Articles & FAQ

Florida Personal Injury Statute of Limitations Quick Facts

Category: Articles & FAQ |

How long do I have to file a personal injury claim in Florida? When someone suffers severe injuries, the consequences can be enormous. These injuries are life-changing, often resulting in expensive medical bills, property damage, loss of income, and other hardships. If someone else is at fault for your injuries, you shouldn’t have to bear these costs. Once an injury occurs, time is of the essence in bringing your case to court. That’s because, like all states, Florida has a statute of limitations for personal injury claims. What is the statute of limitations in Florida for personal injury claims? In Florida, the statute of limitations for personal injury actions depends on the claim type. The statute of limitations in Florida is usually two (2) to four (4) years and sometimes five (5) years, after an incident. The following list breaks down the statute of limitations for each of our practice areas.  What does “Statute of Limitations” mean? A statute of limitations is sort of like an expiration date on when a lawsuit can be brought. The statute of limitations is a law that sets the maximum amount of time you have to pursue a legal claim after an incident. If you do not file your case before the statute of limitations expires, your claim will be forever barred. The statute of limitations is different depending on the state and the type of case.  Why does Florida have a statute of limitations? The purpose of the statute of limitations is to make sure that parties bring their cases to court on time. In this way, potential defendants don’t have to worry about litigating something that happened decades ago. Imposing a time limit also ensures that important evidence isn’t lost over time, which is good for each party. The time limit just has to be “reasonable,” which is why the statute of limitations is different in each state. JUMP TO PERSONAL INJURY CASE TYPE Florida Statue of Limitations for: Automobile Accidents Motorcycle Accidents Bike and Pedestrian Accidents Slip and Fall Injuries Wrongful Death Medical Malpractice Nursing Home Abuse Dog Bites Construction Accidents Products Liability Other Types of Cases FLORIDA STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR: Automobile Accidents Someone who suffers injuries in a car, truck, or motorcycle accident may have multiple options in bringing their case. The statute of limitations for car accidents in Florida depends on who is at fault and whether the accident resulted in death. Injury lawsuits against another driver have various deadlines. If another driver is at fault for carelessly injuring someone, the injured person has four years to file a lawsuit. However, if you have a claim against an uninsured motorist insurer that timeframe might be extended to 5 years. Also, there are tricky deadlines within which you must utilize your PIP coverage (no fault benefits) and these deadlines can be as short as 14 days. If a person is claiming that another driver damaged their car, they have four years to bring Property damage lawsuits. FLORIDA STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR: Motorcycle Accidents For motorcycle accidents, the statute of limitations is four years for personal injury claims. In the event, a motorcycle accident results in death, the law allows two years from the date of death to file a lawsuit. FLORIDA STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR: Bike and Pedestrian Accidents For bike and pedestrian lawsuits, the injured party has four years to bring suit against the person or organization that causes the accident. If the accident results in death, the statute of limitations is two years. If there is a case against an uninsured motorist insurer, the statute of limitations may be extended to five years. Finally, limitations apply the PIP (no fault) claims that can be as little as 14 days. FLORIDA STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR: Slip and Fall Injuries For slip and fall injury lawsuits, the statute of limitations is four years for injury claims. For death claims, the limitations period is two years. FLORIDA STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR: Wrongful Death If a loved one dies in an accident, the family has two years from the date of death to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. FLORIDA STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR: Medical Malpractice The statute of limitations for medical malpractice is complicated in Florida. It generally runs two years from the date when you knew or in the exercise of reasonable diligence should have known that the injury was caused by medical malpractice. Florida also has another law, called the statute of repose, which sets an outer time limit of four years regardless of when you knew or should have known of the malpractice. The statute of repose begins to run on the date that the malpractice occurs. It is important to remember that the two-year statute of limitations will cut off a claim if you knew or should have known of the malpractice even though the four-year repose period may not have expired. There are two exceptions to the rules above. The first exception applies where the healthcare provider commits fraud, misrepresentation or concealment of the malpractice. In these rare cases, the statute of repose is extended to seven years. In such a case, the two-year statute of limitations still runs from when you knew or should have known of the malpractice. If the statute of limitations runs before you file your claim, even if the repose period has not expired, you will be barred. The second exception involves claims for children. The law says that the ordinary statute of repose will not cut off a child’s claim before the child’s eighth birthday. Again, however, the two-year statute of limitations is not extended, and will cut off a claim two years after the child’s parent or guardian knows or should know of the malpractice. FLORIDA STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR: Nursing Home Abuse The statute of limitations for nursing home abuse is essentially the same as the statute governing medical malpractice. The only differences are that the repose period for cases involving fraud and misrepresentation is six years instead...

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[ STUDY ] The 10 Florida Counties with the Highest Drunk Driving Fatality Rates

