Tag Archives: Pensacola Car Wreck Lawyer

What Is A TBI And How Are They Caused By A Car Accident?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A motor vehicle accident is the third leading cause of closed head injuries resulting in traumatic brain injury (TBI).  Other causes include falls (#1), an accidental blow to the head (including sports injuries) (#2), and assault.


Those with inherently increased risk for experiencing traumatic brain injury following motor vehicle accident include those with prior brain injury (prior concussion), younger age groupings (0 to 24 years of age), older age groupings (75 years of age and older).

Factors Related To The Passengers Which Are Associated With Increased Incidence Of Traumatic Brain Injury Include:

  • Unrestrained passenger
  • Inappropriately-fitted child car seats or restraints
  • Passengers under the influence of drugs or alcohol

At the core, traumatic brain injury is a process of neurologic injury resulting from biomechanic impacts to the brain by either direct or indirect force which alter the function (and possibly structure) of the nervous tissue which composes the brain.  It is important to note that structure by way of neurologic imaging (CT, MRI) may appear normal despite deranged function.

Factors Related To The Accident Which Can Be Associated With Traumatic Brain Injury Include:

  • Direct impact of the head with another fixed object within the vehicle (dashboard, window, windshield, fellow passenger)
  • Loss of consciousness immediately following the impact
  • Dynamics of the impact between vehicles or between the vehicle and non-vehicle structures (barriers, buildings, utility poles.

traumatic brain injury factors and cause

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Signs and Symptoms of a TBI

The spectrum of traumatic brain injury manifestation is very broad both in terms of duration of signs or symptoms (days to years) as well as the nature of those signs or symptoms. 

Commonly reported symptom following a traumatic impact can include: 

  • Headache
  • Gastrointestinal distress
  • Dizziness or imbalance
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Changes with visual or auditory acuity
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Disruption of the normal sleep-wake cycle
  • Changes in physical stamina (fatigues easily).

Immediately following a motor vehicle accident the initial focus by emergency services personnel would be for life-threatening injuries such as intracranial hemorrhage, acute blood loss, neurologic dysfunction impacting the proper function of the cardiopulmonary systems, injuries to organs by foreign bodies, and displaced fractures.  Save for these or similar injuries, a common diagnosis following evaluation by emergency medical providers could be “superficial injury to the head” or “scalp contusion” or “concussion.”

TBI Diagnosis

It is important to understand the concept of PROCESS in regard to traumatic brain injury.  Traumatic brain injury is not diagnosed with a single symptom, laboratory test, or radiology study.  Just the same, no treatment course or plan is the result of a single visit with a medical professional and no single medication or drug is used incomplete treatment of the condition.  This process is both limited by and driven by the resilient yet brittle nature of the nervous system in the context of a multitude of diagnostic and treatment options available to clinicians in treating patients afflicted with such an injury.

traumatic brain injury after Car accident

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The most important part of treating traumatic brain injuries beyond the emergency room is to first diagnose them in a clinical setting.  This includes an involved history and physical examination by a qualified medical professional.  The provider will rely on the history which is provided by the patient (many times also relying on a symptom diary or log) as well as any corroborating history provided by relatives, co-workers, or those who cohabitate with the patient. 

The provider will then best be able to decide which additional testing is indicated:  expanded neurologic imaging, neuropsychiatric evaluation, subspecialist consultation or referral, metabolic testing. 

A combination of these steps coupled with the individual needs of the patient (include the nature of the neurologic dysfunction) will dictate the treatment process. 

Treatment Options

Depending on the nature of the injury, common elements of the treatment plan and process include:

  • Physical Therapy,
  • Occupational Therapy,
  • Speech Therapy,
  • Psychology or Psychiatric consultation
  • Pharmaceutical agents
  • Social support

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/traumaticbraininjury/basics.html

https://www.brainandlife.org/disorders-a-z/traumatic-brain-injury/

https://www.aans.org/Patients/Neurosurgical-Conditions-and-Treatments/Traumatic-Brain-Injury

https://www.aafp.org/afp/2019/0401/p426.html

https://www.aan.com/PressRoom/Home/PressRelease/1297

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/

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/

What Happens If You Are In A Car Wreck Caused By An Impaired Driver?

