For over 45 years, our law firm has been serving people hurt in serious car accidents in Jacksonville and throughout Florida. We have the experience and resources needed to handle the insurance companies. And most importantly, we always make it our first priority to help our clients recover.
After a car accident, make our law firm your first call
You need to do a few things when you’re in a car accident: call the police, exchange car insurance information with the other driver, get medical attention, and call a lawyer before you talk to an insurance carrier. When you contact Pajcic & Pajcic to discuss your car accident, we'll listen. Our compassionate Jacksonville car accident attorneys will seek to understand how the accident has affected your life, and we'll conduct a thorough investigation to find the evidence needed to help you recover. We pore over police reports and take legal action to secure evidence.
A serious injury can affect every aspect of your life, especially if you have damage to the brain or spine or chronic symptoms such as lower back pain. You need full compensation to be made whole again, and our job is to advocate for the full amount you deserve. We have decades of experience finding ways for our clients to get fair compensation - often in excess of the available insurance coverage - and we have the case results to prove it.
If you've been hurt in a car accident, you need our Jacksonville injury lawyers on your side. You need Pajcic & Pajcic. We would be honored to meet with you for a free consultation. Call 904-358-8881 today. If you can’t come to our law office in Jacksonville, we’ll come to you.
How do car accidents cause injury?
When a road accident occurs, there are three separate collisions that happen in quick succession. First, there is the vehicle collision, in which the car itself hits an object or another vehicle and comes to a sudden stop. Second is the human collision, in which the bodies of the people inside the car keep moving until they hit something – for instance, the dashboard, steering wheel, windshield, a seat, the air bag, or another person. Finally, there is the internal collision, where the internal organs keep moving inside the body until they hit bone.
These three collisions are why car accidents can cause significant bodily injuries, even at relatively low speeds, and sometimes those injuries are hidden. That’s why you need to get checked out in a hospital emergency room, urgent care center, or by your primary care provider as soon as possible after a traffic crash, even if you feel fine. Some common car accident injuries can get worse if they go undiagnosed; for example, if you have a concussion (which is possible even if you didn’t hit your head), you are at risk of a potentially life-threatening complication called second impact syndrome if you sustain another concussion before the first one heals.
Seeing a doctor also creates a record of your injuries, which is a critical part of your personal injury claim. The longer you wait to get medical attention, the easier it is for the insurance company to argue that your injuries weren’t actually sustained in the accident. When you get medical help, you’re starting a paper trail that you can then use to support your claim for damages (financial compensation) for what you’ve lost.
We understand the impact of car accident injuries
The accident itself may have been over in moments, but the effects it had on your body can last a long time, even a lifetime. We represent victims of all types of car accident injuries, including:
Concussions and traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
A car crash can cause a brain injury when an occupant’s head hits the dashboard, windshield, window, steering wheel, or another part of the car. More serious accidents may involve an object, such as part of a vehicle or a piece of cargo, penetrating the skull. That said, you don’t have to hit your head or be struck by an object to sustain a concussion in a car accident. Any sufficiently violent forward and backward movement of the head can cause the brain to hit the inside of the skull.
Severe brain injuries can cause permanent disability and require round-the-clock care for the survivor. Even less serious injuries can still hamper your ability to work, care for your family, and enjoy life. Traumatic brain injuries can affect your ability to focus, read, and remember information, as well as your senses, sleep patterns, and mood – not to mention physical symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, nausea, dizziness, and loss of speech.
While a concussion is a “mild” traumatic brain injury, no brain injury is truly minor. If you were in a car accident and have any reason to think you might have a concussion, you need to get checked out by a doctor right away – and you need an attorney who can fight for full compensation for your brain injury.
Neck, back, and spine injuries
People hurt in car accidents are almost always in a seated position, and that means the first part of the body subject to the force of impact is the back. Soft tissue injuries such as sprains, strains, and tears can cause significant pain and muscle spasms, and herniated discs can compress nerves to cause pain and weakness. Damage to the spinal cord can cause permanent nerve damage or even paralysis.
