Gainesville is an active place, as frequently witnessed by the amount of traffic congestion throughout areas of the state. Between tourism and exports that help the regional economy thrive to the population growth experienced as more individuals realize their dream of retiring in Gainesville or moving here for work, there are plenty of opportunities for a car accident here. According to Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), more than a thousand crashes occur on Florida’s roadways each day, resulting in the deaths of more than 3,000 people each year and injuries to more than 225,000.
If you were injured in a car accident on Gainesville’s roads, a car accident lawyer from Steven A. Bagen & Associates, PA, can pursue the maximum compensation available for your claim. We have been fighting for Gainesville’s injured for more than 35 years and have garnered hundreds of millions of dollars worth of settlements and awards for our clients.
Some of our case results include:
- $2,500,00 award for a client who was severely injured by a semi-truck driver with a blood-alcohol level of four times the legal limit.
- $1,125,000 wrongful death award for the family members of an elderly individual who was on their way to church when a distracted driver killed them in a high-speed rear-end collision.
- $1,000,000 award for a client who was seriously injured on a rural highway when a semi-truck pulled out in front of them.
While we cannot guarantee a result in your case, contact Steven A. Bagen & Associates, PA, today to see how we can pursue the best possible results for you.
How Can a Lawyer Help After a Car Accident?
If you suffered injuries in a car accident, you may assume that the liable driver’s insurance company will handle your claim effectively. Car insurance protects the victims of serious accidents, providing them with financial compensation for their injuries. However, in many cases, car insurance companies will not provide the compensation that victims need to cover the full cost of their injuries. Instead, you may have to fight to get compensation after your accident.
A lawyer can help.
A lawyer can help evaluate all the conditions that led to your car accident.
Often, car accident victims do not realize that more than one party can contribute to car accident injuries. An experienced car accident lawyer can go over all the conditions that led to your accident and determine whether more than one party may share liability for the accident, which may allow you to pursue compensation from each party that shares liability. Often, that can increase the compensation you may recover for your car accident injuries.
A lawyer can give you advice about the value of your case.
No attorney can guarantee the compensation you will recover for your car accident injuries, but an attorney can give you a better idea of what to expect from the insurance company.
Your attorney will look at the insurance policy that covers the liable driver or another liable party, the extent of your injuries, the bills you have faced, and the losses that went along with your accident to calculate the compensation you should expect for your injuries.
Your lawyer will also make sure that you understand the compensation you need to cover the full cost of your injuries, so you can determine when to accept a settlement and when to fight for additional compensation.
A lawyer can provide vital legal advice regarding your claim.
What should you do to protect yourself after a serious car accident? How can you maximize the compensation you can recover for injuries sustained during the accident? Many personal injury lawyers will provide free consultations to prospective clients to assess their legal options. With the support of an experienced attorney, you can maximize your chances of recovering compensation for your injuries.
A lawyer can fight on your behalf.
Dealing with the liable driver’s insurance company after your accident can feel like an ongoing headache. When you retain an attorney, they can take over negotiations with the insurance company for you or provide you with more information about your next steps following a serious accident. When looking for an attorney, make sure to retain one with experience handling cases similar to yours.
Seeking Compensation for Your Injuries
Individuals in Gainesville who were injured in a car accident are usually required to initially seek compensation from their own personal injury protection (PIP) policy. Registered drivers in the state are required to purchase a policy providing at least $10,000 in PIP coverage to be used to pay for all reasonable medical treatment and a portion of wage loss incurred after an injury. Once this policy limits out or if the individual’s injuries meet the state’s serious injury threshold, plaintiffs can file a lawsuit in civil court to seek compensation from the at-fault party’s liability insurance policy.
The serious injury threshold in Florida includes injuries that result in:
- Significant and permanent loss of bodily functions.
- Permanent injuries, within a reasonable degree of medical probability.
- Injuries that result in significant scarring and disfigurement.
Car Accidents Can Affect Every Facet of Your Life
Car accidents impact every facet of your life, including:
- Finances: The individual is incurring medical expenses while also missing work because of the injury and facing other costs, such as the cost of repairing or replacing the vehicle they were using when the accident occurred.
- At work: Car accident injuries often result in permanent disabilities that can impact the sufferer’s ability to earn in the same capacity as they did before the accident.
- At home: Family relationships are often changed as a result of a serious injury, as parents, spouses, and children of the injured may need to take on more caregiving roles, while often suffering a loss of the ability to participate in hobbies or activities they shared with their loved one.
