What If Multiple People Are at Fault for My Car Accident

Multiple Car Crash FloridaMulti-vehicle accidents often involve complicated liability questions that result in lengthy legal disputes.

Multi-vehicle accidents involve statements from drivers and eyewitnesses, police reports, evidence collection, and multiple insurance companies. Because there are many working parts, these types of accidents generally benefit the aid of an experienced Florida car accident attorney.

Florida’s “No-Fault” Insurance Still Assigns Fault

All Florida drivers are required to carry two types of insurance coverage: property damage liability (PDL) and personal injury protection (PIP).

Property damage liability covers property damage caused by you; whereas personal injury protection covers you and others listed on a policy in the event of injury, regardless of who’s at fault—hence “no-fault” insurance.

Florida’s no-fault rule was designed to lower monthly insurance premiums and reduce costly lawsuits through limited liability. Instead of negotiating with another driver’s insurance, no-fault insurance expedites payouts from a driver’s own insurance.

However, the term “no-fault” is misleading since negligent drivers can still be held responsible for economic and noneconomic damages depending on the circumstances of the crash. This is especially true of multi-vehicle accidents that result in severe or catastrophic injury.

In Florida, the minimum coverage for PIP insurance is $10,000; but that’s usually not enough to cover emergency services, hospitalization, or extended time away from work.

Multi-vehicle accidents are often serious, especially when they involve large trucks like commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) or buses. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Florida ranks third among all states for fatal accidents involving large trucks.

When there’s been a serious accident or injury, victims can step outside the no-fault rule and file a civil lawsuit against the at-fault driver. In multi-vehicle accidents, this can be tricky.

Pursuing an At-Fault Driver in a No-Fault State

Filing a lawsuit is more complicated than pursuing a PIP claim though one’s insurance. In order to step outside Florida’s no-fault rules, certain criteria must be met, according to state statute.

For example, Florida qualifies “serious injury” as one that:

  • Results in death
  • Leaves permanent scarring or disfigurement
  • Results in significant and permanent loss of a bodily function

Assigning fault or pursuing compensation following a multi-vehicle accident is challenging since these accidents involve a series of actions/reactions from multiple drivers. Moreover, these accidents often require detailed investigation to uncover exactly what went wrong.

Anyone involved in a multi-vehicle accident should be prepared to diligently document every medical expense, every doctor visit, and any time away from work. These details, as well as the police report and statements from drivers and eyewitnesses, will impact how fault is assigned and how much compensation is available.

Liability, or fault, in Florida follows the rule of pure comparative negligence, which awards compensation to an injured person proportionate to his or her percentage of fault. Similarly, parties found responsible for a multi-vehicle accident are required to pay for his or her percentage of fault.

Florida’s no-fault rules pose limitations over minor accidents that don’t rely on fault to pay out damages. However, assigning fault is a necessary mechanism in serious multi-vehicle accidents since these types of crashes often result in injuries that exceed Florida’s no-fault laws.

If you’ve been in a multi-vehicle accident, you need a legal team that knows how to investigate these complicated cases.

At Heintz & Becker, we’re dedicated to representing victims of negligence in Bradenton, Sarasota and the surrounding parts of Florida. With decades of combined experience, our team is prepared to carry the legal burden for victims and their families so they can focus on recovery.

Call 941-748-2916 for a free case consultation; or tell us about the accident online to get started now.


Road Safety Today: Are You Risking Your Life as a Motorcyclist on the Highway?

Being safe is an issue throughout many aspects of our lives, from our time spent at home to our time spent at work and school. When we are on the roads, however, we must be diligent as just a few seconds spent in distraction can cause catastrophic results. Attention must be paid in every situation as wrecks can be caused by those driving too fast, too slow—or due to drivers who are not paying attention, are under the influence, exhausted, or more. This is all true for motorcyclists too, but doubly so, as they are rendered so much more vulnerable due to their lack of insulation in comparison to cars, absence of safety mechanisms like airbags, and proximity to the ground.

Unfortunately, one of the greatest dangers to motorcycle enthusiasts is other drivers. If you own a bike, then you are probably all too aware of this problem. And while you cannot control the actions of others on the road, you can ride as defensively as possibly, making your presence known. Considering the number of accidents on today’s highways, we may all be risking our lives at times just by getting behind the wheel, but this is a much more serious consideration for motorcyclists, who are also at graver risk during weather conditions and areas where roads may be older and harder to navigate.

