Tag Archives: Pensacola Car Wreck Attorney

Are Employers Responsible for Distracted Driving Accidents In Florida?

If the driver of a car, truck or other vehicle is using that vehicle on the job, then the driver’s employer could be liable for any injuries resulting from a traffic accident for which the worker was at fault. The same goes for any vehicle damage resulting from the accident. But the issue isn’t always as clear as it might seem.

A legal doctrine known as respondeat superior (vicarious liability) makes employers legally responsible under certain circumstances for the actions of negligent employees who cause injury to someone else.

In the past, with regard to crashes, this mostly meant suing the employers of professional drivers (truckers, taxi drivers, delivery drivers, etc.) or workers who were running job-related errands or traveling between two job sites.

Nowadays, this can include workers conducting in-vehicle video conferences, responding to work-related texts, taking client calls, firing off a work-related e-mail, etc.

Was the Driver ‘On the Job’?

Whether someone is on the job while driving is not always a simple question. In general, any time someone is performing any duties related to work, the person can be considered on the job even when he or she is also doing personal business and driving a personal car.

Was the Driver an Employee or an Independent Contractor?

Especially since the dawn of the so-called “side hustle” economy, it’s not always easy to sort out whether a worker is truly an employee of a given company. The differences between an employee and an independent contractor can seem vague from a practical standpoint, but it’s a crucial distinction in the eyes of the law.

Typically, if the person who caused your accident was working as an independent contractor at the time, there’s no company that will automatically bear legal responsibility (as an employer typically would).

But there can be a bit of a gray area in some instances (including accidents involving rideshare drivers) when a company provides insurance for its independent contractors. It’s important to consult with a Florida auto accident lawyer if you have been injured by a driver that is considered ‘On the job.’

Doing A Business Errand In Your Personal Car.

If your boss asks you to run an errand and drop off a package and you have a serious car wreck on the way, you are within the scope of employment since you are conducting business that benefits your employer. You are “On the job.”

However, if you stop at a drive-through after you have completed your work-related task and have an accident, your employer may not be liable.

WATCH AND LISTEN AS JOE ZARZAUR, BOARD-CERTIFIED CIVIL TRIAL LAWYER, DISCUSSES THIS TOPIC >

If you’ve been the victim of an accident caused by someone ‘On The Job’, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. It is also important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe, or by requesting a free case review through our website.

Sources:
https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/employer-liability-for-employee-car-accidents.html

https://dictionary.findlaw.com/definition/respondeat-superior.html

 

How Do I Know If I Have a Bad Faith Insurance Claim?

Drivers and vehicle owners faithfully pay their auto insurance premiums monthly or quarterly with the belief they will receive a fair claims payout if the need arises (e.g., after a car accident that was not their fault).

Unfortunately, far too many of our clients here at Zarzaur Law, P.A. learn the hard way that car insurance companies are primarily concerned with their own bottom line.

 

What Is Bad a Bad Faith Claim?

Sometimes, insurance companies like to push boundaries and see if they can get away with not investigating claims or not paying out money owed on a policy after an accident. This is called “bad faith.”

The duty of good faith in Florida provides that insurers owe a “duty to their insureds to refrain from acting solely on the basis of their own interest in settlement,” as was said in State Farm Mut. Auto Ins. Co. v. Laforet. Under Florida’s Unfair Insurance Trade Practices Act.

 

Bad Faith Claims Most Often Stem From:

Unnecessary claim delays. Insurers are required to process claims in a reasonable amount of time and without unnecessary delays.

Policy cancellations. Our firm has seen cases where an insured files a claim, and the insurer immediately starts scouring their history for errors or any misrepresentation that might void the policy.

This is common when it comes to death benefits claims. Sometimes, it is for something as simple as a misspelled name – even though they had no problem collecting the monthly premium despite this error.

Misrepresentations of policy. Some insurers will attempt to avoid paying claims by mischaracterizing the terms, requirements, and policy provisions. Many insurance policies are crafted with complex language and insider jargon, much of which favors the insurer. But it is well understood that any ambiguity is supposed to be construed in favor of the policyholder.

Ambiguous policy exclusions. Insurance policies can have all kinds of exclusions. But if an exclusion is ambiguous, it should be decided in the claimant’s favor.

