Tampa Car Accident Lawyer

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Tampa Car Accident Attorney

Car accidents can happen unexpectedly for many reasons, often causing injuries and extensive economic damages that the average person may not know how to address on their own. Every state in the country has different rules for resolving vehicle accident claims, and Florida’s may seem to present some significant challenges if you believe another party is responsible for causing your recent accident.

Experienced Legal Advocacy for Car Accident Claims in Tampa, FL

The typical recovery process from a car accident in Tampa, FL or anywhere else in the state is an auto insurance claim followed by a civil suit against the driver responsible for causing the accident. While proving fault is irrelevant for the purposes of a car insurance claim under the state’s no-fault car insurance law, proving fault will be essential if you intend to pursue a personal injury claim against another driver.

Ultimately, recovering from any serious accident can be far more challenging than the average person may expect, and legal advocacy is a vital lifeline in this situation. Paul Figueroa Law can provide the comprehensive and compassionate legal counsel you need after a car accident, especially one caused by another driver. While the state’s no-fault rule for accidents may seem like an impediment that restricts your ability to recover your losses, this is not necessarily true for every car accident case, and you could have more grounds for legal recourse than you may initially realize.

Should I Get a Tampa Car Accident Lawyer After an Accident?

The right Tampa car accident attorney can help unlock the full potential of your recovery options following an accident that someone else caused. Attorney Figueroa and his team have years of experience handling all types of complex civil claims on behalf of clients in the Tampa area and surrounding communities. We know what legal obstacles you might encounter as you seek compensation for your losses, and we know how to maximize your recovery under Florida law.

You have the right to try to manage your recovery from an accident on your own. There is no law requiring you to hire legal representation. However, do not make the mistake of assuming that handling your case alone is a good strategy to save money on legal fees. Even if you managed to succeed with your recovery efforts on your own, you could unintentionally settle for far less compensation than you legally deserve. Additionally, you would be forced to contend with your medical issues while also managing complex legal proceedings and meeting court filing deadlines unassisted.

Hiring an experienced Tampa car accident lawyer not only makes your recovery process much easier for you to handle, but you will also be far more likely to maximize your recovery as much as the law allows. Your legal team can help file your auto insurance claim, resolving any disputes that arise with your insurance carrier. Once you have recovered as much as you can through insurance, your attorney can evaluate any outstanding damages and help determine the optimal ways to recover these losses. Whatever your case may involve, a Tampa car accident lawyer you can trust is a crucial asset if you want to recover as fully as possible from your recent accident.

How Does No-Fault Car Insurance Work After an Accident?

Florida follows the no-fault rule for resolving car accidents. This means every driver must have no-fault auto insurance that will follow the individual, not their vehicle. The no-fault auto insurance policy you purchase in the state will follow you no matter what vehicle you drive. At a minimum, this insurance policy must include at least $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) coverage and at least $10,000 in property damage liability coverage. Unlike most other states, Florida does not require drivers to carry liability insurance for bodily injuries to others.

If you are in an accident that someone else caused, you will file a claim against your own insurance policy to recover your losses. PIP coverage typically covers 80% of medical expenses up to the coverage limit of the policy. This means that if 80% of your medical expenses amount to more than $10,000 and you have only purchased the minimum PIP coverage with your policy, you will be responsible for the remainder of your medical expenses. PIP will also usually cover 60% of lost income following an accident and provide $5,000 in death benefits to the policyholder’s family if they die in an accident.

You can only pursue compensation from the at-fault driver if your case meets two criteria:

  1. Your total damages exceed the scope of your auto insurance policy. If you are able to fully recover your losses through insurance, there will be no need to file a personal injury claim.
  2. You suffered a serious injury, meaning the accident caused significant scarring or disfigurement, a permanent disability, or a long-term medical complication likely to diminish your quality of life. If you are unsure whether your injury qualifies as serious under state law, a Tampa car accident attorney is the ideal resource to consult on this issue.

Drivers in the state have the option of purchasing personal injury liability coverage with their policy. If you buy this coverage option and cause an accident with another driver, your insurance could cover the damages if their insurance cannot fully compensate for the losses you inflicted. This could potentially prevent you from facing a personal injury suit from the injured driver.

Drivers also have the option of purchasing uninsured motorist coverage through some insurance carriers. This coverage comes into play when standard PIP coverage does not fully cover the damages from an accident an uninsured driver has caused. While you may have the option to file a personal injury claim against them, uninsured motorist coverage could potentially cover your remaining losses and allow you to avoid the need to file a personal injury action, streamlining your recovery.

