor’s appointments, car repairs, and recovering emotionally from the trauma of the accident. In addition, witness memories may fade and evidence can be lost over time.
The statute of limitations is another good reason to consult with a Tampa personal injury lawyer as soon as you can after a motor vehicle accident. They will work with you to help you understand your rights, and make sure that your legal rights are protected. For this reason, it is always a good idea to reach out to an attorney sooner rather than later.
Hurt in a Car Accident? We Can Help.
After a car accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. While a car accident settlement may not make you whole again, it can go a long way in easing your financial stress. A solid settlement can also help you feel as though you have achieved some measure of justice.
At the Distasio Law Firm, we are fierce advocates for injury victims throughout Florida. From our offices in Tampa, Wesley Chapel, and Largo, we fight for the rights of our clients – and help them get maximum compensation for their injuries. To learn more or to schedule a free initial consultation with a Tampa car accident lawyer, give our law offices a call at 813-259-0022 or fill out our online contact form.