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A Florida Personal Injury Attorney Fighting for the Rights of the Injured
After a sudden accident, you may experience devastating injuries and pain. You likely need time to rest and recover, and your life may even be changed forever. However, it can be stressful to take time off work knowing that you are incurring substantial bills for emergency medical care or other treatment.
At the Martin Law Firm, we understand how challenging this time is for you. Helping individuals and families throughout the Fort Myers region, our Cape Coral personal injury lawyers treat victims of motorcycle accidents and other harmful events with the care and dedication that they deserve. Led by the husband and wife team of Steven and Eviana Martin, we find it deeply rewarding to serve ordinary people in need.
Accidents happen—you have the right to pursue justice.
Our Personal Injury Guide
Personal Injury Negligence Claims
Many common types of accidents, such as motor vehicle collisions, happen as a result of negligence.
To establish liability under this theory, a plaintiff usually must show:
- the defendant’s duty of care
- a breach of that duty
- actual and proximate causation
- quantifiable damages
Each of these elements would need to be proven by a preponderance of the evidence. This is a relatively relaxed standard that simply means that the plaintiff’s version of events is more likely than not to be true.
If you were partly at fault for causing the accident, it should be comforting to know that Florida uses a system of pure comparative negligence. This means that the jury will evaluate the total damages and assign percentages of fault to both the plaintiff and the defendant. While the plaintiff’s award may be reduced, he or she still may be able to receive at least some damages if the defendant was responsible for causing the accident to any degree.
If you successfully prove a defendant’s negligence with the assistance of a personal injury attorney at our Cape Coral firm, you likely will be able to recover both economic and non-economic compensatory damages. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the accident, these may include:
- past and future medical expenses
- lost income
- lost earning capacity
- property damage to more subjective items such as mental anguish or pain and suffering
In some cases involving particularly egregious conduct by a defendant, a plaintiff may be able to recover not only compensatory damages but also punitive damages. These are damages awarded to punish the defendant and deter future similar conduct.
It is essential to avoid any delay in taking legal action after an accident. The Florida statute of limitations restricts the time period within which a victim can bring a claim. Personal injury cases must be brought within four years of an accident, and wrongful death actions based on a tragic loss of life must be filed within just two years. The right to have a court hear the case generally depends on complying with these deadlines. Moreover, it is wise to take action as soon as possible for practical reasons, such as the decay of evidence over time.
Auto accidents can happen to anyone, anywhere, and at any time. Nonetheless, some roadways in Florida seem to be more dangerous than others for a wide variety of reasons. Florida is notorious for dangerous roads and has a reputation for hosting some of the most dangerous highways in the country, including, to name a few, the Florida Turnpike, Interstate 95, Interstate 4, and Interstate 10.
If you have been involved in an auto accident in Florida, let the experienced Florida personal injury attorneys at the Martin Law Firm help.
Common Car Accident Injuries in Florida
Being involved in an auto accident, even a seemingly minor accident can be a very traumatic experience. Relatively minor impacts can still cause significant injury to a person. Just consider that our bodies were not designed to experience the forces involved in a motor vehicle impact.
Damages from minor impacts can cause damage to the soft tissues in your body, resulting in very painful and debilitating injuries. That is for a minor impact. For a more significant impact, the damages can range from:
- broken bones
We can help you navigate the insurance claims process and prosecute your claim for damages when, as too often happens, the insurance carrier denies or lowballs your claim.
Why should you pursue a claim if you are in an auto accident?
You must understand that pursuing an insurance claim does not make you “one of those people” who is “sue happy” or litigious. Insurance carriers will take advantage of your desire to be a reasonable person and not seek an undue windfall. However, by being such a “reasonable person,” you are causing a second injury to yourself financially by allowing the insurance company to keep money that is rightfully due to you under the American justice system. The insurance carrier would like you to believe there is a litigation crisis in the United States, but they have not provided data to support this claim. However, insurance company profitability continues to be on the rise.
What do I do if I’ve been in an auto accident?
- Call law enforcement and 911.
- Take care of any emergency medical conditions.
- Help anyone who is hurt. Be a good citizen!
- Take lots of photos of your vehicle, the other vehicles involved in the accident.
- Get photos of the scene if possible.
- When we meet, we will need a copy of your insurance contract and any medical records you have to date.
- Do not delay in contacting a law firm, the day of the accident is not too late. Evidence disappears, and memories fade.
