Automobile Accident and Soft Tissue Injury Claims
TAMPA BAY AREA AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENT LAW FIRM
If you have been injured as a result of a car accident you may need the advice and representation of a Tampa Bay area automobile accident attorney on your side to assist you in navigating the complicated legal issues associated with a car wreck. A plaintiff personal injury law firm that focuses solely on personal injury and represents At the Dolman Law Group, we have seen first-hand the devastating consequences that an automobile accident can have on innocent victims and their families. Medical bills, lost wages, car repairs, Florida’s no fault insurance system and the use of personal injury protection (PIP) benefits are just a few of the issues that arise following a car accident. If you have been injured in an automobile accident as a result of the negligence of another, we can help.
The attorneys at Dolman Law Group are trial lawyers committed to obtaining the maximum recovery possible for our automobile accident clients and will take a case to trial if the insurance carrier is not willing to provide a reasonable settlement offer. Many attorneys represent injured victims of auto accidents while handling many other areas of practice including criminal defense and family law. It is our earnest belief that my focusing only on the area of personal injury we can avoid being a “jack of all trades and master of none." It is very difficult for an attorney to handle a number of different areas of practice and stay up to date on the most recent changes in each discipline while developing a strong level of competence in representing automobile accident victims.
SYMPTOMS OF WHIPLASH
Symptoms of whiplash include but are not limited to neck pain, headache, shoulder pain with stiffness, dizziness, fatigue, jaw pain, arm pain, and arm weakness. If you are suffering from any of the above referenced whiplash symptoms, it is imperative you contact a licensed Tampa Bay area whiplash attorney who regularly handles and litigates soft tissue claims against a myriad of insurance carriers.
SOFT TISSUE INJURY CLAIMS ARISING FROM A MINOR IMPACT
The personal injury attorneys at Dolman Law Group are well versed in the nuances of whiplash and soft tissue injuries and just how inherently difficult these cases can be. Many plaintiff law firms have become reluctant to accept soft tissue cases and a host of others will settle such cases for whatever offer they receive. The financial incentive behind handling minor impact soft tissue claims, have grown disproportionate to the effort expounded in litigating the case. The insurance carriers have become far more aggressive in defending against soft tissue claims in recent years. As a result of propaganda pushed by the insurance industry, the general public often views whiplash claims with substantial skepticism. Insurance carriers and their lobbyists have painted plaintiff attorneys as greedy and claim soft tissue injuries are bogus claims contrived by attorneys seeking to line their pockets with money.
WHY SOFT TISSUE CLAIMS ARE SO DIFFICULT FOR AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENT ATTORNEYS
The insurance industry relies on retained experts (i.e., Biomechanical Engineers, Physicians and Automobile Accident Reconstructionist) who are all willing to offer their bought and paid for opinion that the injuries claimed by the alleged victim are scientifically impossible in light of the property damage involved. Thus, in order to succeed on a whiplash/soft tissue injury case, the plaintiff attorney must overcome pre-established jury bias, deal with a defense attorney who will show the jury a picture of an automobile with what appears to be minor or moderate property damage, as well as experts who will claim such injuries are impossible as a result. With this information in hand, the insurance carriers typically offer ridiculously low offers on moderate or minor impact claims. Sadly, real accident victims are being cheated out of fair compensation as a result of junk science and insurance carriers who apply the same cookie cutter approach to all minor impact automobile accident claims.
Many insurance carriers including Allstate (the nation’s largest insurance carrier) utilize computer systems to determine the value of the claim based on a host of criteria and algorithm’s. Allstate and a number of other carriers will present minimal settlement offers with a take it or leave it approach to the carrier and will be unwilling to come off of their offer. A strong whiplash injury attorney will understand the nuances of proving such a case to a jury while remaining committed to pushing the case into and through litigation if necessary. A whiplash injury attorney must have a strong comprehension of how to illustrate soft tissue injuries to a jury while overcoming their pre-conceived bias and the experts who will tell them that such injuries are scientifically impossible.
