Car Accidents
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Lakeland Car Accident Attorneys

Call Dismuke Law for a Free Auto Accident Consultation

Car accidents happen with startling frequency throughout Florida and nationwide. They are the cause of millions of injuries, tens of thousands of deaths, and nearly $1 trillion in economic losses in the U.S. every year, according to a report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Common causes of car accidents include:

  • Distracted driving
  • Reckless driving
  • Drunk driving
  • Weather & road conditions
  • Animals
  • Defective car parts
  • Traffic violations
  • Tired drivers

If you were seriously injured in an auto accident, you may be entitled to financial compensation from the person or party that caused the collision. At Dismuke Law, our legal team can advise you of your rights, your options, and how to proceed.

Contact us today at (863) 292-6922. We have offices in Lakeland and Tampa and represent clients in all types of traffic accident claims across Central Florida.

Do I Have to Call the Police after a Car Accident?

After experiencing the initial shock of a car accident, you may be wondering if you must call the police. If the collision was minor, you may be tempted to simply exchange information with the other driver and handle the matter privately. However, it is almost always in your best interest to alert law enforcement.

Legal Obligations

Florida Law requires that you contact police immediately after a car accident if:

  • Anyone involved claims to be injured
  • There appears to be property damage in excess of $500

If I Call the Police, am I Going to Receive a Citation?

When police respond to the scene of an accident, they are there to ensure the safety of everyone involved, as well as file a detailed report of what happened. Oftentimes, minor fender benders are simply unfortunate accidents. You will only receive a citation if it appears that you have personally committed some sort of infraction.

Should I Still Call the Police, Even if I’m Not Legally Obligated To?

The answer to this question is almost always yes. Even if the other driver seems to be very honest and cooperative, it is not uncommon for stories to change over time. A law enforcement officer can act as an unbiased third party, objectively recording details and investigating the cause of the accident. Make sure you clearly explain the details of the accident to the officer, since it is crucial that the information contained in the police report is accurate.

Additional Steps You Should Take

Be sure to record the officer’s name and badge number and the agency they belong to so that you can easily obtain a copy of the police report once it is filed. If possible, ask the responding officer for the report number as well. This information is critical in the handling of your insurance claim, as well as the lawsuit process if necessary.

Drivers’ Exchange

If you’re going to do a drivers’ exchange and not call law enforcement, here’s what you need to know:

  • Number one, you have a legal obligation to call law enforcement if anyone claims injury or there appears to be more than $500 of property damage.
  • If you’re going to do a drivers’ exchange, the statute requires that you disclose name, address, and vehicle registration number, but you really need more than that.

I would advise you to take out your smartphone and snap a picture of the other person’s driver’s license, insurance card, and license plate number, as well as their VIN number up in the front windshield. If you get all of these on your smartphone, there are less chances that it can be disputed down the road, or you take the information down inaccurately.

The owners of vehicles here in Florida are liable for the car crash under what we call the “dangerous instrumentality” doctrine. Sometimes a driver of the vehicle doesn’t have coverage, and the insurance coverage comes from the owner.

What Is My Automobile Accident Case Worth? - Click Here to Find Out!

How Do I Know if my Claim is Worth Pursuing?

No two car accidents are the same, and neither are the resulting injuries or hardships. Traveling speed, force of impact, collision angles, and reaction time all play a role in the severity and effects of a car crash. The amount of compensation you can expect to receive after an automobile accident can vary depending on the circumstances and severity of the crash.

These are a few key factors that come into play when determining the value of a personal injury claim:

Establishing Liability

The first is that you have to be able to establish liability. This essentially means that you must be able to prove that someone else’s negligence led to your injury.

For example, if you were struck by a driver who failed to stop at a stop sign, then you likely have a worthwhile claim. The driver neglected to pay attention to the stop sign, which led to them hitting your car. Since their carelessness led to your injury, you should have the ability to claim damages and recover from the losses that they caused.

Demonstrating Loss

Additionally, you have to be able to show that the incident caused significant losses. It is important to consider all forms of losses:

  • Injuries
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost wages
  • Medical expenses, etc.

Your lawyer will work with you to assign a monetary value to these losses, and that value is a big indicator of whether a lawsuit is worth pursuing or not. There are costs and fees that come along with such action, and it is important to determine whether the potential payoff will be worth the expense.

Determining How the Accident Relates to Your Injuries

Another important thing to consider is the extent to which the accident caused your injuries or aggravated pre-existing ones. You have to determine how serious your injuries are, and what amount of treatment you need. If you will have to miss work to recover, if you will no longer be able perform the same type of work, or if you will no longer be able to work at all, this should also be taken into account.

Also, if you sustain an injury that you will never be able to fully recover from, this can have a great effect on the value of your case. This means that it is also very important that you are under the care of a qualified doctor that will honestly and accurately diagnose, treat, and document your injuries.

Additionally, they should maintain regularly updated documents of your treatment progress and changes in your condition. It is vital to your case that the jury can see and understand the expenses you’ve incurred as well as the extent and ramifications of your injuries.

