Archive for April, 2014

West Palm Beach Car Accidents: When Do You Need Legal Help?

April is both Distracted Driving Awareness Month and Alcohol Awareness Month.

At Gonzalez & Cartwright, P.A. we understand distracted driving, speeding and drunk driving are the top causes of traffic collisions in the United States. And, while we sometimes call them “accidents,” few are not caused by one or more negligent acts of those involved.

Can a car accident lawyer in West Palm Beach help?

We provide free consultations to injury victims in West Palm Beach and the surrounding areas, because we believe everyone deserves access to quality legal representation in the wake of a serious or fatal traffic collision. Still, others ask whether they should seek help after a more “minor” incident or in cases where there are no serious injuries.

The answer, of course, is that it depends upon the facts and circumstances of your particular case. However, here is a certainty: It’s still free to speak to an experienced injury attorney and determine the best course of action.

The statute of imitations for personal injury and wrongful death in Florida is two years. This means your claim will likely be forever barred if not filed within 24 months of the date of accident or injury. However, as a practical matter your case begins to degrade more quickly. In cases where obviously dangerous behaviors may be to blame – distracted driving, speeding, drunk driving – pursuing a claim in the immediate aftermath of an incident offers the best chance for gathering the evidence needed to prove your claim in court. The more time passes, the less available evidence will be salvaged. Witnesses forget, change phone numbers and move. Seasonal variations, including vegetation growth, may materially alter the scene.

Most commonly, the reason for not pursuing a claim is a lack of apparent serious injury. However, there are many cases in which neck and back injuries are not readily apparent. Whether soft-tissue injuries such as whiplash, or something as serious or life threatening as a traumatic brain injury, gauging the long-term consequences of an accident by symptoms in the immediate aftermath is a fool-hardy endeavor, particularly if you are relying upon self diagnosis.

Ultimately, your ability to secure compensation for lost wages, medical expenses and other losses will be directly impacted by your ability to connect your injuries and associated medical complications with the collision.

If you or a loved one is involved in a serious traffic accident, seek immediate medical attention as appropriate, and then begin to gather documentation. Pictures of the scene, before the cars are moved if possible, can be invaluable months later. Get the names and contact information of witnesses. Note whether traffic cameras or private security cameras might have captured the collision. And seek the advice of experienced legal counsel before talking to an insurance company.

Accident lawyers in West Palm Beach can help injury victims. Call Gonzalez & Cartwright, P.A. today at 800-608-2965 to schedule a free consultation.

Archive for April, 2014

West Palm Beach Insurance Claims Best Handled with Experienced Legal Help

Each year, people in the United States pay more than $1 trillion in insurance premiums for car insurance, health insurance, homeowners’ insurance and other policies to protect from risk. Insurers collecting these premiums make average profits in excess of $30 billion annually.  They make so much money in part by making it difficult for insured policyholders to actually get the benefits they have been paying for in the event of a claim, sometimes for years on end. 

When you are in a car accident, you should not expect your insurer to treat you fairly. There are many different tactics that insurance companies use and many reasons why legitimate claims are denied. Accident lawyers in West Palm Beach can assist in dealing with your insurer.

Tactics Insurers are Using to Avoid Paying Your Claim 

Allstate Insurance, named as number one on the list of the 10 worst insurance companies in the United States, developed a three-part approach to handling insurance claims. The three steps were: Delay, Deny, Defend. The company would deny legitimate claims, impose unreasonable delays on claims processing to demoralize policyholders and discourage lawyers from getting involved, and would aggressively defend itself in court when challenged.

A recent report from the American Association for Justice takes a close look at some of the tactics that insurance companies use to avoid paying out car insurance claims. These include:

  • Finding esoteric reasons to deny covered claims. In one example, a 60-year-old woman with a $2 million insurance policy tried to get coverage for a collapsed lung and broken bones caused by a motor vehicle collision. A pickup truck had crossed a double yellow line and hit her vehicle. The claim was denied because the incident was not an “accident,” according to the woman’s insurer. Instead, it was caused by “road rage.”
  • Rewarding claims handlers for claim denials. In some cases, representatives were given gifts like appliances and gift certificates for denying legitimate claims. Insurers also hosted pizza parties to celebrate high denial rates and low payouts.
  • Delaying claims until they cannot be paid. One particularly reprehensible example of this behavior involves avoiding paying long-term care insurance claims by delaying until the covered policyholder dies. However, delays are also detrimental to policyholders in auto insurance claims. If an insurer delays until the statute of limitations has expired, victims of collisions cannot sue at all. The delays could also result in policyholders becoming desperate as they incur medical bills and go weeks or months with no income because their injuries prevent work. A desperate policyholder might accept a lower payment just to get something.

These tactics show that you need someone on your side looking out for you. Contacting a lawyer as soon as possible after a collision is a smart choice to have the best chance of getting your insurer to accept responsibility.

Accident lawyers in West Palm Beach can help injury victims. Call Gonzalez & Cartwright, P.A. today at 800-608-2965 to schedule a free consultation.