Victims of Car Accidents in Florida Have Certain Rights
Every person involved in a car accident has certain rights in Florida. Unfortunately, people do not always know what their rights are and end up unintentionally forgoing them. Below are some of the rights that car accident victims have in Florida. Knowing them can help you make informed choices after a collision.
Car accident victims in Florida have a right to:
Obtain the At-Fault Driver’s Contact Information
Florida law requires drivers involved in car accidents to exchange important contact information, such as their names, addresses, and phone numbers. They must also share insurance information, including the insurance company and policy number. You can request this information from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV).
Benefits Under Your No-Fault Insurance Policy
Florida law requires every driver to have no-fault insurance. Drivers must carry personal injury protection (PIP). Florida is a no-fault state, so drivers are responsible for covering certain damages through their PIP insurance. If you get hurt in a car accident, you have a right to file a claim for your medical expenses, lost income, and replacement services up to policy limits.
Your insurance company must pay these claims regardless of who caused the accident. Be aware that you must seek medical treatment within 14 days of the crash to claim PIP, per Florida Statutes § 627.736. By law, you must file a claim with your insurance before you can seek other remedies from the at-fault driver.
Recover Economic Damages From the At-Fault Party
While you must file a claim with your insurance first, that does not bar you from recovering additional economic damages from the party responsible for your injuries. As noted above, PIP only pays for medical expenses, lost income, and replacement household services. It does not cover other accident-related expenses, such as property damage, travel costs, or lost earning potential.
Moreover, the policy partially pays for your medical bills and lost wages at 80% and 60%, respectively. Even then, your expenses are only covered up to policy limits. What about the rest of your costs? The law allows you to recover remaining economic damages from the at-fault driver or another liable party, either through their bodily injury liability insurance or a direct lawsuit.
Recovering Damages for Pain and Suffering After Serious or Permanent Injuries
Generally, Florida drivers cannot pursue the other driver for non-economic damages like pain and suffering. This is one of the stipulations of a no-fault insurance state; however, drivers can step outside of the no-fault system if they meet the tort threshold.
Per Florida Statutes § 627.737, you are entitled to pain and suffering damages from the at-fault party if you have significant or permanent injuries, scarring, disfigurement, or loss of bodily function. You can make a claim for pain and suffer through the at-fault driver’s bodily liability insurance, a lawsuit, or your uninsured/underinsured motorist protection.
Sue the Insurance Company
You cannot sue the insurance company for your car accident, but you can sue the insurance company for breach of contract or bad faith in Florida. Your insurer has a duty to pay out your claims for PIP or other coverage. Failure to pay under the provisions of your policy is a breach of contract.
If either your insurer or a third-party insurance company denies your claim unduly or takes an unreasonable amount of time adjusting it, the law considers this bad faith. You may be able to recover additional compensation for bad faith or breach of contract in a lawsuit.
Receive Compensation Even if You Are At Fault
Since Florida is a comparative negligence state (Florida Statutes § 768.81), you have a right to receive some compensation for your car accident even if you were partially at fault. The court will reduce the total value of your compensation by your percentage of fault. Your compensation may be limited, but you can still file a car accident claim.
Avoid Giving a Recorded Statement to the At-Fault Driver’s Insurance Company
You are under no legal obligation to provide a recorded statement to the other driver’s insurance company. If the adjuster handling your claim requests one, you have a right to decline it. The recorded statement likely will not help you. It’s meant to catch you up and reduce your payout to save the insurer money.
When it comes to giving a recorded statement to your insurance company, you may have a contractual obligation to provide it. However, you have a right to postpone it until a later date when you are ready to talk. Alternatively, you can provide a written statement. It’s best to contact a Florida car accident lawyer before speaking with the insurance agency or providing any information.
A Flordia Car Accident Lawyer Can Help You Understand Your Rights After an Accident
Knowing your rights as a car accident victim in Florida is essential, and so is protecting them. If you suffered an injury in a car accident, contact the Law Offices of Wolf & Pravato for a car accident lawyer who can protect your rights and fight for the compensation you deserve. Dial (954) 633-8270 for a free consultation.