Car accidents can result in vehicular damage, injuries, as well as other forms of loss such as pain and suffering. As a victim of an auto accident, it is your right under Florida laws to seek a fair amount of compensatory damages. These damages cover the medical costs of your injuries, lost wages, property damage as well as non-economic losses.
However, it is important that you meet various legal requirements when filing a claim. If you fail to meet these requirements, it can jeopardize your claim. In the worst case, your claim may be rejected over technical grounds. Even in the best case scenario, an insurer may use the issue as a leverage to reduce the proposed amount of compensation.
This is why it is incredibly important to know the various laws and requirements that apply to car accident claims in Florida. These state laws apply to any auto accident claims you may file for an accident in Boca Raton.
Crash Reporting Requirements
If you have been involved in a car crash, you are required to report it. There are some rare exceptions when the crash is very minor, involves no injuries and the damage is less than $500. However, if the property damage is above $500 or if injuries are involved, the crash must be reported. If one or more persons including you sustain injuries in the crash, you must stay on the scene until help arrives.
Statute of Limitations
Florida has a four-year statute of limitations for auto accidents involving injuries. This means that you have four years from the date of the crash to file a claim for compensatory damages. This time period applies whether you are injured in an auto accident as a driver, passenger, pedestrian, bicyclist or motorcycle rider.
In cases where an auto accident results in death, a wrongful death case may be filed. The deadline for filing such a lawsuit is two years. This period is measured from the date of the death of the victim.
In the rare instances where an auto accident involves a government entity, such as a city bus, you still have four years to file a personal injury claim. However, you are additionally required to notify the concerned authority or agency about your intent to file a claim. Such a notification must be relayed within three years.
No-Fault Auto Insurance
Florida is a no-fault state. This means that in the event of a car crash involving losses, you must first turn to your own insurer to cover your losses. Personal-injury-protection or PIP coverage covers you for medical costs, lost wages, and other out-of-pocket expenses related to an accident. So your personal injury claim is to be filed with your own insurance company.
However, there are certain cases when you can file a claim against the at-fault driver. This is when your injuries qualify as ‘serious’ per Florida laws. A serious injury includes bone fractures, notable disfigurement, as well as permanent or significant temporary limitation of a body function or system. In such a scenario, you can hold the at-fault driver accountable and file to seek compensatory damages from them.
Pure Comparative Negligence Rule
Florida uses a pure comparative negligence rule to ascribe the degree of fault and determine damages in personal injury claims. This means that if you were involved in a crash, the fault will be distributed between all the involved parties in proportion to their negligence.
For instance, if you slowed down without reason and a speeding reckless driver rear-ended you, both drivers may be found at fault. In such a case, the fault will be distributed between the two. A jury may find that you were 30% at fault while the other driver was 70% at fault.
The good news is that you can still recover compensation. Only, the amount of compensation will be reduced in accordance with your fault percentage.
Pure comparative negligence means that you can seek damages even if you were 99% at fault and the other driver 1% at fault. This rule comes into play even when your case does not go to a court. An insurance adjuster may use the rule to determine the right amount of damages for your losses.
Hiring a Car Accident Attorney in Boca Raton, FL
If you have suffered a car accident in Florida, it is important to consult a good attorney before you can file a claim. Here at Englander Peebles, we help you decide whether you should seek compensation from your own insurer or hold an at-fault driver accountable. We also work on your behalf to negotiate with the insurance company and seek the maximum amount of compensation that you deserve. Call us today to book a free consultative session with our attorneys.