Alcohol is a substance that reduces the functions of the brain, impairing thinking, reasoning, and muscle coordination. All of these abilities are necessary to operate a motor vehicle safely. A person’s alcohol level is measured by the weight of the alcohol in a certain volume of blood. This is called blood alcohol coordination, or BAC. At a BAC of .08 grams of alcohol per deciliter of blood, car crash risks increase exponentially.

Because of such risk, it’s illegal in all states to drive with a BAC of .08. Why? Almost one-third of all traffic crash fatalities in the US involved drunk drivers.

According to NHTSA, between the years 2009-2018, more than 10,000 people per year died from drunk driving crashes. Many more are injured, and it is estimated that over one-half of all drivers will be involved in a drunk driving crash.


IT IS ESTIMATED THAT OVER ONE-HALF OF ALL DRIVERS WILL BE INVOLVED IN A DRUNK DRIVING CRASH.


Damages From A Drunk Driving Crash

Compensatory Damages
If you are injured in a crash caused by a drunk driver, what are your rights? Under Florida law, you can recover compensatory and punitive damages against the drunk driver.

Compensatory Damages Include:

  • Lost wages
  • Unpaid medical bills
  • Past and future pain and suffering
  • Disability (if you have a permanent injury)

Most liability insurance policies will pay these damages, even if the insured was drunk.

Punitive Damages
“Punish” the drunk driver. They are not limited to standard compensatory damages, and the amount of such damages is usually solely in the discretion of a jury. They are generally limited by a multiplier of compensatory damages, although in cases of drunk driving there may not be a limit. Unfortunately, these damages are not covered by most Florida auto liability policies. Thus, if there is a punitive damages award, the insurance company is not responsible for payment.

Proving The Driver Was Impaired

Proving a driver was drunk often depends on whether the driver was criminally charged. If so, an experienced auto accident lawyer can use the facts surrounding the arrest to prove both fault and the criminal nature of the conduct, so as to enhance the value of the case for the victim. Recorded actions at the scene, witness statements and physical evidence (such as empty liquor bottles and BAC result) are usually admissible in a civil suit for damages. The law of evidence is very complex, and a knowledgeable and experienced lawyer is necessary in such cases.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage In Drunk Driving Cases

If the drunk driver flees the scene and is never found, and the driver has little or no bodily injury insurance, the victim can look to his or her own insurance coverage for recovery. UM coverage may include coverage for fleeing or hit and run wrong doers, or for cases where the drunk driver has little or no coverage. This is another reason to make sure you have an lawyer to investigate these matters, and another reason to buy as much UM coverage as you can afford.

Third-Party Liability For Drunk Drivers

Under Florida law, certain third parties may be responsible for injuries caused by a drunk driver. Under the Florida “Dram Shop” statute, a business that sells or serves alcohol to a person involved in a crash is not liable unless:

1-the person is not of lawful drinking age (21 in Florida)

2-the person is habitually addicted to alcohol and the server knew or should have known that.

These are very narrow restrictions and often difficult to prove. A social host is generally not liable unless they knowingly provide alcohol to a minor. Again, this is a very complex area of Florida law, and the Florida legislature has made it very difficult to recover in such situations.

The statute of limitations to sue a commercial establishment or a social host is four years from the date of the injury, or two years if the case involves a wrongful death.

If you are injured in a case involving drunk driving, you need to contact an experienced Florida personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. The prompt preservation of evidence may be very important to your recovery.

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/impaired_driving/impaired-drv_factsheet.html

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

https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/dram-shop-laws-social-host-liability-alcohol-related-accidents-florida.html

https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/punitive_damages

https://www.findlaw.com/litigation/legal-system/what-are-compensatory-damages.html

The Particular Issues of Being Involved in A Wreck With Multiple Vehicles.

Most Florida Car Accidents or Florida Car Wrecks occur between two vehicles.  One vehicle is considered the “at-fault” vehicle and the other vehicle is considered the “victim” vehicle.

