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Lakeland Family & Divorce Attorney / Lakeland Car Accident Attorney

Lakeland Car Accident Attorney

Drivers in Lakeland, Florida, area, like other areas of the country, are more careless than ever before, due in large part to a never-ending source of distractions available to those who should be focused on the road. What happens when someone else’s poor driving choices cause you to get in a car accident? You turn to a trusted car accident lawyer for help getting the compensation you deserve. Learn more about the car accident claim process and contact Darla K. Snead, P.L. Attorney at Law, to discuss your options.

After surviving a traumatic motor vehicle collision, choosing the right Lakeland car accident attorney is critical. A lawyer will not only thoroughly explain what compensation options are available to you, but also protect your rights throughout the entire process.

How To Choose A Lakeland Car Accident Attorney

The personal injury attorneys at Darla K. Snead, P.L. Attorney at Law, work hard to settle cases before filing a lawsuit. You deserve a team of skilled negotiators with a proven track record of success in resolving cases. Any attorney’s fee will increase with litigation. Costs can be substantial – and deducted from any amount you are awarded. With strong negotiators on your side, you can focus on recovering from your injury – and receive fair compensation as well.

Lakeland injury attorneys like Darla K. Snead and Michael H. Dulin understand how Florida’s laws can affect your compensation and will help you build a strong case position with the insurance companies and court. You never have to worry about settling for less because they will fight to ensure any settlement or judgment you receive is fair and just for your situation.

What To Do After A Car Accident In Florida

It’s hard to react calmly and productively after an accident, but panicking and lashing out at the other driver doesn’t get anything done. What you do in the minutes and hours after a car accident matters.

  • Write down the following information (or save it in your phone):
    • Other driver’s name, address, and phone number
    • Their car’s make, model, year, license number, and vehicle ID number
    • (If not the driver) The car owner’s name, address, and phone number
    • Name, address, and phone number for any witnesses
  • Diagram the accident and photograph the accident scene.
  • Do not take any blame for the accident.
  • Call Darla K. Snead, P.L. Attorney at Law, for a free consultation. Call immediately, as the time right after the accident can be vital to your claim.
  • Call emergency services. If anyone is injured, they will need to be assessed by emergency medical technicians and possibly get transported to the hospital. Even if no one is injured, the accident must be reported to the police so they can create a police report.
  • Communicate with the police and medical care providers. Provide your contact and insurance information and get the other party’s insurance and contact information.
  • Gather evidence. Take pictures of the scene of the crash, your injuries, the road conditions around you, and any damaged property. If possible, take a video recording as well; this is harder to alter and may strengthen your case. You should also get contact information from any witnesses who stopped to offer help.
  • Seek medical care. Get checked out by medical professionals as quickly as possible after the crash. Some injuries may not be visible right away, but still, have the potential to cause serious harm. A medical checkup offers peace of mind and creates a paper trail of the injuries you sustained during the accident.
  • Reach out to an attorney before you have any contact with the other party’s insurance company. As soon as you can, connect with a top injury lawyer in Lakeland. If you communicate at all with the liable party’s insurance company, you risk losing or decreasing your settlement.

Are You Entitled To Compensation?

If you did not cause the accident, you may be able to seek compensation from the other party. Much comes down to determining liability. An investigation may indicate that one party is 90% responsible for the accident and the other party shares 10% of the blame. It may come out to a 50%/50% liability split. Regardless, you may be able to get compensated if you are less liable than the other party. Your award would simply be reduced according to the amount of fault you share.

Many types of compensation are awarded in personal injury cases. During your consultation, we’ll discuss what you may be entitled to, including:

  • Medical expenses. This includes the expenses you’ve already accrued because of the accident, as well as compensation for any future medical care you are likely to need. Working with an experienced Lakeland personal injury lawyer can help increase the likelihood of receiving such compensation.
  • Lost wages. If you had to take time away from work to go to medical appointments or you were unable to work for a period of time because of your injuries, you may be able to recoup those losses with the help of a Lakeland car accident lawyer.
  • Disability or disfigurement. Those who suffer permanent disability or the loss of a limb or sense should consult with a Lakeland personal injury attorney to obtain further compensation to make up for their irreversible losses.
  • Property damage. Damage to your vehicle is a significant expense and should not be forgotten during your personal injury case. A knowledgeable Lakeland car accident attorney can help you make the at-fault party pay for these damages.
  • Pain and suffering. Car accidents often leave victims with serious pain and ongoing trauma. This is accounted for in many court awards and lawsuit settlements. Trust a highly skilled Lakeland personal injury lawyer to help you get the compensation you deserve.