When it comes to auto insurance, it is legally required to purchase the minimum coverage, but you have the option to expand your coverage in various ways. However, it is important to remember that purchasing additional coverage will mean a higher monthly premium. It’s a good idea to consider what coverage options you can add to your policy, determine what level of coverage would make you most comfortable, and try to strike a tenable balance between affordability and coverage.

How Your Attorney Can Help With an Insurance Claim

It’s important to remember that insurance companies will do everything they can to minimize their financial liabilities to claimants. While car insurance is effectively a paid-for promise of compensation for a covered event, this does not mean your insurer will offer the maximum possible coverage for your damages, nor can you expect the insurance carrier to handle your claim in good faith. Insurance companies train their representatives to look for reasons they can find to deny claims or justify the lowest possible settlement offers.

When you have a Tampa car accident attorney representing you, an insurance company is far less likely to attempt any bad faith tactics in their handling of your claim. Your attorney can help draft your demand letter to the insurance company and verify that they have handled the claim in good faith. Should any issues arise with the claim, your attorney will be ready to address these problems on your behalf. Once the insurance company delivers its settlement offer, your attorney can review it to make sure they have offered a fair settlement under the terms of the policy.

If you encounter any bad faith tactics from the insurance company or if it mishandles your case in any way, your attorney will know how to address any such issues. It is possible to have grounds for legal recourse against an insurance carrier that intentionally violates its duty to process your claim in good faith. However, once an insurance carrier notices that a claimant has legal representation, it is more inclined to process the claim as swiftly as possible.

Do I Need to Prove Fault for My Car Accident in Tampa?

Proving fault is not always essential after car accidents in Florida. If your damages can be fully covered by insurance, the no-fault rule does not require you to prove liability to recover your losses. However, if you suffered a severe injury and your insurance cannot fully compensate your losses, you will need to file a personal injury claim naming the driver at fault to recover outstanding damages. Proving fault is essential for success with any personal injury claim in Tampa.

Every car accident claim is unique, and every claimant will face different challenges when it comes to proving fault for their damages. Your attorney can help gather the evidence you may need to identify the at-fault driver and prove that they are directly responsible for the accident in question. Some of the evidence that could prove crucial to your case may include:

  • Witness statements. Witnesses who saw your accident happen firsthand can be incredibly helpful in proving fault for the accident. Your Tampa car accident attorney may also seek statements from occupants of other vehicles involved in the crash.
  • Digital records, such as vehicle computer data and cell phone records. For example, your attorney may issue a subpoena for the other driver’s cell phone records to prove that they were texting while driving when they caused your accident.
  • CCTV and traffic camera footage. If any nearby businesses or residences had CCTV cameras running that captured the accident, or if nearby traffic cameras recorded the accident, this footage could be invaluable to your case.
  • Expert witness testimony. Proving fault for some accidents can be very challenging, and your attorney may consult with various expert witnesses to assist you in proving fault. Accident reconstruction experts can help prove exactly how an accident happened; other experts can explain the role that road and weather conditions may have played in the incident; and medical experts may be necessary to prove the extent of the injuries you suffered.

Every car accident case is unique. Experienced legal representation can be invaluable if you are unsure how to proceed with proving fault for your recent accident. Paul Figueroa Law will work closely with our clients through each stage of their recovery efforts, from filing their initial insurance claim through their own policy to pursuing additional insurance coverage from an at-fault driver’s liability coverage to ultimately building a personal injury claim if necessary. Our firm can adapt our strategies to meet the individual client’s needs and the unique aspects of their car accident claim.

Common Causes of Car Accidents Leading to Personal Injury Claims in Tampa

It’s possible for a car accident to occur for many reasons, and a few common causes of accidents leading to civil claims in Tampa include:

  • Distracted driving. All drivers are expected to pay full attention to the road when operating their vehicles. Using a cell phone while driving or anything else that distracts the driver’s vision, hands, or attention while they are driving can easily lead to a serious accident.
  • Drivers are expected to heed posted speed limits at all times. While it’s relatively common to see drivers slightly exceeding the speed limit, speeding is inherently dangerous because it reduces how much time and distance they have to react appropriately. Excessive speeding may lead to a criminal charge for reckless driving in Tampa, especially if the speeding driver caused an accident.
  • Moving violations. Whenever drivers fail to yield the right-of-way or commit traffic violations, they are not only breaking the law but also endangering themselves or others around them. Illegal turns and lane changes, running red lights or stop signs, or violating one-way directions are just a few ways that moving violations can cause serious accidents.
  • Driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol. By law, no driver may operate their vehicle while intoxicated, and the penalties for doing so can include loss of their driver’s license, fines, jail time, and more. These penalties increase when a DUI driver has a record of prior DUI convictions or if they injure or kill someone in an accident.

