Important Car Accident Laws in Florida
Any vehicle accident is a cause for concern. It’s critical that you’re aware of the important car accident laws in Florida because they may affect your compensation for damages.
- Florida is a no-fault insurance state, meaning that you’ll go to your auto insurance carrier before taking your claim against another party’s carrier.
- Florida also uses the comparative fault model for determining accident responsibility and reimbursement.
- The statute of limitations, or deadline, for filing a claim regarding an auto accident is four years. The statute of limitations for seeking medical attention, however, is only fourteen days.
- Drivers involved in car collisions are required by law to report the accidents to authorities if damages exceed $500.
Florida Principles of Fault
The first question to ask after a car accident is, “Are you okay?” Following that, the next question should be, “Whose fault was it?” The answer to that question will determine the degree to which each party takes responsibility for the accident. Unlike other states that utilize a modified comparative fault model, Florida applies pure comparative fault principles. Florida is also recognized as a no-fault insurance state. That means your personal injury protection will pay for your repairs and recovery regardless of whose fault the accident was unless you’ve been disfigured or suffer a permanent injury. If you do need to prove fault, your supporting photos, witness interviews, and other evidence may show that the other party acted unreasonably.
Pure Comparative Fault
Pure comparative fault allows those who have been in a car accident and suffered accident damages compensation by percentage of attributed fault. For example, if you are involved in a vehicle accident that was 75% your fault, the other party could be liable for 25% of your costs. Everyone involved in the accident shares a proportionate expense for restitution, regardless of primary liability. In Florida, fault and liability are essentially the same things. The actual percentage you may receive is limited by the degree to which you and the other party have had in causing the accident. Florida no longer recognizes joint & severe liability, which mandated that every car accident defendant shared equal liability and responsibility for damages.
Major Insurance Providers in Florida
Florida law requires no-fault Personal injury protection (PIP) and property damage insurance (PD). Even though PIP typically pays 80% of your and your passengers’ expenses, it may still not cover every incurred expense. That’s why you still need PD insurance, especially if you’re at fault. In a car accident. I recommend that you have the Key Three Coverages to protect yourself, your family, and your property.
- Bodily Injury Coverage – Protects you if the other driver places a claim against you.
- Collision Coverage – Covers damage to your vehicle.
- Uninsured Motorist Coverage – If the accident is not your fault, and the other driver has no insurance, you’re still covered.
Types of Car Accidents
Accidents can occur in a fraction of a second. All it takes is a quick turn into oncoming traffic or following too closely behind or near another vehicle, and then you’ve been in a collision. Knowing what to avoid can keep you safe.
- Distracted Driving – A distraction can be anything that diverts your attention. Dripping food, an incoming phone call, even a conversation with a passenger can take your attention off the road. In the moment your focus moves from the road to something else, your distraction present serious safety issues for yourself and others.
- DUI – Driving with an unlawful Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .08 or higher is an offense with severe penalties, including mandatory community service and probation for first offenses. Subsequent offenders face substantial fines and mandatory jail time.
- Hit & Run – Florida law requires all parties involved in an accident to remain at the scene until released by law enforcement. Penalties for leaving the scene of an accident depend on the severity of harm caused.
- Fatal Accidents – In the event of a fatality, anyone who leaves the scene of an accident will be charged with first-degree felony, which is punishable with fines and prison time. In addition, the defendant’s driver’s license may be revoked.
Looking out for your safety as well as the safety of others on the road is a responsibility Florida state law expects of all drivers.
What do I do after a crash?
Car accidents can be a traumatic experience. Turn on your hazard lights and get out of harm’s way, even if you have to steer your vehicle to the side of the road. Abandoning your vehicle in the middle of the road before help arrives could be dangerous to you and to other motorists. You are responsible for hiring a tow truck to move your vehicle if you cannot do it yourself. As soon as you are safe, call the police to report the accident. Exchange insurance information with any other drivers involved in the accident, take pictures of damages, road marks, and anything else pertinent to the crash. All drivers must remain present until the police arrive. Florida law requires that you seek medical attention within fourteen days from the time of the accident. Contact your insurance company and give them all the contact information for you and the other driver(s).
What if the other driver is from out of state?
If you’ve been in a car accident with an out-of-state driver, you’re entitled to know about the other driver’s insurance coverage. Many drivers carry coverage with national companies but keep in mind that the actual types of coverage required can vary greatly from state to state. The out-of-state driver who doesn’t want to pay for damages may be the negligent one in your collision. Obtaining the damages due to you could be a concern, but don’t worry. Florida’s Long Arm Statute can require that out-of-state drivers appear in court if summoned, and you may be entitled to vehicle repair costs, reimbursement of medical expenses, lost income or future earning capabilities, and even remuneration for pain and suffering.
Will my insurance rates increase after an accident?
You didn’t ask to be in a car accident, so why should your rates increase unless you’re at fault? Your insurance rates in Florida won’t increase unless you’re at fault or found 100% negligent in the accident. By law, auto insurance companies can’t raise your rates unless you are responsible for a vehicle accident. Even if you’ve been involved in a recent string of collisions, your rates will remain the same as long as you’re not to blame.
Symptoms of a Whiplash
The severity of whiplash can vary depending on the speed at which you were going when colliding, and other factors such as airbags and seatbelts. The general signs and symptoms of whiplash are usually:
- Neck pain and stiffness
- Blurred vision
- Worsening of pain with neck movement
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- Loss of range of motion in the neck
- Sleep disturbances
- Headaches, most often starting at the base of the skull
- Tenderness or pain in the shoulder, upper back or arms
- Difficulty concentrating
- Tingling or numbness in the arms
- Memory problems
Common Car Accident Injuries
In general, there are some common types of injuries we see in people who have been the victims of auto collisions.
- Head and Brain Injuries — Concussions or other traumatic brain injuries, internal bleeding, skull fractures, or lacerations that require plastic surgery.
- Neck and Back Injuries — Whiplash, herniated discs, spinal cord damage, sprains, or strains
- Burn Injuries — In a severe car crash, burns can range from minor to fatal – Serious burns may require skin grafts and result in scarring.
- Broken Bones
- Soft Tissue Injuries — Muscles, tendons, or ligaments can be stretched or torn in an accident