Understanding Pure Comparative Negligence in Personal Injury Cases

If you are in a car accident in St. Petersburg and suffer injuries that max out your personal injury protection coverage, your personal injury lawyer may help you to sue the at-fault party for punitive damages. Punitive damages provide extra compensation for victims whose injuries were caused by the extreme recklessness or negligence of the at-fault party.  This extra compensation can help cover your expenses.

Many drivers in St. Petersburg fight back against these claims, however. Not only do they not want to admit fault, but they also do not want to pay for their negligence. The higher the medical bills and other expenses, the more likely they are to fight back with a personal injury lawyer of their own.

In fact, during a case like this, the defendant may even turn the blame back on you and claim that you are responsible for the accident. With your personal injury lawyer, you can disprove this claim. If the evidence doesn’t disprove the claim, the court may find that neither driver is entirely to blame. Instead, they may determine you both acted in ways that contributed to the accident.

Florida’s Pure Comparative Negligence

Should the court find that two drivers are partially to blame for an accident, Florida’s comparative negligence laws will come into play. This “pure comparative fault” system does not let your level of negligence prevent you from getting the compensation your injuries need. Instead, the fault charged to the claimant is proportionate to the amount awarded in damages. For example, if you are found to be 40% at fault for the crash, you can still recover 60% of your losses from the other party. In this example, if you initially requested $100,000, if you win your case, you will receive $60,000 because you were 40% at fault.

How Fault is Determined in a Personal Injury Case

To determine the percentage of fault for each responsible party, judges examine many different factors. Drivers may contribute to fault by:

  • Speeding
  • Driving recklessly
  • Driving under the influence
  • Texting and driving
  • Running red lights
  • Failing to stop at a stop sign
  • Not using turn signals

Prepare for a Case with a Personal Injury Lawyer at Berkowitz & Myer

The best way to prepare for a personal injury case is by working with a personal injury lawyer at Berkowitz & Myer. Our St. Petersburg firm has been helping clients recover compensation for their injuries for nearly twenty years. Our excellence and passion make us a strong opponent in the courtroom. To schedule a consultation in St. Petersburg, call us today at (727) 344-0123 or contact us online.

Do’s and Don’ts After a Personal Injury Accident

There are hundreds of vehicle accidents in Tampa Bay every day. In 2017, Pinellas County saw 17,966 total crashes with 11,111 injuries, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. This means that many St. Petersburg residents are at the risk of being in a collision at some point. If you sustain an injury, call a personal injury attorney and keep the following do’s and don’ts in mind.

Do: Document the Scene

After a collision, once the scene is safe, you have checked for injuries, and everyone has the necessary medical attention, call the St. Petersburg police to file a police report. You should then begin to document the scene thoroughly. Take pictures of the vehicles, the scene of the incident, the road conditions, debris, injuries, skid marks, and any property damage. Gather the contact information of anyone else involved as well as any witnesses. Record information like the location, the weather, and what you were doing before the incident. The more detail, the better. Take pictures with your phone, record video, and use a notepad to write things down like license plate numbers, driver’s license numbers, vehicle make and model, and more. However you can, record the information and hold onto that data. Your personal injury attorney will be able to use it to help build your case.

Don’t: Post on Social Media

You may be tempted to post online that you were in a fender bender to alert friends and family, but use caution when it comes to posting about your accident. Once something is online, it can’t be erased completely. Avoid talking about anything related to the accident, including your car, your personal injury attorney, the other people involved, or your injury. Insurance companies may have investigators and claims adjusters looking at your social media to find evidence that can diminish the value of your claim.

Do: Call a Personal Injury Attorney

After an accident, call a personal injury attorney in St. Petersburg as soon as you can. The other party may ask you for in-depth information like how much insurance coverage you have, what your deductibles are, and more. Instead of providing them with this information, your lawyer can advise you to give them only the necessary information and the basic details of the accident. This goes for the insurance companies as well. In fact, before you talk to any insurance companies, talk to your lawyer. You do not have to speak with insurance companies if they contact you. Anything you say, even if it is to your own insurance company, can be used to lower the settlement you may eventually receive.

Call Berkowitz & Myer in St. Petersburg for Professional Legal Help

If you were in a car accident in St. Petersburg, call a personal injury attorney to discuss compensation for your injuries. You may be able to recover damages for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. To speak with a professional at Berkowitz & Myer, call us at (727) 344-0123 or contact us online.