Occasionally, wrecks in Florida involve multiple vehicles.  Usually, one “at-fault” driver who strikes more than one car during the wreck.  These are sometimes “chain reaction” type of collisions that can happen in tightly spaced traffic like backups on bridges or other roads with limited shoulders.

The Florida Crash Report will usually list the “at-fault” driver as Vehicle 1 and will label the other Vehicles as 2- 4 or whatever the number of cars involved.  This will mean that only one Vehicle, Vehicle 1, will be liable for all of the damages and injuries caused.


IN A TYPICAL MULTIPLE VEHICLE WRECK THERE IS A LIMITED AMOUNT OF INSURANCE COVERAGE AND USUALLY ONLY ONE RESPONSIBLE INSURANCE POLICY


So why is this important?  Well because if there is only one insurance policy that is liable for all of the damages and injuries and if these damages and injuries are spread across multiple vehicles, then most likely, there will be insufficient insurance coverage for the “at fault” driver.

For example: many drivers in Florida have minimal insurance coverage.  Typically, drivers will have the mandatory $10,000.00 per claim/$20,000.00 per accident in property damage coverage and then have the same amount in boiling injury coverage.

Bodily Injury Coverage

Bodily injury coverage is the category of insurance that compensates other drivers for their injuries. The insurance company only has to pay the per accident limit when there are multiple cars involved and it does not have to pay each claim the “per claim” limit.  So, in this example, the limits were $10,000.00 per claim and $20,000.00 per accident for both property damage and injury.  The insurance company only has to pay $20,000.00 towards any and all property damage and $20,000.00 for any and all injuries.  This is the total amount they are responsible to pay even if there are 25 cars involves and multiple serious injuries. 

As you can imagine, a wreck can total a couple of cars and easily be well in excess of $20,000.00.  Further, $20,000.00 in medical expenses split between multiple victims can also be a nominal figure.

So long as the insurance company doesn’t act unreasonably in offering these total limits to the lawyers for each client, this is all they will ever have to pay towards the claims.

Global Settlement Mediation

 Global settlements for property damage and injury claims are the most common outcome of Florida Car Wrecks with multiple vehicle involvement.

The process that insurance companies use in Florida Car Wrecks involving multiple vehicles is quite simple.  It is called a “global settlement” process.  Global meaning that all potential parties for both property damages and injuries are all notified that the insurance company is planning on having a meeting where they will divide up the per accident limits among the potential claims.

This global settlement conference will require each lawyer to present information that would explain why their respective client should recover more, percentage-wise, than other claimants.  For instance, the injured party in the car that was hit first may usually have the most property damage and worse injuries.  This claimant will, many times, have the best argument that their injuries and damages are worse than others.

However, other factors are also considered in these global settlement conferences.  These factors can include things like:

  1. Does the party have health insurance?
  2. How much underinsured motorist coverage does each party have?
  3. Will this be the only recovery that this client makes for the entire event?
  4. How bad are the injuries and how expensive will the future treatments be?
  5. What condition was the claimant in prior to the wreck?

Obviously, these global settlement conferences should not be attended without a lawyer who has prepared not only to present your best case but prepared to point out why the other claims should not take priority.


UNDERINSURED MOTORIST COVERAGE IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT AND FLORIDA CAR WRECKS WITH MULTIPLE INVOLVED VEHICLES IS JUST ANOTHER REASON WHY YOU SHOULD HAVE AS MUCH A YOU CAN AFFORD.


Purchase as Much UM Coverage as You Can Afford

Every chance we get to advise clients and potential clients to purchase as much uninsured motorist coverage as they can afford, we do so.  Multiple vehicle accidents are just another reason why it is prudent to purchase as much uninsured motorist coverage as possible.  When you have this type of coverage on your policy the effect of the “at fault” driver not having sufficient coverage is much less problematic. 

For example: instead of having to split $20,000.00 four ways as illustrated above, the global settlement amount would just be the initial settlement of your case.  Once that is done, then your lawyer would be able to move on to the underinsured motorist coverage on your own policy for the additional value in your injury case.

Not having underinsured motorist coverage makes you depends entirely on the “at fault” party’s judgment in how much coverage to purchase. 