Trust a Qualified Attorney at Dismuke Law

At the end of the day, a case is only worth as much as the judge or jury will award. This is where the importance of a qualified, reliable attorney is the greatest. An experienced trial lawyer will present the evidence in your case in a way that the jury will understand, allowing them to make a clear and informed decision.

If you’ve been involved in a crash, you most likely still have questions about your rights and legal options. Give our auto accident attorneys a call at 1-800-ASK-DAVE to receive your free consultation. We’re here to help!

Florida Is a No-Fault Auto Insurance State

Florida is a no-fault auto insurance state. This means that most car accident victims will need to file claims under their own personal injury protection (PIP) coverage to recover compensation for medical bills, lost earnings, and other losses, regardless of who was at fault for causing the collision. There are exceptions, however.

It is possible to file a third-party claim or lawsuit against the driver that caused your accident if you have experienced injuries that qualify under Florida law. This may include:

  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Significant, permanent loss of a key bodily function
  • Permanent injuries
  • Death

Filing a third-party insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver also opens the door to the recovery of non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, which are not available in a no-fault insurance claim.

Contact our offices today to get started. Call (863) 292-6922 today!

Determining Fault in Car Accidents

One of the biggest factors in the outcome of a car crash case is the determination of which party was at fault for the accident. Drivers often have very different opinions of who should be held responsible for causing the crash.

Since there are always two sides to a story, it is usually up to a judge or jury to make the final decision regarding who was at fault in an accident. Different states have different systems of determining fault. In Florida, we operate under a system known as “pure comparative negligence.”

What is Pure Comparative Negligence?

Under the pure comparative negligence standard, each party can be, and often is, partially responsible for the accident. In this system, each party is assigned a percentage of fault depending on the role they played in the crash.

This percentage is determined by details such as

  • Police reports
  • Witness statements
  • Driver statements
  • Vehicle damage
  • Any available photo or video evidence

Florida goes by this method because fault is not always black and white, and many times both parties were partially in the wrong.

An easy example of this can be found in rear-end collisions. At first glance, it seems like the person who rear-ended the other party would clearly be at fault. However, this is not always the case.

These are a few scenarios in which the driver who was rear-ended could also have played a role in causing the accident:

Sudden reversal

It is expected that drivers on the roadway are traveling in a forward direction, and traveling in reverse when it could be a danger to other drivers does not uphold that expectation. If you reverse on a roadway and are rear-ended, it is likely that you would have some degree of fault for that accident.

Failure to signal

Drivers are expected to signal that they will soon be making a turn, and failure to do so can put themselves and others in harm’s way. Imagine you’re driving down the road, and just as you are approaching an intersection you realize that you are about to miss your turn. Instinctively, you slam on your brakes and attempt to make the turn before it is too late. In your haste, you failed to use your blinker and stopped very suddenly, giving the driver behind you no indication that you would be stopping to make a turn. This would likely result in you being found to have fault in the accident if the driver behind you collides with your vehicle.

Brake lights not functional

Drivers are expected to ensure that their brake lights are working properly, as they are essential to their own safety as well as others on the roadway. Brake lights indicate to the driver behind you that you are slowing down, and driving without them is hazardous. If a driver is rear-ended while driving without functioning brake lights, they will likely be found to have fault in the accident.

Can I Still Make a Claim if I Was Partially At-fault?

Unlike other standards of determining fault in car accidents, the pure comparative negligence system allows both drivers to file a claim to recover damages even if they were not equally responsible for causing the accident. This is a huge advantage over other systems of fault determination, since they often do not allow drivers who were 50% at-fault or more to recover any damages.

Certain states even have a system in place that bars drivers who hold any amount of fault in an accident, even 1%, from seeking damages. Under the pure comparative negligence standard, the damages that each driver is able to recover are limited by the degree to which they were at-fault.

For example, let’s say that Bob was in an accident and he was determined to be 70% at-fault. He can still seek to recover 30% of the damages he incurred as a result of the accident. Even if Bob was found to hold 99% of fault in the crash, technically he would still be legally entitled to seek recovery for 1% of damages he incurred.

Contact Our Lakeland Car Accident Lawyers Today

Car accidents are extremely stressful, and their effects can be devastating. At Dismuke Law, our mission is to help our clients rebuild their lives after serious auto accidents.

We accomplish this by handling each claim with care and competence, securing the highest possible settlement or award. Our team of highly-qualified personal injury attorneys will work tirelessly to pursue the best possible outcome on your behalf.

Why Choose Us?
  • We are led by a Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer
  • Our team has a former insurance defense attorney
  • We have recovered millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements
  • We work on a contingency fee bases, meaning there are no fees unless you win

We also offer a free initial consultation to help you understand your options and whether you need legal counsel in the first place. You can count on our honesty when we assess your case.

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, find comfort in the fact that our attorneys are committed to recovering the compensation you deserve. Give us a call at 1-800-ASK-DAVE, or contact us online. We’re here to help!

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q:Will There Will Be a Car Accident Investigation?

    A:The at-fault party’s insurance company will immediately launch an investigation into the auto accident in an attempt to reduce the amount they may have to pay out. This includes taking statements from the parties and witnesses, as well as a collection of physical evidence, such as photographs and even the damaged vehicles. While the insurance company attempts to avoid liability, most auto accident victims are dealing with the personal and financial effects of the trauma. This is one reason it’s important to have a specialist on your side. Don’t let the insurance company have an advantage over you by unnecessary delay.

