Tampa Car Accident Attorney
In an instant, your life can be changed as a result of a motor-vehicle wreck. Dereck Capaz is an experienced car accident attorney in Tampa with first-hand knowledge of the ways in which a serious collision can impact the quality and enjoyment of your life.
Auto accidents often result in property damage, lost wages, medical expenses, and serious bodily injuries. If you or someone you know has been harmed as a result of a collision, it is in your best interests to consult with a personal injury attorney right away.
Motor-vehicle wrecks can cause permanent personal injuries. If left untreated or if treated improperly, injuries and pain from automobile accidents can last for extended periods of time, often resulting in significant pain and discomfort, as well as limitations of a person’s physical activities. It is very important for car accident victims to seek proper medical attention if they have been injured.
If you have been in an accident, it is critical that you consult with an attorney as soon as possible. Dereck Capaz will discuss your potential claim and available options, as well as work with the at-fault party’s insurance company to make sure all of your personal and legal needs are handled effectively.
How Car Accident Attorney Dereck Capaz Can Help
Dereck Capaz, a Tampa car accident lawyer, spent over four years of his legal career defending insurance companies and large corporations. Through his litigation and trial work as a defense attorney, he learned how insurers evaluate and defend claims, as well as the circumstances under which settlements will be paid. If you have been injured, it is in your best interests to consult with an attorney who is willing to aggressively pursue your claim.
The insurance company for the responsible party will initiate an investigation immediately. It is important to know that insurance adjusters often minimize the value of claims for purposes of limiting the injured person’s amount of recovery. It is not uncommon for some insurance adjusters to contact injured parties within hours of an automobile accident and attempt to obtain recorded statements regarding the extent of the involved injuries. This is one tactic that is used to gain an unfair advantage over the injured party with respect to the extent of his injuries. This is despite the fact that many injuries do not manifest until several days or weeks after an accident.
The Capaz Law Firm will help to guide you through the legal and claim process in obtaining the appropriate and necessary medical treatment, asserting a claim for your injuries and damages, and seeking to hold the responsible party accountable and seeking fair compensation for your property damage, medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
How to File a Car Accident Claim in Florida
You’ve survived a serious car wreck, but now what? It’s likely you’re feeling stressed, confused, and completely overwhelmed. You’re not alone—many victims find themselves in the same position, unprepared to deal with Florida’s maze-like claims process. Fortunately, a seasoned car accident attorney can help you navigate the challenging days ahead, overseeing the logistics of your claim so you can focus on other matters.
For now, let’s take an in-depth look at how to file an auto accident claim in Florida:
- Estimate the Value of Your Damages
Florida employs a “no fault” system for handling auto accident claims. As such, you will first have to dip into your own coverage regardless of who was responsible for causing the wreck. Drivers in the state are required to purchase at least $10,000 in personal injury protection, which will kick in to cover part of any medical expenses and lost earnings resulting from a collision.
However, if you suffered any permanent injuries, permanent disfigurement or scarring, or the permanent loss of bodily function, you might meet Florida’s threshold to file a third-party claim against the at-fault motorist’s provider for additional damages. A skilled attorney can assess your situation to determine whether you meet this threshold.
- Identify the Liable Parties
If you are filing a third-party insurance claim, you will need to identify the party/parties responsible for causing the crash in order to take legal action. While you could tackle this task alone, preparing a claim can be a complicated and time-consuming process. As such, it may be in your best interests to hire a personal injury attorney to grab the reins. He or she can help obtain surveillance camera footage, interview eyewitnesses, obtain medical records, review the official accident report, and estimate the value of the damages you incurred. Additionally, if parties are withholding evidence, a seasoned car accident lawyer can apply legal pressure to help get hold of such proof.
- Submit a Demand Letter
Once you’ve identified the liable parties and confirmed the extent of your damages, you can send the insurance company a demand letter. The insurer will conduct their own investigation into the cause of the accident in order to verify the evidence you’ve provided. If the claims adjuster agrees that the policyholder—i.e., the at-fault motorist—was responsible for the crash, and the collision is covered under the policy, your claim will be approved.
- Negotiate a Settlement
Insurers rarely, if ever, agree to a claimant’s initial demand. As such, you should be prepared to negotiate your claim to ensure that you receive the maximum amount available in your situation. Fortunately, most car wreck cases are settled during negotiations as the alternative—going to court—is an unfavorable outcome for all parties involved due to the significant resources, time, and money required to litigate a case.
However, if the claims adjuster refuses to pay out fair compensation, taking legal action may be the only avenue left for you to obtain a reasonable financial award. Our personal injury attorneys can assist at every stage of proceedings, including preparing your case for litigation and representing you in court.
What Kinds of Expert Witnesses Might Assist with My Case?
In some scenarios, your attorney might call on various experts to provide deposition or testimony in your case. Unlike an eyewitness, otherwise known as a fact witness, who must limit their testimony to facts in regard to what they observed, an expert witness may provide an opinion.