Some drivers may be prejudiced against individuals who choose the motorcycle as their mode of transportation due to a variety of reasons, causing disrespect on the road—and sometimes, serious accidents due to careless actions like cutting riders off, following too closely or braking too quickly, and more. Unconscious actions on the road cause more problems, however, as motorists often fail to see motorcyclists—as well as others like joggers, walkers, and bicycle riders. This is generally because individuals driving cars are trained to look for vehicles of the same size, and they may miss others that do not take up as much room in their line of sight.

Trained and experienced motorcycle riders are usually aware of the visibility problem and may work harder to make sure motorists see them (moving back and forth in lanes) as well as hear them (revving the engine). It is more important than ever to practice defensive driving if you are at an intersection or in oncoming traffic—and especially with cars making left-hand turns, sometimes failing to see motorcyclists and either hitting them or even just clipping them with devastating consequences. Cars that are not keeping a suitable amount of distance behind motorcyclists, or slamming on the brakes without realizing anyone is behind them are extremely hazardous—along with flinging open doors (and leaving them open) in parked areas, causing extreme danger and the potential for serious injury to those traveling on two wheels.

If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident due to the negligence of another driver, contact the attorneys at Heintz & Becker. We’ve helped victims from Bradenton, Sarasota, and all over Florida get compensation for their damages and medical expenses after accidents. Call us for a free consultation now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help!

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.


Sleepy Drivers Account for Too Many Car Accidents

Considering the amount of time most of us spend in our cars daily, it is to be expected that our moods and energy levels will vary. The problem is though that the roads—and traffic—can be unforgiving, and while we are driving, one hundred percent of our attention should be given to the task at hand. Although we may be a culture heavily involved in driving (and often immersed in traffic), the level of concentration given to that act sometimes seems to be an afterthought, evidenced by the thousands of lives taken by distracted driving each year. The issue of distracted driving has received a lot of press, beginning to equal that of campaigns against drunk driving. But one issue that is extremely common and can be just as deadly does not get the attention it needs: driving while exhausted.

It is a busy world—especially for those of us who are juggling home lives with a long commute. Factor in a long and tiring day fueled by caffeine, evenings filled with more work, not enough sleep, and a vicious cycle begins. Unfortunately, far too many drivers are living this scenario, and if you are lucky enough not to be one of them, most likely you are still surrounded by them while driving. Tired drivers on the road may also be affected by drugs or alcohol, making them even more hazardous; however, just drowsiness alone can cause terrible consequences from behind the wheel. Drivers who fall asleep at the wheel can cause enormous devastation and damage, killing themselves as well as others.

If you are feeling drowsy on the road, pull over to a safe area as soon as possible to avoid having an accident. Although you may think you can get to your destination without having an accident, your judgment may be impaired, attention span diminished, and reaction time sluggish. The CDC cites a study reporting that 1 in 25 adults said they had fallen asleep at the wheel within a thirty-day period. Along with that, the NHTSA states that drivers who are overly tired are responsible for tens of thousands of injuries each year—and while the exact numbers are unknown as cause is not always determined, as many as 6,000 fatalities may be caused on the roads by tired drivers.

If you have been injured in a car accident due to the negligence of others and are seeking a skilled injury lawyer, contact Heintz & Becker today. We have offices in Bradenton and Sarasota. If you can’t come to us, we will come to you. Call us for a free consultation now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help!

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.


Burns: When You Should Seek Serious Medical Help

Even the smallest of burns can be intensely painful, and take a while to heal—usually due to the inflammation seen in both first- and second-degree burns. We have all experienced the smarting of minor burns throughout life, whether acquired while cooking dinner or other common activities involving heat; however, you may have received a burn (or burns) due to a defective product or negligence on the part of others—whether experiencing extreme heat or fire at home, in a car, or due to electrical issues.

Burns May Range from the First to Fourth Degree

Icing down a minor burn and applying a salve may help to ease the pain and encourage healing, but if you have a major injury, seek medical help immediately. You should consider the size of the burn, as well as where it is. According to the Mayo Clinic, a first-degree burn affects the outer layer of your skin, while a second-degree burn also affects the next layer and is usually even more painful. The third-degree burn is characterized by a much different type of discoloration—sometimes completely black or even white. There may be little pain in the more extreme burns, and even a sense of numbness as nerves are impaired. Fourth-degree burns are even possible, causing internal damage to bones.

