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Injured in an Auto Accident in Fort Walton Beach? Contact Us to Learn Your Legal Options

When you get injured in an auto accident, you may not assumes you need a Fort Walton Beach auto accident attorney. You are supposed to report the accident to your insurance company as a first step. Your insurance company is supposed to investigate the cause of the accident, and it is supposed to work with the other driver’s insurance company if it appears that he or she was at fault in the crash. Once this process is complete, you are supposed to receive just compensation for your injury-related losses, and you are supposed to be able to get back to your normal life.

If only it were really this easy. Unfortunately, the insurance companies make the process of recovering just compensation after a collision much more difficult than it should be. If you try to deal with the insurance companies on your own, you are almost certainly going to receive less than what you are rightfully owed. In order to protect your rights and ensure that you receive the full amount to which you are legally entitled under Florida law, it is essential that you have an experienced Fort Walton Beach accident lawyer fighting for you.

A Fort Walton Beach Auto Accident Attorney from Our Firm Can Recover Maximum Compensation for Our Clients' Losses

At Searcy Denney, our attorneys bring decades of experience to helping auto accident victims in Fort Walton Beach recover maximum compensation for their losses. Our firm has been serving local residents and visitors for over 40 years, and our attorneys have had substantial success winning compensation for our clients from the insurance companies. Overcoming the insurance companies’ tactics is difficult, but it can be done, and our attorneys have the skill, knowledge and resolve required to ensure that our clients receive the full financial compensation they deserve.

Importantly, while most vehicle collisions cases involve auto insurance claims, many cases involve claims against vehicle manufacturers, construction contractors and other companies for road and vehicle defects. Our firm has a national reputation for securing favorable results in product defect cases, and in every case we explore all possible sources of financial compensation for our clients.

Punitive Damages in Florida

Like many other states, Florida limits the amount of punitive damages that may be awarded in a car accident case. Punitive damages are capped at three times the amount of compensatory damages or $500,000, whichever is greater. For example, if you were awarded $300,000 in compensatory damages for medical expenses and lost wages, you could be entitled to as much as $900,000 in punitive damages. On the other hand, you would be limited to $500,000 in punitive damages if you were awarded only $100,000 in compensatory damages. 

In cases where the other driver was motivated by financial gain (such as in trucking accidents or other common carrier cases), the cap is higher -- you can seek up to four times the amount of your compensatory or $2 million, whichever is greater. A Fort Walton Beach car accident lawyer can review your case and determine whether you have a claim for punitive damages. 

Decades of Experience Handling All Types of Auto Accident Claims

In our firm’s 40-year history, we have recovered millions of dollars in compensation for clients who have been injured and lost loved ones due to:

  • Drowsy, drunk and distracted driving
  • Speeding, running red lights and stop signs, and forms other aggressive driving
  • Merging without looking, failing to yield, turning without the right of way, and other common driving mistakes
  • Brake, tire, engine, transmission, drivetrain and other vehicle defects
  • Defective road design and construction, and inadequate road maintenance

Fort Walton Beach Auto Accident Statistics

As a popular destination for both locals and out-of-state vacationers, Fort Walton Beach sees more than its fair share of car accidents. This is also true for the surrounding areas of Okaloosa County. As Fort Walton Beach car accident lawyers, we are well aware of the local statistics, and we know that the vast majority of accidents could be avoided if drivers paid attention and followed the rules of the road. Here are some notable statistics from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV):