How an Attorney Can Establish Liability
The key to a successful auto accident claim in Florida is collecting the evidence needed to establish the liability or fault of the other driver or drivers involved in the accident— certainly not a simple task. You’ll need the experienced Florida personal injury attorneys at the Martin Law Firm to help you collect this evidence and prove the liability necessary to get you all of the compensation for your damages.
To establish such liability, you have to prove:
- The Other Driver Owed You a Duty of Care. A breach of duty is critical to any successful auto accident claim, but before you can show a breach of duty, you must show such a duty existed. The applicable duty is the duty to keep other drivers safe on the roadways in the same manner any reasonable person would.
- The Other Driver Breached that Duty of Care. You must show that the other driver did not drive in the way a reasonable person would. For example, if you are broadsided by another vehicle that ran a red light, the driver breached this duty since reasonable drivers don’t run red lights.
- Lack of Fault on Your Part. In some cases, the driver you are suing may claim that it was you who was at fault, at least in part, for causing the accident. Under Florida’s Comparative Negligence Doctrine, if you are at fault for some of your injuries, your recovery amount will be based on the percentage of fault that is yours. For example, if you’re in a car accident because another driver ran a red light, but you were speeding prior to the accident, you might share 30 percent of the fault for the accident, while the other driver is 70 percent at fault. Accordingly, your compensation will be reduced by 30 percent.
- Causation. Next, you must show that the unreasonable acts of the other driver were the cause of your injuries. In a typical accident, this is satisfied by showing that you would not have suffered injuries if not for the other person’s acts. For example, if the other driver hadn’t driven through a red light, then you wouldn’t have broken your arm.
- Damages. Finally, you must show that you were damaged in some clear way. With car accidents, you can show how you were injured, physically, emotionally and/or financially, and you can use your medical bills to prove your injuries. Put another way, “no harm, no foul.”
Too often, we read in the news about fatal accidents involving a cyclist on Florida roads. Many people ask about fault and liability in the event of these incidents. Even more, riders are concerned about the lack of criminal action taken against negligent or even hostile automobile drivers when a cyclist is injured. Concerns about cyclist safety laws should be raised to your local state legislators. However, consider that it is already “illegal” to hurt or kill someone with a car.
Martin Law Firm aggressively prosecutes civil cases against car drivers who injure or kill cyclists. That being said, we’d rather you be safe and unhurt and not in need of our services.
The first step in safety is to understand the rules of the road fully. Below we’ve written out a summary of the laws in Florida. This isn’t comprehensive, so we encourage you to educate yourself further.
A Bicycle is a Vehicle
Bicycle Accident Under Florida law, a bicycle is a vehicle, and a bicyclist is a driver. The bicycle riders enjoy the same rights and must obey the same rules as a motor vehicle driver. A big difference is that the unarmoured biker is much more susceptible to injury when an accident occurs.
Florida Statute 316.2065 contains the bicycle regulations. Some of the statutes deal with wearing protective gear, while others dictate how a bicyclist may travel the roadways. A bicycle rider under the age of sixteen must wear a properly fitted helmet. Proper rules are extremely important since the number of accidents involving bicyclists is very high.
A study done by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles looked at the number of bicycle injuries and fatalities that occurred on the highways during ten years.
- The number of bicycle accident injuries in 2000 was about 4,585, the number of fatalities in that year was 83.
- Ten years later, in 2009, the number of injuries stayed almost the same with around 4,376, and the number of fatalities increased to 100.
The Bicyclist is at Risk
A new report by the League of American Bicyclists shows that a motor vehicle’s negligent driving causes most bicycle accidents. This report was compiled by analyzing bicycle accident fatalities reported in 2012.
The study showed that nationwide:
- 42% of fatal accidents are caused by a driver’s negligence
- A staggering 36% involved hit, and run cases
- 12% involved drunk drivers
- 23% of fatal crashes, the bicyclists were traveling in the wrong direction
- 17% of crashes involved bicyclists failing to yield.
For the driver to be found responsible for any collision, they must have acted negligently. The studies show that drivers are often responsible for not following the laws or failing to pay attention.
Differences Under the Law for a Bicyclist
Although a bicyclist and a motor vehicle driver abide by some of the same regulations, the law acknowledges the differences between the two modes of transportation.
If a bicycle lane exists then, the bicyclist must use that lane if they are traveling at a speed less than the normal traffic speed. If a bicycle lane does not exist, then the bicyclist must stay as far to the right as possible.
