The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) keeps a database of all highway accidents occurring yearly. The FLHSMV calls it the crash dashboard. As of six months into 2023, there have been 160,804 accidents, 1,371 fatalities, and 102,952 injuries.
There are well over 1,100 car accidents occurring in Florida every day. It is the third highest populated state in the U.S. with over 22 million residents. Chances are you might be involved in a car accident that wasn’t your fault. If you or your passengers get hurt in an auto accident on Florida’s highways, we can help you file a claim and advise you on what to do.
What to do after a car accident that’s not your fault
It might be hard to think clearly after a serious car accident, especially one that was not your fault. There are certain steps you should take if you are involved in a car wreck. The first thing to consider is safety.
- Safely move your vehicle out of traffic if possible
- Call 911 so that first responders can arrive soon
- Seek medical attention for yourself and others injured in the accident
- Keep your cool, and do not engage the other driver in anger
- Use your smartphone to take photos of the scene
- Jot down the other driver’s name, address, and license number
- Gather witness contact information
- Ask the police for a copy of the incident report
- Contact a lawyer before you contact your insurance company. Why? Because a personal injury lawyer can do all the calling for you. Let an experienced attorney handle the matter while you focus on recovery.
What does at-fault mean?
Florida is a no-fault state. That means every driver has to carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance for a minimum coverage of $10,000. The insurance is to cover medical costs and auto damage regardless of who is at fault for the accident. PIP covers up to 80% of medical expenses, 60% of lost wages, and $5,000 in death benefits. Sometimes that is not enough to meet all the expenses involved, which is why you would want to hire a personal injury lawyer to take on your case and file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
Determining the liability and negligence in a car accident case is the key to proving who was at fault and is crucial to recovering damages in a car accident in Florida. Four essential factors are considered:
- Duty of care
- Breach of duty
You can read more about what each of these factors entails here: Florida No-Fault Car Insurance Laws.
What if I am not at fault, but I do not have insurance?
If the other driver is carrying the mandatory PIP insurance, but you are not, you will not have the ability to make a claim for your injury or damages. However, the other driver’s insurance can cover some of your costs if they were carrying Bodily Injury Liability (BIL) and Property Damage Liability (PDL) insurance. It might also include rental car coverage. Since those are optional coverages, you could be looking at unrecoverable expenses. In a situation like this, it may be in your best interest to speak to a lawyer regarding your rights.
What is the claims process?
There are timelines to follow in making claims after a car accident. You must seek medical treatment and file a PIP insurance claim within 14 days after a car accident in Florida. Your car insurance carrier is given 60 days to complete a claim but must pay you within 30 days of filing.
- Vehicle damages: If your car is damaged, you’ll need to file a claim with your insurance company. If you have collision insurance, you’ll be covered minus your deductible. If the other driver is at fault, their insurance company will pay for repairs.
- Personal injury damages: You file a personal injury claim with the other driver’s insurance company. That is the start of seeking compensation. If the other driver is not carrying insurance, your uninsured motorist insurance would cover the costs.
However, if the other driver is not carrying the appropriate insurance, it can become costly to pay all the bills. The claims process is just one more hurdle to go through to get the payments on time. Once the claims process is completed, if it turns out it is not enough to cover all the costs involved and totals more than $10,000, this is when you can initiate a lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
What if the insurance company refuses to pay?
Florida insurance laws can be complex, which is why it’s highly recommended to retain the services of a skilled personal injury lawyer after a car accident. Many insurance companies have well-paid adjusters who will minimize your claim to less than what you need. They could also pressure you to accept a much lower settlement amount. Having a trusted, experienced attorney on your side can help you recover the amounts you are legally entitled to. We are skilled at fighting for our client’s rights.
Who else may be liable for repairs?
Based on the unique circumstances of your car accident, other parties could be liable for repairs. For example, if drunk driving was involved in the accident, the establishment serving alcohol to the drunk driver might be liable for damages.
Sometimes a car manufacturer may be held liable when it’s discovered that defective car parts contributed to the accident. Even a product manufacturer, supplier, or distributor could be held accountable. And lastly, if a commercial vehicle was involved, the company that owned that vehicle could be held liable.
How long do I have to file a claim?
While it’s highly suggested to file a claim as soon as possible after a car accident, an individual will have four years to file a lawsuit, per the current Florida statute of limitations. There could be reasons for filing later than the initial two-week period with PIP regulations. It could be injuries or issues that show up after the fact. For example, in a particularly severe accident with a sustained permanent injury, another component of damages could be post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Exceptions to the four-year law are:
- A minor: Under age 18 who is injured in a car accident has seven years to file
- Incapacitation: If you were left in a coma or undergoing several surgeries making you unable to pursue a claim, your time limit could be extended to seven years
- Defendant left the state or changed their identity: If the at-fault driver doesn’t want to be held responsible for their actions and has chosen to flee, you could pause the clock while your attorneys attempt to locate the individual
How an attorney can help
Now that you have a better understanding of what you must do to file a claim for a car accident in which you weren’t at fault, we hope you realize how much of the load we can take off your shoulders. There is no need for you to handle all the details yourself while recovering from your injuries.
Here is what we can do for you:
- Investigate the facts of the car crash
- Work with all the investigators, adjusters, and police
- Speak to your insurance company on your behalf
- Gather all the necessary evidence
- Consult with the medical staff that administered your treatment
- Talk to the other driver’s insurance company
- Identify all the defendants in the case
We’ll keep you updated on the progress of your case, giving you the advice you need to make crucial decisions. We’ll clear your doubts about paying all the bills by negotiating a settlement that may exceed what insurance companies are willing to provide. In short, we’ll make a complicated legal process easier for you to understand. We want to be the law firm you call if you are ever in a car accident in Florida that wasn’t your fault.
Contact us today for a free case evaluation!
Driscoll, B. (2022). Florida Personal Injury Statute Of Limitations 2023.
FLA. STAT. § 627.736.
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