A car accident can leave you confused. You might not think about what you should do after a car accident in Florida until it happens to you. There are things that you can do to protect yourself and your rights under Florida law. You may need to work with a Tampa car accident attorney to protect your right to recover compensation. Here are 30 frequently asked car accident questions for Florida accident victims.
1. What should I do right after a car accident?
There are important things to do right after a car accident occurs. Immediately after a car accident, you should do all of the following:
- Call emergency services if anyone is even possibly injured: Internal injuries are challenging to diagnose, and symptoms may not appear for several hours or days. You are required to aid anyone injured in a car accident, and you can do this by contacting emergency services on behalf of anyone who is or may be injured. After the accident, you should also see a medical professional and undergo recommended tests to determine if you’re injured.
- Call the police in almost all cases: You don’t have to call the police if nobody was injured and there was no vehicle damage
- Take photos of the accident scene: Photos and videos can help establish crucial details and prove who was at fault
- Exchange insurance, license, and contact information with the other driver: You must also provide your vehicle registration information to the other driver involved in the crash, and they’re required to provide you with this information
- Get contact information for witnesses: Witnesses can play a crucial role if you file a lawsuit for damages. Ensure you get suitable contact information, such as their phone number and email address, so that you can reach them later.
- Ask witnesses what they saw: Asking witnesses what they saw is a way to identify crucial witnesses with relevant information to determine who caused the accident
- Write down what you remember about the crash as soon as you can: You should also note if there are security cameras in the area and describe the weather conditions and any other factors that may have contributed to your accident
- Contact your insurance company: Since Florida is a no-fault state, your insurance will cover some or all of your costs, even if you weren’t at fault for the accident
- Contact a car accident attorney: You can receive a free consultation from the accident scene. Expert legal counsel can help you avoid mistakes and protect yourself from false claims.
What if the accident involves multiple cars?
Make sure you check on all drivers and passengers if you can do so safely. You should report everyone’s condition when you call emergency services.
Get the name, contact details, driver’s license number, insurance information, and vehicle registration number for every driver and vehicle involved in the accident.
Although Florida is a no-fault state, accident victims can file a claim to seek damages for injuries and related costs. In these cases, Florida recognized shared liability. This means an investigation may establish that multiple drivers share fault for the accident. Driver A could be 30% responsible, while Drivers B and C may each be 35% responsible. This means that if the courts awarded a judgment, Driver A would be responsible for paying 30% of the judgment. In comparison, Drivers B and C would each cover 35% of the amount awarded. No matter what you think happened when you’re at the scene, gather information from every driver to ensure you can pursue damages from everyone considered at fault.
Take a video showing the locations of every vehicle involved in the accident. Video footage can help establish the distance between each vehicle, which could help investigators determine how the accident occurred.
Although you should receive vehicle registration information from the other drivers, it’s a good idea to take photos of the license plates on each vehicle and note the make, model, and color of each vehicle. This ensures you have a clear record of the vehicles involved.
What should I do if I’m in a hit-and-run?
Hit-and-run accidents are frightening because you may feel like you won’t receive justice from the person who caused your accident. Per Florida law, every driver involved in an accident must stay at the accident location until the police say they can leave. Drivers of hit-and-run vehicles are breaking the law and can be charged. They could be ordered to pay a fine or spend time in jail if convicted.
Calling the police is the most important thing you can do after a hit-and-run. Next, make notes about the vehicle and anything you recall about the accident. Details such as the vehicle’s make, model, and license plate number can help police find the vehicle. It would help if you noted any details you recall about the driver, such as their gender, hair color, and age. Grab your smartphone, snap photos, or take video footage while the hit-and-run driver leaves the scene.
What should I do if a car accident involves a bicyclist?
Florida bicyclists are more likely to die in an accident than bicyclists anywhere in America. Bicyclists are vulnerable because they don’t have a vehicle surrounding them that can absorb some or all of the impact during a crash. Check the bicyclist’s condition and call emergency services. You should do whatever you can to make sure the cyclist stays safe while waiting for the police to arrive. It may be unsafe to move a cyclist if they have head, neck, or back injuries.
You should still exchange information with the cyclist to ensure you can contact them after the crash.
