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St. Petersburg Car Accident Lawyer

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At the law firm of Salter, Healy, Rivera, & Heptner, our experienced St. Petersburg car accident attorneys are dedicated to helping victims of car crashes recover from their injuries and receive full compensation for all damages. We understand that you’re probably feeling anxious and frustrated after your accident. Contact our office today to schedule a free consultation with a car accident lawyer in St. Petersburg, FL and get the help you deserve. Let our experience and dedication work for you.

Florida Car Accident Resources

Why Choose Us

  • Our attorneys have recovered millions of dollars in compensation for our clients. We are dedicated to achieving maximum recovery in your legal case.
  • We understand how painful the aftermath of a car accident can be. Our firm will handle all aspects of your legal case on your behalf, allowing you to focus on healing.
  • Our firm operates on a contingency fee basis. You will not be charged any fees or costs unless we secure an award in your claim.

Florida’s No-Fault Insurance Laws

When it comes to car accidents, states either follow a fault or no-fault system. In fault states, negligent drivers pay for all damages, such as medical expenses or vehicle repairs, after a collision. Florida is a no-fault car insurance state, meaning that every driver’s own car insurance is responsible for his or her initial medical expenses after a car accident.

All Florida drivers must carry at least $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) coverage to pay for their medical bills and other financial losses after a collision. If you are involved in a car accident, your own no-fault insurance will pay 80% of your first $10,000 in medical bills regardless of who was responsible for the accident. We then will present your claim against the at-fault driver for the 20% of the initial bills that are unpaid, all your medical expenses over the $10,000, plus claims for your future medical treatment, past and future lost wages, and pain and suffering damages.

Vehicle repairs and other types of property damage are not covered by PIP benefits. Under Florida law, drivers must also carry a minimum of $10,000 property damage liability (PDL) benefits. You have the right to file a liability claim against an at-fault driver to recover compensation for damage to your vehicle, and our office will assist you with making that claim.

Who Receives Coverage Under a Florida No-Fault Policy?

A PIP insurance policy in Florida not only extends to the driver of a vehicle — it also covers the policyholder’s children, passengers who lack their own PIP coverage, and members of the policyholder’s household. If your spouse is involved in an accident while driving your vehicle, for example, he or she could receive coverage under your own policy.

PIP coverage does not only cover accidents in your own vehicle, but collisions while you or your family members are riding in another person’s vehicle as well. If your children are riding on a school bus or if you are injured in a collision while driving in your parents’ car, you will still receive coverage. PIP coverage also provides protection if you are struck by a motor vehicle while walking or riding a bicycle.

When Can You File a Claim Against the Other Driver?

Under Florida law, you can make a claim against the at-fault driver for all amounts that exceed $10,000 in no-fault coverage along with claims for future medical expenses and all past and future lost wages. Also, if it is determined by a medical doctor that you have a permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability you then can also make a claim for non-economic or pain and suffering damages both in the past and in the future.

The permanent injury threshold in Florida is any injury that involves:

  • Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function
  • Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, other than scarring or disfigurement
  • Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement
  • Death

Anyone who is involved in a motor vehicle collision should speak with an injury attorney right away, even if you don’t have visible injuries right away.  The forces involved in car accidents are great and, often, internal injuries such as nerve damage and whiplash don’t manifest themselves immediately. A St. Petersburg car accident attorney can help make sure that you are examined and your injuries are documented appropriately.

Florida Statute of Limitations

You need to keep in mind that you do not have all the time in the world to bring a car accident claim.  In Florida, you generally have four years from the date of the injury to file a claim, though the time limits may be much shorter in certain circumstances. Do not take your time. We suggest that you get to an attorney as soon as possible. It takes time to build a strong legal case and you want to be able to give your attorney as much time as possible by calling them right away.

How Compensation Works

Florida is a pure comparative negligence state, which means that the only way to completely bar you from receiving compensation is if you are deemed to be 100% at fault. If you are 0%-99% at fault, then you are eligible for a compensatory reward. The insurance company will try to deem you for as much fault as possible so that they owe you less money. We will make sure that they do not succeed. Your full and fair compensation is our priority. Our car accident attorney in St. Petersburg, FL will strive to get you the biggest award possible by keeping the insurance company from pinning any of the blame on you.