  • Each year, there are more than 3,500 auto accidents in Fort Walton Beach and the surrounding areas of Okaloosa County. This includes accidents involving cars, trucks, SUVs, vans, motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians.
  • Approximately two thirds of all auto accidents in Okaloosa County result in injury or death. The vast majority of these accidents involve non-fatal injuries, while just over one percent of all accidents in Okaloosa County are fatal.
  • Alcohol and drug-involved accidents are relatively uncommon in Fort Walton Beach and the surrounding areas. In 2019, for example, there were just 55 alcohol-involved accidents and two drunk-driving-related fatalities.
  • There are around 150 auto accidents involving bicycles and pedestrians in Fort Walton Beach and the surrounding areas each year. As you might expect, the vast majority of these accidents result in injuries for the cyclist or pedestrian.
  • About six percent of all auto accidents in Okaloosa County involve commercial vehicles. Around a third of these accidents result in injuries or death.
  • Teen drivers account for a little less than 20 percent of all auto accidents in Fort Walton Beach and the surrounding areas of Okaloosa County. Drivers between the ages of 20 and 24 account for just under 20 percent as well.
  • Distracted driving is a major issue in Fort Walton Beach just as it is in other cities throughout Florida. The Okaloosa Sheriff’s Office conducts a number of programs designed to teach the risks of distracted driving and discourage both teens and adults from using their phones behind the wheel.

Dangerous Roads and Intersections in Fort Walton Beach

While auto accidents can happen anytime and anywhere, some roads and intersections are more dangerous than others. Fort Walton Beach has a number of dangerous roads and intersections in and around the downtown area. Some of the roads and intersections in Fort Walton Beach that see particularly high numbers of accidents include:

  • Beal Parkway (Route 189)
  • Commanche Street and MLK Jr. Boulevard
  • State Road 98 (SR 98)
  • Hill Avenue NW
  • Hollywood Boulevard and Memorial Parkway
  • Hollywood Boulevard and Wright Parkway
  • Mary Esther Boulevard and the Mary Esther Cut Off
  • Route 85

What You Need to Know About Hiring a Fort Walton Beach Accident Attorney

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, finding the right Fort Walton Beach auto accident attorney to handle your case can seem overwhelming. This is an important step in your case, so it’s important to understand how to move through the process. 

Auto accident cases are pretty common, but that doesn’t mean that any attorney can handle your case. You need a lawyer specializing in auto accident cases and has experience handling cases similar to yours. When choosing an accident lawyer, consider how many cases they’ve handled and how long they have been in practice. 

Don’t Wait to Meet with an Accident Attorney

Many people aren’t sure if they should pursue a claim and so they decide to wait. While this is understandable, the problem is that the days following your accident can be critical to your success if you need to pursue a claim. Your attorney can help you navigate the process to ensure that you get the treatment you need and have the necessary evidence if you need compensation. 

Come to Your Consultation Prepared

The initial consultation serves two purposes: 

  1. To determine whether the attorney is a good fit for you; and
  2. To allow the attorney to assess your case and determine whether you have a claim. 

Many people focus on the first purpose and neglect the second. You want to bring any evidence and documents you may have to the initial consultation so that your attorney can make the best possible assessment of your case. They can then provide you with a solid strategy for moving forward, predict the potential outcome of your case, and provide a firm estimate of what your claim may be worth. 

Be Honest

Fortunately, most people do not intentionally lie to their attorneys. However, to provide accurate legal advice and get you the compensation you deserve, you need to be completely forthright about any circumstance surrounding your accident. Even if you contributed to the accident in some way, you might still be entitled to compensation. However, if you withhold information from your lawyer, it could do irreparable damage to your case and jeopardize your claim. 

Understand Your Options

Don’t assume that the only option is to file a lawsuit or simply accept your insurance company’s compensation offer. An experienced Fort Walton auto accident attorney should explain all of the options applicable to your case. If you aren’t clear about how those options apply to your case, ask questions so that you can make an informed decision. 

Follow Your Fort Walton Beach Auto Accident Lawyer’s Advice

This may seem obvious, but many people don’t realize that they have an important role in their own cases. Your lawyer’s advice is intended to help you build the strongest claim possible. If you’re not sure what to do or are simply overwhelmed, let them know - an experienced Fort Walton Beach auto accident attorney will likely be able to let you in whatever way you need. 