When the body comes to a stop, the head keeps moving, which can cause violent forward and backward movement that hyperextends the neck. This causes whiplash, and while many think of whiplash as a minor injury, it can lead to much more significant complications – and be a potential sign of a more serious injury.
Back injuries can cause significant pain and affect your ability to do the things you love. You may need long-term medical treatment or medical devices, plus compensation for your loss of income and quality of life.
Depending on the force of impact and the way the accident happens, a car accident can in theory break any bone in the body. A driver may sustain broken arms or wrists from the force of the steering wheel, for instance, or broken legs may result from parts of the cab becoming crumpled around the legs. Hip, knee, clavicle, and back fractures are all possible as well.
Broken bones (fractures) can take weeks or months to heal and may require surgery to put the bone back together. Even after the cast comes off, physical therapy may be needed to restore strength and range of motion in the affected body part. Between the medical treatment and loss of income, the cost of a fracture can be quite high. Bone pain is also perhaps the worst kind of pain, so the cost of pain and suffering can be substantial as well.
When the shoulder is struck against a steering wheel, door, or other parts of the car, the soft tissues in the shoulder can be damaged, causing injuries such as a rotator cuff tear. More serious impacts can even break bones such as the clavicle. Whiplash, too, can affect the shoulder depending on the extent of damage to the neck.
The shoulder has the largest range of motion of any joint in the body, which means it’s complex and quite susceptible to damage. Surgery to repair the shoulder can be complex, and shoulder injuries can cause a significant amount of pain. If you lose strength or range of motion permanently, your ability to work and your quality of life could be affected.
Again, when the body comes to a sudden stop in a car crash, the internal organs keep moving until they hit something. This can cause internal bleeding or significant damage to the organs, and frighteningly, that damage can be hidden for some time after the crash, especially while your adrenaline is still high.
Internal injuries are another reason why it’s so important to get medical attention as soon as possible after a car accident. Seeing a doctor is the best option for your health, and it creates a record of the injury to protect your legal rights. Treatment for an internal injury can be quite costly, especially if surgery is required, and you shouldn’t be stuck paying those costs yourself.
How much is a car accident claim worth?
When you’re seriously hurt in a car accident caused by someone else, you should be fully compensated for everything you’ve lost due to your injuries. The amount of money you can receive from a settlement or court verdict depends on the severity of your injury and the extent to which it has affected your career and everyday life. More severe injuries tend to lead to larger claims, but even less severe injuries, like broken bones and soft tissue injuries, can be worth substantial compensation if they have had a substantial impact on your life. In general, you may be able to recover compensation for economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages.
What are economic damages?
Economic damages represent an objectively verifiable loss that is a direct result of your crash. Some common types of economic damages in car accidents include:
- Medical expenses, from the ambulance ride to the hospital and other emergency medical treatment, to surgery, medication, medical devices, and follow-up appointments. This should also include future expenses that are medically ascertainable – for example, if you sustained a shoulder injury, and your doctor can ascertain that you will need shoulder surgery in 10 years, that expense should be included.
- Lost income, including both the wages you lost during your immediate recovery from the injury and future income if the accident has permanently affected your ability to work. We may need to retain an expert witness such as an economist to verify the extent of your lost future earnings.
- Modifications to your home or vehicle for accessibility if you have a permanent, disabling injury.
- Replacement services for things you regularly did before the accident but are now unable to do because of your injuries, such as childcare, yard work, cleaning, or home maintenance.
- Property damage to your vehicle and any other personal property damaged in the crash.
What are non-economic damages?
Non-economic damages are less concrete and more subjectively determined, but they are still real losses that you’ve sustained because of the accident. Some examples of non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering, mental anguish, and emotional distress. This can be a significant part of your award, especially if your accident caused chronic pain.
