Fort Lauderdale Car Accident Lawyers
If you have been in a car crash in Fort Lauderdale, you could be struggling with mounting medical bills, income loss, and pain and suffering. Florida ranks among the top states for the highest healthcare costs, and Fort Lauderdale is no exception. Notably, Florida is a no-fault state. This means your own insurance has to cover your care expenses, no matter who caused the accident.
At Englander Peebles, our car accident attorneys have recovered millions of dollars for injured victims in Florida. We are here to take on powerful insurance companies that do not have your best interests at heart. To make sure you receive full and fair compensation, we will establish compelling evidence, and aggressively pursue negotiations with the insurance company, while remaining prepared to go to trial. Call us at 561-556-6786 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.
Car Accident Injury Laws in Fort Lauderdale, FL
Because of the no-fault rule in Florida, all drivers are required to have a certain amount of car insurance before they can legally drive. It is designed to make sure everyone gets some immediate help for their injuries without waiting to figure out who was at fault. Even if the other driver slammed into you, your own insurance is the one that steps in to cover those initial costs.
The minimum auto insurance limits are:
- Personal Injury Protection (PIP): This is $10,000 worth of coverage for your own medical bills and lost wages if you get into a motor vehicle accident.
- Property Damage Liability (PDL): This is another $10,000, but it is for covering the repair costs if you damage someone else’s car or property, like a fence or mailbox.
As efficient as all this sounds, there is one catch to your own insurance covering you: it becomes harder to sue the at-fault driver for extra money unless you are severely injured. The no-fault system limits your ability to file a lawsuit against other parties who may have caused (or contributed) to your crash, however, you can step outside this system if your injuries meet a certain “threshold.”
As per the Florida Statute § 627.737, you can sue the at-fault driver if you meet one of the following conditions:
- Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function
- Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement
- Permanent injury, other than scarring or disfigurement, as confirmed by a doctor (spinal Cord Damage, head injury, third-degree burns, organ damage, chronic pain, etc.)
If you or your loved one have suffered any damage to this extent, you can pursue additional compensation for your pain and suffering and other losses that are not covered by your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance.
Who Can You Sue for Your Car Crash in Fort Lauderdale
In most cases, it is another driver on the road who was driving under the influence of drugs/alcohol, speeding, texting, or simply not paying attention who is considered liable for the crash. There are circumstances when other parties can also be found responsible (i.e., you can file a third-party insurance claim). These include:
- Vehicle owner: If the car was being driven by someone who did not own it, and the owner knowingly lent their car to a driver who is reckless or unlicensed.
- Employer: If a delivery, Uber/Lyft or truck driver was on the clock and using a company car when the accident happened.
- Car manufacturers: If a defect in one of the cars caused it to crash, e.g., damaged brakes or airbags.
- Local government: If the city or county failed to properly take care of the road, e.g., unclear signage or big potholes.
- Bars or restaurants: If a bar serves alcohol to someone who is clearly drunk, and that person causes an accident, the bar could be held liable under Florida’s “dram shop” laws.
- Pedestrians or cyclists: If someone on foot or a bicycle was not following the traffic rules and that contributed to the collision.
- Construction companies: If the accident occurred in a construction zone, the company responsible for the site could be liable if they did not follow safety regulations or properly signal changes in the road.
Although not directly liable, insurance providers can also be held accountable if they are not willing to pay out a fair settlement. As you can see, determining who should pay your damages can get complicated especially when multiple parties are involved. That is why having good car accident lawyers in your corner can make a big difference in sorting out who owes you what.
How Do You Prove the Other Party Was at Fault?
So, you have decided to not just rely on your insurance but also take legal action against the negligent parties. Keep it in mind that this part will depend on whether or not you can prove the other party’s direct connection to your car crashing and you sustaining serious injuries.
The obvious answer here is that you need a lot of right evidence. Make sure you and other passengers in your car with you are safe, park your vehicle in a safe way out of the traffic (if you can), then take out your smartphone and start recording it all. Take pictures of your car, the other car, the road, the traffic lights, everything; even better if you can record a video. If, say, the other driver ran a red light, a clear picture of that traffic light can be the difference between you getting blamed and the other driver taking responsibility.
Call 911 as well. You would be surprised how many people skip this step, especially for “minor” car accidents. Do not make that mistake. The police report is an official account of what happened, and it usually says who is at fault. Make sure you get a copy.