Category: Original Research |

Putnam County tops the list with a devastating 24 drunk driving deaths per 100,000 people annually. In the United States, drunk driving is a deadly scourge. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drunk driving claims a life every 48 minutes. As personal injury attorneys we regularly bear witness to the tragic aftermath of drunk driving. Many of our clients are those who are left behind to pick up the pieces after someone’s decision to drive drunk ends in destruction, injury, and death. Despite the efforts of legislators, educators, law enforcement, and countless advocacy groups, the problem of drunk driving persists in Florida, with some regions of the state being particularly, tragically, afflicted. Given their size it’s easy to understand why some large Florida cities – Miami, Tampa, Orlando, etc. – would experience the most total drunk driving crashes and fatalities. However, if you look at the numbers on a per-capita basis the results are surprising. For complete details on the methodology used to come up with these rankings, click here. The 10 Florida Counties with the Highest Drunk Driving Fatality Rates View full size #1 Putnam County Drunk driving deaths per 100k: 23.75 Putnam County has a modest population of 73,252 residents and is between Jacksonville, Gainesville, St. Augustine, and Daytona Beach. Its location might explain why it tops the list with a drunk driving death rate of 23.75 people per 100,000 people. #2 Columbia County Drunk driving deaths per 100k: 19.44 Columbia County has even fewer residents, with an estimated population of just over 69,968 people and a lower five-year average for drunk driving deaths than Putnam County. Its rate is about 19 fatalities per 100,000 people, putting it in second place on our list. #3 Marion County Drunk driving deaths per 100k: 11.65 Marion County is our first highly populated county on the list, with 353,526 people, and a more robust public bus system. There were 39 drunk driving deaths in 2020, a decrease from 54 deaths the year before. The five-year average places it as third worst for drunk driving fatalities. #4 Nassau County Drunk driving deaths per 100k: 10.59 Nassau County is the most northeastern county in Florida, close to Jacksonville and several military bases. With a population of 83,098, its drunk driving fatality rate, based on its five-year average, comes out to about 10 deaths per 100,000 people. #5 Alachua County Drunk driving deaths per 100k: 8.36 Alachua County also has a larger population and is home to Gainesville and the University of Florida. It saw a high of 44 drunk driving deaths in 2019, but the five-year average is 22 deaths annually. It’s the first county on our list to have a rate below 10 per 100,000 people. #6 Highlands County Drunk driving deaths per 100k: 8.12 Highlands County has a modest population of 103,437, and its biggest cities are Avon Park and Sebring, with about 10,000 people each. Its five-year average is eight deaths per year. Despite fewer deaths than in Alachua County, it has a similar drunk driving rate. #7 Flagler County Drunk driving deaths per 100k: 7.47 Seventh on our list is much like the sixth. Flagler County has a population of 109,801, and its largest city is Palm Coast. This county also has a five-year average of eight drunk driving deaths each year, with a rate of just over seven deaths per 100,000 people. #8 Duval County Drunk driving deaths per 100k: 6.73 Duval County has over 936,000 people, making it the most populous county on our list. It boasts Jacksonville, Jacksonville Beach, Atlantic Beach, and Neptune Beach and sees more drunk driving deaths each year than these other nine counties. In fact, its five-year average is 63 drunk driving deaths annually. Despite this total, the overall rate is fewer than seven per 100,000 people. #9 Citrus County Drunk driving deaths per 100k: 6.61 Citrus is a mid-sized county with a population of just over 145,000 people. Its largest community is Homosassa Springs, despite being an unincorporated area. Citrus County averaged fewer than 10 drunk driving deaths the past five years, but its rate per 100,000 people is similar to Duval County. #10 Martin County Drunk driving deaths per 100k: 6.41 Martin County rounds out our top 10 list. It’s similar to Citrus County, with a slightly larger population of 159,000. It averaged 10 drunk driving deaths annually over the past five years, resulting in a rate of six deaths per 100,000 people. Methodology Using FDOT’s Traffic Safety Dashboard we obtained county-level Florida crash data for all Impaired Driving crashes over five years, from 2016 to 2020. We narrowed the list of counties down to only those with a population of over 50,000 (41 counties). We calculated the average number of drunk driving fatalities per year, per county over the five year span. To determine the number of drunk driving fatalities per year, per 100k people we used the following formula:Average annual drunk driving fatalities ÷ (total population ÷ 100,000) = Drunk driving fatalities per 100k

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Common Motorcycle Accident Injuries

Category: Articles & FAQ |

Whether you choose to ride your motorcycle as a hobby or as a commuter vehicle, you know that riding a motorcycle is different from driving a car or a truck. Exposure to the elements, greater maneuverability, finding your inner zen, the health and fitness benefits—riding a motorcycle has it all. Despite the fun of riding a motorcycle, however, doing so is objectively more dangerous than riding in a car. The fact that you don’t have a metal cage surrounding and protecting your body and the fact that you are harder to see than other vehicles on the road are just two elements that increase the rate of motorcycle injuries compared to driving cars. Knowing that riding a motorcycle can be dangerous, you naturally want to know how to be safer as a motorcyclist. If you know the most common motorcycle injuries, you can take specific steps to avoid those types of injuries. As with driving a car, your safety is never a guarantee when you are on the road, but this makes the things you can control yourself all the more important. Abrahamson & Uiterwyk cares about your safety, so we’ve compiled a list of the most common motorcycle accident injuries. Most Common Motorcycle Accident Injuries According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the most common motorcycle injury is a lower leg fracture. While a lower leg fracture itself is the most common motorcycle injury, taken as a whole, the leg and foot area are the most common areas of motorcycle injury. These include foot and ankle fractures and road rash on the leg and foot. Some of the other motorcycle accident injuries include things like: Fractures of arms, wrists, and hands; Road rash of arms, wrists, and hands; Back muscle injuries; Neck muscle injuries; Spinal injuries and fractures; Traumatic brain injuries; and Internal injuries like internal bleeding or organ damage. None of these injuries are uncommon in a motorcycle accident. While all these injuries can be significant, the most serious possible injury in a motorcycle accident is any injury to your head.  How to Ride Safely To avoid any injury, the best thing you can do is to ride as safely as possible. Following these safety tips doesn’t entirely remove the danger inherent in riding a motorcycle. However, it will reduce your chance of injury, severe or otherwise. Best of all, these are proactive steps that you can take. Wear a Helmet In 2016 alone, helmets saved an estimated 1,859 motorcyclists’ lives in the US. Wearing a helmet helps reduce the risk of death in motorcycle accidents by nearly 40%. In addition, motorcyclists riding without a helmet are three times more likely to suffer from traumatic brain injury (TBI) than their helmeted counterparts. Wearing just any helmet isn’t enough to save your life, though. First, make sure your helmet fits well. Your helmet should be the right size and shape for your head. If your helmet does not fit well, it might fall off in an accident. A helmet that is too big will allow your head to bounce around in an accident, which will increase the risk of TBI. Ensure that your helmet is NHTSA certified, and after five years of use, be sure to get a new one. Check out the NHTSA’s guide on choosing the right helmet for you. Use Other Safety Gear On top of wearing a helmet, you can make your ride safer by wearing other protective gear. To help reduce the risk of ankle and foot injuries, wear a sturdy pair of boots whenever you ride. To avoid road rash, be sure to wear pants and a jacket that are designed to protect. A pair of jeans will rip almost immediately if you skid across the road, which is sure to cause road rash. Some motorcycle jackets, pants, and suits offer extra padding or armor, which also reduces the risk of muscle damage. Whatever you do, don’t go out for a ride in shorts and sandals.  Ensure Visibility Since a motorcycle is smaller than a car or truck, you are at a visibility disadvantage whenever you ride. To make sure you are as visible as possible, always check every one of your motorcycle’s lights to ensure they are in working condition. Consider carrying a couple of spare lights with you when you go out for a ride so you can replace them on the go if necessary. If you ride your motorcycle at night, consider purchasing a reflective vest or other reflective material to enhance your visibility to other vehicles on the road. If they can’t see you, they can’t avoid you. Don’t Drive in Bad Weather If You Can Avoid It Driving in the rain makes it easier for you to skid out even if another vehicle does not strike you. It also makes it more difficult for you to see your surroundings, which is also true for other vehicles on the road. Drive Carefully Perhaps most importantly, drive carefully. Don’t ride in other vehicles’ blind spots, focus on the road, and avoid distractions, never drive if you are intoxicated, and follow the rules of the road. Driving carefully is entirely in your hands. Don’t increase the danger level of riding a motorcycle; drive carefully. Have You Suffered from a Motorcycle Accident Injury? At Abrahamson & Uiterwyk, we have helped motorcyclists fight for their legal rights for over 30 years. Motorcycle accidents are one of our firm’s focus areas, so we have the experience necessary to help you through any type of motorcycle accident. We have proudly served over 20,000 injured clients throughout Florida and are proud to have an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau along with a “Best Law Firm” rating from US News & World Report. If you have suffered from a motorcycle accident injury, don’t hesitate—contact us today for a free consultation and get the legal help you deserve.

