A handbook for drivers in the Sunshine State on what to do after an accident, insurance requirements, comparative fault, and more…
All Florida drivers should have a comprehensive understanding of this state’s auto accident laws in the unfortunate event that you’re involved in a crash. If you’re a new driver or just want to refresh your memory since you last had a driver education class, here’s what you need to know about the applicable legal guidelines in Florida:
Laws for Reporting a Florida Car Accident
Florida law requires all drivers to stop at the scene of an accident to help anyone who’s injured. If the accident causes injuries or damage in excess of $500, it must be reported to local law enforcement (police, sheriff, or highway patrol).
If injuries occurred, you’re required to stay at the scene of the accident. You must also exchange information (name, address, vehicle registration) with all parties involved. While not required by law, you should also write down the names and contact information for any witnesses who saw the accident take place. Other important details to note include weather conditions and road conditions.
Take photos of the damage to all vehicles involved so you can submit them with the accident report to your insurance company. The report should simply state the facts without admitting to fault on your behalf or explicitly blaming the other driver.
Read more: What to Do When You Have a Car Accident
You must also move your car if it blocks traffic or arrange for a tow service if you cannot move the vehicle yourself. It’s a violation of Florida law to block the roadway with your vehicle, so try to move it over to the side if you can do so safely.
Florida Insurance Requirements
All Florida drivers are required to purchase car insurance and have proof of insurance in their vehicle. Per Florida law, the minimum insurance drivers must have is at least $10,000 for personal injury protection (PIP) and $10,000 for property damage liability (PDL). PIP covers non-property related costs such as personal injury and lost wages.
Florida is a “no-fault” state, meaning each person’s insurance company pays for their own accident expenses — no matter whose fault it is. If an accident causes someone more damage or injuries than your insurance policy covers, you may have a right to sue you for additional damages by filing a personal injury lawsuit.
You must report any auto accident to your insurer right away. Insurance companies will make a fault determination after receiving all the information detailed in your crash report or any existing police report.
Avoid signing a release from the insurance company saying that you won’t pursue additional claims for the accident, especially if you’re not sure whether the claim amount will cover your injuries and property damage.
Read more: Florida Car Insurance Guide
Statute of Limitations
If you’ve been injured or subject to property damage in an incident in which the other party was driving under the influence or otherwise negligent, you have up to two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit.
However, injury claims against a government entity such as a city bus operator must be filed within 90 days of the incident. If you were injured but the full extent of the damage was not discovered until later, the two-year statute of limitations begins when your injuries related to the accident are diagnosed.
Pure Comparative Fault Rules in FL
Even both drivers are found to be at fault in an accident, you may still be able to file an insurance claim in Florida. Florida follows what is known as a “pure comparative fault” system. This means “contributory fault chargeable to the claimant diminishes proportionately the amount awarded as economic and noneconomic damages for an injury attributable to the claimant’s contributory fault, but does not bar recovery.”
For example, if you’re found to be 70 percent at fault for an accident that resulted in $10,000 in damages, you are still eligible for suing for 30 percent of the damages ($3,000).
Determining Car Accident Settlement Amounts
Florida civil courts take a range of factors into account when determining the settlement amount in an auto accident. This includes how severe your injuries are, the cost of medical care for these injuries, whether you lost current or future wages because of the injuries, your degree of fault, how much insurance coverage you have, and the level of evidence you and your attorney are able to provide to support your case.
If you’re a Florida driver who has been involved in an auto accident, a qualified car accident attorney can help you. Contact a law firm who is well-versed in Florida auto accident laws and experienced in cases like yours.
Get started by contacting an experienced Tampa car accident lawyer at Lorenzo & Lorenzo. Schedule your free consultation to find out how we’ll offer best possible representation for your case.