We can assure you that if they are acting reckless and cause a wreck, many times they are not going to be the type of person that is going to exercise diligence in selecting large amount of insurance for the other drivers’ injuries.  Instead, they will likely opt for the cheapest form of insurance that gets them legal to drive.  This means that you have to protect yourself and your family by purchasing the underinsured motorist coverage.

This is never more important than in a Florida Multiple Vehicle collision since having multiple claimants all pulling from the same number of limited coverages makes getting “made-whole” near impossible without your own protection.

If you are injured in a multiple vehicle car crash, whether a high speed or low speed crash, you should seek the services of an experienced person injury lawyer. A board-certified civil trial lawyer has much experience in dealing with these cases and can give you the advice you need.

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.flhsmv.gov/traffic-crash-reports/

What Issues Arise If You Get In A Wreck With An Out Of State Driver?

As we all know, Florida is one of the top tourist destinations in the United States. Even apart from vacationers, Florida is home to many people who live here only part of the year. The upshot is that there is a large proportion of drivers on the road who don’t call Florida their primary residence.


FLORIDA IS THE 2ND MOST POPULAR TRAVEL DESTINATION IN THE U.S. – www.worldatlas.com


What Does All This Mean If You Get In A Wreck With One Of These Non-Residents?

The fact that the at-fault driver is from a different state raises several issues.

Florida PIP Coverage

The first major issue comes up as soon as the claims process starts. Every Florida motorist is legally required to carry “Personal Injury Protection,” or “PIP” insurance. This insurance can also be known as “no-fault” benefits. When a Florida resident gets into a wreck, their own insurance pays 80% of the resident’s medical bills, up to a maximum of $10,000.

The part of the PIP law most relevant to this article states that, if both parties to a wreck carry PIP benefits, the victim can usually only recover for his/her out of pocket medical bills, and not the related pain, suffering, loss of capacity to enjoy life, and other “non-economic” damages.

Permanent Injuries and Case Value

Only if a doctor diagnoses the victim with a permanent injury can a victim recover those non-economic damages. This can be a high bar sometimes, and insurance companies frequently dispute the “permanency” issue even when a doctor does diagnose the injuries as permanent.

Not All States Have PIP Benefits

However, Florida is one of only a few states that require residents to carry PIP benefits. So, when you get in a wreck with someone from out of state, there is a very good chance that they do not carry PIP benefits. In that case, you can recover from pain and suffering and other non-economic damages without the burden of proving a permanent injury. This means that your injury claim against a non-resident can be worth a lot more than if the at-fault party is a Florida resident.

Federal Jurisdiction

There is one other large issue that can arise in a wreck with a non-resident—federal jurisdiction. Ordinarily, a party cannot file a garden variety car wreck lawsuit between two Florida residents in federal court. However, federal law dictates that a plaintiff can file a car wreck case in federal court as long as the claim is for more than $75,000 and the parties are “diverse”—i.e., they do not reside primarily in the same state. Further, even if a plaintiff files in state court, the non-resident defendant can “remove” the case to federal court if it meets the criteria described above.

There are many differences between state court and federal court that cannot be summarized effectively in this article, but when all the considerations are balanced, most plaintiffs usually choose to remain in state court if they can.

As you can see, there are good things and bad things about claims against non-residents. When you hire an experienced lawyer to handle your claim, they can help explain these advantages and disadvantages with you based on the facts of your case.

If you are injured in a car crash, whether a high speed or low-speed crash, you should seek the services of an experienced personal injury lawyer. A board-certified civil trial lawyer has much experience in dealing with these cases and can give you the advice you need.

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.worldatlas.com/articles/the-most-visited-states-in-the-us.html

What Happens in a Wreck Caused by an Emergency Vehicle?

Emergency Vehicle wreck

Every year hundreds are killed, and many thousands are injured, as a result of auto accidents involving emergency vehicles. Emergency vehicles include police vehicles, ambulances and fire trucks. In 2018, per a National Safety Council analysis, crashes involving police vehicles caused the most deaths, followed by ambulances and fire trucks. Another recent study showed the crash rate is actually higher when the emergency vehicle is using its lights and sirens. The cause for this is uncertain, but it makes sense that the driver, in an emergency situation, may drive faster and more carelessly.

