Category Archives:General Questions

What to Do After a Multi-Car Wreck or Multiple Car Accident?

What to Do After a Multi-Car Wreck or Multiple Car Accident?

So 3 more cars were involved in an accident.  What you do soon after a multiple car accident will determine how successful you will be in your outcome. Determining liability can be difficult enough when there are two cars involved; however, when multiple vehicles are involved the situation can become even more complex. A vehicle may only hit another vehicle because they themselves were impacted from behind, which commonly occurs in multi-car pile-ups.

What to do in a multiple car accident. Photo of a car accidentUltimately, who is liable for a crash will be determined on a case-by-case basis, either by the insurance companies or by a court. However, there are some general principles that can help you determine your legal rights in multiple vehicle accident situations. To determine fault, the accident investigator will review the police report and take with the police office that investigated the accident.

The driver of the car that rear-ends a leading vehicle will almost always be considered at least partially negligent. Every driver has a duty to follow other vehicles at a safe distance. The reason for this is because car drivers sometimes suddenly, and unexpectedly, slow down or come to a stop — to avoid a hazard in the road, for example, or simply because of traffic congestion. You are expected to have enough distance between you and the car in front of you to prevent a collision if such an unanticipated stop becomes necessary

Common Causes of Multi-Car Accidents

Driver error is almost always at play in car accidents, but these contributing factors are especially common in multi-vehicle crashes:

Weather: Bad weather conditions often result in low visibility and slippery roads. Snow, ice, rain, and fog are just some of the conditions that can quickly turn an otherwise safe road into a hazardous one.

Speeding: Driving fast is the leading cause of motor vehicle accidents in the United States. At high speed, one wrong turn of the wheel can set off a chain reaction of bent steel, broken glass, and serious injuries.

Falling Asleep: When a driver falls asleep, even for a split second, there’s no one driving the car. It only takes a second for a driverless car to drift into another lane, careen off the road, or plow into the car in front.

Intoxication: Drivers under the influence aren’t just the stereotypical drunk driver. DUI can include the use of prescription medications and illicit drugs, as well as alcohol.

Cell Phones: No list of causes for multi-vehicle accidents is complete without including cell phones. Talking, texting, taking photos, and checking email are some of the leading causes of collisions. Distracted drivers are dangerous drivers.

Police Chases: High-speed police chases often cause collisions. Although many cities now restrict police chases to crimes involving serious felonies, there are still instances of officers or suspects losing control of their vehicles during a chase.

Other Distractions: Loud music, conversations with passengers, reading maps, eating, putting on makeup, and general boredom or inattention can also lead to accidents.

What to do if you are in a Multi-Vehicle Car Wreck

Anytime you are in a multi-vehicle car wreck, you should:

  • Assess injuries and call an ambulance if needed,
  • Call the police and request the come make a police report,
  • Take a PICTURE! Photograph the vehicles and scene so that the order or impacts may be determined later by an accident, expert if necessary,
  • Move to a safe area if possible so you do not get hit again,
  • Do not give any recorded statements to adjusters,
  • Call your own insurance and report the collision,
  • Call a car accident lawyer for advice.

The best thing you can do to protect yourself is to purchase coverage to protect you and the people in your vehicle.  As previously stated, obtaining Underinsured Motorist coverage may be your only saving grace is multiple parties are fighting for the small pot of money.  Your own passenger can sue you for damages if you cause the collision in addition to other drivers. So, you need higher liability insurance limits to protect you from this. Second, raising your PIP and underinsured motorist coverage limits can afford you more protection for when someone else causes a multi-car accident and does not carry enough coverage.  Talk to your insurance agent before you get in a wreck to get these protections. Afterwards is too late.

Attorney Martin J. Hernandez of Fernandez & Hernandez, LLC in Tampa provides legal representation for families in auto accident injury and wrongful death cases. Our Tampa personal injury attorneys welcome the opportunity to interview with you and your loved ones. We invite you to review our recent results from settlements to trial verdicts. Our qualifications and background are available to you as well. Our Tampa Attorneys Martin Hernandez and Daniel Fernandez are bilingual as well.  Just call us at 813-229-5353 for your free consultation.

The Tampa personal injury lawyers of Fernandez & Hernandez, serve Florida communities including Tampa, Brandon, Carrollwood, Westchase, Riverview, Temple Terrace, Pasco, Pinellas, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Lakeland, Plant City, Ruskin, Apollo Beach, Dover, Valrico, Lutz, Lakeland and many other neighborhoods in Tampa Bay area. Contact an Experienced Tampa Auto Accident Attorney from Fernandez & Hernandez Law.

If you have been involved in an Auto Accident in the Tampa Bay area, call Tampa personal injury lawyer Martin J. Hernandez of Fernandez & Hernandez for a free consultation now.  We recommend also reading his reviews on Google Reviews, Avvo and Yelp.