What should I do if a pedestrian is injured in the accident?
Pedestrians can cause car accidents or be victims of a wreck. Check on their condition and contact emergency services immediately. You should also exchange information with the pedestrian.
2. What should I say at the scene of a car accident?
It’s important not to admit fault on the scene of a car accident. You shouldn’t apologize even if you’re only trying to express sympathy. It’s best to say very little to preserve your legal rights other than exchanging contact information.
3. Should I go to a doctor if I’m in a car accident?
Florida has strict laws about physical injuries after a car accident. Florida law 627.736 says that you have 14 days to see a doctor after a car accident if you want to claim no-fault insurance benefits for physical injuries. Even if you don’t think you have physical injuries, it’s important to see a doctor.
You may have injuries that you don’t realize. You might also have injuries that don’t show right away. When you see a doctor immediately, you preserve your right to compensation for your physical injuries. Also, it’s essential to document the types of injuries you have as soon as possible.
4. How do I know if I have a legal claim after a car accident?
In most cases, Florida’s no-fault law says that each side covers their own losses after a minor car accident. But when your injuries are serious or permanent, you can bring a legal claim against the person responsible for your injuries.
If someone else’s behavior led to your accident, you might be able to bring a lawsuit for a full range of damages from the crash. The standard is typically whether you have an injury that’s serious, like a broken bone, or a permanent injury, like irreversible nerve damage or scarring.
5. What can I collect if I’m hurt in a car accident?
If you have injuries that qualify for a legal claim, there are many categories of damages that you might be eligible for. Your medical bills are one category, and medical bills include things like physical therapy, safety aids, and mobility devices.
You can also ask for compensation for lost work, the cost of help with chores around the home, your physical suffering, and your emotional pain. Your car accident attorney can help you make sure that you don’t leave anything out.
6. Are there things that I can do to build my case for recovery when I’m hurt in a car accident?
When you’re in a car accident, you can feel helpless. But there are things that you can do to build your claim. You can write down everything that you remember about the accident. You can ask witnesses to do the same, and you can ask to interview them. It’s also important to seek medical treatment, go to follow-up appointments, and follow your medical care plan.
Your accident lawyer can help you take advantage of legal procedures that you can use to ask for evidence in a more formal way. You can ask for records from the other party. You can even ask witnesses to produce records or sit for a deposition to talk about what they observed. All of these things can give you the assurance that you’re taking steps to protect your rights and build your claim.
7. When I’m in a car accident, can I keep driving my car?
You might need to keep driving your car while you wait for your accident claim to resolve. It’s okay to keep driving your car, but you should have an expert perform a car inspection first.
The condition of your car right after the crash might be a significant issue in the case. Having an expert look at your vehicle can give you a third party ready to testify on your behalf if there are disagreements about your damages or how they occurred.
8. Will my car accident case go to trial?
Most car accident cases don’t go to trial. The vast majority of cases don’t end up going to trial. Building your case can narrow the issues and clarify what happened to everyone. You may even use a trained mediator to discuss how you can settle the case without needing a formal trial. Your attorney can help you negotiate your case with the other party.
9. How long do I have after a car accident to bring my case?
You have only a short period of time to bring your case after a car accident. The name for the time limit is the statute of limitations. The Florida statute of limitations for negligence cases is four years.
The time limit is strict, and it can be unforgiving. It’s essential to begin working on your case far in advance of the time limitations. Working on your case as soon as possible allows you to preserve crucial evidence and make sure that you meet important deadlines.
10. How can a car accident lawyer help?
Your car accident lawyer can help you make sure that you do the right things after you’re in a car accident. Whether it’s one day after your accident or many days, there are things that you can do right now to protect your rights and make sure that you handle your case in the best possible way.
At Jack Bernstein, Injury Attorneys, we have the expertise to answer all your car accident questions. We have handled hundreds of car accident cases and can offer the help you need for a successful accident case.
11. Do I have the right to a public attorney if I’m hurt in a car accident in Florida?
No, you don’t have the right to a public attorney if you’re hurt in a car accident in Florida. Instead, you must hire your own attorney. A car accident case is a civil case. Although the at-fault driver may face criminal charges after a car accident, criminal charges are handled completely separately from the civil case. In a civil case, neither party receives an attorney at taxpayer expense. Instead, each party must select and hire their own lawyer.