Important First Steps

Make sure that you treat your health as a priority after the accident.

  • You need to seek medical treatment for your potential injuries. It is likely that you have adrenaline coursing through your body, and you won’t be able to immediately recognize that you are injured. Make sure you either get on the ambulance when it shows up or go see a doctor as soon as possible after the accident. That can be an urgent care center, an emergency room doctor, or your general physician depending on how badly you need care.
  • If you are able to stay on the scene after the accident, make sure you move your vehicle to a safe place out of the way of traffic but near the collision site.
  • Then call 911 if need be.
  • After the authorities and ambulance are on their way, you can begin to collect your evidence. Take as many photos and videos as possible of the scene and both vehicles involved.
  • If there are witnesses, get their contact information. You also want to get the insurance information off of the driver who collided with you.

In doing all of these things, make sure you avoid saying this was your fault. It might seem like you caused the accident in the moment, but we have experts who have the ability to discern who was truly at fault and it very well might not be you.

Common Car Accident Causes in Florida

There are many actions and situations that create dangerous driving conditions. The most common causes of auto accidents in Florida include:

  • Distracted driving. Drivers who are preoccupied with sending text messages, talking on their cellphones, eating food or performing any other distracting activity are a severe danger on the road.
  • Speeding. Many drivers ignore speed limits but fail to realize that the faster they drive, the longer it will take when they need to come to a quick stop. Speeding also makes it more likely that drivers will lose control of their vehicles.
  • Impaired driving. Drivers who are drunk or under the influence of drugs cause a high percentage of car accident deaths every year. Impaired driving is incredibly dangerous.
  • Reckless driving. Drivers who change lanes too quickly, fail to use their turn signals or simply act too aggressively on the roads can easily cause severe accidents.
  • Inclement weather. Rain, snow, fog and other types of bad weather situations make driving difficult. If drivers aren’t careful, their impaired vision or difficult road conditions caused by inclement weather can result in an accident.
  • A driver’s impatience can be dangerous. Following a vehicle too closely reduces a motorist’s margin for error. A general rule of thumb to prevent dangerous situations is to allow one car length for every ten miles per hour you are driving.
  • Poor road conditions. Potholes, uneven roads, construction zones, bumps and more can cause severe accidents if drivers are not careful.
  • Mechanical failure. A car’s failure to perform properly can shift liability for an accident from the driver to the manufacturer. Accidents due to tire blowouts, defective brakes, faulty ignition switches, and stuck accelerator pedals have been linked to manufacturers in recent years.

Additionally, an increasing cause of car accidents is distracted driving. Traditionally, driver distractions have been food, drink or even passengers. But these days, technology is everywhere and people seem to be addicted to it. Drivers are often distracted by electronic devices in their car such as talking on the phone, texting, or changing the radio station. Avoiding these distractions will decrease your risk of being in an accident.

Common Types of Car Accident Injuries

Car accidents can have severe consequences that lead to disputes with insurance agencies over medical coverage. When your insurance company abandons you, our St. Petersburg car accident lawyers work diligently on your behalf to help alleviate your suffering from the following common injuries sustained in car accidents:

  • Neck injuries. Whiplash is the neck injury most frequently suffered in car accidents, but even more serious neck injuries like disc injuries or cervical radiculopathy can also occur.
  • Severe head injuries. Concussions are among the most common car accident injuries and require immediate treatment. Traumatic brain injuries are particularly troublesome because many times there are no outward signs of trauma. But when the brain is severely bruised, a number of terrible consequences can arise.
  • Back injuries. Back injuries suffered in car accidents range from simple sprains or strains to disc injuries, lumbar problems or fractures. The most serious types of back injuries often do not show up until days or even weeks after an accident and can cause long-term health complications. It is important to seek immediate treatment after suffering a back injury to preserve your long-term health.
  • Burns. Serious car accidents can lead to severe burns, which require immediate medical attention. In some cases, skin grafts are necessary to prevent major disfigurement.
  • Lacerations. Lacerations can occur on any part of the body due to broken glass from windows or windshields, or from traumatic contact with any part of the car.
  • Psychological trauma. After suffering an accident, many victims come away emotionally distraught, which is completely understandable. Many patients undergo therapy to help them move on after an accident.