Call Tampa Personal Injury Attorney, Martin J. Hernandez of Fernandez & Hernandez at 813-229-5353 or read more at: www.InjuryLawyersOfTampa.com

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What to Do After a Vehicle Accident

What to Do After a Vehicle Accident

– by Tampa Personal Injury Attorney, Martin J. Hernandez

Tampa Bay Area Auto Accident Injury Lawyer

The Personal Injury and wrongful death attorneys at the Fernandez & Hernandez know what to do to help you and your family following any kind of accident.

What to Do After a Car AccidentAfter an accident, it is important to determine whether anyone witnessed the accident. In some accident situations it can take a while for police to arrive. During that time, a valuable eyewitness may leave the scene. Insurance companies often delay or otherwise deny valid claims by arguing that there is fault on the innocent, injured driver’s part. This is why the driver should try to obtain witness information.

A driver must stop the vehicle immediately after an accident and should position the vehicle in a manner that will not obstruct other motorists. It is not unusual for another vehicle to come crashing into the scene of a car accident. Many accidents are made worse when another driver slows to look at an accident and an inattentive driver crashes into them, sending both cars into the first accident scene. You can minimize the risk of harm to yourself and others by making sure neither you nor the other parties are exposed to the danger of a second accident. If the accident is minor and nobody was injured, move the vehicles off the road is possible to avoid obstructing traffic.  However, if the accident led to injury, death or major property damage, the cars should remain in place until law enforcement arrives. Turn on the car’s hazard lights or place warning triangles on the road. Irrespective of whether the cars remain on the road or are moved, all persons should move out of the road.

If someone has been hurt, a driver should attempt to secure medical help right away, and a driver should remain at the scene until help arrives. Leaving the scene of a car accident prematurely is referred to as a hit-and-run and is a serious offense especially if injury or death occurred. Even when the car accident does not seem serious and there are no obvious injuries, it is best to play it safe by staying to make an accurate assessment of the damage. Make sure everyone else is alright and provide first aid where required and do not move seriously injured individuals.

Accidents involving an injury or death, a hit-and-run or intoxicated driver, or property damage that appears to be over $500, should be reported to law enforcement immediately. The investigating officer will make a written report on all accidents involving a death or injury.

If an officer completes a crash report you will not need to personally file a crash report. However, if a crash report has not been filed by law enforcement, you will need to do so within 10 days of the accident.

If you are in an accident involving an unoccupied vehicle or property other than a vehicle, you are required to notify the owner. If you cannot find the owner, then attach a note to the damaged vehicle or property which contains your name, address, and license plate number. Also, report the accident to law enforcement right away.

Take pictures of the accident scene. It can be very helpful to take a few photos of the accident scene and how the cars were positioned. Insurance companies will use any excuse to deny paying a claim. Having a picture of the cars showing how they were positioned immediately after the accident is often helpful in explaining how the accident occurred and who was at fault.

Get medical attention. In many cases, the injured individual does not realize they are hurt until hours or days later. Some people do not seek medical attention hoping their symptoms get better. Serious neck and back injuries can result, even from low impact car accidents, such as rear end car accidents. Getting prompt medical attention is important to document the injuries and establish that they were in fact, caused by the car accident.

Call 911 and the Police. The 911 call is an official notification that an accident has occurred and you can request medical assistance if there is an injury or fatality. Calling law enforcement will provide important support in a potential lawsuit in the future since law enforcement will write a report that records their assessment of who was at fault. The police record will detail all key elements of the collision including names, vehicle registration, road conditions and witness statements.

Under the Florida No-Fault Law, every driver who operates a motor vehicle registered in the State of Florida, must have a minimum of $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. A driver’s PIP coverage is meant to cover medical bills and lost wages the driver may suffer in an accident, no matter who caused the accident. This PIP will cover the first $10,000 of a person’s medical coverage, minus the deductible, and will come from the operators insurance, no matter who was at fault.  Please note that while PIP is mandatory in Florida, it covers only medical bills and lost wages, not any damage that results from an accident whether that is damage to property or the car itself.

Once an accident occurs, the insurance companies of the drivers involved will usually establish who is financially liable. Many times, the matter is closed with mutual agreement. In other instances however, one party may want the issue decided by the courts.

Contact a personal injury attorney to discuss the specifics of your case and decide whether you need legal representation.  A personal injury attorney could mean the difference between getting a settlement that barely covers your expenses or a settlement or verdict that pays all of your bills and allows you to get back to living your life.

At Fernandez & Hernandez, we understand that being seriously injured or suffering the sudden loss of a loved one is a traumatic and life changing event.  If you or a loved one has been seriously injured by a drunk driver in the Tampa Bay area contact a personal injury lawyer at Fernandez & Hernandez to schedule a free consultation.