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Compensation for Death in a Car Accident

Category: Articles & FAQ |

Coping with the death of a loved one is never easy. When a loved one dies in a car accident caused by a negligent party, the grief is not any less. Though it may do little to ease the pain, depending on your relationship to the deceased, you may be entitled to a car accident death insurance payout. Wrongful Death in a Car Accident In 2019, there were 401,867 total vehicle crashes in Florida that resulted in 3,185 fatalities according to the Florida Highway Safety and Transportation annual report.  Florida wrongful death as it relates to car accidents entitles certain survivors the right to recover damages against the party that caused the accident. A personal representative named in the will or estate plan of the deceased has the right to file a wrongful death claim. The court will appoint a representative if one was not chosen by the deceased. The representative must represent all survivors who have an interest in the lawsuit and insurance payout for car accident death. These survivors may include the deceased person’s: Spouse, Parents, Children (biological or adopted), and Blood relatives and adopted siblings who were dependent on the deceased. In Florida, a child born to unmarried parents can recover damages in a wrongful death case if his or her mother dies. A child can recover damages for an unmarried father’s death only if the father had a recognized responsibility for the child’s support.  Compensation for Death in a Car Accident An insurance payout for a car accident death depends upon the policy limits of the party that caused the death of your loved one. However, these policies are often not enough to provide fair compensation. In that case, your wrongful death attorney can advise you on options for filing a wrongful death suit to recover additional compensation. Economic Damages for Wrongful Death  Economic damages take into consideration the financial contribution the deceased would have made to survivors if not for the accident. Current wages, future earning potential, and benefits such as health insurance are taken into consideration.  Compensation for expenses is also a part of economic relief. Medical expenses from the accident, property damage, and funeral expenses may be recovered in a car accident death insurance payout or relief from a wrongful death lawsuit.  Non-Economic Damages for Wrongful Death There is no amount of money that can truly compensate for the loss of life, but non-economic damages are as close as you will get. This form of relief takes into consideration mental anguish, pain and suffering, loss of consortium, loss of care, and other means by which survivors suffer due to the loss of their loved one.  Options for Filing a Wrongful Death Claim There are several things you can do to receive compensation for death in a car accident. You may opt to first explore insurance payouts, which means filing a claim with the negligent party’s insurance. This assumes that they have insurance. If they do not, you may be able to file a claim with the deceased’s uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. The biggest concerns with an insurance payout for accident death is that the insurance company will try to offer less than a fair settlement and that there may not be enough coverage on the policy to compensate for the death of your loved one.  It is important not to accept a settlement for less than what you reasonably deserve. An experienced Florida wrongful death attorney is a valuable resource for determining the best course of action to receive fair relief.  Proving Wrongful Death in a Car Accident To recover compensation in a wrongful death car accident case, you must establish that the defendant’s wrongful actions caused your loved one’s death. In car accidents, the wrongful action is typically the defendant’s negligence. Negligence  Negligence occurs when someone owes a duty to act as a reasonable person would under the circumstances but fails to do so, and as a result, causes injury. When it comes to driving, every driver owes a duty to others on the road to use reasonable care and obey traffic laws. Examples of behavior that may support a wrongful death claim include Driving recklessly; Violating traffic rules; Distracted driving, such as texting while driving; and  Driving under the influence.  In 2019, Florida had 342 confirmed deaths linked to drug and alcohol consumption while driving.  Cause of Death To prove wrongful death, you must also show that the accident that caused the death was the result of the defendant’s negligence. In other words, you need to show that if not for the wrongful action of the defendant, the death would not have occurred. How an Attorney Can Help Achieve Compensation for Death in a Car Accident When your world has been turned upside down from the death of a loved one, the last thing you want to do is fret over your legal rights. Some of the ways an attorney can fight for your rights include: Negotiating with your insurance company; Negotiating with the defendant’s insurance company; Filing legal paperwork; Gathering and evaluating evidence to prove wrongful death; Interviewing witnesses; Preparing legal arguments; Evaluating settlement options; and Representing you at trial, if necessary.  Hiring a wrongful death attorney in Florida can help you have a better understanding of the value of your claim and pursue the compensation you can expect.  The experienced car accident lawyers at Abrahamson and Uiterwyk has helped Florida survivors find fair compensation in their wrongful death cases for over 30 years. We understand the hardships of losing a loved one and give you space to heal while fighting on your behalf. Contact us today for your free case consultation.