Denies paying for a valid claim on no reasonable basis. Insurers have a responsibility to pay valid claims and offer a reasonable basis when they deny them. Failure to do so maybe bad faith. The same goes for low-ball settlement offers that are not justified.

Low settlement offers are often made without justification and for the benefit of the insurance companies bottom line and without regard for the insured.

 


Bad faith insurance claims are complicated actions and involve a multitude of issues, and that is why it is important to hire the best personal injury lawyer who understands the tactics insurance companies use to delay or minimize the payment of benefits.


 

WATCH AND LISTEN AS JOE ZARZAUR, BOARD CERTIFIED CIVIL TRIAL LAWYER, EXPLAINS “BAD FAITH” >


If you’ve been the victim of an accident, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. It is also important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe, or by requesting a free case review through our website.

Sources:

http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0600-0699/0624/Sections/0624.155.html

What You Should Know About A Settlement Before Accepting It.

What you should know about settlement

An auto accident can be shocking and even life-changing. You are now having to deal with a vehicle that must be repaired or replaced, doctor appointments for your injuries, lost workdays, insurance company calls and letters, and managing life without a vehicle.

You may be tempted to accept an offer from the insurance company when they are telling you they can give you a quick settlement and will cut a check to you. However, this also can mean a lot of essential pieces of information that may be lost that affect your potential personal injury claim.

Before accepting a settlement offer, you should be aware of these critical pieces that can make a difference in your case.

Things To Remember About Settlements In A Car Accident

 

Know What Your Case Is Worth

A fair settlement will compensate you for current and future expenses and damages, including:

Car repair bills

Car rental while your vehicle is in the shop

Reimbursement for daily tasks you would perform had the accident not occurred

Medical expenses

Costs of future medical treatment and therapy

Lost wages due to missed work

Expected future lost earnings

Mental health treatment

Pain and suffering

Injuries May Be More Serious Than They First Appear

The full extent of injuries from a car accident may not be known for a long time after the accident. This could be due to many reasons, including the following:

The injuries require more extensive treatment than anticipated

The wounds don’t heal as expected

Complications arise

Secondary infections set in

Before accepting a settlement, accident victims must know how their injuries will affect current and future employment opportunities, mobility and activity levels, overall health, and quality of life. They should also understand what ongoing care or treatment will be needed due to the accident. These things are usually known once a person has reached maximum medical improvement (MMI).  A doctor will determine that the patient has achieved MMI or has a permanent injury.

Settling Your Claim Too Soon Can Be Costly

The insurance company may offer you a quick settlement for your car accident claim. In some cases, the company may issue an offer before you complete medical treatment for injuries.


BE WARY OF A SETTLEMENT OFFER BEFORE YOU COMPLETE TREATMENT FOR YOUR INJURIES.


Until you complete your medical treatment, you cannot know for sure how much your medical bills may be or how much money you might lose from being out of work. Lost wages and medical costs after a car accident can be substantial.

Car Wreck Settlement Process

 

Liability Release

Settlement agreements include a release of liability, which means the insurance company is not responsible for any payments outside of the settlement agreement. The victim cannot ask for more money in the future and cannot take the case to court. When you accept a settlement offer from an insurance company, the settlement agreement is a final resolution of your claim. After you sign the agreement, you cannot demand more money for your claim.

Therefore, make sure that the amount you accept compensates you fully for all your damages. Damages in a car accident case include both economic and non-economic damages.

This is true even if the accident injuries turn out to be more serious than initially thought, if unexpected complications arise, or if the victim didn’t understand the full value of the claim.


FOR ACCIDENT VICTIMS, THE LACK OF COMPLETE INFORMATION IS ONE OF THE PRIMARY DANGERS OF A QUICK SETTLEMENT.


Hire A Lawyer To Work On Your Behalf

Meeting with the best personal injury lawyer gives you the opportunity to ask questions and understand your options. Your lawyer is looking out for your best interest and is your advocate when dealing with the insurance company. If you have suffered an injury understanding your rights and options for recovering the maximum compensation for your losses can be fully achieved with the help of a board-certified civil trial lawyer.