Note that under Florida law, drivers must have at least $10,000 of personal injury protection coverage.

What To Bring When You Meet With Your Lawyer

When scheduling your initial consultation, your Lakeland accident attorney will let you know what documentation to provide. You should also be prepared with any information you think could assist your lawyer in representing your case, even if they did not ask for it. You never know what may prove useful during your case, so do not hesitate to share anything you think is pertinent.

Below are what you can expect to need at your first meeting with your personal injury attorney:

  • A copy of your driver’s license
  • A copy of accident report and/or driver exchange of information report
  • Any documents or photographs related to the accident
  • All motor vehicle insurance cards
  • All health insurance cards (Including private insurance, Medicare and Medicaid)
  • Any medical bills or medical records
  • A list of all hospitals, medical doctors or chiropractors you have seen since the accident
  • Information about any work you have missed because of the accident

Additionally, it is important to discuss with the attorney how the accident has affected your ability to work or any limitations on your daily activities. The attorney will want to know in detail what physical problems you are experiencing and how often you are experiencing those problems. Therefore, it is helpful to keep a calendar or notes on how you feel on a daily basis.

Is Your Attorney A Good Fit? Ask These Questions

Besides providing details about your life before the accident, and the expenses and losses you have suffered, you should have some questions prepared to determine if your Lakeland accident attorney is a good fit for your case.

Consider some of these examples of questions:

  • How long have you been practicing law?
  • Have you been handling personal injury cases involving car accidents in Lakeland the whole time?
  • How many accident claims have you handled in your career?
  • How will the insurance company evaluate my personal injury case?
  • Does the attorney personally handle my case or a case manager (nonattorney)?
  • Do you offer contingency fee pricing?

These are just a few questions that could have a significant impact on your personal injury claim. Make sure that whoever you choose to represent you is someone you are comfortable with and trust. Your recovery is dependent upon their skill and capability to effectively represent your legal interests.

Going Forward With Your Lakeland Car Accident Case

After hiring a Lakeland personal injury lawyer, you can expect to sign several agreements regarding fees, representation, and records authorizations. While these steps are essential to your case, the next phases of your car accident claim will begin. Below are the stages of at-fault accident cases.

  • Determining viability of your case
  • Gathering your medical records and evaluating your treatment
  • Sending a demand letter and supporting documentation to the insurance company
  • Negotiations
  • File a lawsuit (if unable to settle)
  • Mediation
  • Going to trial

Florida Auto Accident FAQs

What does Florida’s “no-fault” insurance law mean for my accident claim?

Under Florida’s “no-fault” insurance law, many auto accident victims are limited to securing compensation under their own personal injury protection (PIP) policies. However, it is possible to recover additional compensation for severe and permanent injuries; and, to maximize your recovery, you will need to work with an experienced auto accident lawyer.

What if my medical bills exceed my personal injury protection (PIP) coverage?

If your medical bills exceed your PIP coverage (which, in most cases, is $10,000), then it will be particularly important for you to speak with an attorney about filing a fault-based claim against the other driver’s insurance company.

Can I recover my lost wages if I miss time from work due to an auto accident?

Potentially, yes. Personal injury protection provides coverage for medical expenses and lost wages; and, if you have claim outside of PIP, you can seek to recover all of your accident-related losses.

Should I call the police after a car accident?

You absolutely should call the police after a car accident. The other party may try to pressure you into not calling emergency services, especially if it is blatantly obvious that they are at fault. They don’t want a citation, nor do they want their insurance rates to go up. If you do not call the police, though, it is just more difficult to get compensation after an accident. It basically comes down to your word against theirs, and you can expect any insurance investigation to take much longer without the help of a police report. Furthermore, if anyone was injured in the accident, they may want to get checked out by emergency services.