Even though you must hire your own attorney, don’t despair! Our Tampa car accident attorneys can represent you with no upfront costs and no fees unless you win. We make legal representation affordable for everyone. Let us show you how you can have the services of our aggressive, professional Tampa car accident lawyers with no upfront cost.
12. What is the value of my car accident case in Florida?
Each car accident case is different. The value of your car accident case is the sum total of your financial losses and the value of your pain and suffering. Your financial losses include current and future damages.
13. What if I don’t have insurance coverage to cover my accident?
Every Florida driver must have personal injury protection (PIP) insurance because it’s a no-fault state. Your insurance covers some or all of your expenses after an accident. If your costs exceed the amount your insurance covers, you can seek damages from the at-fault driver.
Since state laws require drivers to have this insurance, you’re violating state laws if you don’t have insurance. You may be charged and fined. Your driver’s license can also be suspended if you’re guilty of driving without insurance.
14. Do I have to call the police after a car accident in Florida?
Florida law 316.066 gives you ten days to report a car accident, but most people call from the scene of the accident. When you call right away, a law enforcement professional may respond to the scene and take steps that ultimately help you gather important evidence. You must make a report if anyone suffers even slight injuries, if there’s apparent property damage of $500 or more, or if one of your vehicles gets towed.
15. Can I bring a car accident claim if the other driver was a drunk driver?
Yes, you can bring a car accident claim if the other driver was a drunk driver. To win your case, you must show that the other driver was negligent or that they didn’t drive with appropriate care and caution. When drunk driving leads to an accident, it’s strong proof of the driver’s negligence.
16. What if I was in a work vehicle?
Many people drive work vehicles throughout the day. Some use vehicles to transport passengers or goods, while others use work vehicles to attend meetings or run other errands. You must comply with all state laws, such as staying on-site and assisting injured people. You must still provide your name, contact information, and vehicle registration information.
However, being in an accident in a work vehicle adds an extra dimension to the accident because you need to notify your employer. Your employer may need to send someone to pick you up after the accident if the work vehicle isn’t drivable. Additionally, your case could involve workers’ compensation benefits if you were working during the accident. You must report workplace injuries within 30 days. Still, the sooner you report the accident, the sooner your claim can be processed.
Accidents involving work vehicles may have additional liability factors that affect any legal claim. Suppose you were driving a work vehicle, and the brakes failed. You ran a red light and hit a vehicle with the right of way. Initially, it may appear the accident was your fault.
However, an investigation could reveal factors you aren’t aware of that mitigate your liability. Suppose your employer knew the vehicle needed new brakes and refused to replace them. Suppose your employer received a recall notice informing them that the vehicle had faulty brakes that needed to be replaced and didn’t follow up on the recall notice. In these scenarios, the employer would assume or share liability because their negligence caused the accident.
17. How do I begin a Florida car accident claim?
While you may be able to negotiate a fair settlement directly from the insurance company, in most cases, you must file a summons and complaint in a Florida court to begin a Florida car accident claim. You draft documents that state the legal grounds for the case. There are technical requirements to begin, like case captions that clearly identify the parties. Your attorney can help you ensure you comply with all the conditions when you start your claim.
18. What happens if the other party says I was at fault for the accident?
Even if both parties took actions that contributed to the accident, you might still receive some compensation. Florida uses a system of comparative negligence. However, don’t assume that your actions contributed to the accident just because the other party claims it. The other side wants to make you doubt your case. Your attorney can help you understand if comparative negligence might be a factor in your case. They can give you an informed, unbiased opinion of the strengths and weaknesses of your case.
19. What would happen if I was at fault?
After a car accident investigation, investigators may conclude that you were solely responsible for the accident or share fault with other drivers. Since Florida is a no-fault state, everyone’s insurance covers accident costs. However, victims may file a claim for damages if the accident stemmed from driver negligence and the costs exceed those covered by insurance.
