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Bradenton Car Accident Attorney

Auto Crash

According to the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles, approximately 600-700 automobile crashes occur every day in Florida, and according to the United States Census Bureau, there are more than 10,000,000 auto accidents every year in the U.S.

More than 2,500 people in Florida are killed each year because of car crashes, and nation-wide there are more than 36,000 fatalities. Each year, approximately 200,000 Floridians suffer injuries from auto accidents. Contact our Bradenton car accident attorneys today, we have decades of combined experience.

Auto accidents are usually caused by at least one of the following problems:

  • Speeding
  • Tailgating
  • Driving too slow
  • Reckless driving
  • Talking on a cell phone while driving
  • Texting and driving
  • Engaging in other distracting behavior while driving
  • Drugs and/or alcohol
  • Failure to pay attention in school or constructions zones
  • Failure to follow traffic signs
  • Falling asleep at the wheel
  • Failure to use turn signals
  • Aggressive driving

With the sheer volume of auto accidents that occur day-in and day-out, insurance companies have become experts at defending their financial interests. Insurance adjusters are skilled at protecting their profit-making interests by minimizing injury claims and payments to injured victims. When you’ve been injured in an auto accident, it only makes sense to hire an experienced attorney who can protect your interests.

Serious car accidents can have devastating effects on victims, leaving some seriously injured, permanently disabled, and financially destroyed.  If you or your loved one has been injured in a car accident, Marjorie Chalfant and Steve Meyers can help.  Our commitment to clients assures you will receive the highest quality of legal representation by experienced injury attorneys.  As a Registered Nurse and successful trial attorney, Marjorie Chalfant knows the medical aspects of injuries inside and out.  Likewise, with Steve Meyers’ litigation experience representing injured clients for more than 23 years, he knows how your injuries affect your health and life.

Florida Car Accident FAQs

What To Do After An Auto Accident

If you’ve been injured from a car accident, the actions you take immediately after the incident may be crucial to the outcome of your case. Of course, medical attention for your injuries is the most important concern. If you’re physically able to do so, we recommend you take the following steps to protect your rights, preserve potential evidence, and support the best outcome for your case:

Call 911

Medical Treatment. Call 911 for emergency personnel. Depending on the circumstances, emergency personnel could include the police, fire rescue or EMS. Emergency medical personnel can take care of immediate injuries, which may include transportation to a nearby hospital for further medical examination and treatment. The longer you delay in getting medical treatment the more difficult it is to prove the seriousness of your injury and its cause due to the accident.

Police Investigation. Police officers can start an investigation, assess liability, issue citations to the at-fault party, and prepare an Accident Report. Sometimes, police officers will collect eye witness statements, take photographs, and create diagrams describing the accident scene. Information obtained by investigating officers is often helpful throughout the course of your injury claim.

Documentation at the Scene

If possible, write down the following information immediately:

date, time and location (address and/or streets and cross-streets) of the accident;
the name, address and phone number of the driver who hit you;
the make, model, tag number and vehicle identification number of the driver’s vehicle;
the driver’s insurance information, including policy number;
the name, address and phone number of any possible witnesses; and
the name of the investigating police agency (for example, Florida Highway Patrol, county Sheriff or local city Police), the officer’s name, and the case number assigned to the incident.
If possible, take photographs of the accident scene (use your cell phone if available), including property damage to all cars involved.

Contacting Your Insurance Company

We recommend that you retain us for advice before you contact your insurance company.

If you need to contact your own insurance company prior to retaining us, it’s a good idea to have notes about the incident (including the information you documented at the scene) when you call. Not only will your insurance company need this information, it’s a good idea to be clear about what happened before you call and report any accident to an insurance company;

Don’t discuss your prior (before the accident) medical history with any insurance adjuster or insurance representative. Simply report what you know about your current injuries from the accident and explain you will be hiring an attorney to answer further questions;

We urge you to contact us before you speak to the insurance company for the at-fault driver! Insurance companies have shrewd adjusters who handle claims day in and day out. Don’t be disadvantaged by profit-motivated insurance companies in the business of dealing with claims, making profits, and avoiding payments – get an experienced advocate on your side!