Automobile accidents can prove devastating to the victim along with his or her family. Auto accidents often result in broken bones, damages to the spine including herniated discs and other very significant and even catastrophic injuries. However, some auto accidents result in less clear and tangible ailments such as damage to the muscles or ligaments are typically deemed “soft tissue injuries" by insurance Claims Adjusters. Soft tissue injuries commonly cause chronic pain that can last indefinitely. Many lower speed collisions create a whiplash effect. Whiplash is also referred to as a cervical acceleration-deceleration injury wherein an impact leads to a sudden distortion of the cervical spine. As a personal injury law firm, we often come across whiplash injuries in moderate to minor rear end collisions.
Under Florida’s no-fault system (Florida Statutes Section 627.736), if you suffer an injury as a result of an auto accident, the personal injury protection (PIP) portion of your insurance will pay eighty percent (80%) of your reasonable medical expenses related to injuries sustained in the accident, and sixty percent (60%) of your lost earnings, regardless of who caused the accident. The legislative purpose of Personal Injury Protection is to enable a victim to receive expeditious medical treatment regardless of fault as opposed to waiting for a court of law to determine liability.
PERSONAL INJURY PROTECTION
Serious bodily injury can be sustained not only from the initial contact with another vehicle, but also from the secondary impact within your own vehicle (i.e., the dashboard or steering wheel, etc.). Automobile accidents remain the leading cause of death among young adults. Under Florida Statutes, you may be able to seek compensation for medical bills; lost wages, car rentals and repairs, and any pain and suffering you’ve endured as a Florida car accident victim. Many car accident victims expect their respective insurance carrier to settle their claim in a prompt and fair manner. However, the insurance company answers to their shareholders and policyholders. Sadly it is common for the insurance company to negotiate in bad faith when attempting to resolve an automobile or other personal injury claim. Bad faith can be defined as unreasonable or unfair claims handling by an insurance company.
HOW INSURANCE CARRIERS DEAL WITH AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENT CLAIMS
The insurance company begins with an enormous advantage due to its vast army of attorneys and adjustors who are trained to minimize the amount your claim is worth. The insurance companies have tremendous financial resources and a laundry list of excuses and arguments a Claims Adjuster will utilize to reduce or deny compensation to an injured party. At Dolman Law Group, our obligation is to our client. Our goal is to prevent the insurance company from taking advantage of our injured client. We are committed to holding insurance carriers accountable for improper claims handling by failing to act in a reasonable manner and adhere to the fiduciary duty they owe to the insured. Inherent in every insurance policy (which is a contract) is the implied duty of good faith and fair dealing.
It is also important to note that if you are a victim of an accident involving minor property damage, it is possible to suffer a painful and often permanent injury as a result. The insurance company will likely offer very little compensation as it will argue that it is impossible highly unlikely to be injured as a result of an alleged minor accident or minor impact. Insurance companies are notorious for denying, delaying and attempting to minimize such claims.
Many carriers have implemented a protocol by which they immediately and aggressively defend claims in which the property damage falls below some arbitrary number. The number usually ranges between $1200-$1500 and if the property damage falls below this amount the claim is sent to a specific department or Claims Adjuster who specializes in what they label as “minor impact soft tissue" (or the acronym MIST) cases. The Adjuster will generally send out a letter within a week or two of the accident in which they already make the blanket cookie cutter proclamation that the accident could not have caused the injuries my client is complaining of. This is known as a “causation" defense and Adjusters often make such determinations without consulting with a biomechanics engineer to determine the actual force behind the impact or collision. Further, Adjusters often make such statements without retaining a licensed physician to evaluate the medical records to date and determine whether such treatment was necessary, reasonable or related. In other words the Adjuster will make decisions regarding medical treatment and biomechanical engineering issues without retaining an expert in either field. This often illustrates the mode of operation at a specific insurance company and how they engage in their normal course of dealings. This is the essence of improper claims handling and an aggressive, experienced plaintiff attorney will see right through this.