Choosing the Right Personal Injury Attorney

Personal Injury Attorney St. Petersburg Florida

If you’ve been injured in an accident, you’ve probably got a lot of questions on your mind, and a lot of people giving you advice—some helpful, some not so helpful. While it may not be at the forefront of your mind, deciding whether to hire an attorney—or which one—is an important decision that can seriously affect your rights and responsibilities. This article will examine the conditions in which you might want consider hiring a personal injury attorney, and how to choose the right one.

When to Hire an Attorney

If you only sustained minor injuries in your accident, you may not need to hire a personal injury attorney, since you can usually work out those kinds of issues with your insurance company. However, for more serious accidents, a personal injury attorney can help you go up against big auto insurance companies and their lawyers.

Your attorney should already know all applicable personal injury laws and procedural rules and can effectively handle all of the legwork for you. Because insurance companies and their lawyers have the knowledge to reduce compensation and even deny a claim altogether, hiring a personal injury attorney is a good idea for people who:

  • Suffered severe injuries
  • Are faced with expensive medical bills
  • Have experienced a significant loss of wages due to their injuries.

How to Choose a Personal Injury Attorney

After you’ve decided that you likely need an attorney, the next decision you must make is which attorney to choose. Below are a few guidelines to make sure that you choose the correct attorney for your case.

Know Whom You’re Dealing With

A personal injury attorney should have experience representing clients who are in a similar situation as yours. Although you ideally want someone with many years of experience, newer attorneys can also competently represent their clients with the proper assistance of a more experienced attorney. Most law firms offer free consultations to prospective clients, so take that opportunity to find a lawyer you connect with on a personal level.

Do Your Research

Try to talk with more than one lawyer before you choose one to represent you. Be prepared to describe your problem in a brief, clear summary. Ask the various lawyers about their experience, their fees, what your options might be, your chances of success, who will do the work, and when the problem might be resolved.

Get the Details

How often will the lawyer update you? What information will you be required to provide? Do you understand all of your options? What will the total cost be? If you’re not clear about exactly what the lawyer is doing, ask for clarification. Although your chances of success can’t be guaranteed, make sure you’re comfortable with your lawyer’s approach to your case.

Establish a Payment Arrangement That Works for You

The most expensive attorney is not necessarily the best attorney for you, while a “bargain-priced” attorney may not be the best deal in the long run, either. You want to find an attorney with the proper balance of experience and cost. Also be sure that you understand how you will pay your attorney and what kind of fee arrangement to expect—most personal injury lawyers operate on a contingency fee, though some may charge a flat fee or hourly rate.

Contact a St. Petersburg Personal Injury Attorney for More Information

If you think you need an attorney to represent you after you’ve been injured in an accident, contact the personal injury attorneys at Berkowitz & Myer. Schedule your free consultation by calling (727) 344-0123 today to learn more.

Common Car Accident Injuries

Car Accident Lawyer St. Petersburg Florida

Car accidents are extremely common in the United States, accounting for more than 37,000 deaths per year. Although most car accidents are not fatal, they still cause thousands of injuries every year. These injuries can range from minor bruises to broken bones and traumatic brain injuries, which can have lifelong health implications. Below, we’ll take a look at some of the most common injuries that motorists sustain in car accidents and how they are caused.

Head and Neck Injuries

The most common neck injury in car crashes is whiplash. Whiplash is an injury to the soft tissue of the neck and upper back, and it occurs when the muscles and ligaments of the neck and upper back are stretched due to sudden movements. This stretching is often caused by the sudden jerking of the head, which can occur when one vehicle strikes another.

Head injuries are caused by the same forces as whiplash. If the force of an impact in a collision is great enough, it can cause an occupant’s head to strike nearby objects, including the steering wheel, dashboard, console, or windows. In some cases, this can cause traumatic brain injuries, a very serious condition in which the brain tissue is damaged from hitting the inside of the skull. Traumatic brain injuries can lead to health problems, including nausea, fatigue, headaches, seizure, and cognitive or physical impairments.