There are three exceptions to this rule where a bicyclist may deviate from the bike lane or the lane furthest to the right:
- When overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction
- When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway
- When reasonably necessary to avoid any condition or potential conflict, it is unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge or within a bicycle lane.
The rule also differs for one-way roads with at least two marked lanes. A bicyclist is permitted to travel on the left-most portion of such a roadway. If a bicyclist is traveling at least at the same speed as the normal speed of traffic, then the bicyclist may travel in the same lane spaces that automobiles use as long as they are going fast enough. The rules even address how many riders may ride side by side. No more than two bicyclists may ride side by side, and riders must ride single file if riding side by side will impede traffic.
Special Passing Rules
Florida Statute 316.083 governs the passing of a vehicle by another vehicle. Normally a motor vehicle must pass another motor vehicle on the leftmost lane.
The Statute establishes a specific rule for passing a bicycle.
- When passing a bicycle or other non-motorized vehicle, a driver must pass the bicycle or non-motorized vehicle at a safe distance of not less than three feet—turning and when a signal is required before turning are addressed in Florida Statutes 316.155 and 316.157.
- A turn signal must be used in the event any other vehicle may be affected by the movement. A signal of an intention to turn must be given for not less than the last 100 feet before the vehicle makes a turn. The signal must be given continuously, but a bicyclist using a signal hand need not do so continuously if both hands are needed to operate the bicycle.
All in all the rules are designed to provide adequate space and notice when making turns or passing, but it is essential that all drivers follow these to ensure the safety of bicycle drivers as well as motor vehicle drivers.
When a lawsuit is brought, sometimes the liability issues are clear, and one party is found completely at fault for the accident.
- For example, in one case, a bicyclist had gotten off his bicycle and was walking it across the street, a motorist didn’t see the cyclist and hit them in the middle of the street. In that case, the motorist was found completely at fault based on negligence.
- Another case where the driver was found completely at fault involved a situation where the motorist was pulling forward out of a driveway and hit an oncoming cyclist who was traveling down the sidewalk. The driver was found at fault for failing to yield.
Failure to Yield
Cases where the driver fails to yield are quite common because the motorists often believe they are faster than the bicyclist and thus can complete a maneuver before the bicyclist comes close.
In other cases, it is not clear who should be held responsible for an accident.
- For example, one case involved a twenty-two-foot-long box truck existing a service station, and a bicyclist ran into the side of the truck. At first, the court held completely in favor of the truck, but the bicyclist appealed the judgment, and the court stated a jury should apportion liability, holding each party partially responsible. In that case, the cyclist was riding on the sidewalk when the truck pulled out onto the sidewalk before being able to pull onto the highway. The truck driver stated he could not see the bicyclist coming, and the bicyclist somehow failed to stop before running into the truck. In such a case, the jury apportions liability because the bicyclist was negligent for failure to pay attention. The truck driver was negligent, possibly pulling onto the sidewalk, obstructing it, and not paying attention.
You must understand that a bicyclist operates at a much-heightened risk compared to the operator of a car. Even if, as a bicyclist, you follow all the rules, you can still get hurt. While this firm will aggressively pursue a case against anyone who injuries a cyclist, no amount of money will bring you back to full health after even a minor cycling accident. Ride safe and be careful!
When a motorcyclist is struck on their bike, the outcome may be devastating even if the accident occurred at low speeds. Unlike people riding in cars, a motorcyclist is mostly unprotected against the force of a collision. While a helmet and heavy jacket may be helpful, they cannot fully protect against the catastrophic injuries that may occur on the highway or in a collision with a much larger vehicle.
At the Martin Law Firm, our attorneys understand motorcycle culture and compassionately assist people hurt in these accidents as if they were part of our family. Led by the husband and wife team of Steven and Eviana Martin, our Cape Coral motorcycle accident lawyers represent victims who careless drivers have struck. Our injury attorneys are ready to work diligently in pursuing compensation from a driver whose carelessness has harmed you.
Common Causes of Florida Motorcycle Accidents
With its temperate climate and wide-open freeway systems, Florida is very popular with motorcycle riders, even hosting the Daytona Bike Week, which can trace its roots back to 1937, making it even older than Sturgis. Attendance estimates are about 500,000 bikers, making it among the very largest biking events of the year.
Nonetheless, biking can be exceptionally dangerous as well as fun. All too often, other motorists don’t keep an eye out for motorcyclists and fail to be sufficiently diligent. Without the protection of a 360-degree metal shield for protection, motorcycle accidents can cause life-changing injuries or even death. Additionally, motorcycles present an unusually small profile in traffic, and vehicle drivers are not always looking out for them as they should be.
