Getting into a car accident is already frustrating enough. But maybe you’ve recently moved to Florida from another part of the country. You might wonder how Florida laws differ from other state laws. Or, you are a Florida resident and want to further educate yourself on the laws of your own state. Look no further. Here’s everything you should know about Florida’s auto accident laws and how you can use this knowledge to recover quickly from your accident.
What to Do After a Car Accident
Consider these steps carefully to ensure your safety and gather the necessary information for your insurance and injury claims.
Reporting an Auto Accident in Florida
In Florida, you are required by law to report a car accident to law enforcement if you’re a driver involved in the accident and the crash resulted in severe injuries, death, or property damage of at least $500. If the vehicle crash occurred outside of a municipality, report the accident to the county sheriff or the nearest Florida Highway Patrol police department. After reporting the accident, go through the following steps:
- All drivers must stay at the scene until they’ve exchanged information, collected evidence about the accident, and moved vehicles away from traffic. Gather important information, including all the drivers’ names, contact details, vehicle identification numbers (VIN), drivers’ licenses, and insurance information. Additionally, gather all witnesses’ names, contact information, and their statements on how the accident occurred from their perspective.
- Record the weather conditions and road conditions when the accident happened to the best of your ability. Take photos and videos of all damages, license plates, car models, and sufficient evidence to prove your understanding of how the accident occurred. You’ll submit proof as part of your crash report to the insurance company.
- It’s against Florida law to block traffic, so try to move your vehicle off the road as quickly and safely as possible. If you can’t move the car on your own, call a towing service to move the vehicle for you.
- Seek medical care regardless if you’re injured. Sometimes, injuries don’t appear until days or even weeks later because the adrenaline rush often masks pain during a car accident. That’s why you should see a doctor, so potential injuries don’t worsen. Also, don’t throw away your medical receipts. You will need them to strengthen your injury claims.
Dealing with Insurance Companies After a Florida Car Accident
With Florida’s no-fault policy, your insurance provider should automatically reimburse you for damages, regardless of who caused the accident. However, if your damages and injuries exceed the minimum insurance coverage, you can hold the at-fault driver’s insurance company liable and file a third-party claim.
Unfortunately, for-profit insurance companies often try to avoid liability to reduce their bottom line. As a result, you may get pushback from them. They may offer you a much lower auto accident settlement amount, try to blame you for the accident in some way, or deny your insurance claim altogether.
For these frustrating situations, consider speaking with a car accident attorney if you’re concerned that your or the at-fault driver’s insurance provider won’t compensate you fairly for your injuries and damages.
Florida’s No-Fault Insurance System
Florida is a no-fault insurance state. That means you’ll need to file a Personal Injury Protection (PIP) claim with your own insurance carrier to get compensated for medical expenses and other losses, regardless of who caused the accident.
However, you can file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver if your injury claim meets specific requirements. Exceptions to Florida’s no-fault process include damages exceeding $10,000, significant and permanent loss of critical bodily function, permanent injury, substantial and permanent scarring or disfigurement, and death.
Minimum Insurance Requirements
Because Florida is a no-fault insurance state, all Floridians must have automobile insurance and have proof of insurance kept in their vehicle.
PIP and PDL Florida Insurance Requirements
Your minimum no-fault coverage needs at least $10,000 for Personal Injury Protection Coverage (PIP) and $10,000 for Property Damage Liability Insurance (PDL).
Determining Fault in a Florida Accident Case
If the total cost of damages exceeds the minimum PIP coverage, claims adjusters, judges, and juries determine fault based on the provided evidence. They’ll go through various forms of evidence, including driver statements, witness statements, accident reports, police reports, photos of the accident scene, videos, damage reports, and medical records. They can prove negligence if they find relevant evidence to indicate the following:
- Distracted driving
- Driving under the influence
- Running a stop sign or stop light
- Driving too closely to other vehicles or property
- Driving carelessly
- Not following current traffic laws
Taking Legal Action Against At-Fault Drivers
If you’ve already submitted a claim to your insurance company but didn’t receive the compensation you deserve, you still have the right to take legal action. You can do this by filing a negligence lawsuit against the at-fault driver for personal injuries from the accident. There are some cases where you can sue the insurance provider, but it’s best to consult a lawyer before doing so.
Comparative Negligence in Florida Car Crash Cases
Florida’s Pure Comparative Fault policy allows for financial recovery when the person submitting a claim has some responsibility for causing the accident.
Here’s how the policy works. The jury calculates the total cost of the claimant’s damages and each party’s percentage of fault. The claimant’s damages award is reduced by a percentage equal to the share of the responsibility.
For example, if the jury decides the damages award is $100,000, and you are 30 percent at fault, you’re entitled to 70 percent of the reward, or $70,000 in this case. Insurance adjusters also apply this rule to evaluate your case.
Florida Car Accident Statute of Limitations
According to Florida’s Statutes of Limitations, you have four years after a car crash to file an auto accident claim to the state’s civil court system. If you try to file an auto accident lawsuit after that time limit, the court system will most likely dismiss your case.
When Should You Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer
Consider hiring a personal injury lawyer if you were in a car accident recently and feel you weren’t or won’t get compensated fairly for your pain and suffering. An experienced car accident attorney will consider your case in a consultation so you can learn more about your rights and your claim’s potential value.
Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, meaning they won’t get paid until they receive fair compensation through an insurance settlement or court verdict. Unlike with insurance providers, it’s in a lawyer’s best interest for you to win.
How a Florida Car Accident Lawyer Can Help
A Florida car accident lawyer is well-versed in state law and the auto insurance system, so they know how to assert a claim against the at-fault party when the exceptions apply. A qualified car accident attorney often initiates a thorough investigation to determine the full extent of your injuries and damages. That way, the lawyer can file a personal injury lawsuit or make other parties share liability. A car accident lawyer can also speak to insurance carriers on your behalf to protect your best interests.
The team at Denmon Pearlman is here to help you navigate the legal nuances of your car accident claim. If you’ve been in a car accident, you could be entitled to compensation. Contact us today for your free consultation. You won’t pay a cent unless we win!