Can I recover my lost wages if I miss time from work due to an auto accident?

Potentially, yes. Personal injury protection provides coverage for medical expenses and lost wages; and, if you have claim outside of PIP, you can seek to recover all of your accident-related losses.

Should I call the police after a car accident?

You absolutely should call the police after a car accident. The other party may try to pressure you into not calling emergency services, especially if it is blatantly obvious that they are at fault. They don’t want a citation, nor do they want their insurance rates to go up. If you do not call the police, though, it is just more difficult to get compensation after an accident. It basically comes down to your word against theirs, and you can expect any insurance investigation to take much longer without the help of a police report. Furthermore, if anyone was injured in the accident, they may want to get checked out by emergency services.

Should I admit fault for a car accident?

Under no circumstances should you admit fault for a car accident. Perhaps you genuinely believe it was your fault, or maybe you want to placate an angry and aggressive driver. Either way, do not do anything that assumes fault.

In many situations, there are underlying factors that can significantly change the outcome of an accident investigation and injury claim. For example, perhaps you get rear-ended and you know that you turned out when you should have waited. In your mind, the accident is your fault. However, an investigation shows that the other party was texting and driving, so they did not even attempt to stop and avoid hitting you. In this situation, the blame may be split between you. You are not an accident investigator; let them investigate the accident and decide where liability lies.

How long do I have after a car accident to decide whether to file a claim?

In Florida, the statute of limitations for a car accident claim is four years from the date of injury. That does not mean that you should wait, check out different options, and decide to file a claim at the last possible second. Evidence gets lost over time, witnesses forget important details, and witness contact information can change. Insurance companies also use any delay in medical treatment as a basis not to pay a claim. Even if you have a valid claim, it may be very difficult to prove it if you wait too long to make a claim. You should connect with a Lakeland personal injury attorney as soon as possible if you would like to seek compensation from the other party.

What compensation can I get after filing a claim for my car accident?

There are several types of compensation you may be entitled to after a car accident. Your car accident attorney will look at all of the evidence available and come up with estimates for medical bills, lost wages, property damage, pain and suffering, and other damages you may have suffered in the car accident.

Those who suffer serious or permanent injuries are often able to recover additional damages for rehabilitation, disability or disfigurement, and loss of quality of life. Victims whose lives are forever changed by the accident may receive compensation for long-term care, which is often necessary for those left with paralysis or other serious injuries.

What factors influence the value of my claim after a car accident?

Several factors affect the amount of compensation you may recover after a car accident. One important factor is the severity of your injuries. A viable claim must have measurable losses, and more severe injuries are associated with more substantial losses. The medical treatment you receive, or your lack of medical treatment can greatly impact your claim.

Your role in the accident may also influence your claim’s value. Florida does allow you to recover compensation even if you are partially responsible, but the amount of your award is decreased in proportion to your share of liability. Your car accident attorney’s ability to prove your damages may impact how much you recover.

How do they determine the value of my car after an accident?

Injuries hurt, but for many, the loss of a beloved vehicle is just as painful. Florida law outlines how a car’s value is determined after a crash. Florida law states that someone whose car is a total loss after a car accident is entitled to the actual cash value of the car.

This means that you should get enough compensation to replace your totaled car with a vehicle of the same make, model, condition, mileage and features. Insurance companies use a variety of companies to determine the actual cash value (ACV) of a totaled car.

Since Florida is a no-fault state, your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage through your own car insurance should pay up to $10,000 of your medical treatment or loss wages after a crash. This ensures that you still receive some compensation if you collide with an uninsured or underinsured driver.

If the person who caused the accident is uninsured or underinsured, you still may be able to receive additional compensation through your own insurance coverage if you have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. Your car accident attorney in Lakeland can represent you throughout this process.

This is a serious issue for many car accident victims. Their car may not be a total loss, but they do need to keep driving their car to get to work. It simply isn’t reasonable for most people to wait until a claim is settled before getting their car repaired and going back to everyday life.