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Most Common Types of Head-On Collision Injuries

Category: Articles & FAQ |

Head-on collisions are one of the most dangerous types of accidents. This is because in a head-on collision, there is nowhere for the car’s energy to go except into the other car. Compared to a sideswipe or a fender-bender, head-on collision injuries are usually much more serious. Passengers can suffer fatal or life-threatening injuries, even with airbags and seatbelts. Every day, tens of thousands of people drive on Florida’s roadways. With so many drivers, traffic accidents are inevitable. In 2019, there were more than 400,000 traffic crashes in the State of Florida. After one of these accidents, the cost of medical care can skyrocket. Hiring a personal injury attorney can help you obtain damages to pay for these costs and more. If you were injured in a head-on collision, Abrahamson & Uiterwyk is here to help. Common Head-on Collision Injuries Head-on collision injuries can be far more severe than other types of car accidents. When two cars are speeding toward one another, a collision between them will involve much more force than other types of crashes. As a result, drivers and passengers may suffer a greater number of injuries. In a head-on collision, common injuries occur to both the body and the head. Broken Bones, Bruises, and Lacerations In a head-on collision, common injuries that occur include broken bones and lacerations. During the crash, it isn’t uncommon for victims to suffer broken bones. For the driver and front passenger especially, severe injury to the legs is possible as a result of a head-on collision. Severe bruising may occur as well. All these injuries happen as a result of the extreme force exerted on your body during the crash. For example, a person properly wearing a seat belt may suffer from internal bruising and even organ damage when the seat belt tightens during the crash. Internal Organ Damage The blunt force during a head-on collision may be enough to cause bruising or other damage to your internal organs. Broken bones can cause organ damage as well. When drivers or passengers are thrown around in a head-on collision, they frequently suffer chest injuries, including broken ribs, which can puncture lungs or other nearby organs. Double Impact Injuries Finally, victims of a head-on collision may experience a “double impact.” This occurs when they suffer trauma first during the crash and again when they strike the ground after being thrown from the car. Fortunately, the risk of a double impact and the resulting secondary injuries is greatly reduced by wearing a seat belt. Concussions Concussions are one of the most common head-on collision injuries. In a head-on collision, the sudden impact may cause you to hit your head on the steering wheel, the dashboard, or even the windshield. Even if you think you only suffered whiplash, the violent back-and-forth head motion can be enough to cause a concussion. A concussion can be mild or severe depending on the force of the impact. Mild “Grade 1” concussions are usually short-term and do not result in loss of consciousness. Severe “Grade 3” concussions, on the other hand, may result in long-term brain damage. Although a person may experience headaches and other symptoms as the result of a concussion, they may go unnoticed. Confusion and memory loss especially may not be apparent to the person with the concussion. Other common symptoms include: Blurry vision, Dizziness, Trouble concentrating, Nausea, and Trouble sleeping. Symptoms may not appear until days after the concussion occurs. Thus, it is very important to seek medical care right away so that you can properly treat your head injuries. Other Head Injuries Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are one of the most common injuries in a car accident. According to the CDC, car accidents are responsible for 18.7% of all brain-injury related deaths. Head injuries are particularly serious because they may not always be immediately apparent. Head injuries may also have more permanent effects. A person who survives a head-on collision with only minor physical injuries may still have a serious head injury. For example, a coup-contrecoup brain injury involves bleeding on both sides of the brain caused by external trauma and the brain’s own movement within the skull. What to Do After a Head-On Collision The first thing you should do after a head-on collision is seek medical treatment. When possible, you or someone you know should start gathering information. Document the scene and collect records of your medical treatment. Then, hire a Tampa car accident attorney. The information you collect will help them build your case. Can I Get Compensation for My Head-on Collision Injuries? Yes, you may be able to obtain compensation after a car accident. Serious head-on collisions usually do not occur unless one or both drivers acted negligently in some way. As a result, you may be able to recover damages or a settlement from the insurance company. Depending on the nature and severity of your injuries, you may be entitled to damages for: Current and future medical expenses, Pain and suffering, Emotional distress, Lost wages, Reduced future earning potential, and Disability. The exact amount of damages available varies from case to case. Our Tampa personal injury lawyers will assess your case and advise you how much it may be worth. Photos of Head-On Collisions Involving Our Injury Clients Should I Hire an Attorney? Even if you feel that your injuries are relatively minor, it is a good idea to hire an attorney. We work on a contingency basis, which means you won’t pay a cent, no fees or costs, unless we win or settle your case. Hiring an attorney is the only way to make sure you obtain proper compensation for your injuries. Insurance companies are difficult to deal with and will not make a fair offer. Things are only more complicated if the other person doesn’t have insurance. In either case, our attorneys will help you build a strong case to maximize your recovery. Hire a Florida Personal Injury Lawyer At Abrahamson & Uiterwyk, we’ve recovered hundreds of millions...

