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Guide to Florida Car Accidents

Jason Turchin, Esq.

Car accidents are an unfortunate reality on Florida’s roads. With millions of residents and tourists driving daily, accidents can range from minor fender benders to severe collisions causing significant injuries and fatalities. Understanding your rights and responsibilities following a car accident in Florida is often crucial for protecting your interests and ensuring you receive the compensation you deserve. This comprehensive guide covers common things you need to know about Florida car accidents, from legal requirements and common causes to the steps you should consider immediately after an accident and how to pursue a claim.

Overview of Florida Car Accident Laws

Florida operates under a unique set of laws that govern car accidents. These laws are designed to help ensure that victims receive timely and fair compensation while maintaining an efficient legal process. Key aspects of Florida car accident laws include:

  1. No-Fault Insurance: Florida is a no-fault state, meaning that after a car accident, your own insurance company pays for part of your medical expenses and certain other losses, regardless of who caused the accident. This system is designed to reduce litigation and ensure prompt payment of claims. Although, experienced injury lawyers in Florida may tell you otherwise.
  2. Personal Injury Protection (PIP): As part of the no-fault system, all drivers in Florida are required to carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance. PIP covers up to $10,000 in medical expenses and lost wages, regardless of fault. However, it only covers 80% of medical bills and 60% of lost wages, up to the policy limit. If you don’t have an emergency medical condition or certain other treatment within a specific period of time following the car crash in Florida, this coverage may be reduced.
  3. Bodily Injury Liability (BIL) Insurance: Bodily Injury Liability (BIL) insurance is recommended. This coverage pays for serious and permanent injuries or death caused to others when you are at fault in an accident.
  4. Comparative Fault: Florida follows a comparative fault rule, which means that if you are partially at fault for an accident, your compensation will be reduced by your percentage of fault. Under Florida’s new comparative fault law, as of 2023, if you are found to be more than 50% at fault for an accident, you may not be entitled to compensation.
  5. Statute of Limitations: In Florida, you have a limited time to file a lawsuit following a car accident. The statute of limitations for personal injury claims is generally two years from the date of the accident for accidents happening as of the law change on March 24, 2023, and four years for accidents occurring prior. For wrongful death claims, the statute of limitations is two years. Other statutes of limitations may apply, like in the case of accidents involving state or federal vehicles.

Common Causes of Car Accidents in Florida

Understanding the common causes of car accidents can help you stay vigilant and reduce your risk on the road. Some of the most frequent causes of car accidents in Florida include:

  1. Distracted Driving: This is one of the leading causes of car accidents. Activities such as texting, talking on the phone, eating, and using in-car technologies can divert attention from the road.
  2. Speeding: Driving above the speed limit is a significant contributor to accidents. Higher speeds reduce the driver’s ability to react to sudden changes in traffic conditions and increase the severity of collisions.
  3. Driving Under the Influence: Alcohol and drugs impair a driver’s judgment, coordination, and reaction times, leading to a higher likelihood of accidents.
  4. Reckless Driving: Aggressive behaviors such as tailgating, weaving in and out of traffic, and ignoring traffic signals and signs can result in serious accidents.
  5. Weather Conditions: Florida’s weather can be unpredictable, with sudden rainstorms creating hazardous driving conditions. Wet roads can lead to hydroplaning and reduced visibility, increasing the risk of accidents.
  6. Running Red Lights and Stop Signs: Disregarding traffic signals and signs is a common cause of intersection accidents, often leading to severe injuries.

Steps to Take Immediately After a Car Accident

The moments following a car accident in FL can be chaotic and stressful. Knowing what to do can help ensure your safety, protect your legal rights, and facilitate the claims process. Here are the steps you should consider immediately after a car accident:

  1. Ensure Safety: First and foremost, check yourself and others for injuries. If anyone is seriously injured, call 911 immediately. If it’s safe to do so, move vehicles out of traffic to prevent further accidents.
  2. Call the Police: Florida law requires that you report car accidents involving injuries, death, or significant property damage to the police. Even if the accident seems minor, having an official police report can be crucial for your insurance claim.
  3. Exchange Information: Collect the names, contact information, driver’s license numbers, license plate numbers, and insurance details from all involved parties. Also, gather contact information from any witnesses.
  4. Document the Scene: Take photographs and videos of the accident scene, vehicle damage, road conditions, and any visible injuries. This evidence can be vital for your insurance claim and any potential legal action.
  5. Seek Medical Attention: Even if you don’t feel injured, it’s important to get a medical evaluation as some injuries may not be immediately apparent. Prompt medical attention also provides documentation of your injuries, which is important for your claim.
  6. Notify Your Insurance Company: Report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible. Provide them with all the relevant details and cooperate with their investigation.
  7. Consult an Attorney: If you’ve been injured, consulting with an experienced car accident attorney can help you understand your rights and ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.

