Auto Accidents

Lakeland Auto Accident Lawyers

If you live in Lakeland, Florida or the surrounding Polk County area and have been involved in a car accident, you may have suffered injuries. Auto accident injuries may lead to medical bills, pain and suffering, and/or lost wages. Lakeland auto accident lawyers at Burnetti, P.A. help assist clients who have been injured due to someone else’s negligence.

No one wants to be in a car wreck. It is a very unpleasant situation that most of us believe we will never participate in. However, nearly 1.25 million people die in road crashes each year, on average 3,287 deaths a day. An additional 20-50 million are injured or disabled.

In Florida over 400,000 vehicle accidents are recorded annually, which is 1,100 car crashes on average daily, according to the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

Having these numbers in mind, it is always best if we are equipped with information on what we can do should we fall victim of a crash. It is also in your best interest to have a skillful attorney ready to represent you in the event you need legal help.

Who Is Liable In A Lakeland Auto Accident?

A Lakeland auto accident may be traced to someone’s negligent behavior. Two common causes of auto wrecks are unsafe driving maneuvers and intoxicated motorists. According to the United States Department of Transportation (USDT), young drivers are more likely to engage in unsafe driving maneuvers that may cause car accidents.

The USDT also states that intoxicated motorists make up a large portion of those who operate vehicles unsafely. As a result, more than a fourth of Americans have been involved in an auto accident in the past five years.

Minor collisions may cause catastrophic consequences, such as a brain or head injury or burn injury. No matter the cause of the auto accident injury, it may leave the victim with medical bills, pain and suffering, and/or lost wages.

How To Obtain An Auto Accident Report?

When Lakeland auto accidents occur, a car accident report is available to the involved parties from law enforcement. Within sixty days of the accident, the reports are available and need to be requested. The procedure for obtaining a car accident report depends on which branch of law enforcement responded to the crash.

For accidents handled by the Lakeland Police Department (LPD), parties involved in the accident may contact the Records Section of the LPD at 863-834-6936. They are located at 219 North Massachusetts Ave, Lakeland, Florida 33801. Before requesting a copy, you must fill out a Sworn Statement Crash Report. The form is also available on the Lakeland Police Department’s website.

What Can Cause A Crash?

There are many reasons why crashes happen, but distracted driving is the most common cause. Distracted driving is when someone is engaging in other activities while driving. These activities include anything from eating, talking, singing, trying to calm the kids in the back seat, checking the phone, texting, etc.

Other reasons include:

  • Drunk driving
  • Medical reasons
  • Running red lights
  • Speeding
  • Rain / other weather reasons
  • Night driving
  • Faulty car parts
  • Motorcycle accidents
  • Reckless driving (intentional)
  • Tailgating
  • Drugs
  • Unmarked construction/potholes
  • Reckless truck drivers
  • Animals

We can clearly see from the above list that, even if we are taking all the precautions from our end, there are plenty of external reasons that we can fall victims of a car crash. You can minimize your risk by taking some measures, such as avoiding driving at night, following the speed limit and making sure your car is serviced properly.

But even you do everything correctly, you are not alone on the streets, did you know:

  • That daily on average there are over 135 million cars on the US roads?
  • That most accidents occur within 3 miles from your home?
  • That 40% of fatal car crashes involve alcohol?

Lakeland Car Accident Lawyer Suggestions On Minimizing Your Chance To Crash

Your car is carrying more than just your family and friends. It holds flammable materials and possibly weighs more than 3000 pounds. It is important to keep all previously mentioned numbers in mind every time you get behind the wheel and keep in mind a few steps that can help you minimize the possibility to have an accident.

Avoid Distracted Driving

Distracted driving can be described as any activity that can divert your attention from paying attention to the street. Any and all distractions can endanger your life and the lives of the rest of the people in your car, and the lives of the drivers around you.

Texting, eating, looking around the car, drinking, putting on makeup, or even looking away for a split-second while you are trying to change the radio station can end up in a car crash. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CBC) quotes that approximately nine people die, and more than 1000 are injured due to distracted driving.

Keep in mind that distractions are classified into three categories:

  • Visual
  • Manual
  • Cognitive

You need to keep your activities to a minimum while driving to ensure that you are in safe vehicle operating position.

Visual, clearly means you keep your eyes on the road, and you do not attempt to read a message, or dial any numbers, etc. Manual means to keep your hands on the steering wheel and avoid trying to drink, text, or generally use your hands for anything other than steering the car.

Cognitive can be more difficult because if we are upset, or preoccupied with something, we can very easily get distracted while driving. If you find yourself in an emotionally compromised situation, avoid driving until you are calm and focused.

Do Not Speed

Always do your best to leave with time to spare, so you are not tempted to speed. The speed limits are placed for a reason. Many times, even if the road is clear and no one else seems to be around, animals can jump in front of a vehicle. If we are going too fast to stop we can either collide with the animal, causing an accident, or if we try to avoid it, we run the risk of colliding with other cars, walls, trees, or other objects around us.

Be Proactive

Lakeland auto accident lawyers suggest being proactive drivers. That involves developing and adhering to some habits.

You will be safer on the streets by developing the ability to scan your environment around you very fast, to identify hazards, signs or other relevant marks you need to be aware of.