What Can You Do If You Are Injured In A Car Wreck Caused By An Emergency Vehicle?

If you are injured in a crash caused by an emergency vehicle, many complex laws come into play. If the vehicle is privately owned, you may be able to proceed as a normal car wreck. This is very rare, as most emergency vehicles are owned or operated as part of a governmental entity. This includes city and county law enforcement, ambulance and fire services. Federally owned vehicles may also be involved, and Federal law if different from Florida law.

Sovereign Immunity

Under Florida law, a governmental body and its employees have “Sovereign Immunity.” This means they generally are immune from a civil suit. Florida has a limited waiver of immunity for certain torts. In Florida, you can sue the governmental entity as long as you give statutory notice prior to filing suit. The purpose of the notice is to give the entity the chance to investigate and settle the claim. The notice must be given at least 6 months prior to filing suit. If the entity does not settle the case, then suit can be filed.


FOR PERSONAL INJURY ACTIONS, THE NOTICE MUST BE GIVEN WITHIN THREE YEARS OF THE INCIDENT, AND SUIT MUST BE FILED WITHIN FOUR YEARS. THE MAXIMUM RECOVERY FOR A CAR CRASH AGAINST A GOVERNMENTAL ENTITY IS $200,000 PER PERSON AND $300,000 PER CLAIM.


For example: If five people are seriously injured in a crash, the max recovery is a total of $300,000. In Zarzaur Law, P.A.’s experience, the government will aggressively defend such cases, as they have limited exposure and generally have insurance to cover the claims. If the crash involves wrongful death, it must be filed within two years, and only after the six-month notice is given.

The Federal Tort Claim Act

Crashes with federal vehicles, including vehicles owned by the armed services are subject to the Federal Tort Claim Act. Again, a notice must be given, and the claim denied before a suit is filed. The notice must be filed within 2 years of the injury. While there is no limit on recovery against the Federal government, the case will be heard and decided by a federal judge, as there is no right to a jury trial. Such awards are often smaller than could be expected from a jury.

UM Coverage and Emergency Vehicle Crashes

Most people do not know that their uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage may be available if they are injured in a crash with an emergency vehicle. Vehicles owned by a governmental agency are usually determined to be uninsured in most policies, and per Florida case law. Even though you can sue the entity for the negligence of its employee, your own UM coverage should provide compensation. As we say regularly, this is simply another good reason to purchase UM coverage, since it is relatively inexpensive and provides good protection to you and your family.

 

While there are many injuries every day caused by emergency vehicles, getting just compensation is very difficult. The law is very complicated and is best handled by an experienced personal injury lawyer.

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:

Emergency Vehicles

https://www.justia.com/injury/federal-tort-claims-act-ftca/

https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/sovereign_immunity

 

The Dramatic Increase in Road Rage Car Wrecks

In modern society, there has been a startling increase in road rage incidents. These incidents include vehicle crashes, violent attacks, and significant stress on the criminal justice system. In this blog, we will look at the statistics and discuss how best to protect yourself if you are the victim of a road rage incident.

 

What is Road Rage?

Road rage is generally defined ass aggressive behavior while driving. This can be in the form of rude gestures, tailgating, brake checking, honking, swerving, and more. It can include more aggravate acts such as physical attacks and intentional crashes. In the United States, road rage is the cause of approximately 30 murders each year. Cases involving guns and road rage have been increasing each year. It has been estimated that 8 in 10 Americans are involved in road rage each year.

More ominously, certain statistics show that one in three-vehicle crashes involve some form of road rage. This can include crashes caused by illegal maneuvers, intentional speeding in dangerous areas, tailgating and aggressively changing lanes without signaling.

Road rage can be habit-forming, almost addictive. Studies show that the average “road rager” has engaged in such behavior over 25 times. This means that the behavior can lead to a vicious cycle, which is very dangerous.

