Car accident cases in Florida are slightly different from car accident cases in other states. Florida is one of several states that has a no-fault insurance law. This law impacts how car accident claims are handled after a car accident.
Blame for an accident only becomes important if a person sustains serious injuries. If the accident does not involve serious injuries, each accident victim files a claim against their no-fault car insurance policy.
What are Florida’s No-Fault Insurance Laws?
The no-fault insurance law requires drivers to purchase no-fault insurance or Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance.
The required amount of no-fault insurance is:
- $10,000 Personal Injury Protection coverage
- $10,000 Property Damage Liability coverage
Your PIP insurance pays up to 80 percent of your reasonable and necessary medical expenses. However, you must seek medical treatment within 14 days after the car crash to receive benefits. PIP coverage also pays up to 60 percent of your lost income.
Even if you are to blame for a car accident, you file your claim for medical bills and loss of income against your PIP insurance. The other driver involved in the accident does the same.
Property Damage Liability coverage compensates the other driver for damages to their vehicle or other personal property in an accident that you cause. It does not pay to repair or replace your vehicle after a car wreck.
What Happens If You Caused the Car Accident?
Drivers in Florida are not required to buy liability car insurance. Liability car insurance compensates other drivers and accident victims for damages when you are to blame for a car accident. If you do not have liability car insurance, you can be held personally liable for the damages caused by the car crash.
Damages in a car accident can include:
- Loss of income and benefits
- Travel expenses to medical appointments
- Medical expenses and costs
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress and mental anguish
- Permanent disabilities and impairments
- Loss of quality of life or enjoyment of life
When you have liability car insurance, the accident victim files a claim with your insurance provider. Your insurance provider reviews and investigates the accident claim. If the person did not sustain serious injuries, the claim is denied based on Florida’s no-fault insurance laws.
Accident victims must meet the serious injury threshold to recover money for their injuries and damages from the driver who caused the car accident. Serious injuries are defined in the Florida statutes.
If the person meets the serious injury threshold, your liability insurance company may approve the claim. However, that does not mean the accident claim is settled.
If the accident victim does not accept the settlement offer, they may negotiate a higher settlement amount for the claim. If the parties cannot reach an agreement, you could be sued by the accident victim.
Any personal injury lawsuit filed regarding the accident names you as the defendant. It alleges that you are to blame for the cause of the accident and, therefore, you are responsible for the victim’s damages. Your insurance company may hire an attorney to defend you against the lawsuit, but you might want to consult another lawyer to ensure that your legal rights are protected.
How Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Help Me Fight a Car Accident Claim?
An attorney may not be able to prevent you from being blamed for a car accident or being sued by an accident victim, but an attorney can fight to ensure that you are not wrongfully blamed for a car crash.
One of the first things that a car accident attorney does is investigate how the car crash occurred. The lawyer needs to determine the factors that contributed to the cause of the collision and who is responsible for each factor. One party might be entirely to blame for the cause of the crash, or multiple parties could share liability for the collision.
During an accident investigation, a lawyer takes numerous steps to gather evidence. Some steps that your lawyer might take during the accident investigation include:
- Request and review copies of the accident report and police report
- Search for video of the collision caught by traffic cameras or nearby surveillance cameras
- Search for eyewitnesses and take their statements
- Take statements from each person involved in the accident
- Check the weather reports for the day and time of the crash
- Check for road hazards that could have contributed to the cause of the car wreck
- Gather physical evidence from the vehicles and the accident scene
- The data from onboard recorders and systems
- Copies of cell phone records at the time of the accident
In some cases, your lawyer may retain investigators and accident reconstructionists to assist with the car accident investigation. If you were not to blame for the car accident, the evidence should support your claim.
Throughout the case, your personal injury lawyer protects your legal rights and your best interests. If you were not to blame for the cause of the crash, your lawyer could help you file a personal injury claim if your injuries meet the serious injury threshold. Your lawyer can also help you with a PIP claim if your insurance company refuses to pay your medical bills and lost wages.
What if I Am Only Partially At-Fault for a Florida Car Accident?
The accident investigation could reveal that you are only partially to blame for the cause of the car wreck. If so, you could be entitled to partial compensation for your car accident injuries. The accident victim may not receive full compensation if the victim is partially to blame for causing the crash.
Florida’s comparative fault laws state that an accident victim’s compensation is reduced by the share of fault the victim has for the cause of the accident. In other words, if the accident victim was 50 percent at fault for the car accident, the victim can only receive 50 percent of the value of their personal injury claim.
Likewise, if you are 50 percent at fault for causing an accident, you could be entitled to 50 percent of the compensation you would receive for the accident if you were not at fault.
For example, if your lost wages, medical bills, other financial losses, pain, suffering, and other damages total $200,000, you could be entitled to receive $100,000 for an injury claim ($200,000 x 50%). The types of damages, your percentage of fault, and other factors determine your car accident claim’s value.
Call Our Florida Personal Injury Lawyer for a Free Consultation
It does not cost you anything to meet with an attorney to discuss your claim. Before believing the statements made by a claims adjuster for the insurance company, get the facts from a trusted legal advocate for accident victims.
If you are served with a personal injury lawsuit, contact an attorney immediately. You have a short period to respond to the lawsuit. Failing to respond to the lawsuit can result in a default judgment.
Our Florida personal injury attorneys aggressively investigate and pursue car accident claims for our clients. We do not stop working until all avenues of legal recourse are exhausted.