Some of the most common causes of motorcycle accidents include:
- Other drivers who fail to see a motorcycle and give it the right of way.
- Other drivers who stop suddenly in front of a motorcycle.
- Visibility limits and dangerous road conditions caused by inclement weather.
- Road defects, including construction zones, potholes, rough surfaces, and sharp turns.
- Being struck by flying objects like trash thrown out of windows or stationary debris on the highways.
- Impaired riding.
- Defective parts that fail while in use.
Holding a Negligent Driver Liable for Damages
Many motorcycle accidents occur because a car or truck driver was not paying attention and failed to properly share the road with a smaller vehicle. Drivers of passenger cars or trucks may be fatigued, texting while driving, speeding recklessly, impaired by alcohol or drugs, or simply not paying attention. The result of a moment’s inattention can be catastrophic or even tragically fatal for a motorcyclist.
In most cases, accident victims must prove the elements of negligence to recover compensation for their injuries. This means that they will need to establish that the defendant owed a duty of care. The defendant breached this duty. The breach directly and foreseeably caused the plaintiff’s injuries, and the plaintiff incurred actual damages. The motorcycle accident attorneys at our Cape Coral firm can help you gather evidence to prove each of these elements.
Each person is expected to handle a vehicle with reasonable care and refrain from creating unnecessary risks of harm for those around them. If someone fails to meet this standard by running a red light or failing to signal before changing lanes, the breach element would likely be satisfied. The accident victim then would need to show that he or she would not have been hurt if the defendant had not acted carelessly.
Florida follows the doctrine of pure comparative negligence. This means that a victim may be able to receive damages even if he or she was partly at fault for causing a crash. Any damages award would be proportional to the degree of liability associated with the defendant. For example, a driver who was 80% responsible for a crash that caused $200,000 in costs and losses probably would be liable to the victim for $160,000.
Damages in Motorcycle Accident Cases
Compensation that may be recovered in a motorcycle accident case typically includes both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages consist of tangible, documented losses such as lost wages, medical bills, and household services. Noneconomic damages may include more subjective elements like pain and suffering, emotional anguish, scarring and disfigurement, and loss of consortium.
Some motorcycle accidents result in an untimely loss of life. Through the personal representative of the victim’s estate, a motorcyclist’s family can potentially recover certain damages such as medical expenses, loss of support and guidance, and lost income by filing a wrongful death lawsuit.
Truck accidents are the most dangerous type of vehicle accident. Furthermore, truck accident claims are typically legally complicated because of special rules and regulations, the difficulty of reconstructing the accident, and the number of potentially liable parties. Truck accident injuries are typically more severe than car accident injuries because of a commercial truck’s sheer size and weight.
If you have been injured in a truck accident, the Cape Coral personal injury lawyers led by the husband and wife team of Steven and Eviana Martin will fight to recover all of the compensation you deserve.
What Makes Truck Accidents so Dangerous
The simple answer is size and weight. Fully-loaded commercial trucks can weigh anywhere from 25,000 to 80,000 pounds. On the other hand, the average passenger vehicle typically weighs a few thousand pounds. Furthermore, commercial trucks have more substantial blind spots, are less maneuverable than smaller vehicles, and require longer distances to come to a stop. In short, trucks are less likely to avoid accidents, and the accidents can be significant.
Commercial trucks also come with the dangers of heavy materials that can break loose and cause roadway hazards, and some transport hazardous materials that are hazardous or flammable when spilled. These spills often close down roadways and even entire communities.
Identifying At-Fault Parties in a Truck Accident
Another reason truck accident claims can be so complicated is the task of identifying the liability of the parties involved, some of whom you might never expect. Truck accidents may involve multiple entities that share fault, including:
- Drivers. Many truck drivers are solely responsible, and they may be simple independent contractors rather than employees. If this is the case, the only party to sue may be the driver, and few drivers have sufficient resources to pay for your damages.
- Trucking Companies. Trucking companies should make sure that their trucks are safe and that their drivers are qualified and adequately trained. When trucking companies fail to do this, they may be held liable for any resulting accidents.
- Insurance Companies. Trucking companies are subject to special laws and regulations regarding insurance. Sorting out what insurance coverage a truck, trailer, or particular company has can be difficult. You need attorneys with experience handling truck accident cases.
