If you are involved in a car accident, you should know and understand Florida’s liability laws. Florida has nearly half a million car accidents each year. If you are seeking compensation, understanding these laws will help guide you on what actions you should take following an accident, which may affect the amount of compensation you are able to recover.
Florida law requires all operating vehicles to be properly titled, registered, and have current automobile insurance. The minimum requirements for automobile insurance is $10,000 personal injury protection (PIP) and $10,000 property damage liability (PD). PIP insurance provides coverage for any medical expenses and lost wages for you and any passenger in your vehicle. In order to receive the benefits of this insurance coverage, medical treatment must have been initiated within 14 days of the accident. This is just one reason why you should seek medical care immediately if you are involved in a car accident. PD insurance provides coverage to pay for damages to someone else’s property if you are liable for those damages. PD covers damage to the other parties’ vehicle, however, it does not provide coverage for damages to your vehicle.
If you are involved in a car accident in Florida which resulted in injuries or property damage of $500 or more, you are legally required to report the accident to the police. The police will create an accident report containing the details of the accident. This includes, but is not limited to,
- The name of all persons that were involved in the accident,
- Contact information of the parties,
- Vehicle information (make, model, VIN,),
- Insurance information for all vehicles involved,
- Name and contact information of any witnesses to the accident,
- Details and logistics of the accident, and
- Diagrams of the collision.
Florida, along with another dozen or so states, is a “no-fault” insurance state. “No-fault” simply means that any driver involved in an accident must first file a claim under their personal injury protection policy with their insurance company to receive compensation for damages, including medical bills, lost income, and other financial losses – regardless of fault or liability. In some rare circumstances, you may be able to file a claim directly with the at-fault driver.
In some situations, proving fault for an accident can be very simple and clear-cut. However, many times determining liability can be more complicated. Fault, or liability, is primarily determined by the degree of negligence that can be attributed to each party involved. Negligence generally means careless or inadvertent conduct that results in harm or damage. One can be negligent by failing to do something, such as not coming to a complete stop at an intersection when you do not have the right-of-way, as well as by actively doing something, such as running a red light.
Even if you were careless and contributed in part to the cause of the accident, you may still be able to recover at least some compensation from anyone else who was also careless and partly responsible for the accident. The amount of the other person’s liability for the accident is determined by comparing the degree of negligence of each party. The percentage of negligence determines the percentage of the resulting damages each party is financially responsible to pay. This is referred to as comparative negligence.
For example, if you were driving but not wearing your seatbelt and you made a completely legal right turn when another driver ran a red light and hit your car, you would be entitled to full compensation for damages to your vehicle. However, if you sustained injuries from the accident, it may be determined that the severity of those injuries was greater because you failed to wear a seatbelt. The insurance adjuster, judge, or jury (should it go to trial) might determine that your injuries were 40% greater than they would have been if you had a seatbelt on. The other driver would then only be responsible to pay for 60% of those medical expenses. If your medical expenses were $125,000, you would be entitled to recover $75,000 from the other responsible driver.
Understanding Florida’s motor vehicle laws, negligence, legal liability, and how an insurance company will apply its coverage policies to your situation can be complicated and time-consuming, and mistakes can be financially devastating.
CONTACT A PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, then you should take the appropriate steps to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. Contact a trusted, respectable personal injury attorney today.
For over 60 years our firm has been successfully helping people who have been injured due to someone else’s carelessness. We have been nationally ranked for decades by US News and World Reports as a Tier 1 law firm, which is the highest-ranking that can be received. Sean McQuaid and Jonathon Douglas have dedicated their careers to continuing the firm’s legacy of superior legal representation.
Remember that we never charge a fee unless we win. Call us today so that we may answer your questions, help you navigate the complexities of insurance claims, and recover the compensation that you deserve.
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