Usually, the insurance adjuster will call the injured person and request a recorded statement. Never agree to a recorded statement without consulting with an attorney first. Insurance adjusters are skilled at taking recorded statements and use their questioning procedures to get statements that are not helpful to the injured person’s case. An experienced auto accident attorney is familiar with the clever antics frequently used in the insurance industry and can help you avoid making statements that will later be misinterpreted or used to your disadvantage.

Keep a Journal of Important Facts and Events

Clients should make and keep accurate records of events and transactions relevant to the case, such as time missed from work, health care appointments, medical bills, transportation bills, property damage repair bills and estimates, rental bills, photographs of the injury and property damage, restrictions on activities of work life and daily living, and pain and suffering.

In order to maximize your claim, your attorney will need to explain to the adjuster and/or jury how the accident and injuries has affected your life. You’re entitled to full and just compensation for your harms and losses, so a detailed description of the effects of the accident, together with an itemization of all costs and damages is crucial.
In cases where the injuries require a long time to recover, and/or when cases don’t settle and require litigation it may be several years in between the accident and final resolution of your claim; therefore, it’s important to document events and transactions so important details are not forgotten or overlooked with the passage of time. Also, if litigation is necessary to get full and just compensation, you can rely on your written notes to refresh your recollection if you need to answer interrogatories or testify at a deposition or at trial.

Continue with All Medical Treatment Prescribed

It’s important that you continue with all medical treatment prescribed to assure the best recovery from your injury and to maximize the financial recovery for your harms and losses. Insurance adjusters (and juries) usually presume that injured persons who fail to continue with medical treatment or have a track record of missed or “no-show” appointments must not be truly injured, and accordingly, refuse to pay or award full compensation.

Under Florida law (the “Florida Automobile Act”), a physician must confirm that you have a “permanent injury” in order to recover financial compensation against the at-fault party. Intermittent or infrequent medical treatment tends to convince insurance adjusters and juries that the injuries must not be significant if the person fails to get care and treatment and/or fails to obtain the medical treatment prescribed.

When you see your medical care provider for examinations and treatment, be sure to tell your provider about all symptoms and complaints, and be sure your symptoms and complaints are documented in your medical record at the time of your visit. There is no good way to prove a patient’s condition on a particular day unless there is a medical record of a visit with a health care provider. Detailed notes are made and kept by medical personnel of everything important at each visit. Such evidence is essential for presentation of the case at the time of settlement or trial. We recommend keeping a journal to take with you to your appointments so you’ll be reminded to convey all pertinent information and details. Be aware that whatever you say will probably be written into the medical record; likewise, if you’re not specific and detailed about the symptoms and complaints you’re suffering, it won’t be documented in your medical record.

Your PIP insurance will cover up to $10,000.00 of medical treatment; however, it doesn’t take long before the $10,000.00 limit is exhausted, especially if you require surgery or hospitalization, and/or diagnostic testing (such as an MRI) is performed. When your PIP benefits have been exhausted, your health insurance becomes the next insurer for payment of medical expenses. Sometimes, we can work with your care providers to continue medical treatment if no health insurance is available, or if you have a high deductible you can’t afford to pay.

It’s important that your injuries have been fully treated or you have reached “maximum medical improvement” before your injury claim is settled. Once your claim has been settled you can’t go back and ask for additional compensation for undiscovered injuries or injuries that worsen after settlement.

Additional Guidelines and Important Information You Should Know

Clients should not talk to anyone about their personal injury case, other than their attorneys, doctors, immediate family members, or other essential personnel. Anyone to whom the client speaks can be subpoenaed to testify and repeat what was said. Anything you say can be used against you. If testimony is required in a related proceeding (such as in traffic court, or if additional parties were also injured in the same collision), you should consult with your attorney for legal advice and preparation prior to testifying.

No documents should be signed without prior review by your attorney.