- Third-Party Contractors. Many trucking companies hire various third-party independent contractors to handle the many different aspects of their business, from ownership to driving to maintenance. This may be due to relative costs but may also be to attempt to shield themselves from liability.
- Other Potential Parties. Other smaller players share some liability, such as the cargo’s owner, the truck and parts manufacturers, vendors providing services to the carrier, or local government entities responsible for faulty highway design or maintenance.
If a loved one passes away unexpectedly, you may find yourself grappling with many painful emotions. In addition to the natural responses of grief and anger, you may also be struggling with economic concerns. Many families depend on two earners to pay vital expenses, and the loss of one person can completely change a family’s financial situation.
At the Martin Law Firm, our Cape Coral wrongful death lawyers understand the pain you are experiencing. If you have lost your loved one in an accident caused by someone else’s carelessness or misconduct in the Fort Myers area, our injury attorneys can help you seek the damages that you deserve. Bringing a Wrongful Death Claim in Florida
After a tragically fatal accident that could have been avoided, the survivors of the victim should consider retaining a wrongful death attorney. Usually, this type of lawsuit must be filed within four years of the decedent’s death. While this may seem like a long time, in most cases, it is important to start investigating the cause of an accident as soon as possible so that evidence and the memories of eyewitnesses are still fresh and vivid.
What is Considered Wrongful Death?
Under Florida Statutes section 678.18, wrongful death is caused by a wrongful act, an incident of negligence, or a breach of contract or warranty. For example, in some instances, these claims arise from a fatal motor vehicle collision or the use of a defective drug. The conduct that gives rise to a wrongful death claim must be something that would have entitled the decedent to bring a personal injury claim had he or she survived.
Most wrongful death actions are based on establishing the elements of negligence, which consist of duty, breach, causation, and damages. Forms of compensation that may be available to a bereaved family usually include past and future lost wages, medical and funeral expenses, mental anguish, pain and suffering if the decedent was the family member’s child, loss of companionship and guidance, and the value of the decedent’s support and services.
Who Will File A Lawsuit?
The personal representative of the decedent’s estate is the person who files the wrongful death lawsuit in civil court. This is often a family member who is named in the decedent’s will or estate plan. However, the court can appoint a personal representative if there is no will or estate plan. This individual files the lawsuit on behalf of family members who are entitled to recover damages for the loss of their loved one, such as the decedent’s spouse, children, parents, and other relatives who were partially or fully dependent. Our wrongful death attorneys can assist Cape Coral families with getting this process started.
While a criminal case may arise from the same conduct as a wrongful death action, the outcome of the criminal prosecution does not determine the outcome of the wrongful death claim. Very different standards of proof are used in these cases, with accident victims carrying a lower burden of proof than the state, so a civil case may be successful even though a criminal case was not.
Discuss Your Personal Injury Case with a Cape Coral Lawyer
When you have been hurt because of someone else’s careless or wrongful conduct, you need vigorous and sensitive legal representation. Guiding people through personal injury and wrongful death claims in the Fort Myers area and beyond, the Cape Coral personal injury attorneys at the Martin Law Firm are dedicated to helping struggling members of our community. We will fight for you as we would for our own loved ones. Our firm also represents injured individuals and families in Naples, Tampa, Miami, and other South Florida cities. Call us toll-free at (239) 443-1094/a> or complete our online form to set up a consultation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need to pay the attorney if I lose?
No. We operate under the agreement with you that if we cannot obtain a recovery for your claim, you owe us nothing for fees and costs.
What is involved in an accident claim?
All tort claims involve your attorney establishing liability and damages. Basically, who’s fault is the accident and how bad were you hurt. In Florida, we must analyze any comparative fault to see how much fault can be charged against you by a jury if the case proceeds to trial. For damages, we must calculate the total cost of your medical damages as well as any other costs of the accident you have suffered. This could include lost wages and property loss.
Can I recover from pain and suffering?
Florida does not allow for recovering of pain and suffering unless you meet certain statutory criteria. Essentially, these criteria are a permanent injury, scarring or loss of an important bodily function. One of our attorneys in Cape Coral can assist you in the legal analysis of whether you do or do not meet this threshold.
What is my job in the accident claim?
We want you to get better. No matter how much money we can recover for you, it will never fully compensate you for a lifetime of pain or a significant disability. You need to take your recovery seriously and follow the treatment plan prescribed by your medical professional. While you are treating, we will be pursuing your claim with the insurance carrier.