Assess the Size, Location & Amount of Blistering 

If you have been burned in vulnerable areas such as your face or eyes or areas like the hands and feet, there is greater cause for concern, and it is important to assess the amount—and the immediacy—of blistering. Even a minor burn may cause blisters, but if they are significant in size or begin to show signs of infection, seek medical care. Don’t go it alone either if you begin to see swelling, feel feverish, have trouble breathing, or experience other concerns regarding burn injuries. Also, pay close attention to any burns that were caused due to chemical or electrical fires as they can be extremely damaging and may cause internal issues that you are not aware of immediately. Babies and small children, senior citizens, and those with disabilities or suppressed immune systems may have more difficulty overcoming serious burns and traumatic injuries.

Contact Us if You Have Been Seriously Injured

If you have suffered a serious burn due to the negligence of others and are seeking a skilled burn injury lawyer, contact Heintz & Becker today. Our attorneys have helped victims from Bradenton, Sarasota, and all over Florida get compensation for their damages and medical expenses. Call us for a free consultation now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help, and if you cannot come to us, we will come to you.

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.


Four Questions to Ask After a Truck Accident

Little can prepare drivers for the aftermath of a traffic accident, especially when that accident causes serious injury or major property damage. Large trucks (i.e., tractor-trailers, semi-trucks, buses, etc.) or commercial motor vehicles (CMV) pose extra danger because of their size and strength.

In Florida, especially, large truck accidents are over represented compared to the total number of CMVs on Florida roadways.

In 2014, for example, there were 179 fatal truck crashes in Florida, which equals 5.1 percent of total vehicle crashes in the state. Following Texas (532) and California (281), Florida had the third highest count of fatal truck crashes.

When and if you’re ever in such a crash, it’s critical to gather information that could be relevant should the accident result in questions about fault, fair compensation, or other legal dispute.

Here are four questions you should quickly find answers to following a truck accident in Florida: Continue reading


Drunk Driving: Jury Still Out on Whether Uber Helps

The days of calling a cab or waiting to hail one outside are diminishing with the mobile ease of ordering up an Uber or Lyft. In a world of disruptive new businesses and technology that allow consumers to take more control of the process, these new transportation startups are both a cultural phenomenon as well as a popular social trend with millennials who may just eschew buying cars and driving altogether. Not only are the humans traveling together able to rate each other, but they also seem to be able to connect more easily than in the taxicab situation, making the experience more attractive for many, and especially the younger generations.

Most taxicab drivers will relay countless stories of drunk patrons they have driven from point A to point B. As companies like Uber and Lyft are even easier to contact and pay for, those who are under the influence may call them first today if they have the good judgment to do so. That if can be a big problem with intoxicated people holding the keys to their own car though, as it presents a free ride—often causing them to take the risk in weaving their way home, fare-free.

It is obvious that there is little reason for drunk drivers to continue to plague our society today. Amidst overwhelming education about the dangers as well as dire consequences put in place by each state, drunk drivers also have every outlet to avoid driving themselves home, and often cab companies will even take them for free—especially during holidays. A recent news article, however, points out that companies like Uber and Lyft may not be lowering drunk driving statistics at all; in fact, in a study performed by Noli Brazil and David S. Kirk, outlined in ‘Uber and Metropolitan Traffic Fatalities in the United States,’ the authors make it clear that there is much progress to be made.

“Obviously the rise of Uber and Lyft has been incredible, and we were curious about potential implications,” said David Kirk, from the University of Oxford, who coauthored the study.

In the end, however, there are still not enough Ubers out there to combat the problem of drivers who insist on getting behind the wheel while under the influence, not to mention the resistance of those who are practicing poor judgment after an evening of partying.

“It will be important to revisit the findings in a few years, assuming Uber and Lyft have even greater presence in the U.S. and beyond,” said Kirk. “And if Uber and Lyft can find a way to have greater appeal to drunk drivers (free or reduced priced rides for inebriated passengers), then there is a possibility of bringing fatalities down.”

If as a culture we can change habits and get used to taking Ubers and Lyfts, it is hopeful that those who have had a few too many to drink, or are under the influence of controlled substances can be convinced to do the same.

If you or a loved one has been injured due to a drunk driver, contact us now. At Heintz & Becker our attorneys have over 30 years of experience in helping DUI injury victims claim the compensation they deserve. Our firm has also handled many claims involving catastrophic personal injury and wrongful death. Call us for a free consultation now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help!