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Most Common Fatal Injuries in Car Accidents

Category: Articles & FAQ |

While automobile manufacturers and policymakers worldwide take steps to reduce fatal car crashes and road traffic accidents, the numbers are still staggering. Consistently, car accidents remain a leading cause of death in the United States and elsewhere. For certain age groups, car accidents are the leading cause of death. Each year more than 38,000 people die in car accidents on US roads. Vehicle accident fatalities rose in 2020. This is surprising given that the COVID-19 pandemic significantly reduced the number of cars on the road at any given time. Experts attribute 2020’s rise in car crash fatalities to increased speeding rates that came alongside fewer cars being on the road.  Even if you take extra precautions as a driver or passenger, safety is unfortunately not a guarantee. Despite any steps that you may take, road traffic safety depends on other motorists’ actions, and you cannot control the actions of other road users. Knowing this, you may find yourself wondering, what are the most common fatal injuries in car accidents? While road safety is never a guarantee, if you know the most common fatal injuries in car accidents, you can take proactive steps to avoid them. The Most Common Fatal Injuries in Car Accidents Traumatic brain injury (TBI) and other types of head or brain injuries are some of the most common fatal injuries in car accidents each year. Although protected by our skulls, our brains are also one of the organs most susceptible to injury. While not all TBI is fatal, there are more than 50,000 cases of TBI each year. The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that automobile accidents cause roughly 20% of all TBI cases. Other internal injuries are the other leading cause of fatalities in car accidents. Internal injuries encompass a broad range of specific injuries, including TBI. Other internal injuries that can be fatal include things like: Organ injury, Aorta aneurysm, Internal bleeding, Ruptured spleens, and Collapsed lungs. Many of these internal injuries are treatable. However, sometimes internal injuries go unnoticed and untreated. When this occurs, the likelihood of death increases significantly. Leading Driver Death Causes There are many different causes of car accidents. In turn, there are many different causes of fatal accidents and some are more prevalent than others. A US Department of Transportation (DOT) study of over 51,000 driver fatalities in 2018 revealed the following top 10 accident causes and their respective rates (from highest to lowest): Driving too fast for conditions, over speed limits, or racing (16.7%); Driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or medication (10.1%); Failure to stay in the proper lane (7.2%); Failure to yield right of way (7.0%); Driving carelessly (5.4%); Distracted driving (5.2%); Failure to obey traffic control devices (3.9%); Reckless, erratic, or negligent driving (3.8%); Overcorrecting or oversteering (3.1%); and Driving with low visibility (rain, fog, snow, lights) (3.0%). From this data, you can see that while some of the fatal accident causes exceed others, no one category comes close to encompassing a majority. Taken as a whole, we can identify some dangerous driving behaviors that one should always try to avoid to protect their life. Conversely, there are other safe driving practices that one can take to protect themselves and others on the road. The Best Way to Protect Yourself from Car Accident Fatalities Wearing a seat belt while in a car as a driver or passenger is by far the most important step you can take to protect yourself from dying in an automobile accident. Why is this? Because wearing your seat belt helps protect your head. Without a seat belt, the impact of a car accident can throw you against the interior of the car, where you can strike your head. In other situations, without a seat belt, you may be thrown from the vehicle where you are very likely to hit your head. Consider these statistics from the CDC on seatbelt use:  More than half of all car accident fatalities happen to people who are not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident; A seat belt can reduce the risk of death or serious injury in car accidents by 45-50%; People not wearing a seatbelt are 30 times more likely to be ejected from a vehicle during a crash compared to those wearing seatbelts; and Seatbelts saved nearly 13,000 lives in one year alone (2009). Wearing a seatbelt is far and away one of the easiest ways to prevent car accident fatalities. Consequently, it’s one of the most important safe driving and riding habits you can take every time you get in a car. If You Are in a Car Accident If you are injured in a car accident, contact us at Abrahamson & Uiterwyk today for a free consultation regarding your injuries. We help clients through just about any type of personal injury, but car accidents are one of our firm’s primary focus areas. We have helped more than 20,000 clients throughout all of Florida over the past 30 years get the compensation they deserve after suffering from personal injuries. If you suffer a personal injury after a car accident, don’t wait. Contact us today and let us help you! If a Loved One Dies in a Car Accident If your loved one dies in a car accident, the person who caused the accident owes you compensation. We know how hard it is to have a loved one’s life cut short and are here to help you go through the grieving process without worrying about legal details. Our goal is to guide you through the legalities so that you don’t have to worry about the ins and outs of filing a wrongful death claim. Abrahamson & Uiterwyk’s wrongful death attorneys are compassionate, experienced, and here to help you with your unique needs. We want to make the process as pain-free for you as possible, so contact us today for a free consultation, and we’ll take care of the rest.

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What Happens When Someone Dies in a Car Accident?

