At Keller, Melchiorre & Walsh, our partners have over three decades of combined legal experience. We have successfully and consistently leveraged our knowledge to secure our clients compensation for the damages they have suffered because of car accidents, effectively establishing our reputation as tough litigators.
If you’ve been injured in a Tampa car accident, odds are you may be feeling overwhelmed by damages like the medical debt you’re accumulating and the prospect of facing the insurance company can be daunting, to say the least.
The lawyers of Keller, Melchiorre & Walsh won’t let you be denied your right to a fair settlement that ignores the true extent of your damages. You can reach us any time to initiate a free, no-commitment strategy session with our team.
Scope of Damage Caused by Tampa Car Accidents
Like any growing city, Tampa experiences a number of serious car accidents each year. In 2020, over 200 people died in car crashes in Hillsborough County, whose population is centered around Tampa. Another 1,126 were hospitalized with injuries, according to the Florida Department of Health.
Car accidents are capable of derailing the financial future of a family if their breadwinner is incapacitated, or their primary mode of transportation is totaled because of another driver’s negligence. Victims should be aware that they have the right to be compensated for these costs in a car accident lawsuit.
Types of Tampa Car Accident Claims
Car accidents are classified by severity, location of the crash, who was injured, site of impact, or the cause. Regardless of the type of car accident claim, victims only have 4 years to file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court if they are alleging negligence on the part of the other driver, or another party.
- Side Collisions or T-bone Accidents
- Head-On Collisions
- Sideswipe Crashes
- Rear-End Accidents
- Single-Vehicle Crashes
- Multi-Car Pile-Ups
- Intersection Collisions
In Hillsborough County, over half of car accident fatalities in 2020 were the result of single-vehicle crashes, and about 40% occurred at an intersection. In fact, local activists have identified several intersections along W Waters Avenue as the most dangerous intersections in Tampa, supported by data from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department.
Based on the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration’s data, distracted driving and failure to yield are significant contributing factors in many Tampa car accidents.
Common Causes of Car Accidents in Tampa
Drivers occasionally misjudge the speed of an oncoming vehicle or the room they have to maneuver around another car during the course of the normal operation of their vehicle. Many car accidents are caused by an honest human error like this. However, negligent Tampa drivers who engage in harmful behaviors like driving drowsy, exceeding the legal driving limit, or disregarding the law are to blame for a majority of car accidents.
Car Accidents Caused by Drunk Driving
The CDC estimates that over a quarter of car accident fatalities involves drunk motorists each year. Our firm helps many DUI victims who have been seriously or permanently injured and lost loved ones due to the recklessness of a drunk driver. Too often, the legal ramifications for drunk drivers, like a suspended license, do not compensate the victim for the financial burdens they will continue to amass or the mental anguish of recovery.
Distracted Driving is the Top Cause of Car Accidents
Even briefly dividing your attention from the road to prevent a drink from spilling or adjusting the radio’s volume can be enough to make you miss road hazards, pedestrians, or bicyclists in your path. You may think you can handle a momentary distraction like sending a quick text as you approach a stoplight, but it’s not worth the risk of rear-ending the driver in front of you if they stop suddenly. Virginia Tech Transportation Institute reports that “in 2019, distracted driving led to 3,142 fatalities, an estimated 424,000 injuries.”
Disregarding the Rules of the Road
Most of us are guilty of occasionally breaking the speed limit, tapping the brakes at a stop sign, impatiently tailgating, or ignoring a yield sign to avoid being late or catching a changing light. Neglecting to observe Florida traffic laws and rules like speed limits, the right of way, or traffic signals may leave you unable to stop for a pedestrian crosswalk, get you t-boned by oncoming traffic, or cause a rear-end collision.
Poor Road Conditions and Inclement Weather
Most Tampa drivers are familiar with the hazards of driving in one of Florida’s torrential downpours. The roads become slick, visibility is reduced, and cars may hydroplane. Add in an out-of-commission stoplight or massive pothole, and the situation can spiral into a fatal car accident.
