What to Do After a Car Accident
After being involved in a car accident, whether you were a driver or a passenger, our Tampa car accident lawyers recommend you take a few steps:
Call 911 or the Tampa Police Department:
If it is a serious crash blocking traffic or if anyone is injured, call 911. This is the fastest way to get police and emergency responders to the scene. For more minor accidents that still require a report, you can contact the Tampa Police Department directly.
Seek medical attention:
There are many emergency rooms in Tampa, including St. Joseph’s Hospital, Tampa General Hospital, AdventHealth, Memorial Hospital of Tampa, and Tampa Community Hospital. We recommend you seek medical help at the nearest ER. Of, if you are not badly injured, see a trusted physician as soon as possible. You should be fully examined to determine if you are suffering from any hidden injuries.
Collect evidence, if possible:
If you are able to do so, we recommend you take photos and videos of the aftermath of the crash. Take photos and video from different angles and distances. Also document any surrounding property damage, marks on the pavement, and your injuries.
Exchange car insurance info:
Ask any other drivers involved for their names, contact information, and auto insurance information.
If any witnesses stayed at the crash site to help, ask for their names and contact information. You do not have to ask them for a full statement at the time, but it can help to have record a voice memo of what they saw.
Call a car wreck attorney:
Never flee the scene without exchanging information and speaking to police. Once you are able to leave the scene and get medical help, we recommend calling a lawyer who has experienced with car accidents in Tampa, FL. You will benefit from an experienced lawyer guiding you through the insurance claim and litigation processes.
Who Is Liable For my Car Accident Injures?
Following a car crash, it is important to determine who was directly at fault. Who was the careless driving who collided with your vehicle? You may have this information already, but if not, a car accident attorney will uncover it for you. In most car accident claims, the liable party is the negligent driver. You will pursue a recovery from that driver’s auto insurance policy.
That being said, determining who was at fault is not always the same as identifying who is liable for your injuries. Another person or business may be responsible for the crash, or even if they were not at fault, they are responsible for compensating you. Your attorney will scrutinize the evidence and determine if one or more parties is liable for the crash and your injuries.
What Is Negligence?
Determining who is at fault and who is liable for your car crash injuries requires identifying the negligent party.
Negligence is the failure to uphold a duty of care, which causes another person harm. In regard to driving, all drivers must uphold a duty of ordinary care. This means they must act as a reasonably prudent driver would under the same or similar circumstances.
Negligence occurs when a driver fails to act as a reasonably prudent driver in any given situation. It may be that the driver broke a traffic law. Maybe the driver was speeding, ran a red light, or failed to yield the right of way. Negligence also can mean the driver simply acted carelessly while driving. The driver may have been distracted by their phone and failed to pay close enough attention to the road. Or, the driver may have gotten behind the wheel after a sleepless night when they were fatigued and had a hard time staying awake and alert.
This breach of duty, whether it was or was not a traffic violation, led to the driver causing a crash, which in turn resulted in your injuries.
To learn more about how to prove another driver or party was negligent, contact our Tampa car accident attorneys.
Typically, to obtain car accident compensation, you must prove the other party was negligent. This requires establishing several elements: a duty of care; breach of duty; cause in fact of the accident; proximate cause of the accident; a compensable injury.
However, there may be accidents in which another party is liable for the accident, but you cannot prove each of the elements. Instead of establishing each elements of negligence, you provide evidence that negligence by the party can be implied under the law.
Car Owner Liability
In some car accident cases, the car owner is liable for a crash and the resulting injuries without being in the car at the time. This liability may arise under Florida’s dangerous instrumentality doctrine, which says a vehicle is an inherently dangerous tool. An owner can be liable for another person’s careless or reckless operation of that dangerous tool.
The crash and your injuries should be covered under the car owner’s auto insurance policy. This gives us a primary or secondary policy to pursue compensation under. When necessary, a car wreck lawyer could file a lawsuit against anyone on the vehicle’s title based on this legal doctrine.
A common situation that arises is employer liability after a crash. This arises when an employee causes a car accident while on duty. Though the employee is directly at fault for the crash, the employer is liable under the law. This is known as res ipsa loquitor, which means the thing speaks for itself.
