A Step-by-Step Guide
Auto accidents are never planned, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a plan for dealing with one. In the aftermath of an auto accident, you’re likely to be in a state of shock, with countless concerns running through your mind. Am I hurt? Is the other person injured? How am I going to pay for my car to be repaired? Who’s going to cover my medical bills? How do I prove that this wasn’t my fault?
The best person to answer these questions is an expert auto accident attorney who deals with auto accident cases day in and day out, but who can also realize that you don’t. This means that they are willing and eager to explain every step in the process and ensure that you don’t feel lost along the way.
In this article, we cover the basics of every good auto accident claim in Florida. By simply reading it, you can feel empowered to face your auto accident claim head on, with the knowledge to propel you forward with confidence and the ultimate goal in sight: getting better and moving on with your life.
#1 Establishing a duty of care
Under Florida law, anyone who operates a motor vehicle must adhere to a duty of care for others on the road—whether that’s a driver of another vehicle, a cyclist, or a pedestrian. To the greatest extent possible, a driver must behave in a way that ensures the safety of others. This duty of care standard is designed to prevent accidents which result in bodily injury and property damage.
For instance, a driver who exceeds the speed limit or fails to adjust their speed in accordance with road conditions is more likely to cause harm to others; a higher speed means a lower ability to control the vehicle, slow or stop unexpectedly, and safely respond to obstacles on the road. This is a significant contributor to rear-end crashes, which can lead to a number of serious injuries.
In every auto accident case in Florida, establishing a duty of care is the first step in building a successful claim.
#2 Showing that the duty of care was breached
Once a duty of care has been established, it must be shown that the at-fault driver breached that duty, such as by disobeying the speed limit, rolling through a red light or stop sign, failing to yield to a pedestrian or cyclist, or violating any of the many other rules of the road.
Showing that a duty was breached comes down to what’s called the “reasonable person” standard. Put simply, this standard relies on the idea that anyone who operates a motor vehicle is expected to act as any other reasonable person would under the given circumstances.
The reasonable person standard can look very different from case to case, depending on the specific circumstances. For example, speeding excessively and switching lanes without signaling is a behavior that would almost certainly be considered unreasonable. But what if a driver’s brakes gave out while on the road, causing a T-bone accident at an intersection? In this case, the issue would be about whether a reasonable person would have taken the steps necessary to have their brake system replaced, or else chosen not to take that vehicle out on the road.
In every case, it is the auto accident attorney’s job to prove to the judge and jury that the defendant caused the accident as a result of breaching their duty of care, and failing to meet the “reasonable person” standard.
#3 Understanding pure negligence in Florida
In Florida, the pure negligence standard applies to auto accidents. This means that if the plaintiff is determined to be partially at fault for the auto accident, then their recovery will be reduced by that amount. For example, if the plaintiff is deemed to be 40% at fault for the accident, and if the damages amount to $100,000, the plaintiff would be entitled to receive only 60% of that amount (i.e. $60,000).
To bring a successful auto accident claim in Florida, it is not necessary for the defendant to be 100% at fault for the accident. However, the auto accident attorney must show the percentage of fault attributable to the defendant in order to obtain compensation for their injured client.
#4 Connecting the other driver’s actions to proximate causation
The fourth step in building a successful auto accident claim in Florida requires that the auto accident attorney link the defendant’s actions to the proximate cause of the accident. In other words, it would have to be shown that the unreasonable actions of the other driver indeed caused the accident.
For example, the plaintiff’s attorney might posit the following argument: “If the defendant had not been speeding, then the defendant would have been able to stop before rear-ending the plaintiff’s vehicle, and the plaintiff would not have suffered a neck injury.”
An experienced auto accident attorney will know which evidence to present, and how to present it in order to most effectively build a strong case on their client’s behalf.
#5 Establishing damages
Lastly, a valid auto accident claim in Florida must involve actual damages. No matter how obvious it is that the other driver was at fault, there will be no case if the plaintiff suffered no consequences. If the plaintiff did not suffer bodily injury nor damage to their vehicle, then the at-fault party would owe nothing to the plaintiff.
Proving damages is critical, and it’s something that every good auto accident attorney should be well-versed in.
Top-Notch Auto Accident Attorneys in Florida
If you or someone you know has been in an auto accident and needs expert legal guidance, contact the seasoned auto accident attorneys at Fenstersheib Law Group, P.A. We’re ready to fiercely represent your interests, and obtain the compensation you deserve.
Fenstersheib Law Group serves the residents of many cities in Florida, including Hallandale Beach, Miramar, Hollywood, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Orlando, Sarasota, Tampa, and Jacksonville.
Please remember to refer your friends and family to Fenstersheib Law Group if they are involved in a car or truck accident and are in need of a personal injury attorney. Our attorneys are available 24 hours per day, 7 days a week.
Call 800-TELL-ROBERT today.
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