Some Notes About Whiplash Claims, A Common Car Accident Injury 

Closely related to concussions or other mild traumatic brain injuries, whiplash is a common neck injury after a car crash; often caused by rear-end car accidents. That said, whiplash can be caused in a wide variety of accidents, including sports injuries and falls. The injury’s name comes from the head’s whip-like motion that occurs when the victim is struck from behind, resulting in strained muscles and ligaments in the neck. While whiplash is not typically a life-threatening injury, it can cause considerable pain and discomfort. If left untreated, it could result in a permanent injury or chronic pain. 

It may not be immediately apparent that you have suffered whiplash. However, you should seek medical attention if you begin to experience any of the following symptoms: 

  • Neck pain and stiffness
  • Persistent headaches, especially those that originate at the base of the skull
  • Tingling and numbness in the arms and hands
  • Loss of range of motion in the neck
  • Pain and/or stiffness in the shoulders and upper back
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Ringing in the ears

Your doctor can diagnose whether you have suffered whiplash and prescribe the appropriate treatment to help you recover. Cases can range from mild to severe - some injuries can heal in a couple of weeks with medication and exercise, while others may result in chronic pain that requires extensive treatment and physical therapy. If you’re suffering from whiplash, you may be entitled to compensation, and a Fort Walton Beach car accident law firm can help. 

Must Know Information Regarding Your Motor Vehicle Accident Claim 

Fact #1: If the Other Driver was at Fault, You are Entitled to Financial Compensation. 

No matter what the insurance companies tell you, if the other driver was at fault in the accident, you are entitled to financial compensation. Do not let them convince you otherwise, and do not let them talk you out of fully pursuing your claim. 

Fact #2: You May Have Other Grounds to Seek Financial Compensation as Well. 

While most car accident cases involve auto insurance claims, many accident victims will have other claims as well. Was there an issue with the road? Was your (or the other driver’s) car defective? If so, you may have what is known as a “third-party” claim for liability. 

Fact #3: The Insurance Companies May Try to Blame You for Causing the Auto Accident. 

Auto insurance companies routinely blame accident victims for causing their own injuries. Once again, you must not fall for their tactics. Unless your Macon car accident lawyer tells you otherwise, you should proceed as though you are entitled to a full financial recovery. 

Fact #4: The Insurance Companies Will Also Use Other Tactics to Try to Deny Your Car Accident Claim. 

The insurance companies may use other tactics to try to deny your claim as well – and these tactics may or may not be legal under Florida’s bad-faith insurance laws. From ignoring key evidence to making unreasonably low settlement offers, you must be prepared to deal with a variety of issues.  

Fact #5: Your Fort Walton Beach Auto Accident Attorney Can Pursue Financial and Non-Financial Losses. 

Under Florida law, car accident victims can recover financial compensation for the financial and non-financial effects of their injuries. Before you settle, you must be certain that the settlement offer reflects full and fair compensation for all of your accident-related losses. 

Fact #6: You are NOT alone.

Each year, well over 100,000 Florida residents are injured in car accidents, and more than 1,000 die from their injuries. Our personal injury attorneys have decades of experience helping accident victims recover; and, if you have been seriously injured, we can help you win just compensation. 

The Role of Your Fort Walton Beach Auto Accident Attorney

1. Investigation and Claim Assessment

In order to determine whether you have a claim worth pursuing, your attorney will need to conduct a thorough investigation. The nature of your accident (i.e. whether you were hit by another driver or injured by a defective product) will determine what investigative steps are necessary. Your Fort Walton Beach accident attorney will also need to gain a comprehensive understanding of the extent and long-term effects of your injuries in order to assess how much you may be entitled to recover.

2. Dealing with the Auto Insurance Companies

Next, your attorney will initiate a claim with the appropriate insurance company (or companies). Your attorney will deal directly with the claims adjusters on your behalf, and he or she will present evidence, dispute the adjusters’ allegations, and take the other steps necessary to prove your claim.