The Counteroffer

When making a counteroffer, your lawyer can make sure to highlight the severity of your injuries, including your pain and suffering. They will also make sure to place the responsibility for your pain and suffering.

It is common to go back and forth several times when negotiating a car accident settlement. The negotiation process could take several weeks or even a few months.

Watch Our Youtube Videos Here:

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

If you’ve been the victim of an accident, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. It is also important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe, or by requesting a free case review through our website.

What Is Diminished Value?

After a wreck, most people’s first thoughts are to take care of their own physical injuries. However, many of our clients also have issues with the injuries done to their property—most often their vehicles.

Below, we discuss the most common issue our clients face: obtaining not only cost of repair but diminished value.

What Determines Your Car’s Value?

Everyone has seen commercials for companies like CARFAX, which attempt to aggregate all available information about a car’s history. Repairs, wrecks, recalls, and other issues are reported and can all combine to affect your car’s value.

Common sense tells us that the resale value for a car that has been in a wreck is not as much as a car that has not been in one. The difference between the value of a car that has not been wrecked versus the same car that has been wrecked and repaired is called “diminution of value” or “diminished value.”

Florida Laws on Diminished Value

Florida law entitles a person whose vehicle was damaged through no fault of their own to obtain not only the cost of repairs from the at-fault party or their uninsured motorist insurer but also this “diminution” value.

How It Works

The amount of “diminution” or “diminishment” depends, of course, on the severity of damage and the repairs necessary to make the vehicle whole. Insurance companies frequently use a sliding scale to determine this value, based on the severity of the damage and the remaining expected life of the vehicle. For instance, most insurance companies will only initially offer to pay only a maximum of 10% of a car’s value as diminution. If the damage is less severe, this percentage may be even lower.


Many insurance companies do not want to volunteer this information. If you attempt to make these claims on your own without a lawyer on your side, the insurance company may NOT tell you about this important potential source of recovery.


The firm does not represent clients directly on these property damage claims because we find that, with some guidance, many clients are able to handle the issues themselves. However, we are always willing to give advice when clients are dealing with the property damage side of their claim, and are ready to get involved if negotiations go south.

Clients with property damage and personal injuries shouldn’t just hire any lawyer. Not all lawyers are equal in their training and qualifications. The Florida Bar does not typically allow lawyers to hold themselves out as “experts.” However, the Bar does allow lawyers who have extensive experience in personal injury and tort cases to become specialists in civil trial. Only one percent of Florida lawyers have this certification. Two out of three of the lawyers on staff at Zarzaur Law, P.A. are Board Certified in Civil Trial.

So, when potential clients ask us about whether or when to hire a lawyer after an accident, we remind them that only a Board Certified civil trial lawyer is a specialist in this area of the law. Since all injury lawyers have the same “no fee no cost unless you win” payout structure, there is no reason to hire someone who is not a specialist.

Watch the YouTube Video with Joe Zarzaur  >

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

If you’ve been the victim of an accident, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. It is also important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe, or by requesting a free case review through our website.

How Your Car Accident Case Is Impacted By Not Wearing A Seat Belt


Everyone knows that wearing a seat belt is a smart choice. Study after study has shown that people who wear seatbelts are far more likely to sustain fewer and less serious injuries in car wrecks than those who don’t.

A front-seat passenger who wears their seatbelt reduces their risk of a fatality or serious injury by 45 percent.


A PERSON WHO WEARS THEIR SEATBELT IS 70 PERCENT LESS LIKELY TO BE EJECTED FROM THE VEHICLE.


Yet, every day, hundreds of people are killed or maimed unnecessarily because they don’t wear their seatbelts. The reasons vary greatly—drivers cite “being in a hurry,” discomfort, wrinkled clothing, light traffic, and short trips as reasons that they don’t wear a belt. Other drivers simply have an overinflated sense of their ability to avoid wrecks.

The Wreck Was Not Your Fault, But You Weren’t Wearing a Seatbelt = Comparative Negligence

Even if the wreck you experience is not your fault, your failure to wear a seat belt can still greatly harm your case. Under Florida law, a person’s failure to wear their seatbelt is evidence of their negligence. At trial, a defendant accused of automobile negligence is entitled to argue to the jury that the plaintiff was also negligent. This idea is called comparative negligence.” Essentially, the defendant admits that they were somewhat at fault, but argues that the plaintiff contributed to their own injuries.