Let’s take a look at some of the expert witnesses that may play a role in your car accident case:
- Vocational Expert: The claims adjuster might insist that you are able to work, even if your doctor has instructed you to rest or your injuries impede your ability to do your job adequately. In such situations, your attorney may call on a vocational expert to provide deposition regarding how your condition hinders your productivity and job performance.
- Economist: Your lawyer may hire an economist to help estimate the value of lost wages and diminished earning capacity.
- Medical Expert: Not only can a medical professional help your attorney track the medical costs for the care you’ve undergone and will require in the future, but he or she can also provide deposition regarding the expected timeline of your recovery. As such, your attorney will typically call on one of these experts if it’s clear that you will require long-term treatment, physical therapy, and other healthcare interventions. The input of a medical expert can be invaluable as you will want to ensure that you don’t overlook any recoverable damages.
- Accident Reconstruction Expert: These are individuals who can investigate the accident scene, photographs of the wreck, and other evidence you’ve gathered to determine who or what caused the collision.
What Types of Evidence Could Help Prove Fault in My Car Wreck Case?
If you are planning to file a third-party insurance claim, you will have to determine who caused the crash and then gather strong evidence to prove that this party is responsible for your injuries. The types of evidence you will need will vary depending on the unique circumstances of your case.
For instance, proving liability in a truck wreck claim might require a completely different approach to pursuing damages after a collision involving a motorcycle. Fortunately, a skilled personal injury attorney can assess your case, identify the necessary evidence to prove liability, causation, and damages, and take steps to obtain this proof before it becomes unavailable.
Let’s take a look at some of the types of evidence that might contribute to your case:
- Photographs of the Accident: Using pictures you’ve taken at the scene, an accident reconstruction expert might be able to determine what happened in the moments preceding the crash. As such, if you are able to do so, you should take pictures of the wreckage, the injuries you suffered, road markings such as skid marks, street signs, and other details that you believe could help prove fault.
- The Official Police Report: The officers who attended the scene should have opened an official incident report documenting the crash. This report should include the hour, date, and location of the accident, in addition to information about any injuries, deaths, and property damage. The officers may also include details they observed about the parties involved. For instance, if they suspected that the at-fault motorist was fatigued, they may note this information in their report.
- Video Footage: If there were commercial properties near the accident scene, surveillance cameras may have captured footage of the collision. Alternatively, another motorist might have recorded the incident with their vehicle’s dashcam. As these video files are usually erased or overwritten just a few days after the initial recording, you will need to act quickly to obtain this footage before it disappears.
- Toxicology Reports: If police officers suspected that any of the motorists involved in the crash were under the influence, they may have conducted chemical tests. If toxicology reports reveal that the other motorist had a blood-alcohol level exceeding the legal limit, these test results could help prove liability.
- Black Box Data: If, for example, you were involved in an accident with a commercial truck, there’s a high chance that this vehicle was equipped with an event data recorder—otherwise known as a black box. These devices are used to track various metrics such as braking, acceleration, speed, airbag deployment, and steering before, during, and after the collision. If the black box data shows that the trucker was going over the speed limit or failed to brake at an intersection in the moments before the crash, your attorney could use these metrics to show that the truck driver caused the accident.
- Eyewitness Statements: Whether it was a pedestrian who witnessed the collision take place or another driver who saw the at-fault motorist driving recklessly moments before the accident, eyewitnesses can help corroborate your version of events and help prove liability. As such, you should take down the names and contact details of anyone who saw the accident and share this information with your attorney during the initial consultation. Your attorney might want to interview these eyewitnesses to determine whether their deposition could help prove your case.
- Cellphone Records: While texting, fiddling with apps, or tapping through playlists on your phone while behind the wheel is against the law, many motorists still give into these distractions. As a result, distracted driving-related collisions are on the rise, with thousands of accidents caused by inattentive motorists every year. As such, if you believe the other motorist was using their phone in the moments before the accident, you will need to obtain evidence to prove that they were not paying attention to the road. An attorney can help you retrieve the distracted driver’s cellphone records from their carrier to help show that they were either talking or texting on their cellphone when the collision occurred.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer in Tampa
If you would like to discuss your accident with a Tampa car accident attorney, contact Capaz Law Firm at 813-440-2700. We will provide you with personal attention and quality representation to ensure that you receive the justice and compensation that you deserve.
Million Dollar Advocates Forum ®
Dereck Capaz is a proud member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. The Million Dollar Advocates Forum is one of the most prestigious groups of trial lawyers in the United States.Learn more
Dereck Capaz was selected for inclusion and named in the 2009 – 2015 editions of Florida Super Lawyers.Learn more
AV® Preeminent™ Rated
Dereck Capaz has earned the AV-Preeminent Rating for legal proficiency and ethical standards from Martindale-Hubbell and lawyers.com.Learn more
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