Arm and Leg Injuries

Due to their exposure and relatively free movement, an occupant’s arms are at great risk of striking nearby objects or getting scraped or cut by projectiles. For example, the force of an impact in an accident often causes occupants’ knees to hit the dashboard or the seats in front of them. Glass, airbags, dash-mounted GPS systems, cell phones, coffee mugs, purses, or anything else that is not physically attached to the automobile can cause scrapes and cuts to the arms and legs in an automobile accident. Loose objects automatically become projectiles in a vehicle collision, and the severity of the injury depends on the type of object that strikes you.

Chest Injuries

The force of a collision can cause injuries when the chest strikes a nearby object. Chest injuries are particularly dangerous for the driver because of the steering wheel’s position. Blunt force trauma to the chest in a car accident can cause broken ribs, collapsed lungs, cardiac arrest, and damage to internal organs, the pelvis, and the abdomen.

Emotional Distress

Car accidents frequently cause emotional distress, which can manifest itself in many ways, including anxiety, depression, and even post-traumatic stress disorder. Young children especially can develop a fear or phobia of cars and driving after an accident, and suffer from nightmares and flashbacks. While the physical wounds from a car accident can often heal fairly quickly, emotional injuries are much more complicated and can take months or even years to dissipate.

Contact a St. Petersburg Car Accident Attorney for Help

If you were injured in a car accident, you may recover compensation for your injuries through an insurance claim or a personal injury action. Contact the car accident lawyers at Berkowitz & Myer for a free consultation by calling (727) 344-0123 today.

Does Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Insurance Cover Motorcyclists?

Motorcycle Accident Attorney St. Petersburg FL

In short, no. But see below for more information about PIP insurance coverage and what you can do to protect yourself in the event of a motorcycle accident.

What Is PIP Insurance?

First, let’s take a look at what PIP insurance is and what it isn’t. PIP insurance, which stands for Personal Injury Protection, is an extension of car insurance that covers medical expenses and, in some cases, lost wages. It is often referred to as “no-fault” coverage because it pays out claims to the policyholder without regard to whom is at fault in the accident. This is in contrast to standard liability insurance, in which the at-fault driver is responsible for paying the costs of damages and injuries to the other motorists.

Florida is one of the 13 states plus the District of Columbia that requires drivers to carry PIP insurance by law. Florida law requires drivers to carry both:

  • $10,000 of no-fault personal injury protection (PIP) insurance
  • $10,000 of property damage liability (PDL) insurance

In addition to covering your part of any medical expenses and income lost from a car accident, PIP insurance will also cover:

  • Your child and other members of your household
  • Your child (when riding on a school bus)
  • You (when you are a pedestrian or bicyclist involved in a car accident)
  • Passengers in your car who do not have their own PIP insurance and do not own a car

Those in your car with PIP car insurance will receive coverage from their own policies if you get in a car accident. Likewise, your PIP car insurance will cover you while you are a passenger in someone else’s car.

Motorcyclists Are Not Covered by Standard Pip Insurance

You may have noticed that PIP coverage applies when you are driving or riding in a car or when your child rides on a school bus. This excludes motorcyclists. Although many drivers assume that their standard auto insurance policy will cover their injuries in the event of motorcycle accidents, this is not the case.

In many states, car insurance laws and motorcycle insurance laws are the same, but there are significant differences between the two in Florida. Most importantly, Florida PIP insurance laws do not apply to motorcycles. Some insurance companies may offer PIP insurance for motorcycles that is similar to PIP insurance for cars, but that insurance is not regulated by Florida law. Also, after a motorcycle accident, a person does not need to show a permanent injury to recover money for pain and suffering, unlike an injury resulting from a car accident.

Ways to Protect Motorcyclists in Florida

To protect yourself and others from injuries arising from motorcycle accidents in Florida, you have three options:

  1. Buy motorcycle insurance from an insurance carrier.
  2. Get a self-insured certificate from the Bureau of Financial Responsibility after you present evidence of net unencumbered capital.
  3. Secure a financial responsibility certificate. This requires posting a surety bond with a state licensed company and depositing cash or securities with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV).

If you choose to obtain motorcycle insurance, it is recommended that you purchase enough coverage to comply with Florida’s minimum requirements for auto insurance policies.

Contact a St. Petersburg Motorcycle Accident Attorney Today

If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident or simply have questions regarding your rights and responsibilities as a motorcyclist in Florida, contact the attorneys at Berkowitz & Myer. We can help you with an insurance claim with the liable driver’s policy or with a personal injury lawsuit when needed. Schedule a free consultation by calling (727) 344-0123 today.

 

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