Gainesville Car Accident Lawyers
Fighting for Injury Victims Since 1965
If you have been involved in a car accident, no matter how minor or major the crash, you are likely experiencing considerable physical, emotional, and financial challenges. A serious accident-related injury results in extensive, ongoing medical care and may put you out of work for weeks, months, or even longer.
On top of managing your medical bills and everyday expenses, you have new and unexpected costs to deal with, such as paying for prescription medications or repairing the damage to your vehicle.
At Schackow & Mercadante, we want you to know that you do not have to deal with these challenges on your own. Depending on the details of your situation, our legal team can help you file an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit against the responsible driver. This allows you to seek financial compensation for your “damages,” or the losses you have endured as a result of the accident.
Florida car accident and insurance laws are complex. We strongly recommend that you work with an attorney from our firm when filing your claim. Our Gainesville car accident lawyers can assist you with every aspect of your case and are ready to tirelessly advocate for you and your full recovery.
Some states follow a no-fault auto insurance system that allows injured motorists to recover compensation for certain covered damages after an accident, regardless of who was at fault. These states are known as “no-fault states,” and Florida is one of them.
This means that anyone who registers a motor vehicle in Florida must have minimum insurance coverage in the following amounts:
- $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP)
- $10,000 in property damage liability (PDL)
PIP covers a percentage of your medical expenses and lost wages if you are injured in an auto accident, regardless of who caused it. PDL, on the other hand, only covers the other driver’s property damage (i.e., vehicle repair costs) after an accident that you caused.
What Does This Mean For You?
Simply put, if you are injured in a motor vehicle accident in Florida, you can receive compensation for most of your medical expenses and lost wages—even if you were partly or entirely at fault for the collision. However, the amount you can recover is limited, both by your coverage limits and state law.
What Does PIP Cover?
Personal injury protection, or PIP, does not cover all of your accident-related losses. Specifically, it does not cover any non-economic damages, like pain and suffering. Additionally, if you only have the minimum required amount ($10,000), you could find that your accident-related medical expenses and lost wages quickly exceed this limit. If that is the case, you may be left without the monetary resources you need to manage these and other related expenses.
In Florida, PIP covers the following:
- 80% of your accident-related medical expenses (for “emergency” injuries)
- 60% of your lost wages, up to $100,000, if you are disabled due to the accident
- Death benefits, including funeral or burial costs up to $5,000
Note that, if your injuries are not considered an “emergency,” you can only recover $2,500 in PIP benefits. Generally speaking, the state defines an “emergency medical condition” (EMC) as one that occurs with acute and severe symptoms that require immediate medical attention to prevent serious impairment, health complications, or death.
Can You Go Outside the No-Fault System & Seek Additional Damages?
In many cases, PIP is simply not enough to fully cover the literal and figurative costs of an accident. The good news is that it is possible to step outside the no-fault system and file a personal injury lawsuit directly against the at-fault party.
To do this, there are several things you must prove:
- Duty of Care: You will first need to prove that the defendant owed you a “duty of care,” meaning they had a legal responsibility to take reasonable measures to prevent you from being harmed. In most cases, all motorists have an implied duty of care to others.
- Breach: You will also need to prove that the defendant breached the duty of care, typically by acting negligently or wrongfully. Examples include driving while distracted, failing to obey applicable traffic laws, or driving drunk.
- Injury: To go outside the no-fault system, you must not only prove that you were injured but also that your injuries meet the state’s definition of a “serious injury.” If your injuries do not meet the serious injury threshold, you cannot bring a personal injury claim.
- Causation: Lastly, you must prove that the defendant’s conduct was the cause of your injuries. Under Florida’s modified comparative fault rule, you need to prove that the defendant more than 50% at fault for the accident.
If you are found partly at fault for the accident, you can still file a personal injury claim (if you meet all other eligibility requirements). However, your total recovery will be reduced by your percentage of fault, as determined by the insurance adjuster and/or court.
What Is Considered a “Serious Injury” in Florida?
You may only bring a personal injury claim directly against an at-fault driver in Florida if your injury meets the “serious injury threshold.” The criteria used by the state of Florida to determine whether an injury is “serious” is specific and must be met in order for you to bring your claim.
In Florida, an injury is considered “serious” if it results in any of the following:
- Permanent injury (within a reasonable degree of medical probability)
- Permanent and significant scarring or disfigurement
- Permanent and significant impairment or loss of function of a bodily system, function, or member
If you suffered a catastrophic injury in a car accident, or if your loved one tragically passed away after an automobile collision, contact our Gainesville car accident lawyers at Schackow & Mercadante for help filing your personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.
What Damages Are Available to the Victims of Car Accidents?
If you qualify to bring a personal injury lawsuit against an at-fault driver in Florida, you can seek both economic and non-economic damages. These damages cover the losses you have endured—or will likely endure—as a result of your car accident. This includes physical injuries, emotional trauma, lost wages, medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses, and more.
- Economic Damages: These are damages that have a tangible monetary value attached to them. Examples include past and future medical bills; lost wages; disability accommodations; property damage repairs; and other related expenses.