Category: Articles & FAQ |

Every year, around 35,000 people lose their lives in traffic accidents in the United States. Fatal traffic accidents happen for a variety of reasons, many of them beyond the control of the victim. For the survivors of a fatal crash, left with their own injuries and the emotional trauma of losing a loved one, it can be difficult to know where to turn. What happens when someone dies in a car accident? Can I recover compensation? These are common questions we receive from clients trying to figure out what to do next. If one of your loved ones died in a car accident, we can help you figure out the next steps. What Happens When Someone Dies in a Car Accident? Immediately after an accident, and after everyone has received medical attention, there are a couple of things that happen. First, depending on the circumstances of the accident, police may investigate the cause of the crash. In some cases, this may lead to criminal charges against the at-fault driver. Meanwhile, the victim’s family makes funeral arrangements and manages the deceased’s estate. Those tasks alone are difficult, especially when a family is grieving. As a result, we understand that it is difficult to consider the time and cost to file a lawsuit. However, obtaining a settlement is an important option that may be available to help pay for end-of-life medical care and other expenses after the fatal accident. The At-Fault Driver May Go to Jail When it comes to the at-fault driver, it isn’t always clear what happens when someone dies in a car accident. Whether anyone goes to jail after a fatal accident depends on the facts of each case. Usually, an at-fault driver will not go to jail if factors outside their control caused the accident. For example, a driver probably won’t face criminal charges if bad road conditions cause an accident and both drivers were following all road laws. Similarly, a driver likely won’t face criminal charges for vehicle issues like a brake failure if they properly maintained their car. If criminal behavior is present, like negligence or recklessness, then the state may press charges against the at-fault driver. Ultimately, it will depend on whether the district attorney believes the driver was culpable in causing the death. In most cases, the DA will consider whether: The driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the wreck; The driver was speeding, driving aggressively, engaging in road rage, or otherwise engaging in reckless behavior; and The presence of flukes or “acts of God” outside either driver’s control. A DA will also consider whether the driver was distracted (e.g., by texting) or failing to obey road signs, like a stop sign. Failing to follow driving laws may be evidence of negligence or impairment that increases a driver’s chances of going to jail. The Deceased’s Estate Can Bring a Wrongful Death Action Traditionally, when a plaintiff died, their causes of action died with them. However, when someone dies in a car accident, Florida law permits the estate of a deceased person to bring a wrongful death claim. A “wrongful death” is one caused by the negligent or wrongful actions of another person, and a wrongful death action allows the estate of the deceased person to recover damages as compensation for the loss of life. Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Claim in Florida? In Florida, the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate is the only person eligible to bring a wrongful death claim. A person’s will usually appoints a personal representative. If there is no will or the will does not appoint a representative, the court will appoint one. Elements of Wrongful Death Claim in Florida Section 769.19 of the Florida Statutes provides the right of action for wrongful death. To succeed on a wrongful death action, the personal representative must prove three elements: Conduct constituting a wrongful act or negligence; The wrongful conduct caused the person’s death; and The wrongful conduct would have created a legal claim by the deceased person if they had not died. In other words, the deceased person must have had a cause of action to bring a lawsuit, even though they were unable to act on it themselves. Damages Available When Someone Dies in a Car Accident If you get into a car accident and someone dies, you may be able to recover a settlement through a wrongful death action. In Florida, there are several types of damages available after a fatal car accident, including: Medical bills, Funeral expenses, “Loss of support” and “loss of companionship” damages, Lost wages, and Loss of estate value. In some cases, the family may elect instead to pursue a survival claim. Rather than compensate the family for their losses, a survival claim provides compensation for the deceased person’s losses. The victim of a fatal car accident may not die at the scene. In some cases, they are given medical treatment and maybe on life support for days or months. The cost of the ongoing treatment and hospital stay can add up to tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. If this occurs, a survival claim may be more appropriate than a wrongful death claim. Your attorney can help you determine which claim makes the most sense in your case. Should I Hire an Attorney When Someone Dies in a Car Accident? The short answer is yes. Obtaining a fair settlement from an insurance company is impossible without an attorney. Having an experienced attorney negotiating on your behalf shows the insurance company you are serious. An attorney can also help you understand what happens when someone dies in a car accident. If there is no insurance involved, a car accident attorney can help you figure out who is liable and how to maximize your recovery. Handling the legal process is complicated and can be overwhelming in the aftermath of a fatal accident. An attorney is someone you can trust to handle your case while you...

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What Is a Major Cause of Death in Motorcycle Accidents?

Category: Articles & FAQ |

Driving and riding on a motorcycle is a fun and exhilarating experience. Many individuals who ride motorcycles also have cars or trucks but also ride motorcycles as a hobby. Riding a motorcycle can give you an adrenaline rush similar to the one you may experience through other recreational activities like surfing, climbing, or skiing. Like these other activities, riding a motorcycle requires concentration. With that concentration and adrenaline, many motorcyclists, like skiers and surfers, report a feeling of calm, oneness, and freedom as they ride. This feeling of oneness is similar to the feelings one may achieve through meditation. In a lot of ways, riding a motorcycle is a form of meditation. Despite the fun and exhilaration of riding a motorcycle, doing so is more dangerous than riding in or driving a car. Motorcycle fatality rates greatly exceed those of driving cars, as do injury rates. Even when a motorcyclist is careful, accidents can happen, and injuries are often more severe than those resulting from similar car accidents. To ride a motorcycle more safely, it is important to ask the question, what is the most common cause of death in motorcycle accidents? By knowing the most common cause of motorcycle fatality, you can take steps to protect yourself as a motorcyclist. Motorcycle Fatalities at a Glance In 2018, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recorded 4,985 motorcyclist deaths on U.S. roads. The 4,985 fatalities were 5% lower than 2017’s number. Put another way, this number put the fatality rate of motorcyclists at 24.83 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 2018. To put this in perspective, compared to car occupants, the 24.83 fatality rate in 2018 was 27 times higher than the same fatality rate for cars. These numbers represent a significant increase in risk between riding a motorcycle and riding in a car. Why Are Motorcycles More Dangerous Than Cars or Trucks? The main reason why motorcycles are more dangerous to drive than conventional automobiles is that motorcycles offer little or no physical protection to their riders. Cars and trucks are literal metal cages. In an accident, the metal cage surrounding occupants absorbs much of the force of impact. The more of the impact the car absorbs, the less its occupants are subject to. Furthermore, each year, manufacturers redesign their cars and trucks to better absorb such shock and better protect their occupants. Conversely, when you’re riding a motorcycle, you are exposed directly to the force of impact. Absorbing the force of such an impact means injuries are more severe. The continuous redesign of cars to reduce occupant impact in a car accident just isn’t possible for motorcycle manufacturers.  What Is the Main Cause of Motorcycle Accidents? Another reason that motorcycles are more dangerous to drive than cars is that they are harder to see on the road. This is why lack of visibility is the main cause of motorcycle accidents. Motorcycles are obviously much smaller than conventional cars or trucks. Motorcycles also have smaller and fewer lights than cars or trucks. As a result, your visibility while riding a motorcycle is much less than that of a car or truck. If other drivers can’t see you, it is harder for them to avoid a potential collision. If someone is in a semi-truck or other vehicle high off the ground, your visibility as a motorcyclist decreases even more. The size of trucks and their impact on motorcycle visibility combine to create even more danger for motorcyclists than small or midsize cars. Common Causes of Fatalities in Motorcycle Accidents By far, the most common cause of fatalities in motorcycle accidents is head injuries. Your head is the most important part of your body. Also, it is one of the easiest parts of your body to injure. Because your head does not have the same protection on a motorcycle as it does in a car, riding a motorcycle puts your head at a higher risk of trauma and injury. The impact of a vehicle on your head or the impact of hitting the road when you fly off your motorcycle exposes your head and brain to great danger.  How to Ride a Motorcycle More Safely The most important step you can take to protect your life as a motorcyclist is to protect your head. The best way to protect your head is by wearing your helmet. The NHTSA estimates that helmets prevented 1,872 motorcyclist deaths in 2017 alone. Furthermore, the NHTSA estimates that for every 100 motorcyclist deaths, more than one-third (37%) would be preventable if all motorcyclists wore their helmets. To help choose a safe and effective helmet that fits your needs, check out some reviews on pages like Revzilla. Having the right helmet could save your life. Because lack of visibility is the most common cause of motorcycle accidents, a second step you can take to protect yourself as a motorcycle rider is to make sure you are as visible as possible on the road. Most motorcycle crashes are caused by a lack of visibility. To avoid this, make sure your lights are in good working condition every time you ride your motorcycle. Consider keeping a couple of replacement lights with you when you ride in case one of your lights goes out.  Another step you can take to improve your visibility is to wear clothing that makes you more visible to other drivers. Consider purchasing a reflective vest for when you ride, especially if you plan to ride your motorcycle at night. A reflective vest like one of these is an inexpensive and easy way to improve your visibility on the road. Have You or a Loved One Been in a Motorcycle Accident? If one of your loved ones dies in a motorcycle accident and you are considering filing a wrongful death claim, contact an experienced motorcycle accident attorney as soon as possible. The attorneys here at Abrahamson & Uiterwyk have a great deal of experience with wrongful death claims, and motorcycle accidents are one of our...