- In society: Individuals who suffer serious injuries often not only endure a loss of productivity in the workplace but a loss of position in society.
These impacts are often shown to the court in personal injury cases as evidence of the economic and non-economic harm that the sufferer faced because of their injuries.
Proving Who Is Legally Responsible for Causing Your Injury
To obtain compensation for your injuries, you must be able to show that someone else was liable for the car accident that caused the injuries.
Your lawyer can prove liability in a car accident case by showing:
- The at-fault party had a duty to drive safely and legally to prevent physical harm and property damage to others.
- There was a breach in this duty when the driver chose to engage in unsafe or illegal behaviors, such as speeding, distracted driving, or alcohol impairment.
- The breach resulted in the accident that caused your injuries and made you incur expenses and impacts.
The Types of Gainesville Car Accidents
Not all car accidents are created equal. Many accidents are more severe due to the speed of the vehicles when they collide. However, others are more severe simply due to the type of accident that occurred. Among the most common accidents to result in fatal injuries is a head-on collision, which occurs when the front of one car collides with the front of another. These accidents pose such a high risk of fatalities because of the increased direct force of both vehicles when they collide.
Other types of car accidents include:
- Broadside (T-bone) collisions, which occur when the front of one vehicle collides with the side of another. While head-on collisions are relatively rare but often deadly, T-bone accidents also produce a high risk of fatal injuries to vehicle occupants but are one of the most common types of accidents to occur in an intersection. Broadside collisions are generally the result of a failure to yield the right-of-way, such as failing to stop at a stop sign or a red light. The doors of most vehicles provide very little protection or cushion from the impact of the other vehicle’s front bumper. The occupants on the side of the vehicle tend to sustain particularly severe injuries when a semi broadsides a passenger car.
- Rear-end collisions, which are the most common type of accident to occur at an intersection. This accident happens when the front of one vehicle collides with the rear of another. Rear-end accidents are generally the fault of the following driver, often for following too closely or distracted driving. However, the driver of the lead car can be at fault if the lead car was traveling in reverse when the accident occurred, the lead car’s brake lights were not working, or the lead car’s driver intentionally slammed on the brakes to brake check another driver.
- Sideswipe accidents, which occur when the side of one vehicle collides with the side of another. This type of accident is often the result of an at-fault driver failing to ensure a lane was clear before pulling into it.
- Single vehicle accidents. While only one vehicle is in a single-vehicle accident, victims outside the vehicle, such as pedestrians or bicyclists, may suffer injuries.
- Rollovers, which can occur with nearly any accident type if an obstacle on the roadway trips the tires of one vehicle or the driver turns the wheel sharply to avoid an accident. Rollovers are another type of accident that has a high likelihood of catastrophic injuries or death.
What Are the Most Common Causes of Gainesville Car Accidents?
The vast majority of motor vehicle accidents are the result of human error.
Some of the common errors that lead to car accidents in Gainesville include:
- Alcohol or drug-impaired driving: Using alcohol or drugs before operating a motor vehicle is dangerous as these substances can result in deficits in the skills needed for safe driving, such as the ability to brake effectively, maintain lane position, or exercise good judgment. More than 650 drivers die in motor vehicle accidents involving alcohol or drug impairment in the state each year, along with more than 100 of their passengers, and more than 200 pedestrians, and more than 40 bicyclists.
- Speeding: Speeding is a contributing factor in more than a quarter of all traffic fatalities, reducing the time the speeding driver has to perceive an accident and respond by braking, and increasing the distance the vehicle will travel before the brakes stop it. Speeding also increases the severity of the accident, while decreasing the effectiveness of vehicle safety equipment such as seat belts and airbags.
- Distracted driving: There are three forms of driver distractions, including visual distractions that cause the driver to take their eyes from watching the roadway; cognitive distractions, which cause the driver’s thoughts to wander away from the task of safe driving; and manual distractions, which cause the driver to take their hands from the wheel. Texting is of particular concern to traffic authorities, as it presents all three types of distraction. Other forms of driving distractions include eating or drinking, visiting with passengers, adjusting vehicle or stereo controls, and other cell phone use such as checking email or making a phone call.
- Fatigued driving: While any driver can become fatigued while driving, the issue is most pronounced among specific workers, including those who drive during night shifts or swing shifts and long-haul truck drivers who drive during late-night hours. The body’s circadian rhythm—the instinct to sleep at night—is the culprit of many fatigued driving accidents, as is the use of medication that induces drowsiness.