Suppose the investigation concluded you were 100% responsible for the accident. In that case, your insurance company may pay a settlement to accident victims who file claims. Your case will go to trial if your insurance company is unwilling or unable to reach a settlement agreement. Your insurance company must pay the amount awarded. You must pay the remaining balance if your liability insurance doesn’t cover the total amount.
Suppose the investigation concluded you were 55% responsible. The accident victims can seek damages from you, but you can also seek damages from the other at-fault drivers. You can seek 45% of the damages awarded.
20. How long does a car accident claim take?
Each car accident case operates on its own time frame. You may be able to resolve your case in as little as a few weeks. In other cases, your case may take a year or more to resolve. It depends on the value of your case, its complexity, and the choices you make as your case proceeds. Your attorney can help you strike the right balance to maximize your compensation while resolving your case as expeditiously as possible.
21. What damages can be recovered?
Car accident victims can seek monetary and non-monetary damages. Some car accident victims can also seek punitive damages from the at-fault driver.
Economic (monetary) damages
Economic damages are also called monetary damages. These damages are determined by adding up bills related to your accident.
Suppose you’re a parent. You work from home and provide childcare for two elementary school-age children. You also provide personal care for your grandmother, who lives with you because she has dementia and needs supervision and assistance.
You’re in a head-on collision and suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI). You also have broken ribs, an arm, and a leg. You must spend several days in the hospital and need in-home care while you recover.
In this situation, the costs from your accident would include childcare, personal care aide, and medical bills. You’d also have property damage costs for your vehicle and loss of income.
Every bill related to your accident would be added to calculate your economic damages. You can seek reimbursement for all accrued and anticipated costs if you still receive medical treatment when you file a claim.
Non-economic (non-monetary) damages
Non-economic or non-monetary damages are more challenging to calculate. These damages don’t focus on actual bills from your injuries and property damage. Instead, these damages focus on how the accident affected your life. There are several things you can seek compensation for, including the following:
- Disabilities: Suppose your injuries leave you with a disability. While the economic damages can cover costs related to your disability, such as costs of accommodations or resources, you can seek compensation for how your disability affects you.
- Disfigurement: Some physical injuries cause permanent disfigurement. Suppose you lose a limb in an accident. This loss could affect your ability to perform some tasks and may make it more challenging for you to find work. You can seek compensation for the emotional toll of dealing with disfigurement after your accident.
- Emotional distress: Accident victims may experience distress and mental health challenges after an accident. Common post-accident mental health issues include anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). You can include the cost of therapy in your economic damages and seek non-economic compensation for how your emotional and mental health challenges affect your quality of life.
- Grief: You can seek compensation for grief if you lose a loved one in your accident. You may also deal with grief if your accident requires significant lifestyle changes. Suppose you need to use a wheelchair after your accident. You may need to move from your dream home to a house with ramps, wide hallways, and accessible bathrooms. Perhaps you were about to leave for a dream vacation, and permanent injuries will prevent you from taking the trip in the future. You could be grieving these personal losses and can seek compensation for your grief.
- Loss of consortium: This term refers to losing intimacy and affection from a partner after an accident. Victims often seek this after a wrongful death; however, if your injuries impact your relationship, you can seek compensation for the loss of affection and intimacy from your partner.
- Loss of enjoyment of life: Your accident could prevent you from engaging in your favorite activities. Suppose you love physical activities, such as hiking, skiing, and running marathons. However, you lose a limb in your accident and will need months or years to adapt to a prosthetic limb and move without using a walker or wheelchair. In that case, you can seek compensation for your inability to enjoy your favorite activities. Suppose you were in an accident while riding public transit. You could seek compensation for loss of enjoyment of life if you develop a phobia about using public transit or struggle with agoraphobia after the accident.
- Physical pain: Living with physical pain impacts your daily activities and quality of life. Non-economic damages often include compensation for pain and suffering, recognizing the long-term impact accident victims suffer from physical injuries.
- Scarring: Facial scars could make you struggle with a lack of confidence and could affect your professional, personal, and intimate relationships. Your economic damages can include plastic surgery to reduce or eliminate scarring. In contrast, your non-economic damages can compensate you for the distress of living with scars.