3. Negotiating a Settlement 

Most accident claims are resolved through insurance settlements. Once all of the facts are on the table, your attorney will negotiate for a settlement that provides full compensation for your injury-related losses. This includes not only financial losses such as medical expenses and lost wages, but also pain, suffering, emotional trauma and other forms of non-financial harm.

4. Evaluating Settlement Offers

When your Tallahassee accident lawyer receives a settlement offer, he or she will arrange to meet with you to go over the details. Your Tallahassee accident lawyer will explain exactly how much you will take home if you accept, and you will decide whether to accept or keep fighting for more.

5. Taking Your Claim to Trial 

If you do not receive a satisfactory settlement offer, then your personal injury attorney will take your case to trial. Accident claims can still settle at this stage, and many of them do. However, if it is necessary to take your case to verdict, your attorney will present the evidence in court and fight for the compensation you deserve.

FAQs: Recovering Your Losses After an Car Accident in Fort Walton Beach

What Should I Do After an Auto Accident in Fort Walton Beach?

After an auto accident in Fort Walton Beach, the first thing you should do is call 911 from the scene of the accident. You should wait until the police arrive, investigate the accident and tell you that it is okay to leave. If you need emergency medical treatment, you should go directly from the accident scene to the hospital.

If you don’t need emergency medical treatment, you should still see a doctor as soon as possible. You should explain that you were involved in an auto accident and describe your symptoms in detail. Finally, once you take care of your medical needs, you should schedule an appointment to speak with a Fort Walton Beach auto accident attorney.

Do I Need to Report an Auto Accident in Fort Walton Beach?

Under Florida law, you are required to report an auto accident in Fort Walton Beach if the accident results in injuries or property damage in excess of $500.

Do I Need a Fort Walton Beach Auto Accident Attorney to File for PIP?

While you can file your personal injury protection (PIP) claim on your own, it is in your best interest to hire a Fort Walton auto accident attorney to help you. Not only can your attorney deal with your insurance company on your behalf, but your attorney can also determine if you have a claim outside of PIP. If you do, filing a claim outside of PIP could be extremely important, as most PIP policies only provide $10,000 in coverage—and they do not provide compensation for pain and suffering, emotional trauma and other non-financial losses.

How Do I File a Claim Outside of PIP if the Other Driver was At Fault?

Filing a claim outside of PIP involves contacting the other driver’s insurance company (or contacting your own insurance company if you need to file for uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage). You must be able to prove that the other driver was at fault. This means that you need evidence from the scene of the accident, and potentially from other sources as well. You also need to prove how much you are entitled to recover. These are all steps that require in-depth knowledge of Florida law; and, as a result, you will want experienced Fort Walton car accident lawyers on your side.

How Much Do Fort Walton Beach Car Accident Lawyers Charge?

We do not charge any up-front or out-of-pocket costs for handling car accidents in Fort Walton Beach. Our lawyers provide representation on a contingency-fee basis, which means that we only charge fees if we help you recover just compensation.

Are You Entitled to Financial Compensation for Your Accident? Contact a Fort Walton Beach Auto Accident Attorney to Find Out

If you have been injured or lost a close family member in an auto accident in the Fort Walton Area, we invite you to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our highly-experienced attorneys. To schedule an appointment at your convenience, call a Fort Walton Beach auto accident attorney at 800-780-8607 or tell us how to reach you online today.

Additional Resources

Dealing with the aftermath of an auto accident in Fort Walton Beach can be incredibly challenging. There is a lot you need to do, and there are also many mistakes you need to avoid. While we encourage you to contact us so that our attorneys and staff can assist you, you can use the following resources if you want to try to handle some aspects of the process on your own:


Tallahassee

Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley, PA Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley Logo The Towle House, 517 N. Calhoun St.
Tallahassee, FL 32301-1231
Toll-free: (888) 549-7011
Phone: (850) 224-7600
En Espanol: (800) 220-7006


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