 

Road Rage Behaviors Include:

– Excessive yelling, cursing, and offensive gesture directed at another driver
– Intentionally crashing the car into the victim’s car
– Tailgating
– Honking excessively and flashing lights
– Throwing objects at the other vehicle
– Attempting to run the other person off the road
– Firing a gun at the other vehicle.
– Aggressive driving

 

How to Avoid Road Rage

While exposure to some road rage is inevitable on our crowded highways, there are certain actions you can take to avoid being a victim.

– Never return rude gestures in kind
– If a driver is displaying road rage behavior, let them drive ahead of you in traffic
– Change lanes (SAFELY) if you are being tailgated
– If things get particularly bad or you feel threatened, call law enforcement as soon as possible
– DO NOT STOP, as this could lead to a fight

 

Consequences of Road Rage

As previously mentioned, road rage can lead to car crashes, property damage, personal injury, and death. According to NHTSA, road rage-related deaths have increased over 500 percent in the last decade. Cases involving guns have doubled in the last few years, probably due to the prevalence of guns in our society. This has led t serious injury and death. In addition, it is estimated that at least 20 percent of all fatal car crashes were caused by aggressive driving.

Because of this, insurance rates may increase substantially in areas with excessive road rage incidents in areas where there are more such behavior and more crashes, the insurance companies will raise automobile insurance rates to reflect the increased costs of such behavior. This behavior costs responsible and good drivers millions of dollars every year.

 

Injuries Involving Road Rage and What You Should Do

The statistics show that many people are injured as a result of road rage, or aggressive driving. Most automobile liability policies exclude intentional behavior from coverage. This means that if you are injured as a result of road rage, the responsible driver’s insurance may not provide coverage to compensate you for your injuries. An experienced trial lawyer can guide you through this process, and make sure there is no improper denial of coverage.

Even if there was intentional action, and an insurance company denies coverage, your own uninsured motorist (UM) coverage may compensate you for your injuries. This is a complex area of the law and requires the advice of an experienced trial lawyer.

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 auto 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://driversed.com/trending/wake-up-call-7-shocking-road-rage-statistics-you-didnt-know

https://policyadvice.net/insurance/insights/road-rage-statistics/

What Happens After A Car Accident With No Police Report?

Sometimes potential clients who get in a car wreck have no police report associated with it. Usually, this is because the property damage is minor, and the client did not feel injured at the time of the wreck.

Many times, however, injuries that may not be apparent immediately following a wreck, and only develop after hours or days after. These clients frequently ask, “Can I still recover? What do I need to do?

CONSULT OUR “CAR WRECK CHECKLIST” AND BE PREPARED >

Can You Still Recover?

The answer is YES – you can still receive compensation for your injuries.

  • First, within 10 days of the wreck, you need to file a police report with the Florida Highway Patrol. A link to this form is provided here (https://www.flhsmv.gov/traffic-crash-reports/#report).
  • Second, you need to report the crash to your insurance company as soon as possible. Some insurance policies will not cover your injuries if they are not informed of the wreck within certain time frames—this time can be found in your insurance policy. If you know the other driver’s insurance carrier, you can also report the crash to them as well.

Steps to Take if You Don’t Have a Police Report

Having a police report from immediately after the wreck is very helpful, but the lack of a report is not fatal to your case.

  • A police officer who investigates a wreck and cites one party for a driving violation can be powerful evidence that the defendant driver is actually at fault. For instance, a defendant driver’s finding or admission of guilt in a citation hearing can be used as evidence of fault in a related injury case. However, because the officer most likely did not see the wreck occur, the report itself is hearsay and may not be admitted as actual evidence
  • If a police report is not available, you can still prove that the other driver was at fault, but the case moves into more of a “he-said, she-said” case. In this situation, you will have to rely on the physical evidence and witness testimony. For instance, you can prove fault by showing that the at-fault driver rear-ended you, which gives rise to a presumption that they were at fault. You can prove fault by testimony from other drivers who saw the accident and stopped to render aid.
  • Finally, in extreme circumstances, you can prove fault by hiring an qualified expert in accident reconstruction, who can show fault through complicated models that recreate the scene of the accident.

Only experienced lawyers are capable of navigating this process. Potential clients 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.

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 auto 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://zarzaurlaw.com/car-wreck-checklist/

Why Does it Take So Long to Resolve a Car Wreck Case?

