Car accidents are all too common in Florida.
Everybody always hopes car accidents will happen to other people – until they happen to you.
There are more than 200,000 car crashes in Florida annually among the 16 million-plus drivers in the state, and in 2015, there were 2,699 fatal crashes. Since Florida's insurance requirements are some of the lowest in the country, you will want to plan ahead and prepare before you drive those roads.
This article will cover how to protect yourself in the event of a car accident in Florida, how to handle it most efficiently and how the state's internal quirks are different from the rest of the country.
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The most important thing in any car accident is to make sure you're physically sound.
Question one: Are you hurt?
Question two: Are your passengers hurt?
Question three: Is the car on fire?
Once you've dealt with those imperative questions, you can move on to the nitty-gritty details.
Florida is a no-fault state when it comes to car insurance. This means that in the event of a car accident, each car turns to its own insurer to cover any medical bills instead of suing the other driver. At-fault states, on the other hand, would sue to cover medical costs related to the accident.
This means that no matter who is hurt – the person driving, the passenger, someone walking on the sidewalk who is sideswiped by an SUV – they all turn to their own car insurance policies first.
If someone is uninsured, he or she turns to the policy of the closest insured relative. See what to do if it’s a hit and run.
Florida requires drivers to carry a $10,000 PIP (personal injury protection) policy. This blanket coverage is intended to protect drivers in case of small accidents. If your medical costs outweigh your car insurance coverage limits, you can:
No-fault systems are intended to destress the courts. Insurance companies can handle small claims like a broken nose or arm, and by streamlining these claims instead of clogging up the legal system, the intention is to get claims paid out faster. For catastrophic or permanent injuries, however, drivers can still sue for damages.
Despite the statistics, many drivers are chancing it by driving with very little insurance – or no insurance at all. This is the case even though Florida requires PIP insurance and PDL insurance (property damage liability insurance), which applies if you cause damage to property.
In these instances, it helps to have underinsurance or uninsurance policies, which cover you in the event when you're hit by someone who isn't driving with insurance. Florida is notorious for having drivers hit the road without policies, even though it's illegal. As of 2012, 23.8% of Florida drivers were uninsured. That is more than one out of every five drivers. Pretty risky, don't you think?
Underinsurance policies cover the medical bills that wouldn't be covered by PIP or the other driver's insurance. Let's say you were hit and suffered a catastrophic injury that allowed you to step outside Florida's no-fault system and sue the other driver. They would have no money for you to claim. An uninsurance policy lets you claim damages against your own insurance company instead so that you won't suffer needlessly.
Some car accidents are minor and straightforward affairs that can be quickly resolved by each party and their insurance company. However, many cases involve complicating factors such as serious property damage, catastrophic injuries or an uninsured/unlicensed driver.
When there's a speed bump in getting compensation you feel you deserve following a crash, it's in your best interests to talk to an attorney. Most reputable firms offer a free consultation, so it costs you nothing but your time to learn about your rights.
- Attorney George Lorenzo, Lorenzo & Lorenzo
It's important to note that “fault” and “negligence” are used interchangeably. Just know that negligence is when someone is legally liable for causing harm to another person. The plaintiff (the person who was harmed) must prove four elements:
The plaintiff has to illustrate that the defendant owed him or her a duty of care;
The defendant breached that duty by acting or not acting a certain way;
The defendant's action or inaction caused the plaintiff's injury;
The plaintiff was actually harmed by the defendant's action or inaction.
The trial process is fairly straightforward. Plaintiffs have four years to file a motor vehicle claim, which is a generous statute of limitations. This gives them a lot of time to heal, gather information related to the accident and find an attorney they like.
Read our complete guide to finding the right injury attorney for your case. Read insights from Enjuris attorneys and lawyers across the USA on when and why you need to hire a car accident attorney. Learn more
Once you've been in an accident, it helps to know that there are other people out there like you who have been through the same thing. Car accidents are scary. They can be life-changing events, and sometimes those who haven't been through them don't understand just how immense of an experience they are. Here are some resources we've collected for you regarding motor vehicle safety, driving education, mental health, physical health and wellness in general.
We hope these resources give you some peace of mind and let you sleep a little more comfortably. In the meantime, if you need to speak with an attorney, try the Enjuris Florida law firm partner!
A personal injury lawyer helps individuals who have sustained injuries in accidents to recover financial compensation. These funds are often needed to pay for medical treatment, make up for lost wages and provide compensation for injuries suffered. Sometimes a case that seems simple at first may become more complicated. In these cases, consider hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer. Read more