- Aggressive driving/road rage: While the terms are somewhat interchangeable, aggressive driving refers to a series of traffic infractions that individuals commit, often when trying to evade traffic congestion. These behaviors include speeding, tailgating, red-light running, and improper lane changes. Road rage, on the other hand, occurs when a driver intentionally causes injury or harasses another driver to punish them for perceived bad driving. Road rage can include behaviors such as honking and gesturing, getting out of the vehicle to confront another driver, or even attempting to bump or ram another vehicle from the roadway.
- Failure to yield: Failure to yield is an extremely common cause of accidents in intersections, where numerous traffic lanes converge and all drivers must yield the right-of-way.
- Wrong-way driving: Wrong-way driving can happen because of alcohol impairment as well as tourists, truck drivers, and new residents in the area for the first time who don’t know the roads. Wrong-way driving is a major cause of deadly head-on collisions.
More Causes of Car Accidents in Gainesville
Most Gainesville car accidents occur because of the negligent behavior of other drivers. Working closely with an experienced personal injury attorney can give you a better idea of what factors may have contributed to your accident and how to best pursue compensation for your injuries.
Distracted driving continues to pose one of the biggest accident risks throughout Gainesville and across the United States. Distracted driving includes any behavior that detracts from the act of driving, including taking the eyes, hands, or attention off the wheel. Most people assume that distracted driving means using a cell phone while driving, which Florida law specifically prohibits in school zones or active construction zones.
Other behaviors, however, can also prevent drivers from paying full attention to what happens around them, including many behaviors, like eating or drinking in the car or programming a GPS, that many drivers take for granted on the road. Distracted drivers often lack the focus needed to pay adequate attention to what happens around them, which can significantly increase the risk that they will cause a severe accident.
During football games, many people tailgate or visit a local bar or restaurant and drink to celebrate or commiserate, depending on how the Gators performed. Unfortunately, that behavior can increase the risk that those drivers will choose to drive while intoxicated when the game ends. Intoxicated drivers often have a hard time controlling their vehicles and may behave in an irrational, unpredictable manner that can make it more difficult to share the road with them. Intoxicated drivers may also have slowed reflexes or suffer from tunnel vision, both of which can increase accident risk.
Despite the known challenges associated with speeding, it remains a factor in as many as 26 percent of accidents each year. At a high rate of speed, most drivers have more trouble controlling their vehicles. Drivers may struggle to keep their vehicles on the road or have a hard time reacting to potential challenges in front of them. Unfortunately, many Gainesville drivers speed to make up lost time.
Negligent Driving Behavior
Drivers may engage in potentially negligent behaviors, many of which can substantially raise the risk of a serious accident.
Those behaviors may include:
- Ignoring traffic signals
- Failing to yield
- Driving aggressively
Gainesville sees its share of dangerous weather each year. Gainesville has many days of heavy rainfall, which may increase the risk of severe accidents due to poor visibility or slick roads. In dangerous weather conditions, many drivers fail to realize that they need to get off the road or slow down, which can increase the risk of an accident.
Who Bears Liability for Car Accidents in Gainesville?
Car accidents in Gainesville usually involve many different factors, which can make it difficult to determine who contributed to the accident. A police report from the accident scene can determine which driver, or which driver’s vehicle, contributed to the accident. The drivers involved in the accident may also share liability with other parties who contributed to the accident.
Working with an experienced Gainesville car accident attorney can offer a much more comprehensive look at all the factors that contributed to your accident, which may help you determine who you need to sue for compensation.
Did a driver on the clock cause your accident?
In some cases, you may have a car accident in Gainesville with a driver on the clock: a truck driver, a delivery driver, or even a driver out on an errand for his employer. The employer may share liability for the accident, including when a trucking company forces a truck driver to exceed the federally limited number of hours they can spend on the road each shift or cases in which a delivery driver must go out despite potentially dangerous conditions. An attorney can help evaluate the employer’s policies and how they may have contributed to the accident, which may give you a better idea of whether the employer shares liability.
Did a mechanical failure contribute to your accident?
Mechanical failures, from tire blowouts to locked steering, can spell serious trouble on Gainesville roads, particularly along I-75. If a mechanical failure causes your accident, liability may rest with the owner of the vehicle who failed to properly maintain it, a vehicle manufacturer that put out a vehicle with a serious issue, or a mechanic that recently worked on the vehicle but failed to repair it properly.