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.


Spinal Cord Injuries: Understanding the Different Types & Levels

Even if you have just damaged your spinal cord mildly, you may experience great discomfort whether in your neck or other areas of your back. You may have trouble walking, and more. Medical attention should be sought immediately, as that can be the predictor of how well your injury heals in the future. While sports injuries and falls are often the cause of such pain, car accidents are a major reason for these injuries, which can be severe and even life threatening. If you or a loved one have been injured due to the negligence of another driver, seek medical help immediately, and then call an experienced Florida auto accident law firm like Heintz & Becker.

Spinal cord trauma is usually rated from minor to severe, and physicians usually begin by stating whether the spinal cord injury is complete (non-functioning below the location of the injury) or incomplete (damage is partial and there is some level of functionality). Damage occurs in these four areas:

  • Cervical spinal cord (C1 to C7)
  • Lumbar spinal cord (L1 to L5)
  • Thoracic spinal cord (T1 to T12)
  • Sacral spinal cord (S1 to S5)

There may also be varying levels of paralysis, from tetraplegia to quadriplegia or paraplegia. The injury is then established according the area affected; for instance, referring to the injury as a C4 injury, and often pointing out levels such as C3 or C4 sensations.

A recent study showed that the lumbosacral area is the area affected most often, and after car accidents, with the car rolling over being ‘the most common mechanism’ of the spinal injury.

“The chance of sustaining serious spine and associated multiple injuries in car accidents is quite high in our today’s society,” stated the researchers.

Those who are not paralyzed or who are only partially paralyzed may have a much better chance of getting back to normal eventually, but it cannot be stressed enough how important good medical attention is, and immediately so. Internal bleeding must be assessed and remedied as quickly as possible, along with swelling. Doctors may treat with corticosteroids, or surgery may be required to move vertebrae back into place, eliminate fluid or fragments, or fuse parts of the spine.

Spinal cord injuries affect over 10,000 people each year, often requiring patients to be hospitalized and then undergo physical therapy and seek aftercare which must be long-term in some cases. This is especially debilitating for those who are unable to go back to work either temporarily or permanently.

Have you suffered a spinal cord injury due to the negligence of others? If so, contact the experienced spinal cord and neck injury attorneys at Heintz & Becker. Our attorneys have helped victims from Bradenton, Sarasota, and all over Florida get compensation for their damages and medical expenses. Call us for a free consultation now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help, and if you cannot come to us, we will come to you.

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.


Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Affect Many in the US

While complex regional pain syndrome is known as a rare condition, at least 200,000 people suffer from it annually in the US. Characterized by deep pain in the limbs which may even feel cold or as if burning, CRPS is often caused by a trauma or injury. If you are suffering from this condition after an accident that was due to the negligence of others, consult with an experienced injury law firm like Heintz & Becker as soon as possible.

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, CRPS is a chronic illness that is often triggered by a trauma of some kind. Damage to the nervous system causes CRPS to manifest itself usually in one limb, with pain and swelling accompanied by variations in temperature and even skin tones like red or blue, or a combination of blotches. Tingling in the one limb is a common symptom, along with pain that radiates along the arm or leg. This may happen even if only a small portion of the limb was hurt initially. CRPS may also cause skin to appear glossy or extra thin, and nails and hair may be affected on hands and feet and limbs. Movement may be affected, and in some cases, is stiff, spastic, or fixed.

CRPS-1 usually refers to those without diagnosis of nerve issues, while CRPS-II relates to patients who have been diagnosed with damaged nerves. Cases range from minor to severe, and may sometimes result in permanent disability. It is crucial to seek treatment for CRPS as soon as you realize something is wrong. The Mayo Clinic states that if the condition is left unchecked you could find yourself facing serious issues such as atrophy of the affected limb, as the muscles and surrounding area begin to grow weaker and weaker over time. Contracture of the muscles is a possible consequence also if treatment is not sought, with hands and feet becoming so stiffened that they are basically stuck or ‘fixed’ in one position.

This condition is usually diagnosed with X-Rays and/or an MRI, as well as bone scans and a variety of tests which evaluate the nervous system for erratic symptoms such as temperature fluctuations, blood flow, and more. CRPS does not affect everyone; for instance, many who have been in car or truck accidents may have other injuries but do not go on to develop CRPS while some do.