Most of the car accidents leading to personal injury claims in Tampa result from acts of negligence or failure to use reasonable care in specific situations. However, it is also possible for illegal and intentional misconduct to cause a serious accident, leading to civil liability for damages and criminal prosecution for the at-fault driver. Your Tampa car accident attorney can explain how the illegal nature of a defendant’s actions could impact your recovery and the legal proceedings that follow the accident.

Building Your Personal Injury Claim for a Tampa Car Accident

The objective of any personal injury claim is for the plaintiff to secure the compensation they need to recover as fully as possible from their injury. Once your Tampa car accident attorney has helped you recover as much as you can through insurance and determined that you have valid grounds to pursue a personal injury claim naming the driver at fault, you will need to gather documentation to prove the full extent of your claimable damages.

Under Florida law, the plaintiff in a civil suit has the right to seek full repayment of all the economic losses a defendant inflicted. Additionally, they may also seek compensation for the pain and suffering they experienced. If the defendant caused the accident through some illegal misconduct, they may face punitive damages as well.

Success with your personal injury claim for a car accident requires clear proof not only of the full extent of your claimable damages but also proof that the defendant directly caused these damages and that they did not arise from some other cause. The four elements of proving fault for a personal injury include:

  1. The defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff in the situation in question.
  2. The defendant breached their duty of care through an act of negligence or intentional misconduct.
  3. The defendant’s breach of duty caused actual harm to the plaintiff. The plaintiff can only pursue a personal injury claim if they suffered a tangible or measurable loss.
  4. The plaintiff’s claimed damages strictly resulted from the defendant’s actions and not some other cause.

It is important to note that the state enforces a modified comparative negligence rule that can come into play in any personal injury case in which the plaintiff shares fault with the defendant. Plaintiff fault may not factor into the insurance claim process after an accident, but it will diminish a plaintiff’s recovery in a personal injury claim.

Under this modified comparative negligence rule, the plaintiff’s percentage of fault will be deducted from their final case award as a penalty to reflect their shared liability. However, their fault may not exceed 50%; otherwise, they will lose the ability to claim compensation from the defendant. For example, if the plaintiff is deemed to be 25% at fault, they lose 25% of their case award and only recover 75% of the total damages claimed from the defendant. If they are 50% or more at fault, they cannot seek any compensation from the defendant.

What Compensation Can I Claim for My Car Accident in Tampa?

Damages in a personal injury claim are divided into different designations. Economic damages are the direct financial losses caused by the defendant’s negligence or misconduct, and these may include:

  • Property damage. It’s possible to recover the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle and other personal property damaged or destroyed by the defendant through insurance, but if you have any outstanding property losses that insurance won’t cover, you can add this amount to your claim as economic damages.
  • Medical treatment costs. You can only file a personal injury claim for a car accident if you suffered a severe injury, so if you have grounds to file a claim, you likely incurred significant medical expenses for treatment of your injuries. The defendant who caused your injury is responsible for all of the immediate and future medical treatment costs you face to fully recover. This includes rehabilitative care, physical therapy, multiple surgeries, prescription costs, medical devices, and any other healthcare expenses resulting from the accident.
  • Lost income. If a plaintiff in a personal injury case cannot work while recovering from their injury, the defendant is responsible for the income they cannot earn during this time. If the accident has left you permanently disabled, you can seek compensation for the future income you are no longer able to earn. Your Tampa car accident attorney can calculate these lost future wages based on your life expectancy, how long you would have been able to continue working in the future, cost of living increases, inflation, and other variables.

The average car accident victim may be able to calculate their immediately noticeable economic damages like the cost of fixing their vehicle, hospital bills, and lost income from time spent out of work. The right attorney is an invaluable asset for accurately calculating your immediate damages as well as your future economic damages, and you might discover that you have grounds to claim more than expected initially.

Calculating Pain and Suffering Compensation for a Personal Injury

While most people are familiar with the term “pain and suffering,” they are likely to struggle when it comes to assessing how much money they should seek to account for these intangible losses. Florida does not enforce any caps or limits on pain and suffering compensation in most personal injury cases. This means nothing limits how much a plaintiff may seek in pain and suffering compensation as long as the amount sought reasonably reflects the severity of the harm they suffered.