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Florida Punitive Damages Overview

Category: Articles & FAQ |

As the name suggests, punitive damages are meant to punish a defendant or to act as a deterrent.  But not every plaintiff in a civil case (such as a personal injury claim) can ask for punitive damages. In fact, the requirements for eligibility are fairly strict. Florida Statute Section 768.72 allows punitive damages only when “there is a reasonable showing by evidence in the record or proffered by the claimant which would provide a reasonable basis for recovery of such damages.”  Understanding when a court can award punitive damages is important for anyone who may be involved in a lawsuit. Here is a short guide to how punitive damages in Florida work and who may be eligible for them. Damage Categories in Florida Civil Cases When someone suffers injuries or other losses due to the negligent or wrongful act of another, they are entitled to seek compensation. In Florida, there are three basic categories that a plaintiff may receive in a lawsuit or settlement. Economic Damages Economic damages are used to financially compensate a plaintiff for the direct losses the plaintiff suffered due to the accident/incident. These include past and future medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and more. Non-Economic Damages Non-economic damages compensate the plaintiff for less concrete losses like physical pain and suffering, emotional and psychological damage, loss of quality of life, and more. Punitive Damages Unlike the first two types of damages, which are compensatory, punitive damages are put into place to punish the individual or entity responsible for the incident. They are available only in the most egregious circumstances. Florida Punitive Damage Statute As mentioned above, Florida Statute Section 768.72 dictates when punitive damages are available in a lawsuit: “A defendant may be held liable for punitive damages only if the trier of fact, based on clear and convincing evidence, finds that the defendant was personally guilty of intentional misconduct or gross negligence.” The language of the law indicates that this is a pretty high bar to clear. Only a trier of fact (the jury) is allowed to award punitive damages and only under exceptional circumstances. The onus is on the plaintiff not just to ask for these damages but also to prove them. The “clear and convincing” standard is higher than the normal personal injury-proof standard, which means that the plaintiff needs strong evidence to back their damages claim.  The fact of the matter is that punitive damages aren’t awarded very often. Generally, punitive damages claims are not meant for a plaintiff to recover extra damages for themselves. Instead, they are intended to punish a defendant for a particularly heinous act or to provide a warning to future defendants to avoid similar conduct. Intentional Misconduct v. Gross Negligence Under the Florida punitive damages statute, there are two situations where punitive damages are appropriate. These are when the defendant’s actions are grossly negligent or the defendant commits intentional misconduct. Both are expressly defined by Florida law: Gross negligence exists when the defendant’s conduct was so reckless or wanting in care that it constituted a conscious disregard or indifference to the life, safety, or rights of persons exposed to such conduct (Florida Statutes 768.72 (2)(b)); and Intentional misconduct exists when the defendant had actual knowledge of the wrongfulness of the conduct and the high probability that injury or damage to the claimant would result and, despite that knowledge, intentionally pursued that course of conduct, resulting in injury or damage (Florida Statutes 768.72 (2)(a)). Only if the defendant or possible at-fault party committed acts that fit either of these will the court consider awarding punitive damages in addition to the other categories. The Process of Asking for Punitive Damages There is a specific way that a personal injury attorney must seek Florida punitive damages in a trial setting. First, there is a hearing before the judge. This determines if there is sufficient evidence to allow the plaintiff to present a claim for punitive damages to the jury.  If the judge approves, the plaintiff must then present enough clear and convincing evidence to the jury that punitive damages are appropriate in your case. An attorney may not just randomly ask for punitive damages at the end of a trial, nor can a jury tack these onto a damages award once it has reached a verdict. If the process is not followed, a jury cannot award any punitive damages. Limits on Punitive Damages Most states place limits on the amount that a plaintiff can receive in compensation for a personal injury claim. Most states do not place limits on economic damages, as long as the losses are supported with evidence. Some states limit non-economic damages, but Florida does not. The only category that Florida limits (or caps) is punitive damages. A plaintiff can only receive up to three times the amount they receive for compensatory damages (economic and non-economic damages combined). Anything above is capped by law. Injured in Florida? Call Abrahamson & Uiterwyk Today! If you are seriously injured due to someone else’s negligent or wrongful actions, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed. You may be unable to work and struggling both physically and emotionally to recover from your losses. At Abrahamson & Uiterwyk, we are here to help. Based in Tampa, our personal injury attorneys also handle cases in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, and throughout the state of Florida. For over 30 years we have fought for the well-being of our clients and are proud of our case results. We have received an A+ rating from the BBB, an “AV” rating from Martindale-Hubbell, and a “Best Law Firm” rating from US News & World Report. When it comes to serious injuries, the team at Abrahamson & Uiterwyk provides excellent advocacy as well as personal service. For a free consultation, call us at 813-223-5295 or contact us on our website to schedule an appointment.

