Car accidents are one of the most common causes of personal injuries. If you have been injured in a car crash, you can recover compensatory damages for your losses. Car accident compensation typically covers damage to your vehicle, medical costs of your injury as well as lost wages. You can also seek non-economic damages for pain, mental anguish and loss of companionship in case of more serious injuries. In order to file a car accident injury claim in Florida, you must be acquainted with the laws of the state that apply to such claims. A Lakeland car accident attorney can help you with this.
Here’s a quick look at some of the relevant laws that apply to car accidents in Florida.
No-Fault Car Insurance
Florida is one of the few no-fault car insurance states. This means that after a car accident injury, you must first turn to your personal injury car insurance scheme to cover your losses. Your own insurance should cover losses such as property damage, medical bills and lost wages. This applies regardless of who caused the crash.
It is only in the rare cases of serious negligence that you can bring a compensation claim against the at-fault driver. This is typically possible when the injuries from a car crash are particularly severe or permanent. In such cases, you can move the case to the court and file it against the other driver.
Statute of Limitations
If your injury is not covered under the no-fault insurance scheme, you can file a damages lawsuit against the at-fault driver. In this case, Florida Statutes 95.11 mandates a period of four years. You must file the lawsuit within four years from the date of the accident. Some rare exceptions exist which may extend this deadline a little further. However, in most car accident cases, failure to file a case within this period means that you can no longer seek compensatory damages.
Reporting a Car Accident
Florida law requires that if you have been involved in a car crash with damage to property or person, you must report the accident. According to Florida Statutes 316.065, the crash must be reported if it involves property damage of $500 or more. It must also be reported if it involves the injury or death of any of the involved parties.
When the accident takes place within a municipality, it must be reported to the local police authorities. If the site of the accident is outside of any municipality, you must report the crash to the nearest Florida Highway Patrol office or the Office of the County Sheriff.
Comparative negligence is where the fault for a car accident is distributed among all the parties involved. If two drivers are involved in a crash, the court may assign a certain percentage of fault to both drivers. For instance, if the other driver was primarily responsible for the crash while you were also to blame a little, the court may hold the other driver 90% at fault and assign 10% fault to you. You are then able to recover compensatory damages that are proportionate to your degree of fault.
Florida follows a ‘pure comparative fault’ rule. This means that you can recover compensatory damages even if your fault is more than 50% in the case. This is in contrast to many other states where comparative fault rule allows compensation only if the fault is 51% or lower.
If a court finds that you are entitled to $10,000 in damages but share 50% of the fault, you will receive $5,000. If you are found 60% at fault, you will receive $4,000. Even if you are held 90% at fault, you will still be entitled to $1,000 in damages. However, as your percentage of fault in a car crash increases, you are more liable to pay the other driver for damages as well.
Hiring a Lakeland Car Accident Attorney
Florida’s car accident laws are quite different from many other states. Being a no-fault state which also uses a pure comparative fault scheme, the car accident laws in Florida are both rigid and flexible. This is why it is important to hire a qualified attorney to help you seek damages for a car accident injury.
Here at Burnetti, P.A., we have been helping car accident victims in Lakeland for many years. Our Lakeland car accident attorneys build up your lawsuit with the aim of recovering maximum compensation for your losses. If you are not sure if your case is covered under the no-fault insurance scheme or if it can be moved to a court, contact us today. Our Lakeland car accident lawyers will discuss your case with you in a FREE consultation and chart a plan.