Filing a Car Accident Claim in Florida

Filing a car accident claim involves several steps, and understanding the process can help you navigate it more effectively. Here’s a breakdown of the typical steps involved in filing a car accident claim in Florida:

  1. Initial Notification: Notify your insurance company of the accident as soon as possible. Provide them with all necessary information, including the police report, witness statements, and medical records.
  2. Investigation: The insurance company may investigate the accident to determine liability and assess damages. This may involve reviewing the police report, interviewing witnesses, and inspecting the vehicles involved.
  3. Medical Treatment and Documentation: Continue receiving medical treatment for your injuries and keep detailed records of all medical visits, treatments, and expenses. This documentation can be crucial for proving your injuries and calculating damages.
  4. Evaluation of Damages: Calculate the total damages resulting from the accident. This includes medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering. An attorney can help ensure that all damages are accurately accounted for.
  5. Settlement Negotiations: The insurance company may offer a settlement based on their evaluation of the claim. It’s important to review this offer carefully, as initial offers are often lower than what you may be entitled to. An attorney can negotiate on your behalf to seek a fair settlement.
  6. Filing a Lawsuit: If a fair settlement cannot be reached, you may need to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. This involves filing a complaint in court and proceeding with the litigation process, which may include discovery, depositions, and a trial.

Understanding Your Compensation

Victims of car accidents may be entitled to various forms of compensation, depending on the circumstances of the accident and the extent of their injuries. Common types of compensation include:

  1. Medical Expenses: This includes coverage for past and future medical bills related to the treatment of your injuries, such as hospital stays, surgeries, medications, and rehabilitation.
  2. Lost Wages: If your injuries prevent you from working, you may be entitled to compensation for lost wages. This includes both past lost income and future earning capacity if your injuries result in long-term or permanent disability.
  3. Pain and Suffering: Compensation for physical pain and emotional distress resulting from the accident. This is often calculated based on the severity and duration of your injuries.
  4. Property Damage: Reimbursement for the repair or replacement of your vehicle and any other personal property damaged in the accident.
  5. Punitive Damages: In cases of egregious misconduct by the at-fault driver, such as drunk driving, the court may award punitive damages to punish the wrongdoer and deter similar behavior in the future.

Dealing with Insurance Companies

Dealing with insurance companies can be challenging, especially when you’re recovering from injuries. It’s important to remember that insurance companies are businesses focused on minimizing their payouts. Here are some tips for dealing with insurance companies after a car accident:

  1. Be Cautious with Statements: Avoid giving detailed statements to the insurance company without consulting an attorney. Anything you say can be used against you to reduce your claim.
  2. Document Everything: Keep detailed records of all communications with the insurance company, including emails, phone calls, and letters. This documentation can be important if disputes arise.
  3. Don’t Accept Low Offers: Insurance companies often make low initial settlement offers. Don’t accept the first offer without reviewing it carefully and consulting with an attorney.
  4. Know Your Rights: Understand your policy coverage and your rights under Florida law. An attorney can help you navigate the complexities of dealing with insurance companies and ensure your rights are protected.

Choosing the Right Attorney

Selecting the right attorney is crucial for navigating the complexities of a car accident claim and ensuring you receive fair compensation. Here are some factors to consider when choosing a car accident attorney:

  1. Experience: Look for an attorney with a proven track record in handling car accident cases in Florida. Their experience can be invaluable in understanding the nuances of state laws and negotiating with insurance companies. A search for “car accident attorney near me” can be helpful.
  2. Reputation: Research the attorney’s reputation through client reviews, professional ratings, and testimonials. A reputable attorney is more likely to provide quality representation.
  3. Resources: Ensure the attorney has the necessary resources to thoroughly investigate your case, gather evidence, and pursue litigation if needed.
  4. Communication: Choose an attorney who communicates clearly and regularly, keeping you informed about the progress of your case and answering any questions you may have.

Finding a Car Accident Lawyer Near Me

If you need to find a car accident lawyer after a Florida car accident, consider the Law Offices of Jason Turchin to fight for the compensation you deserve. Call us at 800-337-7755 or Chat with our agents. We have a no fee guarantee, which means we work on a contingency fee basis and you pay us no fees or costs if there is no recovery.

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