Fernandez & Hernandez is a well-known personal injury law firm located in Tampa, Florida which represents clients in all types of accident, injury, and wrongful death claims.  We give each client the attention and guidance needed to obtain the compensation they deserve.  Our Tampa Bay personal injury lawyers help clients in all phases of injury and wrongful death claims from initial investigation through trial and appellate proceedings.

Call Tampa Personal Injury Attorney, Martin J. Hernandez of Fernandez & Hernandez at 813-229-5353 or read more at: InjuryLawyersOfTampa.com

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What is Florida "No Fault" or "PIP" Insurance?

What is Florida “No Fault” or “PIP” Insurance?

By your Tampa Auto Accident Attorney – Martin Hernandez

When it comes to auto insurance, Florida is a “No-Fault” insurance state.  This is an often misunderstood topic and what other people tell you it is, like most legal concepts, is usually wrong.

Florida PIP Laws - Know the law and Florida PIPDrivers who are injured in a car accident in Florida and sometimes wonder why they are filing a “No-Fault” Claim under their own insurance policy when they are not at-fault.  Those drivers incorrectly believe that because the other party is at-fault they should be paying all of the injured party’s medical bills.  However, that is not the case.  Why?  Let’s change the facts around.  What if both parties are blaming each other for the accident?  For example, they both say that they had the green light.  Yet, the injured party went to the hospital and incurred $5,000 in hospital bills (cheap for a Tampa hospital after a car accident).  What if they missed two weeks of work ($2,000 in lost wages)?  That means that the injured party is in the hole $7,000 for an accident that may not be their fault.  The hospital is going to ask for payment from you because you are the patient and you are responsible for payment.

Hence, Florida No-Fault.  You pay yours.  I’ll pay mine.  We’ll figure out later on who is responsible.

Now, under Florida law, every motorist is required to carry a minimum of $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage.  A driver’s PIP coverage, as this type of insurance is most often known, is to cover medical bills and lost wages the driver may suffer in an accident, no matter who caused the accident. When a crash occurs, each person involved in the crash turns to his or her own insurance company to pay the costs of medical care and other losses.

Car Accidents under Florida’s No Fault Insurance Scheme What many drivers do not realize is that, under Florida’s no fault statute, their PIP coverage by law only covers 80% of the medical bills which they may incur in an accident as well as only 60% of lost wages or income they may suffer in a car accident.  For example on how this works, assume you have a $10,000 PIP policy with a $1,000 deductible, the absolute minimum required under Florida law.  You are hit by another driver in an accident in which the other driver is clearly at fault.  Assume you go to the emergency room and your medical bills are $5,000 plus you are out of work for two weeks and lose out on $2,000 in income.  Your car insurance will pay $4,000 to the hospital (leaving you a $1,000 co-pay) and pay you $1,200 of your lost wages.  This way your bills are getting paid and you are not being sent to collections for the entire hospital bill.

But I shouldn’t pay the rest! Shouldn’t they pay for everything else?

Yes, they should and that’s how we can help.  There are exceptions to Florida’s “No- Fault” law that permit a motorist to directly sue another motorist who caused the accident.  The first exception to Florida’s no fault statute is if a person suffers a permanent injury as a result of the accident, Florida  statute (627.737(2)) defines a permanent injury as: (i) significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function; (ii) permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, other than scarring or disfigurement; (iii) significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement; or (iv) death.  Accordingly, if a driver suffers a “permanent injury” as defined above, then he is not subject to the “No-Fault” limitation against the at fault driver and may be able to bring a claim not only for medical bills and lost wages but also to recover for pain and suffering and other “intangible” damages suffered as a result of the accident. Another exception would be if the injuries suffered  are not permanent, but the medical bills (or lost wages) total more than the $10,000 in PIP coverage.  In that instance, a claim can be brought to recover the medical bills (or lost wages) not covered by the PIP insurance.

Obviously, even though Florida is a “No-Fault” state, the application of the law is limited since it only applies to those accidents in which the medical bills and/or lost wages or lost income do not exceed $10,000 and where someone has not suffered a permanent injury.

If you have been injured in a Tampa Car Accident and need a Tampa Injury Attorney, Get Lawyered Up Now and call Tampa Injury Attorney Martin Hernandez of Fernandez and Hernandez, LLC for a free consultation at 813-229-5353 or read more at: InjuryLawyersOfTampa.com

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PI Legal Advice in Tampa

PI Legal Advice in Tampa

PI Legal Advice in Tampa - Photo of a man on TV giving adviceSome advice is worth what you pay.

Researching legal questions can be tough.  Knowing what is your legal issue, how to research it, and how to get the help you need are some of the first obstacles to overcome.