The practical effect of the comparative negligence doctrine is that the jury will be able to assign percentages of fault when they come up with a verdict.

For example, a jury might find that a plaintiff sustained $100,000 in damages because of a car crash. If they find that the defendant is only 60% at fault, however, the jury will only award the plaintiff 60% of the total damages they suffered—because the plaintiff is 40% at fault themselves, it would be unjust to make the defendant pay for the plaintiff’s own mistakes.

Failure to Wear a Seatbelt Can Effect Your Settlement Amount

Failure to wear a seatbelt is by far one of the most common ways that a defendant tries to raise comparative negligence. By the same token, wearing a seatbelt is one of the easiest things to prevent serious injuries. It takes little to no time, and the protective benefits far outweigh any discomfort or time wasted. It a completely unforced error to subject yourself to a 40-50% discount on your car wreck case based on the failure to wear a seatbelt.

That is not to say that you cannot recover anything if you don’t wear your seatbelt during a crash. Sometimes, certain injuries would occur regardless of seatbelt status. In extremely rare cases, a seatbelt might make injuries worse. In any case, the first thing you should do if you are injured in a car crash is to call an experienced lawyer who can decide how best to handle the seatbelt issue.

While there are many personal injury lawyers, not all of them have equal training and qualifications. Lawyers are usually prohibited by the Florida Bar from calling themselves “experts” in a particular field. However, the Bar does allow some lawyers who have extensive experience and peer recognition in personal injury to take a test to become Board Certified Civil Trial Specialists. Although only 1% of Florida lawyers are board-certified in a civil trial, two out of the three lawyers at Zarzaur Law hold this certification.

Since all personal injury lawyers have the same “no cost no fee unless you win” payout structure, there is no reason not to hire someone who is not a specialist.

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

If you’ve been the victim of an accident, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. It is also important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe for a free legal consultation or visit www.zarzaurlaw.com.

Sources:
https://www.cdc.gov/transportationsafety/seatbeltbrief/index.html

https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/seat-belts

 

Missing Sleep Can Drastically Increase The Risk of a Car Crash.

When lawyers talk about “impaired drivers,” usually they are referring to drivers who are under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. Everyone knows that these substances can have a drastic effect on one’s ability to drive and react to other drivers. What a lot of people don’t understand is that a good night’s sleep is just as important to your driving abilities as staying sober.


SLEEPY DRIVER CAUSE NEARLY 100,000 CRASHES PER YEAR, WITH 70,000 RESULTING IN INJURIES AND 1,500 INVOLVING FATALITIES.


A “sleepy driver” is not just someone who stayed up until 3:00am and got up at 6:00am—getting even less than six hours of sleep doubles your risk of causing a serious car crash. People who sleep less than four hours are a staggering 15 times more likely to cause a car crash.


STUDIES SHOW THAT MISSING SLEEP COMPLETELY IMPAIRS A DRIVER THE SAME AMOUNT AS IF THEY HAD A BLOOD ALCOHOL CONTENT OF .10%.


Experts estimate that over one third of Americans sleep less than the recommended seven hours per night. Polls find that the vast majority of Americans admit to driving drowsy in the past year. Even more terrifying, 1 in every 25 Americans report falling asleep behind the wheel in the past year.

 

Sometimes, lawyers focus only on the crash and the minutes leading up to it. However, it is clear that lack of sleep can be an important factor in determining liability for a car crash. If you are involved in a car wreck, it is important that you hire a lawyer who understands that drugs and alcohol are not the only things that can make a driver impaired.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that a staggering 35% of U.S. drivers sleep less than the recommended seven hours daily.

If you or someone you know has been injured in a crash caused by a drowsy driver, the first thing you should do is call an experienced personal injury lawyer. While there are many personal injury lawyers, not all of them have equal training and qualifications. The Florida Bar does not typically allow lawyers to call themselves “experts” in a particular field. However, the Bar does allow some lawyers who have extensive experience in personal injury to take a test to become Board Certified Civil Trial Specialists. Although only 1% of Florida lawyers are board-certified in a civil trial, two out of the three lawyers at Zarzaur Law hold this certification.

