What Should I Do After a Florida Car Accident?
Statistics indicate that Florida has the worst drivers in the country. Floridian drivers look at their phones 1.4 times per car trip as compared to the national average of 1.1 times. Florida has a large volume of cars on its highways, which increases the risk of getting in a car accident when you get behind the wheel. The state is also known to have the second lowest number of insured drivers in the country at 76.2%. During the first half of 2016, 1600 people died in traffic crashes. This was a 43% increase compared to the same time frame in 2014.
Some major factors that may be playing a role in car accidents and collisions include the increase in the number of drivers on the road, distracted driving, over-reliance on advanced car technologies such as backup cameras and lane-change sensors and driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
Should I File a Personal Injury Claim After My Florida Car Accident?
If you have been involved in a car accident in Winter Park, FL, you should keep in mind that you are entitled to claim personal injury protection benefits. This is applicable if you suffered injuries at the hands of an at-fault driver who demonstrated negligence, speeding, distracted driving, texting, drunk driving, aggressive driving, reckless driving or failure to obey signals. In any case, you should, and you must claim damages for any personal injury that you may have incurred.
Under the law in the state of Florida, every licensed driver of a registered vehicle must carry a $10,000 personal injury protection (PIP) policy and $10,000 property damage liability (PDL). PIP basically covers any expenses that you may incur in the event of an accident. This payment is regardless of whether you were at fault or not. The expenses that are covered include medical expenses, lost wages, lost services and funeral expenses. Unlike some other states, Florida does not require drivers to carry bodily injury liability coverage.
What is Florida’s No-Fault System for Car Accidents?
As far as car accidents are concerned, Florida follows a no-fault system. This means that no matter who is at fault, it is your insurance company that will handle any claims that you make and it will be your insurance company that will pay out damages for any injuries that you may have incurred. The other driver may be the negligent party, but the law does not allow you to take legal action against them (unless there is an exception). They may, however, have to deal with an increase in their car insurance. Whatever the situation, the point is that if a car accident occurs, it is your policy that may be your first option for help. The biggest advantage of a no-fault system is that it helps avoid unnecessary legal battles. Nobody has to fight with anybody and drivers receive their benefits from their respective insurance companies.
There are, however, certain exceptions to this rule. Even under a no-fault system, if you suffer permanent injuries because of the accident you can pursue a claim against the driver who was at fault. Similarly, if your injuries result in permanent scarring or disfigurement or permanent loss to an important bodily function, in these cases as well you can sue for damages. Your PIP cannot possibly compensate you for such permanent injuries, and that is why you have the right to file a liability claim or lawsuit. You can also claim damages for emotional factors such as pain and suffering. Finally, your PIP policy does not pay you for damages to your vehicle in case of an accident. If you want to be compensated for that loss, you have the right to sue the driver who was at-fault.
Another important scenario that you should keep in mind is that you can get into a car accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver. While driving without insurance is considered illegal in the state, there are still many drivers who continue to do so. Mandatory insurance requirements in Florida do not require drivers to buy uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Now, in case you get into an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver and your insurance policy does not include UIM coverage, you could be in a bit of a mess if you do not have enough coverage to cover your costs. You should talk to a lawyer if such an incident occurs to determine your options.
If you ever get involved in a car accident in Winter Park, FL you must keep the following tips in mind:
- Report the accident to law enforcement authorities
- Seek medical treatment if you require it.
- Do not negotiate any payment arrangements with the other driver nor admit any fault. This could significantly affect your chances of compensation if the need arises.
- Ensure that the officer on the scene records complete insurance information.
- Report the accident to your insurance company immediately.
- If you are able to determine whether the other driver is insured or uninsured, pass on this information to your insurance company.
- Do not get aggressive or violent with the other party even if they are at-fault. Stay calm and let your insurance company deal with the formalities.
- Do not leave the scene of the accident until you receive clearance from the investigating officers.
Consult with a Winter Park Car Accident Attorney
In addition to the physical injuries that you may incur if you have been in an accident, car accidents can also be mentally traumatic for the parties involved. If you are unsure of how to proceed or what your options are in case of severe injuries and/or expenses that are not adequately covered by your insurance company, you can contact our attorneys at Farah and Farah. We have significant experience in handling personal injury claims related to car accidents. Our legal team includes attorneys, case managers, investigators and legal assistants. Each member of our team is dedicated to ensuring our clients get the compensation they deserve for their car accident. If you want to ensure you get the justice you deserve and if you are unable to get the right response from either your insurance company or the negligent party’s insurance company, call us now, and one of our associates will be happy to assist you.