Medical bills should ordinarily be paid by group health insurance, automobile or premises medical payments coverage. Most insurance policies require reimbursement (known as “right of subrogation”) from the at-fault party for payments related to medical care and treatment for injuries; however, oftentimes many group health insurance companies will initially refuse or delay payments. Because it’s important you receive all medical care and treatment necessary, your care should not be interrupted because an insurer refuses to pay while your case is pending. As experienced auto accident and injury attorneys, we’re accustomed to dealing with these issues and resolving the problem.

Clients should keep us informed of any significant change in work, treatment or activities between the accident and resolution of your case. The better we’re informed about your case, the better we’re able to represent your and protect your interests.
Injury cases should ordinarily not be settled within the first six months after an accident. It almost always takes several months (at the least) for injuries to heal and stabilize. Before your claim is resolved and concluded, your physician needs to render a medical opinion that your prognosis is good, or that future problems can be reasonably predicted with medical certainty. A reliable and accurate medical opinion about your condition and prognosis is difficult, if not impossible, unless sufficient time has passed and a treatment course has been completed. Further, once your claim has been settled, you can’t go back later for additional compensation if your injuries turn out to be more significant than realized.

When the appropriate time for settlement occurs, we will obtain copies of your medical records and bills, and if appropriate, additional evaluations and reports, such as a functional capacity or vocational rehabilitation evaluation. We also collect wage loss verification from you and/or your employer, property damage bills, and any other documents verifying financial expenditures and losses.

Before a settlement demand is made to the insurance adjuster, we will discuss a probable jury verdict range, which is one of the factors insurance companies evaluate when calculating the maximum they’re willing to pay on your claim. A settlement demand package will be sent to the liability insurer for settlement. If and when any settlement offer is received from the insurance carrier, we will advise you whether it’s reasonable, or not, or what other options are available to you. As the client, you have the final right to approve or disapprove any settlement offer made. In the vast majority of cases, settlement negotiations usually result in an acceptable resolution of the case without having to file a lawsuit.

In the event a lawsuit is required to obtain full and fair compensation for your harms and losses, we’re prepared to take on the task; however, keep in mind our goal is to maximize your compensation and net/in-pocket recovery, and within a reasonable period of time. We try to maximize your recovery by keeping your costs as low as possible and reducing the risk of an uncertain outcome with a jury trial. Once a lawsuit is filed the pre-trial litigation phase usually takes at least a year, and often longer. During this time, both sides conduct investigations and formal “discovery” with interrogatories, requests for documents, depositions, and other litigation procedures, which delays the financial compensation you deserve. Further, allowing a jury to render a verdict instead of reaching a settlement out of court can be uncertain and risky, as insurance companies continue to spread media propaganda about how “runaway juries” are supposedly “out of control” for awarding huge verdicts for small injuries, and many potential jurors assume insurance payments will cause their own premiums to rise. Additionally, litigation expenses incurred for trial, and while getting ready for trial, can add up quickly and include such things as court filing fees, service of process fees, witness subpoena fees, expert witness fees (sometimes as much as $500 per hour for doctors), special investigations, court reporter fees (usually several hundred dollars or more per deposition), and other routine expenses that can significantly reduce your net/in-pocket recovery. For these reasons, the decision to litigate should not be made lightly, or without regard to the result on the bottom line. Pursing litigation as the method for recovery is carefully considered and discussed with you.

Very few auto accident and personal injury cases (not including medical malpractice cases) which are sent to an insurance company result in trial. Trials for auto accident and injury cases are usually held only in cases with significant disputes on liability, or where the damage potential justifies the risk and cost of litigation. Our legal system is designed to resolve most cases without a trial, and mediation and/or arbitration sessions can usually facilitate settlement even after a lawsuit has been filed.
Many, if not most lawyers who handle personal injury cases have very limited or no experience whatsoever in actual jury trials, in spite of misleading photos showing them in a courtroom, or on the courthouse steps. Before selecting an attorney to represent you, do your homework and ask specific and pointed questions, such as: “What will happen with my case if it doesn’t settle?”; “If my case doesn’t settle, will you refer my case to another lawyer, or will you personally continue to handle my case through trial?”; and “How many jury trials have you conducted personally as the lead attorney?” Insurance companies keep track of and know which lawyers will actually take a case to trial when necessary, and those that will never litigate a case, regardless of the need to fight for justice. Make sure your lawyer has the litigation and trial experience necessary to handle and resolve your case most effectively.