Additional injuries from car accidents can include broken bones, nerve and muscle damage, organ damage, and paralysis. We want to emphasize how important it is that you get the compensation that you deserve for your injuries. You won’t get it until we can show the insurance company the damages that their driver caused you. We do that in forms of medical records. Once you seek medical attention, we have proof that the accident caused you harm and we can seek compensation to cover those damages.

Getting Compensation

Our attorneys work to get you the damages available under the law. Whether at settlement negotiations or at trial, we help you recover compensation for:

  • Medical coverage. We pursue damages for medical bills and for any rehabilitation that you need.
  • Vehicle repairs. If your vehicle is salvageable, we seek coverage for the repairs it needs. We also help you secure a rental car while your vehicle is being repaired.
  • Pain and suffering. Car accidents can cause significant emotional trauma. We seek damages to compensate you for your pain and suffering.
  • Punitive damages. If your accident was caused by a drunk driver or someone on drugs, we ask the court for punitive damages to punish the person for their actions.
  • Loss of wages. To compensate you for the time you miss from work, we seek damages to cover your lost wages and earning capacity.

Do Not Talk to the Insurance Company

Shortly after your accident, it is nearly guaranteed that you will receive a call from the insurance company of the other driver involved in the accident. They will want to get a recorded statement from you, but you need to know that it will not help your legal case if you give them one. In fact, it will most likely harm your case if you talk to them. You have no legal obligation to talk to them and you should let your attorney take over all communication to avoid any reduction to your compensation.

Florida operates under a no-fault insurance system. This means that drivers are typically compensated by their own insurance company after an accident. Your personal injury protection (PIP) benefits cover your medical costs and certain other expenses, but if your injuries are severe enough to be considered permanent, you may be able to bring a lawsuit against another driver or their insurance company. Without an attorney, it can be difficult to stand up to an insurance company and prove your legal case. Never speak to an insurance adjuster without consulting your attorney first.

Why You Need a Florida Car Accident Attorney

After a car accident, it can be difficult to know what to do next. You may be suffering from severe injuries and facing thousands of dollars’ worth of medical bills. The emotional and physical impact of the injury can also be difficult to deal with. In these situations, you need an attorney on your side.

At Salter, Healy, Rivera & Heptner, our attorneys have over 60 years of experience representing St. Petersburg, FL residents in their car accident claims. We have recovered millions of dollars in compensation for our clients and are dedicated to achieving maximum possible recovery on your behalf.

Our St. Petersburg personal injury lawyers can deliver significant benefits to your legal case, including the following.

  • You may not understand the full extent of your injuries and damages following your accident. Your car accident lawyer can help identify all potential paths to compensation and calculate the value of your claim, helping you negotiate a fair settlement with your insurance company.
  • Your attorney will have significant knowledge of the car accident process and experience handling cases similar to yours. He or she can guide you through each stage of your legal case, prepare you for each step, and answer any questions you may have along the way.
  • Depending on the complexity of your accident, you may need additional help proving certain facts, such as the other driver’s liability or the future costs of your injuries. Your lawyer will have access to resources and expert witnesses that he or she can leverage to strengthen your claim and secure the compensation you deserve.
  • Negotiating with insurance companies can be a challenge. These entities typically want to pay as little compensation as possible to protect their bottom lines and quickly resolve cases. Your car accident lawyer will handle these discussions on your behalf, negotiating for a fair settlement and advocating for your rights throughout the process.
  • Hiring an attorney can help you resolve your legal case in a faster, more efficient way. Your attorney will understand the paperwork, processes, deadlines, and requirements necessary to secure compensation in your car accident claim. This will help you avoid common errors that could delay or harm your case.

Call Us Today for a Free Consultation

If you have been involved in a car accident that gave you a serious personal injury, please call our St. Petersburg car accident attorneys today for a free consultation. We want to take the weight of your case off of your shoulders so that you can make your recovery your main focus. We will handle the insurance company and make sure that they are being held responsible for their insured’s wrongdoing.

Contact our office today to get the results you deserve. Our lawyers will begin working on your legal case as soon as possible.

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