Since all personal injury lawyers have the same “no cost no fee unless you win” payout structure, there is no reason not to hire someone who is not a specialist.

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

If you’ve been the victim of an accident due to a driver who was sleepy or fell asleep at the wheel, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. It is also important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe for a free legal consultation or visit www.zarzaurlaw.com.

Sources:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/09/180918082041.htm

https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/drowsy-driving

https://www.sleepfoundation.org/drowsy-driving

https://academic.oup.com/sleep/article/41/10/zsy144/5067408

https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/news/20181107/sleepy-drivers-involved-in-100000-crashes-a-year

https://newsroom.aaa.com/2016/12/missing-1-2-hours-sleep-doubles-crash-risk/

Traumatic Disc Herniation Caused by a Car Wreck.

 


ACCORDING TO THE MAYO CLINIC, AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENTS ARE ONE OF THE LEADING CAUSES OF SPINE INJURIES AND ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR MORE THAN 40 PERCENT OF SPINAL INJURIES EVERY YEAR.


Impact On The Spine During A Car Wreck

Disc herniation due to degenerative changes most commonly occurs at the lumbar levels of the spine (L4-L5, L5-S1) though herniation at the lumbar level can also be the result of acute trauma.  The cervical levels of the spine (C5-C6, C6-C7) are the levels most commonly impacted by acute trauma resulting in disc herniation.

What Is A Disc Herniation?

During a car crash, for example, your spine is subjected to a series of forces. These forces can put pressure on the disc, causing the nucleus to push out through the disc’s fibrous exterior—especially if your spine already has some age-related degeneration. The protrusion is called a herniated disc or slipped disc.

What Types Of Impact Cause Disc Herniation?

The mechanism of traumatic disc herniation at the lumbar level is generally related to linear forces (head-on impact or rear-end impact collision) in a motor vehicle accident.

The mechanism of traumatic disc herniation at the cervical level is generally torsional or tangential forces (sideswipe or T-bone impact collision) in a motor vehicle accident.

Both cervical and lumbar herniations can be associated with the deployment of life-saving passenger restraint systems:

  • Lap belt at the lumbar level and the shoulder belt
  • Airbags at the cervical level

Signs And Symptoms Of Disc Herniation

Signs and symptoms of intervertebral disc herniation include but are not limited to the following:

  • Pain radiating along an extremity, numbness or sensory deficit

  • Muscle or motor weakness. These are generally unilateral, or one-sided and reflect the impingement or irritation of the involved nerve root at the respective disc level

  • Persistent aching or stiffness along the spine

  • Sharp, localized pain in the neck, upper back or lower back

  • Chronic ache in the middle or lower back, especially after sitting or standing for extended periods

  • Back pain that radiates from the low back to the buttock, down the back of the thigh, and into the calf and toes

  • Inability to stand straight without having severe muscle spasms in the lower back

Diagnosing A Disc Herniation

Workup and investigation when disc herniation involves variations of the following and always should include a history and physical examination of the patient by a qualified clinician:

  • Diagnostic imaging (plain radiograph, CT imaging, CT myelogram, MRI)
  • Functional testing (electromyography, nerve conduction testing).

Treatment For A Disc Herniation

Treatment of disc herniation can range from conservative measures to operative intervention, with less-invasive options existing between the two extremes.

Conservative measures might include: 

  • Anti-inflammatory agents
  • Physical Therapy
  • Strengthening and range of motion exercises

Operative measures might include:

  • Discectomy (resection or removal of the herniated disc)
  • Laminectomy (removal of vertebral bone to allow for a larger passage for the spinal cord and nerve roots
  • Hardware implantation

Operative measures are indicated when a conservative approach has failed to yield symptom control, worsening of a herniation in regard to symptom profile or diagnostic testing (progression by MRI), or when overt motor weakness is demonstrated by a clinician’s physical examination.

Less-invasive measures are aimed at targeting the symptoms of disc herniation with features short of overt motor weakness – pain and numbness primarily.