If you need to drive your car after an accident, make sure you get it checked out immediately. There are many ways in which a car can be dangerous to drive but still look fine from the outside. Getting a car assessed by a reputable mechanic provides proof of your damages and lets you know whether or not your car is safe to drive.

If I can’t drive my car after an accident, who will pay for the rental car?

What do you do if your car is totaled or unsafe to drive after an accident? You may need a new vehicle, but that likely isn’t a viable option until your car accident claim has been paid out. In Florida, the at-fault party’s insurance company should pay for your rental car, as long as the at-fault party has sufficient coverage. They must pay for a rental car that is similar in age and quality to the car damaged in the crash.

When you’re pursuing a personal injury claim, you need an attorney you can trust to fight aggressively on your behalf. As you consider your options, weigh these factors to choose a strong Lakeland injury lawyer:

  • Does an attorney personally handle your claim in the very beginning, which sets the tone for the insurance company? If you will be rerouted to a case manager, paralegal, or legal aide most of the time, you deserve to know that ahead of time so you can decide whether or not that works for you. Many large law firms rely solely on nonattorney case managers to handle all claims in the beginning. Know exactly who you will be in contact with and how often you can contact them.
  • Clear communication. Legal terminology can be unclear and difficult to follow for those who aren’t in the legal profession. If you’re talking to an attorney who is unwilling or unable to explain concepts in terms you understand, you may be kept in the dark for much of the claim process.
  • Realistic numbers. Some people go for a car accident attorney who promises the biggest payout. This is not the way to go; those who boast big numbers aren’t necessarily able to get that type of payout. You want an attorney who learns about your case and gets the details of your accident before giving you an estimate. They should be able to back up their numbers with clear explanations.
  • Comprehensive explanations. It’s important that you feel informed throughout the entire claim process. Ensure that the attorney you choose explains the process in detail and is willing to keep you updated at each step.
  • Your attorney should have substantial experience in personal injury law. Beyond that, though, they should have experience handling claims resulting from accidents like yours. You never want your case to be the one where an attorney learns a brand new skill or concept.
  • Fee agreement. The vast majority of personal injury attorneys in Lakeland use a contingency structure, which means that you do not pay a fee unless they recover money for you. This is based on a structure set forth by the Florida Bar, so there is typically not much difference in the fee charged, however, the experience of attorneys vary greatly. Your personal injury attorney should be able to explain what portion of your final compensation will go to attorney’s fees and other expenses you may be expected to pay.

How We Can Help You With Your Case

Choosing the right car accident lawyer for your needs is crucial. You need an attorney with substantial experience going up against insurance companies, fighting for clients’ rights, and securing fair settlements. We have this experience. With us you will get:

  • With over 50 years combined experience, including corporate representation of insurance companies and their at-fault drivers, Darla K. Snead and Michael H. Dulin know the tactics that insurance companies use and how to fight back. From securing evidence and creating a clear timeline of your accident to calculating damages and demanding a fair amount from the other party, they are ready to stand with you throughout your case and help you get what you deserve.
  • You might wonder why it’s so important that you choose an attorney who knows how to work with insurance companies. This is because the vast majority of personal injury claims are settled out of court. It’s likely that your case will never even reach the courtroom. However, the insurance company is not going to pay without a fight. Their goal is to protect their shareholders by paying out fewer claims and lower amounts. That means that even if their client was clearly negligent in a crash, they’ll do whatever it takes to pin some blame on you.
  • Bringing a lawyer into the conversation completely changes the insurance company’s strategy. They know that they can’t intimidate or lowball a Lakeland car accident attorney the same way they can an accident victim.

Through multiple rounds of negotiation, Ms. Snead and Mr. Dulin will fight aggressively to secure a fair settlement that covers your losses from the accident.

Protecting Your Rights And Pursuing Compensation After A Car Accident

You can expect Ms. Snead and Mr. Dulin to be with you throughout the entire process. When you have questions or concerns, they’ll be there to update you, answer your questions, and provide insight. Our team will handle the legal side of your claim so you can focus on resting and healing.

The earlier you reach out to a Lakeland car accident lawyer, the sooner they are able to start building a case for you. Take the first step now by reaching out to Darla K. Snead, P.L. Attorney at Law You can contact us online or call our office to get started.

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