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Tampa Car Accident Lawyer

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Car accidents are unfortunately common throughout the state of Florida. Each year, Tampa residents suffer severe injuries, vehicle damage, and other losses due to the negligent actions of other drivers. The aftermath of a car accident can lead to significant financial hardship due to medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses.

If you are injured in a Tampa motor vehicle accident, you may be eligible for financial compensation. In these situations, the Tampa car accident attorneys at Salter, Healy, Rivera & Heptner can guide you through the insurance claims process and help you secure the damages you need to recover.

Why Choose Us

  • Our attorneys have over 60 years of combined experience in personal injury law. We have the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to fight aggressively for your right to maximum compensation.
  • Our firm understands how difficult it can be to navigate a car accident claim. Your lawyer will work directly with you throughout your case and will be available to answer questions and prepare you for each stage.
  • We operate on a contingency fee basis to limit your out-of-pocket costs. If we do not secure compensation in your case, you will not be charged legal fees. If we do recover an award, we will take an agreed-upon percentage of your final settlement as payment.

Common Causes of Tampa Car Accidents

Car accidents can happen due to a number of circumstances. For example, a government agency may neglect roads, leading to potholes and other types of damage that can lead to a collision. Inclement weather conditions and defective automobile parts may also cause an accident. In many cases, however, car accidents occur due to negligent driving behaviors and breaches of traffic law.

Examples of driver negligence include the following.

Florida’s No-Fault Insurance System

When handling car accident cases, states typically follow a fault or no-fault system. Most states are fault-based, meaning that negligent drivers are financially responsible for the losses that their victims sustain in an accident. Florida, on the other hand, follows a no-fault system. This means that a driver’s own insurance policy usually covers their losses unless certain thresholds are met.

Florida’s insurance laws require all drivers to hold at least $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) insurance, which pays for the policyholder’s financial damages like medical expenses and lost wages following a car accident, regardless of fault. Florida drivers must also carry $10,000 in property damage liability (PDL) coverage, which pays for vehicle repairs for other parties injured in an accident that the policyholder caused.

If you are injured in a Tampa car accident, you can obtain compensation for your losses by filing a PIP claim. You can also recover damages for vehicle repairs by filing a PDL claim against the at-fault driver.  However, having a Tampa personal injury attorney on your side can make the process much smoother and ensure that you receive the maximum amount of compensation you are owed.

While your own insurance will pay 80 percent of the first $10,000 in medical bills, we can present a claim against the at-fault driver for the other 20% of the initial unpaid bills, all medical expenses over the $10,000, along with future medical bills, past and future lost wages, and pain and suffering damages.

Serious Injury Thresholds in Florida

Under Florida law, a car accident victim can escalate their case to a third-party insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit if his or her injuries meet certain criteria. Florida defines an injury as serious if it meets at least one of the following criteria.

  • Bone fractures
  • Significant disfigurement
  • Substantially full disability for at least 90 days
  • Significant limitation of use of a body function or system
  • Permanent limitation of use of a body organ or member

For example, if you are involved in a Tampa car accident and you sustain bruises, lacerations, and a sprained wrist, your injury will not likely qualify as serious. However, if your wrist was broken in the collision, you could pursue a third-party claim. Additionally, there are various types of catastrophic injury claims that will almost always rise above the thresholds needed to file a personal injury lawsuit against another driver. This includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Any level of spinal cord injury
  • Paralysis caused by the incident
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Amputation or crush injuries
  • Internal organ damage or internal bleeding
  • Incidents that result in significant scarring or disfigurement

Speak to an attorney at Salter, Healy, Rivera & Heptner as soon as possible to determine your eligibility and optimal legal pathway.  Depending on the circumstances, you may not need to meet the serious injury threshold.

Damages Available to Tampa Car Accident Victims

Car accidents can result in devastating losses that can have a severe impact on your quality of life. You may be unable to go to work, drive your vehicle, or pay for your medical expenses. Through a car accident lawsuit or insurance claim, however, you can recover compensatory damages to pay for your economic and non-economic losses.

Examples of damages available to Tampa car accident victims include the following.

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of future earnings
  • Disability accommodations
  • Chronic pain
  • Disfigurement
  • Permanent disability
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of quality of life
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Property damage

Florida’s Comparative Negligence System (Changed 2023)

Florida’s no-fault system helps vehicle accident victims receive compensation through insurance settlements. However, certain thresholds allow for claims that rise above the no-fault system, permitting individuals to pursue a civil personal injury claim against another party. Under recent tort reform changes, Florida has adopted a modified comparative negligence system that affects these third-party personal injury claims.