  • Epidural injection of a steroid agent at the involved disc level

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms after a crash, then you should seek medical attention to determine whether you are suffering from this type of injury

DON’T IGNORE BACK AND NECK PAIN AFTER A CAR WRECK

Car insurance companies have conditioned many people to think that all back and neck-related complaints from car accidents are minor and not worthy of compensation. In fact, car accidents represent a large percentage of serious back injury cases in the United States. A serious back problem may lead to a chronic pain, inability to work and lost productivity. A herniated disk claim should be handled by an lawyer who concentrates on personal injury cases.

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

If you’ve been the victim of an accident, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. It is also important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe for a free legal consultation or visit www.zarzaurlaw.com.

 

Sources:

https://www.aans.org/en/Patients/Neurosurgical-Conditions-and-Treatments/Herniated-Disc

https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases–conditions/herniated-disk-in-the-lower-back/

https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases–conditions/cervical-radiculopathy-pinched-nerve/

Dydyk AM, Ngnitewe Massa R, Mesfin FB. Disc Herniation. [Updated 2020 Nov 20]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK441822/

What is Different When Car Wrecks Involve Children?

car wrecks that involves children

 

Car wrecks involving children are happening every day. They and their parents incur medical bills, and they often have serious, painful, and permanent injuries.

They may require substantial future medical care. In other words, their injuries may be the same as an adult, but the legal case for the injury of a child is much different.

Definition Of A Child

Under Florida law, a child is anyone under the age of 18 who has never been married or legally emancipated. This is common in most states. A person under the age of 18 cannot legally enter into a contract and cannot file a lawsuit in their own name. Most of the time a parent or other legal guardian must be responsible for their affairs, including their injury claims.

If a child is injured and the claim cannot be settled without filing suit, the suit must be filed by a parent, a legal guardian, or a court-appointed guardian if the circumstances require it. Similarly, the settlement documents for a claim must be signed by an adult or guardian.

Settling A Case For A Child

There are very specific rules for settling a personal injury or car wrecks involving children. The rules were enacted for the protection of the child and his or her financial interests. There is a sliding scale of rules that depend on the amount of the settlement.

If A Case Is Settled For Under $15,000 There Are No Special Rules And Court Approval Is Not Required.

The parent or guardian can sign the release presented by the insurance company, and there are generally no restrictions on the use of the net settlement funds.

While court approval is not required for such smaller settlements, the parent or guardian can petition the court for approval. If the claim goes to court, the settlement must be approved by the trial court judge.

For Larger Settlements, The Rules Are Different. 

1. If the total, not net amount, of the settlement, exceeds $15,000, there must be a case filed in the probate division of the county where the minor lives.

2. For cases where the gross settlement is greater than $15,000 but less than $50,000, the court may appoint a guardian to handle the funds for the child. Usually, the guardian is the parent or legal guardian of the minor. These are fairly routine proceedings.

3. If the gross amount of the settlement is $50,000 or greater, then the court must appoint guardian ad litem to review the settlement. These guardians are often local lawyers who are familiar with such issues. They have an obligation to review the settlement and give guidance to the court about whether it is reasonable.

In all cases, the primary interest is that of the child, not the parents. The purpose of the rules is to make sure the funds are properly used/invested for the benefit of the child and preserved until the minor becomes an adult. The court has very broad powers to preserve the interest of the child.

While the cost of the court approval process can be substantial, insurance companies or settling parties often agree to pay the costs and fees associated with this. You should always attempt to get an agreement for this in order to preserve as much as possible for the child.

Wrongful Death Claims

If a child is killed in a car crash, a wrongful death claim may be filed. In Florida, such claims are governed by the Florida Wrongful Death statute, this is a very complicated area of the law and requires the expertise of an experienced trial lawyer.

These claims must be brought a court-appointed personal representation. In such cases, the parents of a minor child can recover from mental pain and suffering. They can also recover for medical expenses and other monetary costs associated with the injury and treatment of the injuries that led to death.

Statute Of Limitations

The statute of limitations for the death of a minor child is 2 years from the date of the death, in other words, the surviving parties much settle the claim or file suit within 2 years of the death, or it will be barred.

While the normal statute of limitations for injuries is 4 years from the date of the incident, there are special rules that extend the statute for minors.

If a child is a minor at the time of the incident, they may wait until they turn 18 to file suit. However, the absolute limitation to file such a claim is 7 years, regardless of when the child turns 18.