It is advised that you educate yourself on various methods to communicate with other drivers in case you need to warn them. It will also be beneficial to you if you are aware of such methods in the event someone is trying to warn you of an upcoming situation to help you.

Keep in mind that there is a suggested distance we all need to keep from the car in front of us. If we adhere to that distance, we will be given an adequate amount of time to react in case of an emergency.

Keep Up With Your Vehicle Maintenance

Many of us often ignore this because our cars appear ok. As we previously mentioned, there are many things we cannot control and some that we can. Keeping our car maintained is one factor we can control.

It is also good to have several emergency items in your car just in case. Such items include a flashlight, signaling devices (flares), blankets, jumper cables, window scraper, etc.

Do Not Drive While Impaired

Do not operate your car if you had something to drink, or even if you simply are tired. This is one more factor you can control. If you had too much to drink, call a taxi, get an Uber ride, call a friend, or a family member. Nothing is more important than your life, or the lives of other people that you might be putting in danger if you choose to drive while impaired.

What To Do In Case Of An Accident?

Car Accident Lawyers in Lakeland suggest that we follow certain procedures in case we do get involved in an accident.

Stay Calm

Whether it was your fault or not, do your absolute best to stay calm. Avoid using anger or panicking. Remember that this was an accident, which means no one intentionally caused it.

Safety First

If you are involved in a minor accident, keep safety in mind first. This means moving the cars and the people involved on the site off the road to avoid any further potential collisions. If the cars cannot be moved, all drivers should remain in the cars, with seat belts on, until help arrives. Make sure you place your hazard lights on to warn other drivers that you are not moving.

Call For Medical Assistance

Make sure to call for medical assistance if you are able to do so, especially if you or anyone else in the crash is bleeding, feels like fainting, or has suffered any other physical injury.

It is in everyone’s best interest to err on the side of caution than having to deal with long term chronic pain or injury in the future. If you do call for medical attention, do not move the injured. Wait for the medical assistance to arrive as they know what to do to avoid further injury.

Contact The Police

As soon as you make sure that everyone is safe, and that medical assistance is on their way (if needed) call the police immediately.

Police will be able to record any traffic infractions and take notes on the accident.

Do Not Admit Fault

Even if you suspect that you are the reason for the accident, do not give a statement to an insurance company or admit fault before contacting your Lakeland car accident lawyer.

Photograph The Scene

If you are in the position to move, we recommend snapping as many pictures from the scene as possible. Make sure to take pictures of the entire area, and not just the cars. Your pictures should be able to tell the full story. For example, take pictures of the road condition, the traffic signs, the traffic lights, any potential natural obstructions, etc.

These will be used to later back your statements and allow for the case to be resolved faster.

No-Fault Car Insurance

Florida is one of the few no-fault car insurance states. This means that after a car accident injury, you must first turn to your personal injury car insurance scheme to cover your losses. Your own insurance should cover losses such as property damage, medical bills, and lost wages. This applies regardless of who caused the crash.

It is only in the rare cases of serious negligence that you can bring a compensation claim against the at-fault driver. This is typically possible when the injuries from a car crash are particularly severe or permanent. In such cases, you can move the case to the court and file it against the other driver.

Statute Of Limitations

If your injury is not covered under the no-fault insurance scheme, you can file a damages lawsuit against the at-fault driver. In this case, Florida Statutes 95.11 mandates a period of four years. You must file the lawsuit within four years from the date of the accident. Some rare exceptions exist which may extend this deadline a little further. However, in most car accident cases, failure to file a case within this period means that you can no longer seek compensatory damages.

Reporting A Car Accident

Florida law requires that if you have been involved in a car crash with damage to property or person, you must report the accident. According to Florida Statutes 316.065, the crash must be reported if it involves property damage of $500 or more. It must also be reported if it involves the injury or death of any of the involved parties.

When the accident takes place within a municipality, it must be reported to the local police authorities. If the site of the accident is outside of any municipality, you must report the crash to the nearest Florida Highway Patrol office or the Office of the County Sheriff.

Comparative Negligence

Comparative negligence is where the fault for a car accident is distributed among all the parties involved. If two drivers are involved in a crash, the court may assign a certain percentage of fault to both drivers. For instance, if the other driver was primarily responsible for the crash while you were also to blame a little, the court may hold the other driver 90% at fault and assign 10% fault to you. You are then able to recover compensatory damages that are proportionate to your degree of fault.

Florida follows a ‘pure comparative fault’ rule. This means that you can recover compensatory damages even if your fault is more than 50% in the case. This is in contrast to many other states where the comparative fault rule allows compensation only if the fault is 51% or lower.

If a court finds that you are entitled to $10,000 in damages but share 50% of the fault, you will receive $5,000. If you are found 60% at fault, you will receive $4,000. Even if you are held 90% at fault, you will still be entitled to $1,000 in damages. However, as your percentage of fault in a car crash increases, you are more liable to pay the other driver for damages as well.

Contact Lakeland Auto Accident Lawyers For A Free Consultation

Make sure to contact our accident law firm as soon as you can to receive legal assistance from one of our best personal injury attorneys. Burnetti, P.A. may be able to help you get the best compensation for your injuries.

To schedule a free consultation, fill out the case evaluation form or call (863) 777-4507 today.

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