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Florida 14-Day Accident Law

Category: Articles & FAQ |

If you are in an accident, you need to familiarize yourself with the Florida 14-day accident law. This law states that injured victims must seek medical treatment within 14 days of the accident for their personal injury protection (PIP) coverage to apply. PIP coverage is your no-fault insurance that covers medical expenses and some of your other damages. If you have questions about PIP and the 14-day accident law, let the experienced Tampa auto accident lawyers at Abrahamson & Uiterwyk help. Failure to adhere to this 14-day rule could mean trouble for your personal injury protection claim. It could adversely affect your ability to get reimbursed for your damages, which means you would be paying for your expenses out of pocket. Deciphering the 14-Day Rule Seeking medical treatment after an accident is always a good idea. Even if you don’t think you are seriously injured, you should get checked out. Some injuries are not visible, so you want to rule out any internal damage as well. Florida’s 14-day PIP rule says that you must at least have an initial medical examination within 14 days of the accident. If you don’t, your insurance company has the right to deny any subsequent claim that you present under your personal injury policy. There is no specific type of doctor you need to see, which means almost any kind of medical care with a qualified health care provider could meet the requirement. For example, you might visit an: Emergency room physician, Medical doctor, Chiropractor, or Dentist. It’s crucial to note that health care providers that are not listed in the specific law may not qualify. Massage therapists and physical therapists are two examples that may not be eligible. If you see a massage therapist but not a medical doctor, your insurance company will likely deny your claim. You can see a massage therapist on your own if you need it; it just will not be reimbursed. The important thing is to get to the emergency room or make an appointment with a doctor first to ensure you satisfy the 14-day rule.   Some people don’t see the rule’s importance and are shocked when their claim is denied for not seeking treatment in time. There are several reasons why this 14-day rule exists, including to deter potential insurance fraud and claims for unconnected injuries. If someone waits two months to see a doctor, the insurance provider can easily deny the claim on the basis that the person was likely injured somewhere else. Other reasons the 14-day rule exists are to help facilitate quick medical diagnoses and avoid medical complications. Personal Injury Protection Payout Limits When Florida amended the PIP law, it also limited what benefits are available under the policy. You must have a minimum policy amount of $10,000, but that doesn’t mean you are entitled to receive the full amount after an accident. Under the current PIP law, the amount of your maximum benefit will depend on the severity of your injuries. You must seek treatment within 14 days, and you will be eligible to receive only up to $2,500 in benefits if you sustained non-emergency injuries. If your injuries fall under an “emergency medical condition,” then you could receive the maximum payout under your policy. However, PIP only pays 80% of your medical costs. Take a $10,000 PIP policy, for example. If your medical expenses are $10,000, then you would receive only $8,000 under your policy. If your expenses are $20,000, you would receive the whole $10,000. PIP also covers 60% of your lost wages, up to $10,000. If you are disabled and unable to work, then you would want to include a loss of earnings claim. Payment under this section also provides compensation for services you would normally do, such as cleaning your home, laundry, etc. Your personal injury policy also usually includes up to $5,000 in death benefits. If the policyholder dies, your PIP coverage will pay for the burial and funeral expenses, in addition to the other benefits. What Is Considered an “Emergency Medical Condition”? Under Florida Statute section 395.002(8), you’ll find the definition of an “emergency medical condition.” A qualifying emergency condition is one where you suffer acute symptoms that require immediate medical attention to prevent: Impairment of a major body function; Endangerment of your health and wellbeing; or A serious dysfunction of any body part or organ. Be sure to talk with your doctor about what is going on with you after the accident. They can note in your chart that you had a condition that qualifies for some benefits under your PIP. The notes don’t have to reflect it was an “emergency medical condition.” As long as there is proof that you sought treatment within 14 days, you should be entitled to some benefits from your policy. The determination of whether you have a qualifying condition doesn’t have to take place within 14 days either. You need to show only that you sought initial treatment from a qualifying provider to meet the legal requirement. What If Your PIP Claim Is Denied? Even though you pay a monthly premium for your personal injury protection coverage, it doesn’t mean that the insurer will always pay you the benefits you think you are owed. Insurance companies are in the business of making money, and therefore they will look for ways to reduce their payouts whenever possible. Common reasons for denials include: Not seeking treatment within 14 days; Not suffering injuries in this accident as you claim; and Not suffering a qualifying emergency medical condition. Despite the current situation with the pandemic, you still need to seek treatment within 14 days. Many doctors and facilities are offering telephone and virtual appointments if you are concerned about going in person. The telehealth option would most likely satisfy the 14-day rule. You can check with your insurance company to verify first. Contact a Tampa Car Accident Lawyer Today  Don’t try to fight a PIP denial on your own. Instead, let the experienced team of...

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