Pain and suffering compensation could easily form the bulk of your total case award if you suffered a severe injury, especially one that has caused a permanent disability of any kind. Severe burns, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain damage, and injuries to internal organs are just a few types of catastrophic injuries that have the potential to cause life-changing medical complications for the victim. Most attorneys determine pain and suffering compensation for their clients by multiplying their total economic damages by a factor of one to five to reflect the severity of their experience.

Punitive Damages in Tampa Personal Injury Claims

As the name suggests, punitive damages aim to punish a defendant’s behavior rather than compensate the victim for a loss. The plaintiff in a personal injury claim cannot seek punitive damages directly, but judges may award them at their discretion when a defendant has caused a personal injury through an illegal act or through egregious negligence of any kind. The amount the defendant pays in punitive damages typically depends on their overall financial status. However, state law limits punitive damages to greater than three times the total of the plaintiff’s compensatory damages or $500,000.

How Much Does a Tampa Car Accident Attorney Cost to Hire?

It’s natural for the victim of a personal injury to worry about potential legal expenses when they are already struggling with the economic impact of their experience. Many people believe that hiring legal counsel is prohibitively expensive, and this, unfortunately, deters some people from seeking legal counsel when they need it most. However, most personal injury attorneys charge their clients using a contingency fee billing system.

With a contingency fee, the attorney’s fee is contingent upon their ability to secure compensation for the client. The attorney takes a percentage of the total compensation won for the client, but only if they win the case. If the attorney is unable to secure compensation for the plaintiff, the plaintiff pays nothing, so there is no economic risk to them hiring an attorney on a contingency fee basis. The percentage the attorney takes will typically depend on the overall complexity of the case and how long they anticipate it will take to resolve the case.

How Long Will It Take to Resolve My Car Accident Case in Tampa?

The recovery process from a car accident in Tampa begins with the insurance claim process. Depending on the severity of the damages in question and whether the insurance carrier handles a claim in good faith, this may take several weeks to complete. When a victim has grounds to pursue a personal injury claim, this case will take much longer.

When a defendant’s liability for a personal injury is clear, it is likely that they will seek a settlement with the plaintiff as swiftly as possible. The settlement negotiation process is private, taking place at the convenience of the parties involved under the direction and supervision of their respective attorneys. The parties meet privately and negotiate terms to settle the case, and this allows them both to avoid the time commitment, additional expense, and stress that litigation would require. As long as both parties are willing to compromise, it is possible to complete settlement negotiations relatively quickly.

Unfortunately, settlement is not always possible. The parties could reach an impasse in their negotiations, or the defendant may refuse to accept liability for the plaintiff’s damages. When a personal injury case escalates to litigation, it will take much longer to resolve. Additionally, the final outcome of the case will rest entirely in the hands of the judge.

What to Expect From Paul Figueroa Law in Tampa

The right attorney can make a tremendous positive impact on the outcome of your impending car accident case. When you choose Paul Figueroa Law to represent you after a car accident that someone else has caused, you are investing in a fierce legal advocate who will efficiently address the various unique legal issues your case might present. Our team takes a client-focused approach to personal injury counsel. We know that no two clients are exactly alike, and no two cases are exactly alike, and we have the professional resources and experience to confidently adapt our strategies to meet a client’s unique individual needs and concerns.

Our team will work closely with you from the outset of your recovery efforts. In the aftermath of your accident, we can help secure any evidence you need to prove liability while we guide you through the insurance claim process. We have experience dealing with all the major auto insurance carriers in the Tampa area, so we know the tactics they often use to try to avoid liability for claimants’ damages. Our firm can guide you through the insurance claim process and help you recover as much compensation as possible before building a personal injury claim if necessary.

Find Experienced Legal Help in Tampa Today

Paul Figueroa Law has years of experience helping clients in the Tampa area navigate their personal injury cases with confidence and peace of mind. Our goal in every case we represent is maximum client recovery in the shortest time possible. We know that your damages have taken a toll on your life in many ways, and the longer it takes you to recover your losses, the more extensive this damage can be. We will aim to settle your case with compelling evidence and responsive legal representation, but if settlement is not possible, you can count on our team to prepare you for litigation and represent you in the courtroom.

Time is a critical concern for any car accident victim in Tampa. You have a limited time in which to file an auto insurance claim after an accident, and swift action can help preserve the integrity of the evidence and witness testimony you may need to succeed with a subsequent personal injury claim. The sooner you reach out to our firm, the sooner we can begin working on your case and guiding you to the compensation you legally deserve. Contact us today and schedule your consultation with a Tampa car accident attorney you can trust and learn all about the services we provide to our clients in Tampa.

Practice Areas

Criminal Defense
Personal Injury