Car accidents are common throughout the country. They can be quite traumatic, leaving both parties overwhelmed, stressed, and utterly shaken. It is true especially in cases where people get injured, or they lose their lives to accidents. If you have been in a car accident in the state of Florida, it helps to understand your options if you want to pursue compensation.
It, however, starts with understanding the type of accident you have been involved in. Attorneys at Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney have handled many car accident cases in the past. They know how unique each case is in determining the at-fault party. Therefore, if you or your loved one has been in a car accident in Florida, get in touch with us for quality legal services.
Car Accidents Laws in Florida
Like every state in the United States, Florida has laws in place which allow accident victims to pursue compensation if another party was at fault. It applies to all types of accidents, especially traffic accidents. If a person has been injured or their property damaged in an accident, one can easily be compensated for his/her losses.
The state of Florida is a no-fault state when it comes to traffic accidents. What this means is that after getting involved in a car accident, a person needs to file a claim under the personal injury coverage they have with their insurance provider. Every motorist is required to have a personal injury protection insurance that will compensate them for medical expenses and other financial losses they incur after an accident. Finding the person/party that caused the accident is not needed in such cases. It is only if your claim meets specific prerequisites that an accident victim can file a claim against the responsible driver.
There is a statute of limitations, which dictates the period within which an accident victim is expected to file a claim against the at-fault driver. If this deadline is missed, then the court system will not be able to accept your application. Typically, Florida car accident victims have four years from the state of the accident to pursue compensation from the party they believed caused the accident.
Note that if another party were entirely at fault for the accident, you would be able to file 100% compensation for all the damages you have suffered in the crash. There are, however, instances when a car accident victim is partly to blame for what happened to them. If that is the case, the court will be able to determine the victim's share of fault to ensure that they are only getting part of the compensation from the at-fault party. It is done through the state's pure comparative fault.
Common Types of Car Accidents in Florida
Car accidents in Florida take different forms. A car can, for instance, crash into another one, especially if the two are following each other too closely. When the vehicle in front stops suddenly, the one behind it will crash into its end. Most car accidents result in severe injuries and sometimes the death of one or more people. It is essential to understand common types of car crashes in Florida to determine the actual cause of a car accident and establish liability.
- Left Turn Car Accidents
Most car accidents happen in crossings or in areas where cars have to cross paths. Left-turn accidents are quite common in Florida. They are the types of accidents that occur when a motorist makes an attempt to turn left in a way where another motorist is going straight over the intersection. Left-turn accidents are quite dangerous, especially in places where traffic stays to the right. In such traffic, making a left turn can be very dangerous not just to the motorist making the turn but to other drivers on the road.
The reason for this is because by turning left, the driver will be moving against the traffic. In addition to that, most motorists tend to move into a left turn with a lot of speed. In most cases, they do not have a clear line of sight, vegetation, buildings, and other vehicles could block their view of oncoming traffic.
Typically, drivers who want to make a left turn only have the right of way if the traffic lights show a green left arrow. If that is not the case, the driver must give way to oncoming traffic before making a turn. Ignoring the green arrow is the leading cause of left-turn accidents in Florida. The fault, in this case, could fall on the driver making a left turn or the oncoming driver who doesn't give the right of way when the green arrow appears.
- Head-on Collisions
Head-on collisions have been named as the most dangerous type of car accidents in the world. This type of accident occurs when two cars traveling in opposite directions, crash into each other at their front ends. There are many reasons why this could happen. The most common one is when one driver veers out of their lane into the opposite lane. Head-on collisions result in severe injuries and sometimes could be fatal, especially if one or both drivers were traveling at high speeds.
In Florida, there are clear signs and markings on the road designed to guide drivers on either side to avoid such kinds of accidents. However, in case one is distracted while driving, they can easily veer off the right way, crashing into an oncoming car.
A lot of things are considered in determining fault in head-on collisions. These are, for instance, the reason why the driver veered off into the opposite side of the road and the condition of the driver at the time of the accident. Other causes of head-on collisions include drunk driving and faulty brakes.
- Side-Impact Car Accidents
Side-impact car accidents are also referred to as T-bone crashes or broadside accidents. They happen when one car's front end rams into the side of a different vehicle. Most side-impact accidents result in serious bodily injuries, with more significant effects than other types of accidents. Even at a slow speed, a side-impact crash can result in severe injuries, which sometimes can become fatal.