What is Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Insurance?

Florida is a “no-fault” insurance state, which means an injured person in an auto accident receives Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits from their own insurance company, regardless of who is at fault. PIP insurance guarantees every driver (and their occupants) immediate medical treatment in the event of an accident.

In other words, even if a person is at fault for the accident that caused their own injuries, he or she can still receive payments for medical expenses and lost wages.

By law, all Florida drivers are required to carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance.

Most PIP policies provide a minimum of $10,000 for medical expenses and lost wages, although higher benefits may be purchased at a higher cost.

If you are involved in a car accident, your medical bills and lost wages must be submitted to your own insurance company first, even if another driver is at fault.

If your medical bills and lost wages are more than $10,000, the at-fault driver’s liability insurance covers the remaining costs.

In cases where the at-fault driver does not have enough insurance to compensate you for your injuries, expenses and losses, then an Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist (UIM), claim with your own insurance company may be necessary. In cases where you’ve been injured as a passenger, the driver’s PIP insurance may provide additional compensation. Additionally, you or your family members may be entitled to PIP insurance benefits even if injured as a pedestrian or on a bicycle.

What is Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist (UIM) Insurance?

In cases where the at-fault driver does not have enough insurance to compensate you for your injuries, expenses and losses, then an Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist (UIM) claim with your own insurance company may be necessary. In cases where you’ve been injured as a passenger, the driver’s UIM insurance may provide additional compensation. Additionally, you or your family members may be entitled to UIM insurance benefits even if injured as a pedestrian or on a bicycle.

Each injury case is personal and unique, and many insurance and compensation options vary with each case. Our staff is very experienced and well-qualified to assist you with your questions about at-fault, no-fault and UIM insurance and the options that may be available for you. We’re dedicated to helping you receive the financial compensation you need to financially and physically recover from an auto accident. Marjorie Chalfant and Steve Meyers have more than 44 years’ of combined experience successfully representing clients injured by auto accidents, and we welcome the privilege to represent you, too.

What Documentation At The Scene Do I Need?

If possible, write down the following information immediately:

date, time and location (address and/or streets and cross-streets) of the accident;
the name, address and phone number of the driver who hit you;
the make, model, tag number and vehicle identification number of the driver’s vehicle;
the driver’s insurance information, including policy number;
the name, address and phone number of any possible witnesses; and
the name of the investigating police agency (for example, Florida Highway Patrol, county Sheriff or local city Police), the officer’s name, and the case number assigned to the incident.
If possible, take photographs of the accident scene (use your cell phone if available), including property damage to all cars involved.

Before You Contact Your Insurance Company, Do This:

If you need to contact your own insurance company prior to retaining us, it’s a good idea to have notes about the incident (including the information you documented at the scene) when you call. Not only will your insurance company need this information, it’s a good idea to be clear about what happened before you call and report any accident to an insurance company;

Don’t discuss your prior (before the accident) medical history with any insurance adjuster or insurance representative. Simply report what you know about your current injuries from the accident and explain you will be hiring an attorney to answer further questions;

We urge you to contact us before you speak to the insurance company for the at-fault driver! Insurance companies have shrewd adjusters who handle claims day in and day out. Don’t be disadvantaged by profit-motivated insurance companies in the business of dealing with claims, making profits, and avoiding payments – get an experienced advocate on your side!

Usually, the insurance adjuster will call the injured person and request a recorded statement. Never agree to a recorded statement without consulting with an attorney first. Insurance adjusters are skilled at taking recorded statements and use their questioning procedures to get statements that are not helpful to the injured person’s case. An experienced auto accident attorney is familiar with the clever antics frequently used in the insurance industry and can help you avoid making statements that will later be misinterpreted or used to your disadvantage.

Why Keep an Accident Journal

Clients should make and keep accurate records of events and transactions relevant to the case, such as time missed from work, health care appointments, medical bills, transportation bills, property damage repair bills and estimates, rental bills, photographs of the injury and property damage, restrictions on activities of work life and daily living, and pain and suffering.

