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How to File a Car Accident Claim in Fort Walton Beach

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Our Fort Walton Beach Car Accident Lawyers Explain What to Expect During Your Claim

For many individuals who are seriously injured in car accidents, filing a legal claim is essential to moving on. Their financial losses are substantial, they are suffering from post-traumatic stress, and they may find they are facing the prospect of living with chronic pain and physical limitations for the rest of their lives. If you find yourself in this situation, it is important that you speak with one of our Fort Walton Beach car accident lawyers about your legal rights.

In Florida, auto accident victims who suffer severe and permanent injuries can recover just compensation for all of their accident-related losses. Here is what you can expect when you hire our lawyers to seek just compensation on your behalf:

5 Steps in the Legal Claim Process After a Car Accident in Florida

1. Filing an Insurance Claim

If you were seriously injured in an accident, and the evidence points to the other driver being at fault, your case will usually begin with filing a claim against the other driver’s auto insurance company. We emphasize “usually,” because there are some exceptions—for example, if you were injured in a hit-and-run, then you may need to file a claim under your own uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) policy.

2. Developing Your Case

Once we file your claim, we will focus our efforts on developing your case. This involves collecting all of the available evidence to prove liability (i.e. to prove that the other driver was negligent, distracted or intoxicated), and it involves proving the nature and extent of your financial and non-financial losses. In order to make an informed decision about if and when to settle your case, you need to know the full extent of your damages and the full amount you are legally entitled to recover.

3. Negotiating for an Insurance Settlement

After gathering the evidence we need to prove your claim, our lawyers can then turn to negotiating a fair settlement. With decades of experience negotiating car accident insurance settlements, we are often successful in securing just compensation for our clients at this stage.  

4. Preparing Your Case for Trial

If the insurance company won’t settle for a fair amount, we will prepare your case for trial. This is a complex and lengthy process on its own, and it is possible that your claim will still settle at this stage as well.

5. Our Fort Walton Beach Car Accident Lawyers are Prepared to Go to Trial to Win Just Compensation

Finally, if necessary, we will take your case to trial. At trial, our lawyers will argue for just compensation on your behalf, and the insurance company’s defense lawyers will try to convince the judge or jury that you are legally responsible for your own injuries. At the end of the court proceedings, the judge or jury will make a decision as to whether or not you are entitled to just compensation.

Circumstance Your Fort Walton Beach Car Accident Lawyers Will Examine to Show the Other Driver Was At Fault

Whether you have the other driver’s insurance information or you need to file a claim under your UIM policy, to recover just compensation, you will need to be able to prove that the other driver was at fault in your accident. Many types of driving mistakes can lead to collisions. When you have an insurance claim, it is up to you to prove the specific mistake that led to your vehicle damage, physical injuries and emotional trauma.

However, this is not something that you have to do on your own. You can hire a lawyer to help you, and our Fort Walton Beach car accident lawyers have extensive experience proving fault and establishing liability for car accidents. In our experience, some of the most common types of driver mistakes that lead to serious car accidents include:

  • Driving Under the Influence – This includes driving under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, prescription medications and other controlled substances.
  • Driving While Distracted – Along with drunk and drugged driving, driving while distracted is among the leading causes of serious and fatal car accidents in Florida.
  • Driving the Wrong Way – Wrong-way accidents can be extremely dangerous and can result from factors ranging from in-car distractions to unfamiliarity with the local roads.
  • Driving While Fatigued – Studies have shown that driving while tired can be as dangerous as driving with low-level alcohol intoxication.
  • Driving Without Glasses or Contacts – If a driver is required to wear glasses or contacts while driving, failing to do so is a mistake that can support a claim for just compensation.
  • Exceeding the Driver’s Capabilities – If a driver lacks sufficient training and experience to operate his or her vehicle safely on Fort Walton Beach’s public roads, then he or she should not be driving in public.
  • Entering an Intersection or Merging Without the Right of Way – While Florida’s right-of-way rules are clear, many drivers are unaware of when they are required to yield to other motorists. Intentionally and inadvertently running red lights and stop signs are common causes of car accidents as well.
  • Failing to Check Blind Spots – Before merging or changing lanes, drivers must check their blind spots to ensure that it is safe to do so.
  • Making Sudden Stops or Turns – Sudden and unexpected maneuvers can place other drivers in situations in which they are helpless to avoid a collision.
  • Following Too Closely or Waiting Too Long to Brake – Tailgating and waiting too long to brake are both common driving mistakes for which our Fort Walton Beach car accident lawyers routinely help accident victims seek just compensation.
  • Speeding, Racing, and Other Dangerous Driving Behaviors – Speeding, street racing, crossing double-yellow lines, and other dangerous driving behaviors are all mistakes that can (and often do) leave innocent victims suffering from life-altering injuries.
  • Road Rage – While we all get frustrated behind the wheel from time to time, there is no excuse for road rage, and enraged drivers who make bad decisions can and should be held legally accountable.