If you have been affected by an injury caused by the negligence of others and are seeking a skilled CRPS lawyer, contact Heintz & Becker today. Our attorneys have helped victims from Bradenton, Sarasota, and all over Florida get compensation for their damages and medical expenses. Call us for a free consultation now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help, and if you cannot come to us, we will come to you.

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.


Ignition Interlock Devices Keep Drunk Drivers off the Roads

With so much education available in schools and society today, along with alternate modes of transportation, no one should have to die or be seriously injured due to the poor judgment of a drunk driver. Alcohol is a very dangerous drug when abused, and it can cause the individual to think they can handle driving when they cannot, as well as thinking that the alcohol has left their system—when it has not.

And while some with a history of drunk driving do get their licenses back and drive again, they may find themselves having to blow into an ignition interlock device mechanism routinely to get the car started. Acting as a breathalyzer, the IID allows the vehicle to start if the potential driver tests below a certain level, but if not, they must wait—and are not allowed to start the car for longer periods of time if they keep failing. The system, allowing first-time offenders to regain driving privileges, is meant to be foolproof against drinking while in the car as well, letting out intermittent beeps that mean the driver must blow into the device while driving in what is called a ‘rolling re-test.’ If indeed they have a high alcohol blood level, the ignition interlock device will begin honking and give them time to pull over before shutting off. All this data is forwarded to the DMV or court as well.

Because the devices can be expensive, sometimes costing more than $1,000 each year, many DUI offenders may not be able to afford them. They may also have difficulty breathing into the IID’s if they suffer from any breathing issues like asthma; otherwise, issues involving deception seem difficult to pull off as yes, the driver could have someone sober breathe into the device and get the car started, but then they must be along for the whole ride breathing into it intermittently.

MADD has put their full support behind the devices over the years, and even published a report recently which contends that 1.77 million drivers have been unable to start their cars while under the influence. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, if the driver has a breath sample above .025, they will not be able to start the car. Data is transferred to the court with access available continually.

Have you or a loved one been injured because of a drunk driver? If so, please contact Heintz & Becker now so one of our experienced attorneys can review your case and help you with any legal needs and getting compensation that you may be owed. Call us for a free consultation now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help!

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.


Dangerous Driving Habits You Should Eliminate Now

Defensive driving is something most of us learn about as teenagers, studying for our drivers’ licenses and just getting behind the wheel. We must watch out for other drivers, motorcyclists, bicyclists, pedestrians, and try to keep ourselves and our passengers safe from those who may be careless while on the road. But as you consider how many hours you log on the road each day, month, and year, you can probably think of ways that you can improve your driving habits also, by avoiding the following:

  • Driving after drinking or taking medication – While most of us are very aware of the dangers of driving while under a controlled substance, many of us may underestimate the power of a cold medication, painkiller, or yes, a couple glasses of wine—and depending on your tolerance and size, this could cause you to be a serious hazard on the road. If you routinely drive while on medication or even just while sleepy, keep in mind that you have been lucky so far, and discontinue such habits immediately.
  • Driving while distracted – This is a major issue on the roads today, and is the number one reason for car accidents. Thousands of fatalities are caused each year on the roads by distracted drivers. Consider what a terrible burden that would be to bear as you wonder if you should just take a second to answer that text or look up a movie time on the internet while driving. Cell phone usage is an enormous safety issue on the roads today, whether you are talking or texting. Avoid other distractions such as eating and drinking, grooming, engaging with passengers, worrying over the radio or music selections, and more.
  • Speeding – While you may just be ‘going with the flow of traffic,’ that doesn’t mean everyone else has perfect judgment. Many are injured and killed each year simply because others were not following the speed limit.
  • Tailgating – This is an extremely dangerous habit, and is often associated with road rage. If the person whose bumper you are riding is forced to stop abruptly, you could cause a serious accident. Remember to follow behind the car in front of you one car length for every ten miles per hour that you are driving; meaning if you are going 55 mph, you should be five or six car lengths behind the driver in front of you. Conversely, you should also remember to consider the cars behind you when stopping.
  • Being unaware of other drivers – Make sure to adjust mirrors accordingly, and always remember to account for blind spots. Many accidents are caused when drivers are changing lanes and do not see the car right next to them.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident due to the negligence of others, please call Heintz & Becker for a free consultation with one of our personal injury attorneys. We handle all types of Florida personal injury cases, and our law firm has established an impressive record of verdicts and settlements. If you have been seriously injured, call us now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help!

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.


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