Modern automobiles today have several safety features designed to protect both drivers and passengers. However, most of these safety measures only work to protect them for rear and front-end car accidents. They are, for instance, airbags, safety belts, and bumpers. When it comes to side-impact accidents, drivers and passengers are left with no protection.
The lack of standardized safety installations for the protection of occupants is what makes injuries from side-impact accidents devastating. However, the types of damages passengers and drivers suffer from these accidents vary significantly, from severe head injuries to neck and back injuries and broken limbs.
Just like in all other accidents, establishing fault is necessary for the injured to be able to recover from their injuries and other damages sustained. Experts can be called in to determine the actual cause of such an accident for the at-fault party to be determined.
- Sideswipe Accidents
When traffic is in such a situation where vehicles are traveling close to each other, accidents are bound to happen. It is even more dangerous when cars merge, and they are forced to line up when they are moving at great speeds. The most likely type of car accident that could result in such a case is a sideswipe collision. It happens when two vehicles collide on each other when traveling in one direction. Depending on the impact of the crash, this accident can result in soft-tissue injuries of both motorists and considerable damage to both cars. More injuries could happen if one driver loses control of their vehicle after the crash.
In establishing fault in such an accident, the focus will shift to the car that moved out of its lane when it was not safe to do so. Merging is very dangerous, especially on highways and when cars are traveling at high speeds. Since the impact happens unexpectedly, it could surprise both drivers, causing them to lose control of their vehicles. If the accident occurred in the presence of other cars, so many vehicles could be affected by the crash, and the number of injured people could be higher.
A driver who fails to check blind spots before changing lanes could be at fault. Drivers who veer off their path because they are distracted or because they are driving under the influence could also be held responsible for such an accident.
- Single-Vehicle Accidents
Single-vehicle accidents affect only one car and could occur when a vehicle strikes a tree, runs out of the road, or spins out on gravel or ice. Negligent drivers cause most of these accidents, but in some cases, other parties could be at fault, including road construction companies or the municipal entity. The at-fault party is determined after the cause of the accident has been established. If the road was not properly cleared of ice or debris, for instance, the driver can file a legal claim against the responsible parties.
If, however, there were passengers in the car that crashed and they were injured, they are allowed to pursue compensation from the negligent driver. The wounded should, however, be able to prove duty of care owed to them by the negligent party and how that party breached that duty, directly resulting in the accident.
Like in many other accidents, determining the actual cause of the crash is the primary step in establishing liability.
- Multi-Vehicle Car Accidents
Multi-Vehicle car accidents are a case of crashes affecting more than one vehicle at the same time. A multiple-vehicle type of collision will involve different types of accidents and injuries. In most cases, such accidents take place on highways and in areas that are densely populated. Complications from such crashes are unique, too, because of the many types of cars that could be involved as well as the number of fatalities. Some accidents make it even harder for rescue workers to reach out to the affected people in the middle of crashed vehicles. Sometimes, a fire can start from one car, spreading out quickly to other cars and the entire crash area.
The types of damages from a multiple-car accident involve both serious physical injuries and property damage. It is also possible to have dead victims from such a crash. There is a possibility of having one or several at-fault parties. One party could face several lawsuits, depending on their contribution to the accident.
The driver that started the accident may not be 100% responsible for the entire crash. The chain of reaction that resulted in the pile-up could have been caused by careless of other drivers who got involved in the accident. Experts will be needed at the accident scene to establish fault before responsible parties are determined.
- Hit & Run Accidents
Hit & Run Accidents in Florida leave the injured in distress, especially if they are seriously injured and unable to record it. Drivers have a duty of stopping and providing their personal information when they are involved in an accident. If the crash involved two cars, both drivers should exchange their information regardless of who was at fault. However, some drivers decide to flee the accident scene without stopping to help or provide their information to the injured party.
In instances when a driver can gather information, recording the license plate number of the car that caused the accident as well as the car's model, make and color could help with the investigations. It is best to try and give a description of the vehicle and the damage the vehicle could have sustained from the accident. This information will help law enforcement officers in arresting the fleeing motorist.
