Palm Bay Car Accident Lawyer
Car accidents are the most common type of personal injury in Florida. In fact, the sunshine state consistently ranks among the top five states reporting the most car accidents each year. With more than 17 million drivers, there are several factors that contribute to the state's high accident rate. Rapid population growth continues to increase the demand placed on aging infrastructure. As one of the country's top tourist destinations, Florida hosts millions of visitors each year. Visitors from other states and abroad are often unfamiliar with local traffic patterns and the large volume of vehicles that use the roads every day. Florida is also a key port of entry. Therefore, shipments from overseas land on the state's sunny shores and are transported throughout the country over land via I-95 and other major roads that provide a link to neighboring states and beyond. With so many factors contributing to accidents around the state, it is important to know of a Palm Bay car accident attorney you can call if you or someone you know becomes involved in a collision.
Causes of car accidents in Palm Bay
Auto accidents can have many causes. Palm Bay Road at Babcock Street ranks highest among dangerous intersections on the Space Coast. This intersection is especially prone to collisions as it is so heavily traveled. Nevertheless, a car accident can happen in practically any setting, including a parking lot. Common causes of auto collisions include:
- failure to check blind spots
- distracted or inattentive driving
- intoxicated driving
- hazardous weather conditions
- visibility obstruction
- following too closely
- aggressive driving
If a driver negligently causes a car accident that involves any of the aforementioned factors, the driver may be liable for any resulting injuries. A Palm Bay car accident lawyer can help victims determine if negligence was a factor in the accident that caused their injury.
Failure to check blindspots
It is critical that Palm Bay drivers thoroughly check all blindspots before executing any traffic maneuver. Small vehicles, motorcycles, bicycles, and pedestrians are sometimes more difficult for drivers to see unless the driver makes a preemptive effort to look for them. If a driver makes a lane change without checking the adjacent blind spots, he or she may risk having a collision with an approaching vehicle or a vehicle that is in the adjacent lane but is traveling slightly slower. In a parking lot or driveway, pedestrians, children, and pets may be lingering or passing by in a driver's blind spot. Drivers are generally responsible for making a reasonable effort to ensure the lane or surrounding area is clear prior to changing lanes, backing out of a space, or otherwise maneuvering their vehicle.
A distracted driver is unable to react to hazards on the road as quickly as an alert driver. Sudden stops, negligent drivers, potholes, debris on the road, and rapidly-changing traffic signals all require drivers' full attention. Distractions may take place inside the vehicle or on the outside. Some distractions are common behaviors in which drivers engage without appreciating the potential hazard the behavior may pose. Eating, talking on the phone, or even having a conversation with someone else in the vehicle can create a mental distraction that decreases the driver's reaction time to changing road conditions. Other examples of distractions that take place inside the vehicle include:
- applying makeup
- searching for a lost or misplaced item inside the vehicle
- disciplining a child while driving
Distractions outside the vehicle are most often of a visual nature. A driver's eyes or attention may be diverted from the road conditions while reading a billboard, observing a person, animal, or object on the side of the road, or communicating with someone who is outside of the vehicle.
The role of speeding in car accidents
Whether you drive an especially fast car or if you are always in a rush, the temptation to drive fast is oftentimes not worth the risk. Driving too fast reduces the window of time and opportunity a driver has to react to a road hazard and avoid an accident. Cars that travel faster have a larger stopping distance, which can cause a collision if a person, vehicle, or animal is moving slower in the path of the speeding vehicle. Traveling too fast doesn't always mean driving faster than the posted speed limit. A driver who causes an accident may be liable under the theory of negligence if he or she did not reduce his or her speed when driving at night, in the rain, or in other hazardous road conditions. Drivers should also reduce their speed in certain settings, including school zones, when passing by daycare centers, religious centers, and when traveling in or near parking lots and shopping areas.
Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol impacts a driver's judgment, reaction time, and perception. A driver who is under the influence does not fully appreciate his or her speed of travel, whether driving too fast or too slow compared to the flow of traffic. Alcohol and drugs can blur the driver's vision, impair his or her ability to hear, and generally affect the driver's ability to fully understand, assess, and appreciate potential hazards on the road. By the time an impaired driver does perceive a hazard, he or she may have a slowed reaction time. An impaired driver is also less likely to choose the appropriate response when encountering a road hazard. For example, the driver may swerve when the safer response is to slow down or stop. Drugs and alcohol can also cause a driver to confuse the gas and brake pedals, further worsening an inappropriate response to a road hazard. Alcohol and illegal drugs are not the only substances that can lead to intoxicated driving. Some prescription medications require patients to avoid driving when taking the medication as legally prescribed by the patient's doctor.
