There are more than 15, 000,000 registered vehicles in the state of Florida, and about as many licensed drivers. Our heavy population density (in some parts of the state) means that there is lots of traffic on the roads. Just because of the sheer numbers of cars and drivers, the likelihood of an auto accident is higher than other places. Florida has nearly 250,000 accidents a year, some of them with serious injuries.
Distracted driving has been blamed for the uptick in accidents in recent years. This is more than just using a cell phone or texting – eating, fiddling with a GPS or music system, putting on makeup or combing hair all are a type of distracted driving. Any time your attention is on something other than the road, you are distracted. Texting while driving has been banned since October 2013, but it is still legal to talk on your cell phone while driving. The best practice is to use a hands free device that allows you to keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road.
There are rules regarding what to do if you have been involved in an automobile accident. According to the DMV some of these rules are: don’t leave the scene, you must stop the vehicle. You shouldn’t block traffic if it can be helped. If there has been a serious injury, you must try to get medical help for the injured person. You must exchange insurance and identity information with the other driver, and report the accident to the authorities. If the accident was the result of one driver or another violating a traffic law, a ticket will be issued and that will need to be dealt with in court.
Florida is a no-fault state when it comes to traffic accidents, which means that you must first look to your own insurance company for compensation for injuries or other losses. You can only step outside the no-fault system under certain circumstances; there is a “serious injury” threshold which must be met to make a claim on the other driver’s insurance, or to file a personal injury lawsuit. This “serious injury” threshold usually means there must be a permanent injury or a permanent and significant disfigurement or scarring, or death.
To further complicate the issue of compensation, Florida is also a comparative negligence state. This means that the judge or jury will assign a percentage of fault to the drivers involved. If you were at fault in any way for the accident, your recovery may be reduced by the percentage you were assigned.
If you have been in an automobile accident, DO get medical attention immediately if necessary. Then, if possible, gather insurance information, get photos of the accident (even with your cell phone), get copies of the accident report. Keep copies of your medical records and receipts.
DON’T admit fault or liability at the scene – this can have unfortunate consequences. Don’t speak with the other driver’s insurance company without speaking to an attorney first. Never sign anything until you have consulted with an attorney because you may be signing your rights away.
Because of the complexities of the no-fault system, and the comparative negligence rules, you may need help from an attorney experienced in the accident law of Florida. The attorneys at Brill & Rinaldi, The Law Firm have the experience and dedication you need. Our free initial consultation will help determine whether your case meets the required threshold, and if a case should go forward.