Common Injuries Sustained in a Car Accident
After a car accident, you may initially overlook minor injuries or assume they will resolve on their own. However, failing to seek treatment may impact your personal injury claim by providing insurance companies with the opportunity to reduce the value of your damages.
Insurance companies will look for reasons to avoid paying you the value of your settlement by asserting that failure to seek treatment means the injury couldn’t have been as severe as you claim. They may also suggest you purposefully exacerbated the initial injury and aren’t eligible to recover the subsequent medical expenses.
Internal injuries, like soft tissue damage and traumatic brain injuries, may be missed at the scene of the crash, requiring a medical diagnosis and follow-up care.
Examples of common car accident injuries:
- Traumatic Brain Injury
- Back and Neck Injuries
- Spinal Cord Injuries
- Broken Bones
- Severe Burns
- Crush Injuries
- Internal Injuries
- Disfigurement and Paralysis
Injuries may improve after months of physical therapy or surgery, but some have permanent consequences. For example, after a spinal cord injury, you may require a wheelchair or walker to get around your own home. In severe cases, you or a loved one may need around-the-clock home healthcare to help feed, dress, and bathe yourself.
Smaller injuries can also have devastating ramifications. You may have lost the ability to provide for your family as a musician or a construction worker because a crush injury irreparably damaged your hand. Now you’re faced with retraining for a new career and searching for a job while medical debt collectors demand payment.
What Types of Damages Can I Be Compensated For?
In a personal injury case, damages come in three forms. Special damages are those that have a set economic value, like a bill from your mechanic for replacing your fender, or a medical bill detailing the cost of your medication.
General damages are typically indirect costs that are associated with your physical injuries or property damage. If you choose to sue someone for negligence in a car accident, you may claim the wages you lost so you could make physical therapy appointments.
- Medical bills
- Lab Tests
- Ambulance Rides
- Hospital Stays
- Home Healthcare Services
- Physical or Occupational Therapy
- Lost Wages
- Lost Earning Potential
- Costs of Job Retraining
- Missed Promotions
- Inability to Continue Careers
- Pain and Suffering
- Wrongful Death
- Funeral Costs
- Loss of Consortium
- Property Damage
- Car Repairs
- Replacing Damaged Fences or House Siding
Both special damages and general damages are considered compensatory because they reimburse the victim for the costs they have and will continue to be charged, financially or emotionally. The third type, known as punitive damages, is intended to rebuke or deter a certain behavior such as drunk driving, and they are very rarely awarded.
Understanding Negligence in a Tampa Car Accident Claim
Cornell Law defines negligence as “failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances.” But when are you obligated to demonstrate this “level of “care”?
When using public and private roads, a driver must obey traffic laws and do everything within reason to reduce the risk of a car accident, and if you don’t, it’s considered negligent even if it’s not illegal. When it comes to negligence, it’s key to understand that you don’t have to intend to hurt someone or damage their property to be held accountable for the outcome.
In a personal injury lawsuit, the plaintiff’s lawyer will attempt to show that because another driver failed to operate their vehicle safely, the plaintiff has sustained an injury to their person or property that resulted in damages deserving of compensation.
The Role of Personal Injury Protection Insurance
In Florida, drivers must have Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage, which provides $10,000 for the cost of injuries and another $10,000 for property damage. PIP negates out-of-pocket costs and replaces up to 60% of your wages if you are unable to work, regardless of whether you caused the accident. It can also be applied to members of your household.
Drivers risk forfeiting their PIP benefits if they don’t seek out a healthcare provider within 14 days of their accident. In addition to protecting your health and PIP coverage, promptly getting evaluated by a medical professional protects you from insurance companies looking to exploit your failure to seek care to reduce the damages they have to pay.
Florida is a No-Fault State
While it is beneficial for uncomplicated and minor crashes, PIP coverage doesn’t begin to cover the true costs of severe and permanent injuries like losing a limb or damage to the brain. If you want to recover damages from the negligent party to offset the difference, you will need to prove the other party’s negligence in a court of law.