For example: If a child is 10 years old when injured, the case must be filed within 7 years, even though the child does not turn 18 during that period. This is a very complicated area of Florida law and requires the expertise and experience of a civil trial expert.

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

If you or your child have been the victim of an accident, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. It is also important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe for a free legal consultation or visit www.zarzaurlaw.com.

Sources:
https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/florida-parental-responsibility-laws.html

Pensacola Personal Injury Lawyer | Car Accident Attorney | Zarzaur Law

5 Things the Insurance Adjuster Will Not Tell You After A Car Wreck

Insurance Adjuster Should Tell You

 

 

You have been in a car accident, caused by the inattention and negligence of another driver. Unfortunately, this happens much too often in our busy society. The roads are filled with inattentive, distracted drivers and with cell phones, GPS, and other devices, and this is only getting worse.

This can be a stressful situation and dealing with insurance adjusters can often make it worse. There are certain basic facts you must understand to protect your rights in this situation.

You Don’t Have to Give A Recorded Statement To The Opposing Insurance Adjuster

While you must certainly report the claim and give a description to your own insurance company, the converse is not true when dealing with an adjuster working for the person that caused your damage. There is no contractual or legal obligation to give such a statement. If you hire an experienced trial lawyer to handle your claim, he or she may allow this, but you certainly have no obligation to give such a statement, despite what the opposing insurance adjuster may tell you. In fact, pressure to do this may be a “red flag” that you need to consult a lawyer.

You Can Choose the Auto Repair Shop

Insurance adjusters may ask, or tell you, to use a certain auto repair shop. There is no legal obligation to do this, and if you prefer another shop, feel free to use it. While the recommended shop may well be qualified, and do very good work, keep in mind that the repair facility is your choice. If you are not familiar with the shops in your area, talk to friends or acquaintances or do some internet research before you choose. But remember, it’s your choice.

The Job of An Insurance Adjuster Is to Settle Your Claim as Cheaply as Possible

Let’s get this straight, the insurance adjuster is not your friend. Despite effective advertising to the contrary, the job of an adjuster is to settle a claim as cheaply as possible. While many adjusters are genuinely nice, friendly people, they are your adversary in a car claim against their insureds.

You Don’t Have to Take the First Offer

As stated above, the goal of an adjuster is to settle your claim as cheaply as possible. In most circumstances, they will make a very low offer to settle your claim, whether you are represented or not. They are trained negotiators, and most are not candid about what the claim is worth, or how much “authority” they have to settle for a claim. In certain cases, the first offer may be reasonable or be the full amount of the policy limits, but this is very rare. A board-certified lawyer will have many years dealing with these tactics and can give you the best advice on offers and the value of your case.

You Should Consult with An Attorney

If you were injured as a result of a car crash, you should not be at the mercy of the opposing adjuster. You should consult an experienced personal injury lawyer.it costs nothing to consult with the most experienced lawyers. If they take your case and settle your case, you will owe a fee, but otherwise, there is no obligation. Why not consult with an lawyer?

The insurance adjuster will tell you that you do not need a lawyer, it will cost you more than it is worth, and that they will be rare. Don’t fall for this strategy. They do not have your bests interests at heart, and only want to settle as cheaply as possible. You have an absolute right to consult with an lawyer, and you should consult with an experienced lawyer to get the best advice.

Only one percent of Florida lawyers have this certification. Two out of three of the lawyers on staff at Zarzaur Law, P.A. are Board Certified in Civil Trial.

So, when potential clients ask us about whether or when to hire a lawyer after an accident, we remind them that only a Board-Certified civil trial lawyer is a specialist in this area of the law. Since all injury lawyers have the same “no fee no cost unless you win” payout structure, there is no reason to hire someone who is not a specialist.

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

If you’ve been the victim of an accident, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. It is also important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe for a free legal consultation or visit www.zarzaurlaw.com.

Sources:

What Types of Damages are Available in a Car Accident Case?

What Is UM Coverage And Why Is It Important?

https://www.flhsmv.gov/insurance/

After A Car Accident: What Should You Take Pictures Of And Why?

Taking Pictures After A Car Accident:

“Taking pictures after a car accident or a car wreck is a huge help for you”.

