If you've been involved in any kind of traffic accident in Florida, there are a number of state laws to understand—including a few that could have a big impact on any insurance claim or lawsuit you decide to file, such as:
Florida is one of a dozen or so states that follow a no-fault car insurance scheme. That means drivers must typically turn first to their own personal injury protection (PIP) car insurance coverage to get compensation for medical bills and other losses after a crash, regardless of who might have been at fault.
An insurance claim or lawsuit against the at-fault driver is only possible if car accident injuries meet a certain threshold. To learn more about who can make a no-fault claim in Florida, what's covered, and more, check out our coverage of the Florida no-fault car insurance rules.
The answer here depends on whether:
First, with a no-fault/PIP claim, Florida law mandates the following benefits to claimants:
If you're able to circumvent no-fault and file a liability insurance claim or lawsuit, you're entitled to compensation for the full spectrum of your losses (these losses are called "damages" in the language of the law), including:
Let's assume your car accident injuries let you step outside of Florida's no-fault car insurance system and file a car accident lawsuit against the driver who caused your crash. Now's the time to understand the "statute of limitations," which is a law that sets a time limit on your right to file your lawsuit.
In most situations, you have four years, starting from the date of the crash, to get your car accident case started in the Florida court system. For the details, learn more about the car accident statute of limitations in Florida.
If the other driver was entirely at fault for your car accident, and you're able to step outside of no-fault because of the seriousness of your injuries, the other driver (or more often, their insurance company) will be liable to pay for medical bills, lost wages, and other losses you suffered. But what happens if you were partly at fault for the crash?
Florida follows a "pure comparative fault" rule when both parties are found to share blame for an accident. In the rare event that a car accident lawsuit goes to trial, the jury will be asked to calculate two things based on the evidence:
Under the pure comparative fault rule, the plaintiff's damages award is reduced by a percentage equal to their share of fault.
Suppose that the jury decides your total damages award should be $100,000 (including your medical bills, lost income, vehicle damage, and "pain and suffering"). But the jury also decides you are 40 percent responsible for the accident (maybe you were speeding). Under Florida's comparative fault rule, you are entitled to get 60 percent of the $100,000 total, or $60,000—still a significant sum, but not as much as the grand total of your damages.
The Florida comparative fault rule applies even if you're found to bear most of the blame for the accident. For instance, if the jury decides you're 90 percent at fault, you're still technically entitled to 10 percent of your total damages, but of course the other side of the coin is that you'll be on the hook for 90 percent of the other driver's damages.
Not only does the comparative negligence rule bind Florida judges and juries (if your car accident case makes it to court), it will also guide a car insurance claims adjuster when they're evaluating your car insurance claim. A claims adjuster makes decisions based on what's likely to happen in court, after all.
If you're a driver who was involved in a car accident in Florida, and the crash resulted in injury or death, and/or vehicle damage (or damage to any other property) in an apparent amount of at least $500, you must report the accident to the local police department, if the accident occurred within a municipality.
If the accident didn't occur within a municipality, you must report the accident to the office of the county sheriff or to the nearest office or station of the Florida Highway Patrol. These rules can be found at Florida Statutes section 316.065.
As we discussed above, Florida is a no-fault car insurance state, but that's not all vehicle owners need to know about insurance requirements, especially after a car accident. Get the details on Florida car insurance rules and requirements.