- Lost quality and enjoyment of life if your injuries will affect your hobbies and overall lifestyle.
- Loss of consortium, a legal term for damage to the intimate relationship between spouses or domestic partners as a result of an injury. In Florida, children and parents of the injured person can also file a loss of consortium claim for loss of affection and support.
What are punitive damages?
Punitive damages are much different than economic or non-economic damages because they are awarded to the plaintiff as a way to punish or make an example out of the defendant for egregious acts of negligence. For instance, if the defendant intentionally caused your crash, or if they knew they were very drunk and still got behind the wheel, a court may include punitive damages in your award.
What to do after a car accident
You have every right to be confused and overwhelmed in the aftermath of a car crash, but it’s important to keep your wits about you. The decisions you make right after the accident could have far-reaching effects on your future. Here are the steps you need to follow.
Remain at the scene and start gathering evidence
Unless you must leave to get emergency medical attention, you need to remain at the scene of the accident until the police arrive and complete their investigation. Call the police, then while you are waiting, start gathering evidence. Take pictures of the scene, any vehicle or property damage, and any visible injuries. Get the contact information for any witnesses and exchange contact and insurance information with anyone else involved in the accident.
It's important to keep your comments to anyone at the scene brief, sticking to the facts of what happened. Don’t comment on fault for the accident, and don’t apologize (which could be construed as an admission of fault). You are not able to determine why the accident happened yet.
Get prompt medical attention
Even if you feel okay, you need to see a doctor as soon as possible, whether that’s your primary care provider or a hospital emergency room. After an accident, your adrenaline is high, your “fight-or-flight” response is engaged, and certain symptoms (such as inflammation) may not have set in yet. Only getting checked out by a doctor can confirm that you’re really okay – or diagnose your injuries if you aren’t.
In addition, getting medical attention after a car accident creates a record of your injuries to support your claim. Be sure to keep copies of all your medical documents – visit summaries, discharge instructions, bills, prescriptions, doctor’s orders, and so on.
Keep a journal
From the day of the accident, start documenting your injuries and the effects they have had on your life. Write down your symptoms – pain, loss of mobility, fatigue, and anything else you notice – as well as the ways your routines have been disrupted due to those injuries. If you couldn’t go to work or clean your house because you were hurt, write that down. Every detail can affect your claim.
Notify your insurance company
You have to notify your insurance company within a reasonable time after the accident, or they can deny your claim. Keep this notification brief and stick to the facts of what happened. If the insurance company representative asks follow-up questions, answer them truthfully but as succinctly as possible, and don’t volunteer any further information. Don’t comment specifically on your injuries, either; “I am receiving medical treatment” is sufficient.
If an insurance company for the other driver or another at-fault party contacts you, politely decline to speak with them. They can talk to your attorney.
Call a lawyer as soon as possible
When you’re hurt in a car accident, you need legal representation as quickly as possible, for two reasons. First, we need to investigate and gather evidence to support your claim, and that evidence can disappear quickly. Witnesses forget what they saw, evidence is washed away by weather, and camera footage is overwritten. In addition, by dealing with the insurance company on your behalf, we can field their questions and protect your rights while you focus on healing.
Second, there are legal deadlines that can bar your ability to file a lawsuit if you wait too long. In Florida, the statute of limitations (deadline) for most motor vehicle accident cases is four years, which may seem like a long time, but different deadlines can apply under different circumstances. It’s always in your interest to talk to a car accident attorney as soon as possible to find out how the law applies to your case.
Is it worth it to hire a car accident attorney?
Statistically, those who hire an attorney after a serious car accident receive much more on average in compensation compared to those who don’t. Even those who merely talk to an attorney recover more than those who don’t. This is why you should at the very least contact a lawyer to set up a free case consultation to learn your legal options.
What to expect when you hire Pajcic & Pajcic
When you contact Pajcic & Pajcic with a potential car accident claim, the first thing we do will be to listen to your story. We want to know two things: how the accident happened, and how it has affected your life. How much medical treatment have you needed, and what’s the prognosis? Are you able to work? Can you care for your children or maintain your home? Based on those answers, we will advise you of your legal rights and options.