When you are in a car wreck, the first thing you are thinking about is the well-being of yourself and your passengers. Clearly, everyone’s health is the most important thing in the immediate aftermath of the accident.

However, the second thing you should be thinking about is your legal rights. Even if you or your passengers may not feel any pain after an accident and may not be thinking about a personal injury case immediately, many people start feeling bad in the hours and days following a wreck once their adrenaline wears off.

So, a question we are frequently asked is “What should I do once I have called the police and made sure everyone is, ok?”
First – Follow the Car Wreck Checklist >

A Photo Is Worth A Thousand Words

After a car wreck, a camera is your best friend. A photograph of the scene as it is before the debris is cleared before vehicles are moved and before police arrive is the best evidence of the aftermath of a wreck.

You should take as many pictures as possible, but you should focus on the following items:

  • Property Damage – Pictures of your car can be sent to your insurance company to ensure that you receive full value for the repairs, as well as the diminishment in value you will see after repairs. Pictures of the other driver and their car before they are moved or repaired can help us prove fault if that issue arises.
  • Injuries – Pictures of your injuries as they appear right after an accident can show the severity of the injury, as well as help, avoid questions of which injuries were caused by the accident by the time settlement negotiations take place.
  • Traffic Signs – On occasion, the issue of who is “at fault” or “liable” in a wreck comes up. Taking pictures of the traffic signs as they exist on the day of the crash can sometimes help clear these liability questions up without the need for a fight.
  • Witnesses – Many times, witnesses that were not involved in the wreck are present at the scene, but many times they leave before police arrive. Pictures of these witnesses and their identification (if they allow you to take them) are very helpful if we need testimony from them as the case progresses.
  • Road Hazards – Sometimes, a wreck is not the fault of a driver at all. Sometimes there are hazards in the road—potholes, signs, malfunctioning traffic signals, and the like—that shouldn’t be there. If your wreck is caused by a similar hazard, taking pictures of the hazard can help prove a negligence case against whoever created the hazard.

Accident scene photography is important because, besides eyewitness accounts and a police record, it might be the only reliable evidence that can be collected from the scene.


TIP: IN ADDITION TO TAKING PHOTOS, CONSIDER WRITING DOWN WHAT YOU REMEMBER ABOUT THE ACCIDENT AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. DOCUMENT THESE DETAILS BEFORE THEY’RE LOST FROM MEMORY.


What If You Are Injured And Cannot Take Photos?

In this situation, you want to try to make sure to document the scene anyway. If any of your passengers or witnesses are able to take photos on your phone, you may allow them to do so. In more severe wrecks, law enforcement will take scene photos as well. You may request them to take photos of your injuries.

While photos are useful and important, they are not strictly necessary in any case. Determinations of fault and severity of injuries can be proven through your own testimony, witness testimony, and documentary evidence, like medical records and wreck reports.

Car Accident DamagesIf you are unfortunate enough to get in a car wreck, whether you are able to take pictures or not, it is important to hire a lawyer who can navigate the liability process effectively.

Not all lawyers are equal in their training and qualifications. The Florida Bar does not typically allow lawyers to hold themselves out as “experts.” However, the Bar does allow lawyers who have extensive experience in personal injury and tort cases to become specialists in civil trial.

Only one percent of Florida lawyers have this certification. Two out of three of the lawyers on staff at Zarzaur Law, P.A. are Board Certified in Civil Trial.

So, when potential clients ask us about whether or when to hire a lawyer after an accident, we remind them that only a Board-Certified civil trial lawyer is a specialist in this area of the law. Since all injury lawyers have the same “no fee no cost unless you win” payout structure, there is no reason to hire someone who is not a specialist.

Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.

If you’ve been the victim of an accident, it’s important that you don’t make any rash decisions. Put yourself in the best possible position to receive the justice you deserve. It is also important to consult with a Board Certified Trial lawyer who has the knowledge and experience to help you. We know accidents can be stressful and want to make the process as easy as possible for you. Call Zarzaur Law, P.A. today at (855) Hire-Joe for a free legal consultation or visit www.zarzaurlaw.com.

 

Sources:

https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/tips-for-taking-car-accident-scene-photos.html

https://www.hg.org/legal-articles/pointers-on-taking-accident-scene-pictures-35476