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Automobile, truck, and motorcycle accidents can have serious traumatic effects on victims physically, emotionally, and financially. The Tampa auto accident attorneys at the law firm of Alley, Clark & Greiwe have over three decades of experience and a very impressive track record in representing persons injured in motor vehicle accidents, truck accidents, pedestrian accidents, and bicycle accidents. Our understanding of Florida’s automobile insurance and liability laws means that we understand the different sources of recovery available to accident victims and their families.
Auto Accidents in the State of Florida
Motor vehicle accidents in Florida fall under a plan described as "No-Fault." This means that if you have been involved in an accident, you first look to your own insurance coverage under the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) to pay for your medical expenses and lost wages. The PIP coverage provided by your policy is "primary." If you have not been seriously injured, this is how you are compensated regardless of any fault that caused the accident. If you are injured but your injuries resolve with no permanent consequences, then Florida law prohibits any claim against the "at fault" driver. However, if your accident results in serious injuries that lead to permanent impairment, disability, or death and the accident was not your fault, then you should hire a Tampa auto accident attorney to protect your legal rights. Under these circumstances, Florida law allows you to make a claim against the at-fault driver or vehicle owner and recover medical expenses or lost wages not paid by your PIP coverage. More importantly, you are also allowed to make claims for your pain and suffering, physical impairment or disability, mental anguish, loss of earning capacity, and other damages.
In some instances, other drivers may not always be the reason you are involved in an accident. Other problems such as hazardous construction zones, inappropriate construction zone signage, confusing highway signs, faulty road design, and faulty traffic lights are a few examples of other causes for motor vehicle accidents. The Tampa auto accident attorneys at Alley, Clark & Greiwe understand the various theories of liability that enable victims to collect from any appropriate party who may be responsible for the cause of the accident.
2013 Changes to Florida's No-Fault PIP Law
In order for your PIP benefits to apply after a car accident, it is very important that you know the following changes to Florida's PIP law that went into effect on January 1, 2013:
You must receive initial medical care within 14 days of the accident from a medical provider (EMT or paramedic, physician, dentist, chiropractor, hospital, or hospital-owned medical clinic. Follow-up care must be on a referral from that provider.
- PIP reimbursement is limited to $2,500 unless there is a finding that you have an "emergency medical condition" which is very specifically defined and must be made by a physician (D.O. or M.D.), dentist, Physician Assistant (P.A.), or Nurse Practitioner (ARNP).
- Follow-up care will be reimbursed up to $10,000 only if the finding of "emergency medical condition" is made.
- PIP no longer pays for massage therapy or acupuncture.
- If you need treatment from a chiropractor, reimbursement is limited to $2,500.
- If PIP benefits do not apply because you did not get treatment within 14 days, or they apply but were exhausted, your personal medical insurance may be used.
What should you do if you are in an accident?
Call the police or 911 immediately, even if no one appears to be hurt. If possible, take pictures of the accident scene, write down the names and telephone numbers of any witnesses, obtain the year/ make/model of all vehicles involved in the accident along with a full license plate number, and also obtain insurance information from the other driver(s) including policy numbers. If you are injured or unsure if you are injured, it is important to immediately seek medical attention. Other than reporting your accident to your insurance company, you should not give any statements about your accident to any insurance agent before you consult with an attorney.
Serious Facts About Auto Accidents
- According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), traffic accidents are the primary cause of debilitating injuries in the United States and the number one cause of death of persons under the age of 35.
- Driver distraction from cell phone use was cited as a factor in 16% of all fatal automobile accidents in 2008.
- Speeding is the most common contributing factor and is blamed for nearly one in every three deadly vehicle crashes according to data analyzed by the National Highway Safety Administration.
- In 2010, more than 10,000 deaths were caused by alcohol-related driving accidents according to NHTSA.
- Aggressive driving is a factor in approximately 56% of deadly vehicle crashes according to AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Examples of aggressive driving include any one of the following: improper or erratic lane changing, speeding, racing, reckless/careless driving, failing to yield, running red lights or stop signs, driving too fast for conditions, improper turns, tailgating, or failure to signal.
- One fatal crash in five (20%) involves a driver who is unlicensed or whose license is suspended, canceled, or revoked.
- Per vehicle mile traveled in 2006, motorcyclists were about 35 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a motor vehicle traffic crash and 8 times more likely to be injured.
Tampa Auto Accident Attorneys
Serious car, truck, motorcycle, and tractor-trailer accidents require the guidance of an experienced attorney. Our attorneys will work with your physicians and other health care providers to assess and review all the short and long-term medical aspects of your case. If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto or motorcycle accident, please contact a Tampa auto accident attorney at Alley, Clark & Greiwe for a free consultation regarding your legal rights.
Helpful Consumer Web Links on Auto Safety:
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
- National Defects & Recalls
- Vehicle Safety Ratings
- Motorcyle Safety Foundation
- Child Safety Seat Information
- Locate Child Safety Seat Fitting Station
- Teenage Driver Safety Information
- Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Vehicle Ratings Results