Did you have an accident with a drunk driver in Gainesville?
Florida’s dram shop laws do not hold bars, restaurants, or liquor stores liable for providing alcohol to a guest over the age of 21. However, Florida’s dram shop laws hold entities that provide alcohol to a habitual offender or a known alcohol addict liable if that individual causes an accident. Consult an attorney to learn more about your rights following a drunk driving accident.
Common Car Accident Injuries
Car accidents frequently result in severe injuries that can cause immense problems for many people. Some victims suffer permanent changes to their lives, from the activities they can enjoy to their ability to care for themselves, because of car accident injuries. Even more minor car accident injuries, however, can pose immense limitations for the victim.
Traumatic Brain Injury
Head injuries can lead to serious cognitive problems for many accident victims. A serious head injury can result in long-lasting memory problems, including gaps in both short-term and long-term memory. Furthermore, traumatic brain injury patients may lose emotional control and regulation, loss of focus and concentration, or changes in sleep habits and overall behaviors.
While some victims with minor traumatic brain injury may eventually recover, symptoms may linger for more than a year after the initial accident. Victims with more severe traumatic brain injury may suffer some limitations for the rest of their lives.
Back and Neck Injuries
Back and neck injuries can impact every area of the victim’s life. Many car accident victims find that ongoing back and neck pain prevents them from enjoying their usual leisure activities. Injured individuals may have trouble sitting down, standing, or walking around. Back and neck injuries can make it difficult to leave the house or work normally.
Injuries may include:
- Spinal cord injuries, which can result in paralysis
- Herniated discs
- Sprained or pulled muscles
Physical therapy may restore some mobility and strength for the victims of relatively minor back injuries. Other times, however, the victims may suffer from ongoing pain for some time after their accident, or even for the rest of their lives.
Amputation following a car accident may result from the immediate trauma of the accident or occur later, because of severe crushing damage to the limb. Some amputees choose to use prosthetic devices to help restore some normal function after the accident. Those prosthetics may aid in independence and mobility, but they also represent an ongoing expense, since they will require regular replacement. The cost and frequency of replacement may depend on the complexity of the device and the victim’s overall activity level.
Car accident victims frequently suffer from multiple broken bones following a serious accident. Frequently, those broken bones interfere with the victim’s mobility for some time following the initial accident. Victims with broken bones may have a hard time performing their usual work tasks, whether a broken leg makes it impossible for the victim to move around a warehouse or broken arms make it hard for the victim to take care of computerized tasks. Broken bones may also require the victim to turn to others for care and assistance with basic tasks at home. That lack of independence can prove very difficult for many car accident victims to manage.
Some car accidents can result in heat burns, often because the vehicle catches on fire, or friction burns, as an accident drags the victim across the pavement. Severe burns not only cause immense pain, but also they may leave substantial scarring behind. Burn victims often have a very long road to recovery, including skin grafts, surgeries, and even a stay in a burn unit that may help prevent infection.
Victims sitting in the front seat of a car during a serious accident may have a higher risk of suffering serious facial injuries, either due to striking the dashboard or steering wheel or due to broken glass in the car. Facial injuries frequently cause severe emotional trauma, since they may cause a permanent change in the victim’s appearance or lead to considerable scarring.
What Injuries Do Gainesville Car Accidents Commonly Cause?
Some of the most severe injuries a person can experience take place in car accidents, including catastrophic injuries involving the organs of the central nervous system: the brain and the spinal cord.
Traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries are serious not only due to the importance of these organs to the body’s ability to function and survive but also because these organs have a limited ability to heal. A traumatic brain injury or a spinal cord injury would likely produce permanent disabilities that prevent the individual from earning an income or accomplishing personal care tasks independently.
Other injuries that car accidents cause include:
- Bone fractures
- Cuts and lacerations
- Internal injuries
- Soft tissue injuries
- Limb amputations
How Steven A. Bagen & Associates, PA Can Help With Your Gainesville Car Accident Claim
A Gainesville car accident attorney can be one of your most powerful tools for pursuing the maximum amount of compensation available to you. Let one of our attorneys explain the legal personal injury claims process to you and provide more information about the services that Steven A. Bagen & Associates, PA, can provide to assist you. For your free case evaluation, contact us online or by calling (800) BAGEN-LAW.