In order to maximize your claim, your attorney will need to explain to the adjuster and/or jury how the accident and injuries has affected your life. You’re entitled to full and just compensation for your harms and losses, so a detailed description of the effects of the accident, together with an itemization of all costs and damages is crucial.
In cases where the injuries require a long time to recover, and/or when cases don’t settle and require litigation it may be several years in between the accident and final resolution of your claim; therefore, it’s important to document events and transactions so important details are not forgotten or overlooked with the passage of time. Also, if litigation is necessary to get full and just compensation, you can rely on your written notes to refresh your recollection if you need to answer interrogatories or testify at a deposition or at trial.

Why You Must Continue with All Medical Treatment Prescribed

It’s important that you continue with all medical treatment prescribed to assure the best recovery from your injury and to maximize the financial recovery for your harms and losses. Insurance adjusters (and juries) usually presume that injured persons who fail to continue with medical treatment or have a track record of missed or “no-show” appointments must not be truly injured, and accordingly, refuse to pay or award full compensation.

Under Florida law (the “Florida Automobile Act”), a physician must confirm that you have a “permanent injury” in order to recover financial compensation against the at-fault party. Intermittent or infrequent medical treatment tends to convince insurance adjusters and juries that the injuries must not be significant if the person fails to get care and treatment and/or fails to obtain the medical treatment prescribed.

When you see your medical care provider for examinations and treatment, be sure to tell your provider about all symptoms and complaints, and be sure your symptoms and complaints are documented in your medical record at the time of your visit. There is no good way to prove a patient’s condition on a particular day unless there is a medical record of a visit with a health care provider. Detailed notes are made and kept by medical personnel of everything important at each visit. Such evidence is essential for presentation of the case at the time of settlement or trial. We recommend keeping a journal to take with you to your appointments so you’ll be reminded to convey all pertinent information and details. Be aware that whatever you say will probably be written into the medical record; likewise, if you’re not specific and detailed about the symptoms and complaints you’re suffering, it won’t be documented in your medical record.

Your PIP insurance will cover up to $10,000.00 of medical treatment; however, it doesn’t take long before the $10,000.00 limit is exhausted, especially if you require surgery or hospitalization, and/or diagnostic testing (such as an MRI) is performed. When your PIP benefits have been exhausted, your health insurance becomes the next insurer for payment of medical expenses. Sometimes, we can work with your care providers to continue medical treatment if no health insurance is available, or if you have a high deductible you can’t afford to pay.

It’s important that your injuries have been fully treated or you have reached “maximum medical improvement” before your injury claim is settled. Once your claim has been settled you can’t go back and ask for additional compensation for undiscovered injuries or injuries that worsen after settlement.

What to Tell Your Medical Provider

When you see your medical care provider for examinations and treatment, be sure to tell your provider about all symptoms and complaints, and be sure your symptoms and complaints are documented in your medical record at the time of your visit. There is no good way to prove a patient’s condition on a particular day unless there is a medical record of a visit with a health care provider. Detailed notes are made and kept by medical personnel of everything important at each visit. Such evidence is essential for presentation of the case at the time of settlement or trial. We recommend keeping a journal to take with you to your appointments so you’ll be reminded to convey all pertinent information and details. Be aware that whatever you say will probably be written into the medical record; likewise, if you’re not specific and detailed about the symptoms and complaints you’re suffering, it won’t be documented in your medical record.

Why You Should Never Sign Anything Unless Reviewed By Your Attorney

No documents should be signed without prior review by your attorney.

Medical bills should ordinarily be paid by group health insurance, automobile or premises medical payments coverage. Most insurance policies require reimbursement (known as “right of subrogation”) from the at-fault party for payments related to medical care and treatment for injuries; however, oftentimes many group health insurance companies will initially refuse or delay payments. Because it’s important you receive all medical care and treatment necessary, your care should not be interrupted because an insurer refuses to pay while your case is pending. As experienced auto accident and injury attorneys, we’re accustomed to dealing with these issues and resolving the problem.