The employer is responsible for the employee while they are working because the employee is an agent of the employer-individual or business. The employer is responsible for employee’s actions and the consequences of those actions.
Family Purpose Doctrine
Under Florida’s family purpose doctrine, the owner of the car is liable for damages caused by that vehicle no matter which member of the family or household was driving at the time. So if you were injured in a crash caused by a teen driver who does not own the car or pay for the auto insurance, you can pursue damages under the owner’s insurance policy, and in some cases, file a lawsuit against the vehicle owner. If any member of the owner’s family caused you harm, a car accident attorney will pursue compensation from the owner.
Sometimes, a car owner lends their car to someone they should not—someone who cannot be trusted with it. Under Florida’s negligent entrustment law, you can pursue damages from the vehicle owner when they negligently allowed someone to use their car, and as such, put other people in danger.
To prove negligent entrustment, you must establish that the car owner supplied their personal property—their car—to someone else. The car owner must have known, or had reason to know, that due to the other person’s youth, inexperience, or other issues, lending the car might endanger the borrower or other people.
Our car crash attorneys have established negligent entrustment in many car accident cases and have helped crash victims obtain full and fair compensation for their injuries from the vehicle owner.
Liability of the Passenger
It may come to light during a car accident investigation that the passenger was fully or partly to blame for the crash. It may be that the passenger grabbed the driver’s wheel. We also have handled situations in which the passenger was distracting the driver. In this situation, we will pursue compensation from the passenger, either under their auto insurance policy, or through a personal injury lawsuit.
Dram Shop Liability
If you were hit and injured by a drunk driver, we will investigate where that individual obtained the alcohol. Florida’s dram shop laws mean that alcohol vendors can be held responsible for the consequences of serving someone who is underage or visibly intoxicated. For example, if we determine the other driver was being served several alcoholic beverages at a bar before getting into their car, driving impaired, and causing the crash, we may file suit against that bar.
Under Florida product liability law, businesses that make, market, and sell products are responsible for ensuring those products are as safe as possible when used as intended. If a vehicle on the road has a defect, this can make that vehicle inherently unsafe. That defect could lead to a crash or other single-vehicle incident, and under these circumstances, the vehicle manufacturer or seller may be liable for your injuries.
Highway Designs and Road Hazards
When a poorly designed road, poorly maintained road, or hazard in the road, such as construction cones, construction equipment, or debris from a crash, is to blame for your crash and injuries, talk with our car injury lawyers right away. Under these circumstances, a private business or a local government agency may be responsible. Pursuing compensation from a municipality can be tricky, and it requires acting fast. The government agency may require notice soon after the accident.
We have handled more than one car accident that arise from poorly maintained and untrimmed vegetation. Trees, bushes, shrubs, berries, wildflowers, and other weeds can grow large enough to block road signs or to diminish visibility around corners. The property owner is responsible for maintaining that vegetation in such a way that does not cause problems for drivers. When they let the vegetation grow wild, they may contribute to a crash. In this situation, a private owner or municipality may be liable for your injuries.
Common Defenses to Negligence Accusations
When another driver or other party is accused of negligent, there are many ways for them to defend themselves. You should work with a car accident attorney to be prepared for these arguments.
The negligent individual may claim that another party was also negligent—or more negligent—and is fully or partly responsible for the crash.
The other driver or liable party may claim that an intervening cause broke the direct link between their negligent actions and the crash. They may argue that the other factor is a superseding cause means that their original, negligent act was not the real cause of the crash.
Lack of proximate cause:
It is often possible to say, “if not for event A, event B would not have happened.” So, “if not for the driver’s conduct, the crash would not have happened.” This is cause in fact. But for a negligent person to be liable for your injuries, you also must establish proximate cause, which means the crash and your injuries were within the foreseeable risks of the other party’s negligence conduct. If the crash was not a foreseeable risk, then the other party is not liable.
Lack of duty of care:
Some individuals will argue that they did not owe you a duty of care and therefore, could not have been negligent or liable for your injuries.
Assumption of risk:
The other party may argue that you voluntarily entered into a situation you knew or should have known as dangerous and could cause you harm.