If you decide to move forward, we will immediately contact the insurance company and let them know you are now represented by counsel. If they have any further questions or need information about the case, they can talk to us, not you. By dealing with the insurance company on your behalf, we will protect you from the tactics they use to try to undermine injured people’s claims.
Pajcic & Pajcic will launch a thorough investigation to get to the bottom of what happened and who was responsible. Once we know who caused your accident, we will pursue the full amount of compensation you need for all your accident-related costs. We have a proven track record of meaningful results for people injured in car accidents, both in settlement negotiations and, if necessary, at trial.
How much does a car accident attorney cost?
Car accident attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, which means you don’t pay us anything out of pocket. If we make a financial recovery in your case, our fee is a percentage of the recovery. If we don’t win, you don’t pay anything.
Who is liable for a car accident?
In most cases, liability (legal responsibility) for a car accident falls on a negligent motorist. Most car crashes are caused by driver error – whether that’s distracted driving, drunk driving, speeding, aggressive driving, or just carelessness. In those situations, the at-fault driver’s liability insurance should pay for the damages.
Some car accidents are caused by someone other than a driver. If a defective vehicle was the cause of the crash, for example, then the manufacturer of the vehicle itself or one of its component parts may be liable for the accident. If a road defect caused the accident, then the municipal government or an engineering company contracted to maintain the road might be liable. Crashes caused by drunk drivers may lead to a “dram shop” claim against the bar or establishment that served liquor to the drunk driver.
One of the advantages of hiring a car accident attorney is that we can investigate and determine who was at fault. The police accident report isn’t the final say, as a more thorough investigation can often shed new light on the causes of the crash. In one memorable case, we recovered $3.5 million for a woman who was initially blamed for causing her crash.
What is “comparative negligence” in Florida car accidents?
Comparative negligence is a legal principle used in situations where more than one party is partially at fault for an accident. Florida uses the “pure” comparative negligence standard, which means anyone who is injured in an accident caused in part by someone else can sue for whatever portion of their injuries was the other party’s fault. For instance, if you are 30% at fault for an accident, you can still file a claim or sue for damages, but your final award will be reduced by 30%.
Why you need an experienced car accident lawyer
From the moment your car accident happens, the insurance company will get to work to minimize or deny your claim. To them, every injured person is a threat to their bottom line, and they have perfected the techniques they use to weaken and undermine injury claims. Even a seemingly innocuous statement from an injured person can be used to weaken the recovery. We deal with insurance companies every day, and we know how to counter the tactics they will use to get leverage against you.
Our ultimate goal is to get justice and accountability for your car accident, and that means full and fair compensation for the injuries you have sustained. We will investigate to find the full amount of available insurance coverage and work as a team to determine your best way forward. We have longstanding relationships with expert witnesses, such as economists and medical professionals, who can quantify the damages you are entitled to receive, as well as accident reconstruction experts and others who can help us hold the at-fault driver accountable.
Throughout the process, we will deal with the day-to-day of your legal matters and negotiations with the insurance company. We’ll keep you informed on the progress of your case and involve you in strategic decisions, but for the most part, you can focus on healing and living your life while we take care of the legal process. We never forget that the matters we handle are about much more than numbers. They’re about rebuilding someone’s life.
Schedule your free consultation with a Jacksonville car accident lawyer
Again, time is of the essence in car accident claims. The sooner you talk to an attorney, the better the position you’ll be in on the road ahead. Speaking with a lawyer doesn’t commit you to hiring us or taking any particular legal action. We just want you to know your rights and options.
If you’ve been hurt in a car crash, you don’t have to deal with the insurance company alone. We have the experience and resources to help you move your claim forward. Schedule your free consultation with a Jacksonville car accident attorney at Pajcic & Pajcic today.