The new system means that individuals can recover compensation only if they are less than 51% at fault for the incident. If they are 51% or more at fault, they are not going to be able to recover damages from the other parties involved. For those partially responsible yet still less than 51% at fault, the compensation will be reduced based on their degree of responsibility. For instance, if a plaintiff would typically receive $100,000 for their injuries but is found to be 30% responsible for their injuries, they will receive only $70,000 to account for their share of the fault.

This significant change to Florida’s negligence laws emphasizes the importance of presenting a well-prepared case, as determining fault percentages can significantly impact compensation eligibility and the final award amount. Seeking legal assistance from a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer in Tampa will give you the best chance of obtaining fair compensation under this new system.

Time Limit for Filing Your Car Accident Claim (Changed 2023)

There are various timelines to keep in mind when handling a vehicle accident claim in Tampa, Florida. First, most claims will be managed through insurance carriers due to the no-fault system, which requires individuals to turn to their personal insurance for compensation in most situations. Insurance companies have strict reporting deadlines, often requiring claims to be filed within a day or two of the incident. File your claim with your insurance provider promptly to avoid delays.

However, if your case surpasses the no-fault threshold and allows you to file a civil personal injury lawsuit against another party, different timelines apply. Recent tort reform changes in Florida have shortened the statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits. Now, individuals have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit against the alleged negligent party instead of the previous four-year window. Missing this two-year deadline will result in forfeiting the right to recover compensation for losses.

Do You Need a Tampa Car Accident Lawyer?

If you are filing an insurance claim or lawsuit for a car or truck accident in Tampa, you need an attorney on your side. Navigating Florida’s car accident claims process can be difficult after a recent injury and hiring an attorney will provide you with the resources, experience, and knowledge necessary to develop a compelling case.

A Tampa car accident attorney from Salter, Healy, Rivera & Heptner can deliver several benefits to your claim, including the following.

  • Negotiation skills to handle discussions with insurance companies on your behalf and advocate for your best interests
  • The ability to accurately calculate your estimated settlement and evaluate any offers you receive to avoid an insufficient award
  • Access to expert witnesses who can provide testimony on your behalf and validate complex issues in your case
  • Knowledge of the car accident claims process and the ability to guide you through each stage
  • The ability to evaluate your injuries and determine your optimal path to maximum compensation
  • Experience handling similar accidents to yours and the ability to leverage case strategies to strengthen your claim

At Salter, Healy, Rivera & Heptner, we are proud to offer free consultations to all clients. You can come to us so we can help determine the next best steps without having to worry about handing over any initial fees. Additionally, we take car accident claims on a contingency fee basis. This means clients pay absolutely no legal fees until we secure the compensation they are entitled to. If we do not win, our clients do not pay anything.

Steps You Can Take to Preserve Your Claim

There are several steps you can take if you have been involved in a vehicle accident. We suggest trying to get through most of these steps as quickly as possible, at least as quickly as your situation permits.

  1. Seek Medical Treatment. Your health and safety should be the top priority. Even if you feel uninjured, visit a healthcare professional for a thorough evaluation to detect any hidden injuries and establish medical records for your claim.
  2. Gather Evidence. Document the collision scene by taking photos of the vehicles, damages, road conditions, and any visible injuries to any party involved. Obtain contact information from witnesses and keep a record of your account of the incident.
  3. Call the Police. Contact law enforcement to file an official accident report, which can serve as valuable evidence for your insurance claim or legal case. Make sure to obtain a copy of the police report when it is available.
  4. Contact Your Insurer. Report the accident to your insurance provider as soon as possible, providing them with all necessary details, including the police report number, photographs, and witness information.
  5. Call a Car Accident Lawyer. A car accident attorney in Tampa will guide you through the claims process, negotiate with insurers, and help gather evidence to maximize your chances of obtaining fair compensation for your losses.

Schedule a Free Consultation Today

Are you recovering from the aftermath of a Tampa car accident? The experienced team at Salter, Healy, Rivera & Heptner can help you secure the compensation you need to recover from your losses. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and strategize your optimal path to recovery with a Tampa car accident lawyer.

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