Clients should keep us informed of any significant change in work, treatment or activities between the accident and resolution of your case. The better we’re informed about your case, the better we’re able to represent your and protect your interests.

How Long Will Your Case Take?

Injury cases should ordinarily not be settled within the first six months after an accident. It almost always takes several months (at the least) for injuries to heal and stabilize. Before your claim is resolved and concluded, your physician needs to render a medical opinion that your prognosis is good, or that future problems can be reasonably predicted with medical certainty. A reliable and accurate medical opinion about your condition and prognosis is difficult, if not impossible, unless sufficient time has passed and a treatment course has been completed. Further, once your claim has been settled, you can’t go back later for additional compensation if your injuries turn out to be more significant than realized.

When the appropriate time for settlement occurs, we will obtain copies of your medical records and bills, and if appropriate, additional evaluations and reports, such as a functional capacity or vocational rehabilitation evaluation. We also collect wage loss verification from you and/or your employer, property damage bills, and any other documents verifying financial expenditures and losses.

What is a Settlement Demand?

Before a settlement demand is made to the insurance adjuster, we will discuss a probable jury verdict range, which is one of the factors insurance companies evaluate when calculating the maximum they’re willing to pay on your claim. A settlement demand package will be sent to the liability insurer for settlement. If and when any settlement offer is received from the insurance carrier, we will advise you whether it’s reasonable, or not, or what other options are available to you. As the client, you have the final right to approve or disapprove any settlement offer made. In the vast majority of cases, settlement negotiations usually result in an acceptable resolution of the case without having to file a lawsuit.

What If There Is A Trial?

In the event a lawsuit is required to obtain full and fair compensation for your harms and losses, we’re prepared to take on the task; however, keep in mind our goal is to maximize your compensation and net/in-pocket recovery, and within a reasonable period of time. We try to maximize your recovery by keeping your costs as low as possible and reducing the risk of an uncertain outcome with a jury trial. Once a lawsuit is filed the pre-trial litigation phase usually takes at least a year, and often longer. During this time, both sides conduct investigations and formal “discovery” with interrogatories, requests for documents, depositions, and other litigation procedures, which delays the financial compensation you deserve. Further, allowing a jury to render a verdict instead of reaching a settlement out of court can be uncertain and risky, as insurance companies continue to spread media propaganda about how “runaway juries” are supposedly “out of control” for awarding huge verdicts for small injuries, and many potential jurors assume insurance payments will cause their own premiums to rise. Additionally, litigation expenses incurred for trial, and while getting ready for trial, can add up quickly and include such things as court filing fees, service of process fees, witness subpoena fees, expert witness fees (sometimes as much as $500 per hour for doctors), special investigations, court reporter fees (usually several hundred dollars or more per deposition), and other routine expenses that can significantly reduce your net/in-pocket recovery. For these reasons, the decision to litigate should not be made lightly, or without regard to the result on the bottom line. Pursing litigation as the method for recovery is carefully considered and discussed with you.

Very few auto accident and personal injury cases (not including medical malpractice cases) which are sent to an insurance company result in trial. Trials for auto accident and injury cases are usually held only in cases with significant disputes on liability, or where the damage potential justifies the risk and cost of litigation. Our legal system is designed to resolve most cases without a trial, and mediation and/or arbitration sessions can usually facilitate settlement even after a lawsuit has been filed.

Contact Our Experienced Bradenton Car Accident Attorneys

In most cases, our experienced Bradenton car accident attorneys can help you with getting the necessary and correct medical treatment for your particular injuries, payment for medical bills, reimbursement for lost wages, repair of property damage, compensation for pain and suffering, and other related costs.  Our staff will also help you deal with your own auto insurance company in making necessary claims and completing paperwork for benefits, such as Personal Injury Protection (PIP), and Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist (UM) coverage, in addition to protecting your interests against the at-fault driver’s insurance company to maximize the compensation you deserve.

There is no charge for a consultation, and there are no costs or fees unless we win your case.  With our offices conveniently located in Bradenton and Sarasota, you owe it to yourself to call us today at (941) 210-4220 or send an email to e-service@theNurseAttorney.com.

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