Determining fault in a car accident isn’t always straightforward, which is why Florida has a comparative fault policy. Drivers who were partially responsible can still receive compensation for their damages. However, the percent of the negligence you contributed is deducted from your settlement.
What Should I Do After a Tampa Car Accident?
After getting yourself and your passengers to safety, call 911. If police come to the scene, ensure that all injuries, property damage, and witnesses are documented, and take your own photos of the scene.
Collect insurance and driver’s license information from the other driver, and seek medical care when you’re able to leave the scene. When you contact your insurance provider, only give them the facts; never admit fault or speculate about the causes.
Remember, the sooner you hire a car accident lawyer, the sooner they can field questions from the other driver’s insurance company, as well as your own. You should never offer a statement or accept a settlement prior to speaking with a qualified personal injury attorney.
Why Do I Need a Car Accident Lawyer?
A car accident lawsuit rests on proving negligence. While you may be inclined to trust the insurance company’s interpretation of the facts or believe you know why the crash happened, car accident injury attorneys are the ones who are qualified to determine liability.
Remember, it’s always in the insurance company’s best interest to convince you that you were partially or totally at fault, because then they can dodge responsibility for paying out damages.
You should seek out a car accident attorney if:
- Insurance won’t cover your claim or wants to reduce its value
- The cost of your medical bills, lost wages, and car repairs exceed PIP coverage
- You were in a multi-vehicle crash
- You want to pursue non-economic damages, such as loss of quality of life
Insurance companies are banking on you not knowing your rights. Their agents are not on your side. An experienced car accident lawyer can help you prepare your statement to avoid unintentionally giving them a reason to falsely reduce or reject your claim.
Car Accident Lawyer Services For Injured Car Crash Victims
A car accident lawyer’s role is to be the voice of experience and champion your needs. Most of the time, car accident victims will be going up against an insurance company with more resources and claims knowledge, putting the victim at a major disadvantage.
They may try to confuse you with highly technical legal jargon and bury you in paperwork, all while you’re trying to heal. At Keller, Melchiorre & Walsh we’ll use our expertise to your benefit, keeping in close communication with you while we fight for your damages.
- Negotiating a fair settlement
- Representing you in mediation or arbitration
- Point of contact for bill collectors
- Protecting your rights at trial
- Review insurance policies
- Draft statements about the crash
Like most personal injury lawyers, Keller, Melchiorre & Walsh operate using a contingency arrangement. Simply put, we don’t get paid until after we successfully negotiate your settlement. Our fees come out of the final damages you are awarded, so we are motivated to help you maximize your claim in a timely manner.
KMW is Proud to Represent Injured Car Accident Victims in Tampa, Florida
Tampa is the largest city in Hillsborough County and is home to a population of 387,916 people. Our work in the Tampa area for the past decade has given us the opportunity to protect clients from insurance companies that may inadequately compensate them for car accident injuries.
Tampa saw 28,021 motor vehicle accidents in 2021 with 18,700 injuries occurring as a direct result. Tampa is growing and KMW Law is ready to assist you with seeking compensation for motor vehicle accident injuries by filing a car accident claim or lawsuit.
Contact a Reputable Tampa Car Accident Attorney
The founders of Keller, Melchiorre & Walsh all have backgrounds in trial experience, giving us a unique advantage in the courtroom that allows us to prevent big corporations and insurance companies from taking advantage of our clients.
We have a verified track record built on consistent success, not just a few big cases or an ostentatious advertisement campaign. Our legal prowess has been recognized by our fellow lawyers and clients alike.
If you read our client testimonials, you’ll not only see positive words about our success in getting clients compensation after a car accident, but you’ll also notice that many of our clients were recommended to us by a friend. We take great pride in this fact, and constantly strive to provide legal representation worthy of spreading via word of mouth. We do so by working closely with our clients and putting their best interests first.