Intoxicating driving cases differ from other personal injury claims. An intoxicated driver may be subjected to civil and criminal liability. Nevertheless, criminal charges are handled in an entirely separate court system, and the plaintiff in the criminal court case is the state. In contrast, car accident claims are personal injury cases adjudicated by Florida civil courts, and the plaintiff is the accident victim. In civil court, a judge may order an intoxicated driver to pay punitive damages in addition to compensating the victim to cover expenses related to his or her injuries. Punitive damages are intended to discourage the intoxicated driver from driving while intoxicated in the future. Punitive damages are also intended to discourage other drivers from driving while intoxicated. Although punitive damages are not primarily intended to make the injured party whole, these damages are ultimately also awarded to the accident victim.
A visibility obstruction can occur inside a driver's vehicle or on a nearby property. Florida law prohibits drivers from attaching materials to their windows and mirrors that may obstruct the driver's view. Drivers are permitted to hang items like air fresheners and small decorative items from their rearview mirror that do not obstruct visibility. Drivers should also avoid loading packages, shopping bags, and cargo in or on their vehicles in a manner that makes it difficult for the driver to see through the vehicle's windows. The drivers should also ensure animals and passengers remain seated while the vehicle is in motion and wear a seatbelt or appropriate restraint to avoid obstructing the driver's view.
External visibility obstructions most often occur when a property owner has an item that obstructs drivers' visibility on the adjacent road. Overgrown vegetation and debris on the property are the common culprits in visibility obstruction cases. In other situations, a truck may have improperly-loaded cargo that can block another driver's view of the road.
Following too closely
Many drivers follow other vehicles too closely, especially when in a rush to arrive at their destination. Following too closely can cause a driver to collide with the vehicle in front if the vehicle makes a sudden stop. An accident may also occur at a traffic signal if the driver in front does not accelerate from a stop as quickly as the rear driver anticipates. Therefore, it is always best for drivers to maintain ample space between themselves and the driver in front of them. In rear-end collisions, Florida law presumes the driver in the rear to be at fault.
Road rage can easily lead to an accident. Aggressive driving may include:
- following too closely
- failing to yield the right of way
- making illegal lane changes
- general reckless driving
Aggressive drivers are more likely to endanger drivers by making rapid, unsignaled lane changes without checking their blind spots. They behave unpredictably, which can cause other drivers to not know how to respond. Drivers who drive aggressively are legally responsible for injuries their actions cause in resulting car accidents.
Insurance claims in Palm Bay car accident cases
Most drivers are aware that they should call their insurance company in the event of a Palm Bay car accident. Florida requires all drivers to carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage within their car insurance policy. PIP insurance provides compensation to the insured in the event of an accident regardless of whether the insured was at fault. For people who have minor injuries, PIP insurance may be an efficient source of compensation that does not require a thorough investigation or lengthy negotiations. However, PIP has its limits. Coverage limits tend to be lower compared to other types of insurance coverage. PIP also only covers up to 80 percent of the victim's medical expenses and lost wages. If an accident victim has more severe injuries, he or she may be able to receive additional compensation by filing a claim under the other driver's Bodily Injury Liability coverage (BIL) or under the victim's own Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage if the other driver's insurance policy does not include BIL coverage.
Filing a personal injury claim
A Palm Bay car accident attorney may recommend filing a personal injury claim if insurance does not offer sufficient compensation to meet the accident victim's needs or if the insurance company is unwilling to offer a favorable settlement amount. Personal injury lawsuits are not subjected to policy limits. Accident victims may also receive compensation for emotional damages and physical pain and suffering in severe cases. In a Palm Bay car accident, the victim's attorney must prove the other party caused the accident by behaving negligently. The attorney may obtain witness accounts and enlist the help of accident reconstructionists to provide evidence of the other party's negligent behavior.
Contact a Palm Bay car Aacident lawyer
In the event of a Palm Bay car accident, one of the very first calls you make should be to a Palm Bay personal injury attorney. Florida imposes a four-year statute of limitations on car accident claims. In accidents that cause the death of the accident victim, the statute of limitations is two years. Nevertheless, accident victims and their families should contact an accident attorney as early as possible to allow more time for the attorney to evaluate every legal option and gather evidence while the case is still fresh. A personal injury attorney can help victims and their families correspond with insurance companies. If insurance does not provide the best means of getting the compensation the victim and the victim's family deserve, the attorney can also file a civil court claim and represent the victim in court.
Our Palm Bay personal injury lawyers represent car accident victims and their families. Contact us to receive a free case evaluation. Our compassionate staff will listen to the facts of your case and help you make informed decisions regarding your next steps. We will keep your information confidential. Call or email us today!