Such information could be gathered through writing, taking pictures, or video of the scene of the accident. The location, time, and cause of the accident will also be of utmost importance. If the injured is unable to gather information, they can ask another person within the accident scene to record the information on their behalf.
Steps to Take If You Have Suffered Injuries in a Florida Car Accident
An accident will leave a trail of injuries and high emotions. If a person has suffered severe injuries, they might end up spending so much money on treatment and recuperation. More money is lost when the person is unable to continue working during the recovery period. Some people are unable to go back to gainful employment after an accident because of the seriousness of the injuries they sustained. That is why Florida laws allow such people to pursue compensation from at-fault parties.
Before that, there are steps one should take immediately after the accident:
Check to Ensure Everyone Involved in the Accident is Safe
As mentioned above, some accidents involve several people, and most of them could be injured in the crash. If you can do something, ensure that everyone is safe. Call for medical help if it is needed to ensure that more lives are saved and injuries are treated on time. Get medical help, too, even if you feel alright. Sometimes a person may feel okay immediately after an accident, only to discover a more severe injury later on. Getting immediate help will also help with your claim as it shows that you got injured in the crash.
If you want to pursue compensation for your injuries, you need to gather as much evidence as you can from the scene of the accident. Take pictures of the accident scene and your injuries. You could also take down detailed notes of what you saw, the injuries you sustained, and the medical treatment you got. Write down the names of the healthcare providers that attended to you after the crash. The exact place and time of the accident will be needed, too, as well as the names of those involved in the accident. If the other driver has shared information with you, take down his/her insurance information. You may need witness accounts, as well as the name and badge number of the officer at the scene.
Do Not Admit Fault
Trying to sympathize with the other driver or to apologize to him/her will be taken as if you are admitting guilt to the accident. Do not allow the other driver to blame you for the accident. Instead, ask him/her to get in touch with your attorney. Again, ensure you have a police report on precisely what happened based on the facts of the case. Even if you feel partly responsible for what happened, admitting fault will jeopardize your chances of getting compensation. Let the officers at the scene of the accident and other experts establish responsibility.
Get in Touch with an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
No accident is minor, and so, if you were in an accident, it is advisable to get in touch with a competent personal injury attorney. An attorney will help you in more ways than one. First, you need someone on your side after an accident, a role an attorney can play very well. You also need legal advice on what you should do after an accident. Your attorney will also help put the pieces together to determine the cause of the crash and also establish the responsible party. He/she will prepare and present the necessary documents in court on time to ensure your case is heard and determined without delay.
Lastly, your attorney will ensure you are not disclosing information you shouldn't give to the insurance provider, which might harm your case.
Proving Fault in a Florida Car Accident
In all types of accidents, finding out who was at fault is essential. Even though it is not always an easy thing, deciding who was negligent or careless and how their negligence resulted in the damages and injuries incurred is a significant step in filing a claim for compensation. There are several ways through which law enforcement officers, your attorney, and other experts can determine liability:
- Going Through Police Reports
The police are usually the first to arrive at the scenes of accidents in Florida, especially when they know that someone has sustained injuries. At the accident scene, the police will gather evidence, even from eyewitnesses, then prepare a report. The report can quickly point out the at-fault party, depending on the actual cause of the accident.
- Traffic Laws
A look at the traffic laws will help determine the rules that were broken and who could have broken the laws to cause the accident. Everyone using public roads, including cyclists and pedestrians, has rules to follow for their safety and the safety of other road users. If any of the people involved in the accident had violated a specific statute, they could be named as at fault in the accident.
Once the at-fault party is determined, your attorney will start working on the documents needed to file a lawsuit against the responsible party. Remember that personal injury laws provide deadlines within which an injured party must file a claim in court, as provided for in the Statute of Limitations. You will have up to four years after the date of the accident to file a complaint of compensation in a Florida court. After that, the court may not accept your application.
Find a Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
No matter how careful a person can be, they may not be able to avoid a car accident if other public road users are not careful enough. Understanding different types of vehicle accidents and who could be at fault can help when you decide to file a lawsuit against a responsible party. At Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney, we have competent attorneys who understand Florida car accident and personal injury laws well. Get in touch with us at 904-800-7557 if you are in Jacksonville, FL. We will not only help you understand your options but also take you through the legal process.