Car Wreck Cases Insurance Coverage

It seems so simple. You are stopped at a red light, and someone hits you from behind. You are injured, the police are called, an ambulance is called, and you are taken to the closest ER. The driver who hit you is given a ticket.

Since you were hurt, you call a personal injury lawyer to handle your case. Sounds simple but is not. There are many complex issues in all personal injury cases, even those as seemingly simple as described.

Many clients are surprised about how long it takes to resolve their car wreck case. While it is true that the rare case is resolved in a few weeks, most are not, and sometimes take years to settle. Why?

How Much Insurance Coverage is Available?

There are certain procedures that are common in all car wreck cases. After you hire a personal injury lawyer, the first thing to do is find out insurance details. Florida law requires insurers of Florida residents to disclose all liability coverage within 30 days of demand. While some companies provide this information quicker, most do not. An experienced Florida personal injury lawyer will send a request to your own insurance company, to determine the limits of your medical coverage and also if you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. This coverage protects you and allows you to make a claim for your injuries if the at-fault driver has little or no bodily injury coverage. The lawyer will also put your health insurers on notice of the claim, as they may also be responsible in paying for treatment after the no-fault (PIP or Personal Injury Protection) coverage is exhausted. This process is extremely important, as the value of your claim is often determined by the insurance coverage available. It may be several weeks before your lawyer even knows how much coverage is available.

Treatment and Permanent Injury Diagnosis

If you are injured, you will start treatment with an appropriate specialist. Depending on the nature of your injury, it may be months or even years before you know the ultimate outcome of your injury. For soft tissue or whiplash-type injuries, it usually takes 6 to 9 months before the patient reaches maximum medical improvement. Clients must reach this stage of treatment before the doctor will give an opinion about the permanent injury. Under Florida law, (Florida Statute 627.737) states that you must have a permanent injury to recover from pain and suffering type damages, and you must have this opinion from a licensed physician.

The Demand and Negotiation Phase

After the extent of your injury is known, then demand is made by your lawyer on your behalf to the at-fault party’s insurance company. An experienced and board-certified trial lawyer will have the benefit of knowing the value of such cases and will know how to properly negotiate with the insurance company. Make sure your personal injury lawyer has a reputation as one who will fight to get you top value for your accident claim. Companies know that experienced trial lawyers will take a case to trial if necessary and will pay accordingly.


The negotiation phase may take weeks or months, depending on the nature of the claim along with the availability of medical records and the insurance coverages.


If the at-fault party does not have enough coverage to fairly settle your claim, and you have underinsured motorist coverage, then an additional negotiation will occur with your own insurance company.

What if Your Car Wreck Case Does Not Settle?

A small percentage of cases do not settle at the presuit stage and must be filed in court. In other words, if the insurance company is not fair with its offer, the case must move on to the litigation stage. Your lawyer will file suit in circuit court seeking damages. This process may take many months to get these cases ultimately resolved.

Litigation Process Includes:

Discovery Phase

To determine the nature of the injuries and the value of the claim.

Mediation

The courts will require a mediation session to try and resolve the case.

Trial

If a case cannot be resolved through mediation, the case will be scheduled for trial in court.

While most cases settle before trial, it may take many months to get this done.

NOTE: During the COVID epidemic, most courts are not even scheduling civil trials, and in fact in may be several years before a case goes to trial. Even after trial, appeals may slow down the process. For these reasons, it is often best for both sides to settle before trial. Having a board-certified trial lawyer is a great advantage for the injured party.

It is a Marathon and Not a Sprint

While your car wreck case may seem simple, even simple cases can take a long time to get resolved. Between treatment, negotiation, possible litigation, or even trial, the process can seem overwhelming. That is why you need to hire an experienced trial lawyer to handle your case.

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.flhsmv.gov/insurance/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1uwCo_9H0xM&list=PLnCrJ0tzzzL6mRs3arN7h5wlrAbevkMq0&index=13&t=115s

https://www.investopedia.com/terms/l/liability_insurance.asp

https://zarzaurlaw.com/what-is-um-coverage-and-why-is-it-important/