Every car accident case relies on the plaintiff’s ability to demonstrate that the at-fault driver’s negligence caused the accident. In layperson’s terms, negligence means not doing what most people would do to keep others safe. Drivers must pay attention to the road while driving and take appropriate steps to avoid accidents and prevent injuries. Suppose a driver decides to look for something in their glove box while driving and loses control of their vehicle, causing an accident. It can be argued their negligence caused the accident because they let themselves be distracted while driving.
However, some actions are grounds for a charge of gross negligence. Gross negligence is more severe than negligence because the actions were deliberate and demonstrated a disregard for the safety of others or their property. Suppose a person has been drinking, and their friends offer them a ride home. They refuse and decide to drive themselves. Additionally, they decide to race another driver while intoxicated. They’re driving too fast when going around a bend and lose control, causing an accident. Their actions constitute gross negligence because they were aware others thought they weren’t fit to drive but still chose to operate a vehicle in that condition and broke several laws while operating their vehicle.
Punitive damages are compensation to accident victims to punish the at-fault driver for their conduct.
22. What is pain and suffering in a Florida car accident?
Pain and suffering in a Florida car accident is financial compensation for the intangible losses that occur in a car accident. While your financial losses are easy to see and total, you also have damages you can’t see, like emotional pain and mental anguish. Pain and suffering are the dollar value the law places on these losses.
23. What can I claim in pain and suffering in my Florida car accident case?
The more severe or permanent your injuries are, the more you can claim pain and suffering compensation. For minor injuries, your pain and suffering may be equal to or even slightly less than your financial damages. In cases of severe injuries that limit your daily activities significantly or for an extended period, you may claim pain and suffering damages as high as five times your financial damages. Your attorney can help you determine the value of your pain and suffering damages.
24. If I pursue a legal claim, will I have to speak in court?
If our Tampa car accident attorneys represent you, we speak at all court appearances on your behalf. Unlike what you see on tv, most of the work in a car accident claim occurs outside the courtroom. While only a small number of cases go to trial, if your case goes to trial, we ensure that you know what to expect to testify confidently.
25. Where do I file my legal claim?
It’s most common to file your car accident legal claim where the accident occurs. You may also file your claim where you live, where the other party lives, at the location of the insurance company’s headquarters, or even in the place where the car manufacturer does business. Our attorneys can help you determine where to file your claim.
26. Why do most car accident claims settle before trial?
Most car accident claims settle before trial because the parties are able to reach an agreement about the approximate value of the case. Florida law allows both parties to gather evidence through a formal process called discovery. All of the cards are laid out on the table, so to speak. When the other side sees that you have a strong case, they’re often willing to pay you a fair amount before trial.
27. Should I give a recorded statement to the insurance company?
You should contact your insurance company after the accident. You may also receive a call from the other driver’s insurance company. You do not have to give a recorded statement to any insurance company. You should refrain from making a recorded statement because you may not be aware of all the factors contributing to the accident. An investigation could reveal details determining who’s liable or how much blame each driver has for the accident. Your car accident attorney can protect you because your attorney can handle negotiations with insurance companies.
28. What is hearsay in a Florida car accident case?
Hearsay is something a person says out of court that one of the parties wants to admit for the truth of what the person says. For example, if Eduardo says, “Miguel ran a red light,” to a friend four weeks after the accident, it might be hearsay if a party tries to admit Eduardo’s statement to prove that Miguel ran the red light. Not all comments outside of a courtroom are hearsay. In fact, there are many exceptions to hearsay rules that apply in Florida car accident cases like present sense impression and excited utterance. Your attorney can help you take full advantage of the Florida Rules of Evidence.
29. What makes an attorney a good Florida car accident attorney?
A good Florida car accident attorney specializes in personal injury accidents. They have experience representing victims in the courtroom. They also have the drive and determination to pursue justice relentlessly. In addition, a good Florida car accident attorney listens to their clients and communications with clients in terms that are understandable, clear, and honest.
30. Will an attorney take my car accident case if it isn’t worth a million dollars?
The attorneys at Jack Bernstein, Injury Attorneys, are happy to represent you whether your case is large or small. To our legal team, it’s important that every car accident victim has the representation that they deserve. Most car accident cases are worth far less than a million dollars. What matters to us is that you receive the compensation that meets your needs and gives you justice under Florida law.
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