Is this a true legal issue?  Ask is this a criminal or civil case? Which laws apply—municipal, state, federal? And, what area of the law represents your issue? Once you have answers to these questions, you can start researching and learning about possible outcomes and next steps.

Do you need a lawyer?  First you need to know whether you have a legal issue or simply a problem.  Maybe you don’t like your neighbor yelling loudly during the day. But, if they’re not breaking any laws, what you have is a personal matter, not a legal one.

A legal problem is one that can be solved by using the law. It’s an issue that’s addressed within federal, state, or municipal laws and regulations.

There are two main types of legal issues: criminal matters and civil matters. In criminal cases, the government prosecutes the case. In civil cases, the person bringing the suit hires an attorney to prosecute. If you’ve been arrested, you’re looking at a criminal matter, but depending on the circumstances, it could be a civil matter as well.

Civil lawsuits are easier to win because the burden of proof is lower. And it’s not necessarily one or the other. There can be a criminal case and a civil case for the same matter. If you’re considering whether or not to sue someone, or you have been sued, you’re looking at a civil matter.

For free legal advice on either criminal or civil cases, call Tampa Attorney Daniel Fernandez and Martin Hernandez of Fernandez and Hernandez, LLC at 813-229-5353 or InjuryLawyersOTampa.com or CriminalDefenseLawyerTampa.com

ARTICLE FROM YOUR TAMPA INJURY ATTORNEY: INJURED IN A TAMPA CAR OR AUTO ACCIDENT?

ARTICLE FROM YOUR TAMPA INJURY ATTORNEY:
INJURED IN A TAMPA CAR OR AUTO ACCIDENT?

I don’t think I am hurt…but I don’t feel the same.

Have you been injured in a car accident?

After A Car Accident: You may be injured and not know it. Ask yourself this: are you the same today physically as you were the day before the accident? Do you feel pain or just out of whack?

Injuries such as whiplash or “soft tissue” may not show any symptoms for hours, days, or even weeks later but the majority of medical professionals agree that the first 72 hours after an auto accident are the most critical and the time period during which treatment can be the most effective.

Believe it or not, the majority of auto accident injuries occur at speeds of 6 – 12 mph. This results in your car not showing much damage but your body might!

Often, a soft-tissue injury such as whiplash is permanent. Scar tissue can form in your muscles leaving them less flexible and prone to re-injury if you don’t receive proper treatment. If you are injured, your injuries typically will not heal on their own.

After an accident, get prompt medical attention. If you don’t get medical attention within the first 14-days, your benefits could be denied or limited, and your level of pain will likely increase. In most cases, treatment can cost you nothing out of pocket, even if the accident was your fault.

Don’t wait. Get help immediately.

If you do not have a doctor that can treat you after your car accident, we can recommend a doctor near your work or home or elsewhere that will work with you and get you feeling better.

Call Tampa Injury Attorney Martin Hernandez of Fernandez & Hernandez to discuss your Tampa Car Accident legal matters. Call your Tampa Injury Attorney at 813-229-5353 or read more: InjuryLawyersOfTampa.com

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IS FLORIDA NO FAULT GOING AWAY?  IS PIP DEAD?

IS FLORIDA NO FAULT GOING AWAY?  IS PIP DEAD?

By your Tampa Auto Accident Attorney – Martin Hernandez

Florida No Fault / PIP - Know your laws.There is a movement in the Florida Legislature to repeal the state’s no-fault car insurance system after 47 years in place.

Florida is only one of 6 states that is still on the No-Fault system and, according to many, it is riddled with fraud and overbilling by doctors.  The No-Fault or Personal Injury Protection (PIP) system cover injuries from car accidents, regardless of who is at-fault, up to $10,000.  However, this number has not changed since 1971 and let’s face it, in 1971, you could buy a house for $10,000 and today, it is not even a down payment.  Several attempts to fix the PIP system have yielded nothing except increased premiums and a silly 14-day rule that only increased the number of claims for emergency care.  Yet, premiums have risen 25% from 2015 to 2017.

Other states repealed their No-Fault system and their premiums have gone down.  For example, Colorado dropped their No-Fault system and their premiums went down by 35%.  Florida drivers pay among the highest premiums in the nation for some of the lowest required coverage amounts.

Florida Legislature is now proposing going to an “at-fault” system and making bodily injury coverage mandatory which would make the “at-fault” driver’s insurance primary over the claims.

Read more about the proposed Florida Legislatures bills

If you have been injured in a Tampa Car Accident and need a Tampa Injury Attorney, Get Lawyered Up Now and call Tampa Injury Attorney Martin Hernandez of Fernandez and Hernandez, LLC for a free consultation at 813-229-5353 or read more at: www.InjuryLawyersOfTampa.com

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