  • Q:Should I Seek Medical Attention After An Accident?

    A:Most people don’t want to spend their day going to doctors’ appointments due to their auto accident. However, following an auto accident, it is important to follow the advice of your doctors to give yourself the best chance to get better. Seek treatment as soon as possible after an injury and try and avoid missing appointments with your healthcare professionals.

  • Q:Should I Tell My Doctor About Prior Injuries?

    A:The auto accident case value is determined based on the evidence. Evidence comes from many places, including your doctors. Most people who require treatment will get better; however, some auto accidents require lifelong care. After an auto accident, it is important to document what future needs may be necessary. This evidence comes from your doctors who treat your auto accident conditions. It is important that you tell your doctors about any similar complaints you may have had in the past. The doctors need to be able to give opinions about what injuries are new and what prior injuries may have been exacerbated. Failure to provide your doctors with accurate information may damage your credibility and undermine your doctors’ opinions.

  • Q:What Is A Permanent Injury In Florida?

    A:In Florida, after a car accident, in order to claim damages for pain and suffering, disability or physical impairment, disfigurement, mental anguish, inconvenience or loss of capacity for enjoyment of life, you must prove your injury is permanent. A "permanent injury" must consist of 1.) A significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function; or 2.) Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement; or 3.) An injury that the evidence shows is permanent to a reasonable degree of medical probability.

  • Q:What is "Maximum Medical Improvement?"

    A:Maximum Medical Improvement occurs when an injured patient reaches a state where his or her condition cannot be improved any further or when a treatment plateau in a person’s healing process is achieved. It can mean that the patient has fully recovered from the injury or that the patient’s medical condition has stabilized to the point that no significant medical or emotional change can be expected in the condition. It does not necessarily mean the patient will not need future care.

  • Q:What Is "Palliative Care?"

    A:Sometimes future care is designed to help with functionality or pain levels and will not cure the condition. This is called "palliative care." Palliative care is a multidisciplinary approach to specialized health care for people with severe conditions. It focuses on providing patients with relief from the symptom or pain. The goal of such therapy is to improve the quality of life for the patient.

  • Q:How Can A Lawyer Help Me After An Accident?

    A:After getting the care you need, obtaining good advice and counsel is important for your future. Getting help quickly can make all the difference in your case. If you are in need of help, contact a specialist. Personal injury attorneys charge a contingency fee. You have a right to choose your lawyer. If you hire a lawyer on contingency, you will likely pay the same percentage fee whether your lawyer is a first-year lawyer with little or no experience or a Board Certified Specialist by the Florida Bar. Choose a Board Certified Specialist, choose a lawyer who will fight for your rights.

WHY DISMUKE LAW?

  • Decades of Experience

    Dave has dedicated 15 years and a significant portion of his practice to auto accidents and has well-trained staff in place to help you.

  • We Treat Clients with Excellent Personal Service, Respect & Dignity

    Our core belief is that every detail must be studied, that every adversary must be out prepared and outworked and that every client must be treated like they are family.

  • Personal Injury is All We Do

    Dave is a Florida Bar Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer and focuses his practice on automobile accidents.

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Testimonials

Hear What Our Clients Have to Say
  • Dave and his staff worked hard for me and always did what was in my best interest.

    “I would definitely recommend him to anyone who needs representation.”

    - Rena S.
  • Dismuke Law is who I will use for the rest of my life. Definitely worth the phone call!

    “I recommend him to friends and family every chance I get.”

    - Shawn B.
  • Dismuke Law is the first place we would call. They did not disappoint!

    “If either myself or my son ever needed an attorney again, Dismuke Law is the first place we would call.”

    - Daniel R.
  • Dismuke Law delivered the results I was hoping for.

    “David and his team were great at keeping me informed and involved in the entire process for my case. I highly recommend Dismuke Law.”

    - Jessie S.
  • I would highly recommend Dismuke Law to anyone in need of a personal injury lawyer.

    “David's attention to detail, honesty, and caring attitude toward clients, staff, fellow colleagues, and others is what makes him one of the best lawyers in Polk County.”

    - Courtney A.
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Proven Track Record of Success

  • $10 Million Judgment - Polk County

    Judgment of $10 million for a client due to injuries sustained in an auto accident.

  • $7.25 Million Jury Verdict - Polk County

    Polk County jury awards judgment for wrongful death case.

  • $1.1 Million Settlement - Hillsborough County

    Wrongful death auto accident settlement for $1,100,000.

  • $800 Thousand Auto Accident Settlement - Hillsborough County

    Attorney David C. Dismuke negotiates a settlement in disputed causation surgery.

  • $754 Thousand Auto Accident Settlement - Hardee County

    Attorney David C. Dismuke obtains a verdict in Hardee County.

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We Remove the Fear  of Going Through the Process of a Personal Injury Claim

The team at Dismuke Law understands how our clients are affected by accidents and brings that empathy to the courtroom and settlement table every day.