Habitual Traffic Offenders
Bill Allen | April 6, 2021 | Florida Law
It’s terrible to see flashing blue lights behind your vehicle. You know that you are being pulled over. You immediately begin to think about how much money this traffic ticket is going to cost you.
Most drivers receive one or more traffic tickets during their lifetimes. However, Florida drivers who receive numerous traffic tickets or citations for specific offenses may be classified as habitual traffic offenders.
Being Designated as a Florida Habitual Traffic Offender
A habitual traffic offender (HTO) is defined by Florida Statute §322.264. The statute says that a person who has been convicted of 15 moving traffic offenses that result in points against their license within a five-year period can be classified as an HTO.
A person may also be classified as an HTO for obtaining three or more convictions for any of the following offenses within a five year period:
- Involuntary or voluntary manslaughter caused by the operation of a motor vehicle
- Committing a felony while using an automobile
- Operating a vehicle with a revoked or suspended license
- DWI, DUI, and other alcohol-related traffic convictions
- Driving a commercial motor vehicle while disqualified
- Failing to stop or render aid if a motor vehicle accident causes personal injury or wrongful death
If you are caught driving as a habitual traffic offender, you can be charged with a felony and a fine of up to $5,000 and up to five years in prison.
Getting Into a Traffic Accident with a Habitual Traffic Offender
In most cases, a habitual traffic offender will not have liability insurance. An insurance company will not insure a driver who cannot obtain a driver’s license. Therefore, you will need to file a claim against your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance coverage.
PIP is the no-fault insurance system in Florida. All drivers must have a minimum of $10,000 in PIP coverage. Your PIP coverage pays up to 80 percent of your medical bills and up to 60 percent of your lost wages. PIP pays regardless of which driver was responsible for causing the car accident.
However, you must seek medical treatment for your injuries within 14 days of the accident date to be eligible for PIP payments, and PIP payments do have some restrictions.
Options for Seeking Additional Compensation for Accident Damages
PIP insurance does not cover all types of damages caused by a traffic accident. For example, you cannot recover full compensation for medical bills and loss of income. Likewise, you cannot recover any compensation for non-economic damages, such as physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, and permanent impairments.
However, if your injuries meet the serious injury threshold, you can file a claim against the at-fault driver. If the driver does not have insurance, there are two options for recovering compensation for your injuries and damages.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit Against the Driver
You can file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver seeking compensation. Before you can recover compensation, you must prove that the other driver caused the traffic accident. You must also prove that you sustained injuries and damages because of the accident.
Unfortunately, you may not collect anything even if you win the lawsuit. Collecting on a personal judgment can be difficult. If the person does not have exempt income or assets you can attach, your judgment will be worthless.
File an Uninsured Motorist Claim
If you have uninsured motorist insurance coverage, you may receive compensation from your insurance provider. Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage compensates you for damages caused by an uninsured driver. Your insurance company takes the place of the at-fault driver’s liability insurance company.
You could receive compensation for:
- All medical bills and expenses
- All loss of income and benefits
- Permanent impairments and disabilities
- Physical pain and suffering
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Decreases in future earning capacity
- Emotional and mental distress and trauma
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Decreases in quality of life
Your compensation is limited to the policy limits of your UM policy. The insurance company may fight the claim if it believes that the other driver did not cause the crash or you were partially at fault for the accident. Your insurance company treats your uninsured motorist claim as it would a claim from any other person.
Handling Auto Accident Insurance Claims in Florida
Car accident claims can be complicated. The Florida auto insurance laws can be difficult to understand, and determining when you are permitted to file a personal injury lawsuit can be confusing. When your case involves an uninsured driver, the complexity of your case can increase significantly.
Instead of wondering whether you can file a car accident claim or an insurance claim, talk with an Ocala car accident lawyer. Obtaining legal advice is the first step in seeking compensation for your injuries. Understanding your legal rights and your options can help you make decisions that are in your best interest.
Contact Our Car Accident Law Firm in North Central Florida
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