- Non-Economic Damages: These are damages that do not necessarily have any “hard” financial costs associated with them. Examples include physical pain and suffering; emotional distress/anguish; loss of consortium; and disfigurement or disability.
For more information on damages available in car accident cases, contact our Gainesville car accident lawyers at Schackow & Mercadante today. We will review the details of your situation and explain how you may be able to recover the compensation you need.
How Can a Gainesville Car Accident Lawyer Help?
The process for filing an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit after a car accident can be complicated and overwhelming—especially if you are already dealing with severe injuries and other challenges related to the crash. To make sure that you receive maximum compensation for your losses, it is advisable to work with an experienced car accident lawyer in Gainesville, Florida.
A Gainesville car accident attorney from our firm can help you with every step of the process, including:
- Obtaining and reviewing evidence to build your case (police reports, accident scene photos, witness statements, medical records, etc.)
- Determining negligence/fault and calculating a fair value for your damages
- Handling all communication and paperwork with insurance companies, medical providers, and other applicable parties
- Negotiating a settlement offer or representing you at trial if necessary
Our legal team at Schackow & Mercadante has extensive experience handling car accident cases throughout the state of Florida. We will evaluate your case and determine which steps need to be taken to protect your rights. From filing the required paperwork with insurance companies to negotiating a full and fair settlement or preparing for trial, we are here to provide you with comprehensive legal services every step of the way.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Filing an Auto Accident Claim in Florida?
In Florida, victims of car accidents have two years from the date of their accident to settle an insurance claim or file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party. If you fail to meet this deadline, your case will likely be dismissed in court and you will lose your right to pursue compensation for your losses.
This is why it is critical that you speak with a car accident lawyer in Gainesville as soon as possible after your crash. We can help ensure that all legal deadlines are met, giving you the best chance of obtaining full and fair compensation for your injuries and other damages.
What Happens If I Am Partly Responsible for a Gainesville Car Crash?
Even if you were partly at fault for your car accident, you may still be able to recover compensation for your losses. Under Florida’s modified comparative fault rule, any compensation awarded after a settlement or trial is reduced by the plaintiff’s percentage of fault.
For example, if you are found to be 25% responsible for the collision and you receive an award of $100,000 in damages, your total recovery will be reduced by 25%, meaning that you would only receive $75,000 in total compensation.
The process of determining liability—and then arriving at a percentage of fault—can be complex and requires detailed knowledge of state law and insurance regulations. The legal team at Schackow & Mercadante can help you navigate this process and ensure that you receive the full value of your claim.
What Should I Do After Suffering an Injury in a Florida Car Accident?
If you have been injured in a car accident, there are several steps you should take immediately to protect your health and legal rights. After seeking medical attention—which is always the most important first step after an auto collision—you should:
- Gather as much information as possible about the crash, including photos of both vehicles and contact/insurance information for all parties involved;
- Contact an experienced Gainesville car accident lawyer to discuss your case and learn more about your legal options;
- Refrain from making any statements (written or verbal) that could be used against you later in court; and
- Notify your insurance company of the incident, but do not give a full statement until you have talked to an attorney.
How Much Will My Car Accident Lawyer in Gainesville Cost Me?
At Schackow & Mercadante, we understand that you may be hesitant to reach out for legal help after a car accident due to the cost. We strive to ensure that our services remain accessible and affordable for all of our clients by offering free initial consultations and working on a contingency fee basis. This means that you will not be required to pay any upfront costs or hourly fees when you work with us; instead, your legal fees will be deducted from your settlement or court award.
Of course, if your case does not result in a recovery, you will not owe us anything at all—making our services risk-free for those who have been injured in car accidents anywhere in Florida.
Navigating Florida’s complex car accident laws and insurance requirements can be extremely difficult, especially when you are already trying to get back on your feet after a serious accident.
When you trust your recovery to the team at Schackow & Mercadante, you can focus on healing and moving forward with your life while we take care of all the legal details.
Together, our Gainesville car accident attorneys have more than 126 years of experience, along with a long and proven track record of success. We work hard for our clients and are always willing to take cases to trial whenever necessary.
As your legal team, we will work efficiently with the goal of settling your case as quickly and favorably as possible. We understand the importance of getting you the compensation you are owed so that you can manage unexpected accident-related expenses and get back on your feet.
We proudly provide highly personalized legal representation with a caring and compassionate touch. At Schackow & Mercadante, we treat our clients like family, always keeping in mind their unique needs, concerns, and goals throughout every stage of the legal process.
We do everything we can to help our clients move forward after serious accidents, from working to reduce their medical bills to protecting their rights in the courtroom. If you or someone you love has been involved in a serious automobile accident, we encourage you to reach out to our team right away to learn how we can help.
“I met with Marie Banks to go over Car Accident Preparedness. She was awesome and so full of knowledge. Patient with all my questions and I left her office feeling good about the insurance I had and felt prepared if an accident were to happen. She treated me like family. Thank you! 10 out of 10 would definitely recommend.”
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