What Car Insurance Companies Don’t Want You to Know

Despite their marketing to the contrary, insurance companies are not on your side. As any business, insurance companies are for-profit corporations that are incentivized to pay as little as possible on your claim. They may be very responsive and have impeccable customer service, but ultimately, they seek their own advantage. Our Fort Walton Beach car accident lawyers share some important information the insurance company doesn’t want you to know.

  • Any settlement is final. You might be surprised by how quickly the insurance company wants to settle your claim. If you accept their settlement, they will require you to sign paperwork that releases them of any future liability or any further claims related to your accident. This means that you cannot seek further compensation if you later discover that you need other treatments or cannot return to work. 
  • You are entitled to compensation beyond your medical bills. Under the law, you are entitled to be made whole. This means that you may be entitled to compensation for your lost income and your pain and suffering in addition to your medical expenses. Insurance companies are particularly reluctant to compensate you for your pain and suffering because the figure is somewhat subjective. 
  • Non-lawyers settle their claims for far less than they are worth. Due to their inexperience, non-lawyers don’t realize that they may be entitled to more than just their medical expenses. Also, they settle their claim too early, before all of their losses are fully known. Lastly, they may choose to settle when the insurance company claims that you cannot prove liability or some other element of your claim. 

Insurance companies also don’t want you to know that our Fort Walton Beach car accident lawyers typically work on a contingency fee basis, which means you don’t have to go out of pocket to hire a lawyer. An experienced attorney can help you settle your claim for fair compensation even if you never file a lawsuit. 

Our Fort Walton Beach Car Accident Lawyers Explain Bad Faith by the Insurance Company 

The practices discussed above are, unfortunately, routine for many insurance companies. However, there are also scenarios where insurance companies unreasonably deny or delay handling claims. When the insurance company acts in bad faith, you may have a claim against the insurance company in addition to your injury claim. Here are some examples of when an insurance company acts in bad faith: 

  • The insurance company takes an unreasonable amount of time to send an adjuster or otherwise investigate your claim and then states that they couldn’t find necessary evidence related to your claim. 
  • The insurance company takes an unreasonably long time to process your claim, resulting in additional financial hardship. 
  • The insurance company refuses to pay anything on your claim or will only make a lowball settlement offer, despite having submitted sufficient proof of your injury. 
  • The insurance company refuses or unreasonably delays paying a judgment or settlement agreement. 

If you suspect that the insurance company is acting in bad faith in handling your claim, you should speak with our Fort Walton Beach car accident lawyers as soon as possible. They will know how to get you the compensation you need to put your life back together.

Get Started with a Free Consultation with Our Fort Walton Beach Car Accident Lawyers

If you have been injured in a car accident in Fort Walton Beach, our lawyers can help you protect your legal rights. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation as soon as possible, call 888-829-3357 or tell us how you’d like to be contacted online now. 

 


Tallahassee

Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley, PA Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley Logo The Towle House, 517 N. Calhoun St.
Tallahassee, FL 32301-1231
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Phone: (850) 224-7600
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