Attorney Answer: When Do You Need To Hire a Car Accident Lawyer?

Car accidents are common-–in fact, hundreds of thousands of them happen on Florida roads every year. Not all of them require the expertise of an attorney to resolve a personal injury claim. Some of them do, however. You should at least be able to recognize circumstances that make it wise to consult with our Orlando car accident lawyers.

First Things First: Florida’s No-Fault Auto Insurance System

First Things First: Florida’s No-Fault Auto Insurance System

Florida’s no-fault auto insurance system became state law way back in 1979. The purposes of this system are to decrease the size of court dockets and to reduce the size of car accident injury payouts. 

Under this system, you must purchase at least $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. In most cases, you must rely on this amount, and no more, to compensate you for your injuries. You cannot even sue the at-fault driver unless your accident is especially serious.

Contacting an experienced car accident lawyer for a free consultation is the best way to determine whether you are eligible to file a claim for additional compensation.

The Loophole in Florida’s PIP Insurance System: Your Injuries are “Serious”

You can file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver in Florida if you sustain a severe injury. Florida law defines certain types of auto accident injuries as “serious bodily injury.” A serious bodily injury is a physical condition that creates:

  • A substantial risk of death;
  • Serious personal disfigurement; or 
  • Protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member or organ.

Suppose your injuries fit one of these descriptions. In that case, you can file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver or file a third-party insurance claim against the at-fault driver’s liability insurance policy (if they have one).

The Red Flags That Indicate You Should Hire a Car Accident Lawyer

When the following red flags appear, it’s time to at least seek out a free initial consultation with a personal injury lawyer. After discussing your case, you might know whether to hire a lawyer. If you do, the attorney you consulted with might offer to represent you. 

The Insurance Company Is Lowballing You

You can expect an insurance company to issue a very low first offer. Just turn it down and counteroffer. If this lowballing continues, however, you probably need a lawyer. This applies not only to PIP claims but also to liability insurance companies. 

Somebody Died in the Accident

A wrongful death claim will involve a claim for a lot of money. And the more money is involved, the harder the defendant will fight to avoid liability.

A Mechanical Failure Caused the Accident

A mechanical failure could render your case scientifically complex. It could result in a product liability lawsuit or perhaps a lawsuit against a negligent mechanic.

You Are Filing a Claim Against a Government Entity

It doesn’t matter whether you’re suing the federal government (if you were hit by a mail truck, for example), the state government, or a local government – special rules apply. In particular, you will need to comply with stricter deadlines than you would in an ordinary personal injury case.

Liability is in Serious Dispute

Sometimes liability is an open-and-shut case—the defendant is liable, period. In those cases, the only issue is the amount of compensation the defendant must pay. In other cases, the defendant might blame you for part or all of the accident–and they may have a point.

If the parties share fault, Florida’s comparative fault rules kick in. Under those rules, if you are more than 50% at fault, you receive nothing. If your fault is 50% or less, you will lose that exact percentage of your damages.

The Defendant Is Uninsured or Underinsured

Florida is one of only two states that does not require its drivers to carry bodily injury liability insurance. If you face this situation, you could face big trouble collecting compensation. Possible options include:

  • Suing the defendant seeking satisfaction out of their personal assets (especially if they are rich);
  • Finding a second defendant, such as the defendant’s employer under certain circumstances; or
  • Filing a claim against your own uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance policy. This type of insurance is optional in Florida.

By the way, you probably won’t need to worry about a lack of insurance resources in a truck accident or Uber accident case, as these drivers are typically well-insured. 

You’re From Another State

Florida draws in a lot of tourists. Despite the fact that modern computer technology makes a lot of work possible online, if you’re from Idaho, you’re not going to want to personally deal with a case based in Florida. 

Your alternative, of course, is to hire a Florida car accident lawyer. A local lawyer can settle your claim without your physical presence. They can even appear in court in your stead, and you can testify by video if necessary. 

Your Vehicle Was Totaled

Florida requires drivers to carry at least $10,000 in personal injury liability (PDL) insurance. Since this is liability insurance, you can sue the at-fault driver or file a third-party insurance claim. The problem is that $10,000 might not be enough to compensate you if your car is totaled.

The Defendant Was Breaking a Traffic Law at the Time of the Accident

You have an advantage in proving negligence if the defendant driver was breaking a traffic safety law at the time of the accident. This could mean DUI, driving with a headlight out, or some other infraction. If you can prove this much with the help of a lawyer, the legal principle of negligence per se could win your claim for you.

The Defendant Was an On-Duty Employee at the Time of the Accident

If the defendant was an on-duty employee at the time of the accident, you might be able to sue their employer. This move might greatly increase your available financial resources if your injuries are serious. 

The legal question is whether the employee was acting within the scope of their work duties at the time of the accident. You might need a lawyer to deal with this issue.

Multiple Parties Are Involved in the Case

The more parties involved in the accident, the more complex things can get. You might see many complaints, cross-complaints, and comparative fault claims under these circumstances. 

Yes, a pileup on the freeway might result in a multiparty accident. But so might a two-vehicle accident if one of the drivers is an on-duty commercial driver.

When in Doubt, Consult With an Experienced Orlando Car Accident Attorney

Most of the foregoing scenarios count as “red flags” because they add complexity to a case. It is this additional complexity that is exactly why you shouldn’t try to handle such a claim on your own. 

Hire an Orlando car accident lawyer at Payer Law Personal Injury Lawyers to increase your chances of winning and expedite your receipt of compensation. Keep in mind that most attorneys in this area of the law work on contingency, meaning they only get paid if you do. Contact our law offices at (407) 648-1510 to schedule a free consultation today.