While you are waiting for the law enforcement to arrive, see if there are any people standing around who saw what happened. Get their names and numbers. In many of our car accident cases, just the idea that an unbiased witness is willing to talk is a powerful motivator for many culprits to settle well.
If you are injured, go straight to the emergency room or an urgent care center near you to seek medical care – and save those records. These medical documents will be vital in linking your injuries to the collision. So, if the other driver’s car accident attorney claims that, for instance, your back was already in a bad condition, we can point to those records and easily prove them wrong.
One more thing you can do to tip the scales in your favor is getting in touch with our Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyers within 24 hours of your crash. That way, our auto accident lawyer can track down any available surveillance footage from nearby businesses or traffic cameras, and then go through this footage frame by frame to establish fault.
We can also subpoena the other driver’s phone records around the time of the auto accident to check for any activity that could indicate they were using their phone. This can help us establish their negligent behavior. To that end, we will also review the police report to see if there are any traffic citations against that driver. If the cops conducted any field sobriety test results or breathalyzer tests at the scene, it will all be in their report and clearly prove that DUI was a factor.
Collecting and analyzing all this evidence can take weeks so the sooner you get in touch with us, the faster we can get to work.
FAQs about Car Accident Claims in Fort Lauderdale
How long do I have to report a car wreck in Fort Lauderdale?
Under Florida Statutes section 316.065, you have 10 days to report it to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) if it results in injury, death, or car repair costs exceeding $500. However, this is separate from immediately notifying the police and your insurance company, which should be done as soon as possible after the accident.
Can I sue the city for poor road conditions that led to my accident?
Yes, you can, but you will need to prove that the city knew about the defects and did nothing. You also have a shorter time frame, generally within six months, to file a Notice of Claim.
How can I get compensated if the other driver is uninsured or underinsured?
Check your own insurance policy for Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) coverage. It is specifically designed for situations just like this. If you have it, you can file a car accident claim with your own insurance company to cover your damages. You can also choose to sue the uninsured driver.
How long does it take to settle a Fort Lauderdale car accident case?
It all depends on how straightforward your personal injury claim is. If the fault is clear and your injuries are minor, you might settle in 3-5 months. Car insurance companies are quicker to settle when the facts are undeniable. If your injuries are debilitating with permanent or long-term effects, several parties are involved, or there are questions about who is at fault, it can take a year or more.
Can I get compensated even if I was at fault?
Kind of. Previously, Florida had a “pure” comparative negligence system which meant that even if you were 99% responsible for crashing your own vehicle, you could still recover 1% of your damages from the other party.
However, because of the new laws passed in 2023, Florida is now a “modified” comparative negligence system. This means if you are more than 50% at fault, you cannot recover any damages from the other party even if the other driver was also breaking the law. This is why it is even more important to work with a skilled Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyer who can collect good evidence; because if you cross that 50% threshold, you will get nothing.
What is the statute of limitations for car accident claims in Fort Lauderdale?
Up until 2022, Floridians had four years from the date of the crash to file a personal injury lawsuit for motor vehicle accidents. The 2023 tort reform law has cut this window in half to just two years. If you or your family member were injured in a collision today, you have exactly two years from today to file a lawsuit. If you miss that deadline, the court is very unlikely to hear your case.
This obviously puts a lot more pressure on you to act quickly. Your injury lawyers will now have less time to put together the evidence and negotiate with the defendants so do not drag your feet. Contact us right away.
Why Choose Englander Peebles as Your Fort Lauderdale Car Accident Attorneys
Our senior partners, Gary B. Englander and Warren Q. Peebles, each have a deep understanding of Florida’s personal injury laws and a strong sense of responsibility to protect the rights of their clients. Their track record of having secured more than $10 million in court verdicts and out-of-court settlements speaks for itself.
You should note that you do not have to pay a dime upfront to benefit from our legal expertise. We only get paid if we win a financial settlement or verdict for you. We have successfully represented numerous car accident victims and their families across South Florida and we are confident in our skills to take on all the financial risk ourselves.
We encourage you to get in touch with our personal injury law firm soon after the accident. As part of our investigation, we will need to obtain hard evidence, such as photos and videos from the crash site, surveillance camera footage, eyewitness accounts, and accident reconstruction reports if necessary. However, evidence can get diluted or may disappear altogether if there is a delay. Our attorneys will move fast to secure evidence the moment you sign up with us. Fill out this contact form or give our personal injury lawyers a call at 561-556-6786 today to schedule your free case review.