Driving on the streets of Florida can be stressful, and it requires drivers to be responsible at all times in order to prevent auto accidents. A split moment of negligence, distraction, or recklessness can have the potential to cause a severe accident. In Florida, it is vital that you gather all of the essential information about the other driver in the event of a collision. This is extremely important if you want to be able to make a successful accident claim. Forgetting even one important step could mean you miss out on being able to successfully pursue compensation. If you wish to learn more about what should be done following a car accident in Florida, then contact a personal injury lawyer from The Law Place today!
Here at The Law Place, our dedicated lawyers have over 75 years of combined experience in dealing with cases similar to yours, many of which are AVVO 10.0 rated. You can be confident in our ability to fight tirelessly so that you can receive the settlement you deserve. If you are seeking legal representation, then do not hesitate to contact a personal injury law firm, such as The Law Place, today. Call us to schedule a free consultation on (941) 444-4444. Phone lines are open 24/7!
The Necessary Information That Must be Exchanged Following a Florida Car Accident
It may seem obvious what information you need to exchange after a car accident, but some people make small mistakes that can cost their entire case. You should always exchange the following pieces of information:
If you wish to file a personal injury claim following your car accident, then your personal injury attorney will be required to communicate with the defendant’s car insurance company regularly. If you do not take note of the other driver’s insurance details, then you may be unable to file a claim. The at-fault driver may dodge any forms of contact so that they do not have to give their details. If the other driver denies providing you with their insurance information, then this is technically illegal in the State of Florida. Florida Statute 324.242 states that the at-fault driver must release all necessary insurance information in the event of a crash. Relevant car insurance information includes the name of the driver’s insurance company, the insurance company’s contact details, and the other driver’s policy number.
Name of the Other Driver
It may seem obvious, but you have to get the full name of the other driver. Many people make the mistake of only noting down the first name or the name on the driver’s insurance details. Instead, you should be confirming their full legal name. The driver could be insured under another person’s name (e.g., a spouse or parent), so if you only get the name on their insurance card, then you could end up blaming somebody who had absolutely no fault. It may seem overly precautious, but it is always best to check in order to avoid blame being placed on the wrong person.
Contact Details of the Driver and Any Witnesses
Be sure to note down all other relevant contact information. Contact information includes their phone number and current living address. If the driver does not own the car they’re driving, then you should also ask for the car owner’s contact information. This includes their full name, phone number, and address. You should also establish the relationship between the driver and the car owner. It may be the case that they were not legally allowed to be driving that vehicle.
You and the other driver should also exchange license plate details, as well as the driver’s license number and the vehicle identification number. You have a legal right to request these details if the other driver was at fault. These details can help you and your lawyer further down the line and will help when communicating with your insurance company.
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What Should I Do at the Accident Scene?
- Check for injuries and move to a safe spot – Your health and safety should always be the number one priority. Check yourself for any injuries, and if you are able, you should move yourself to a safe area and away from oncoming traffic. If it’s possible, you should also try and check on the other party. If they are injured, do not attempt to move them as this could actually worsen their condition (especially a spinal or neck injury).
- Call 911 – It is a legal requirement as per Florida Statute 316.062 to make law enforcement aware of any car accident that has occurred. It is also helpful to have local law enforcement at the scene so that they can file a police report. An accident report can be an extremely useful piece of evidence in your case, so cooperate with the investigating officer as best you can.
- Exchange information with the other drivers – It is important that you get the details of all parties involved in the car collision. Phone numbers, license plate numbers, and insurance company details are all necessary to help ensure your lawyer can appropriately contact each party involved and their respective insurer.
- Gather any witnesses’ contact details – The full name, address, and mobile number of any witnesses, as well as the full name and badge number of the attending police officer, could all end up being very helpful.
- Take photos of the scene – It is helpful if you take pictures of the car wreck, road conditions, weather conditions, and the condition of the other vehicle. These can be used in your crash report to help with your case.
- Seek medical treatment – This is to ensure you are ok after the accident. It is also a part of Florida law (Florida Statute 627.736). You are legally required to seek medical care within two weeks of a car crash, or else insurance companies can legally use this against you as a means to deny/decrease your insurance claim.
- Hire an experienced lawyer – Hiring a lawyer from our law firm will give you the best chance of being rewarded with a suitable settlement. Schedule a free consultation to learn more about what we can do for you.
What If the Other Driver Drives Off?
This is known as a hit-and-run car crash. It is important you try and stay calm as these car accidents can be incredibly stressful when there is nobody to blame. The driver may have driven off immediately and left you behind but, if possible, you should try and note down the following pieces of information:
- The car’s license plate number.
- Type of vehicle.
- Model, year, and color of the vehicle.
- Any visible damage to the vehicle.
- Any identifying features of the driver.
These details can help track down who the driver was and bring them to justice. However, it is understandable that you may be in shock or disoriented at the time of the car accident and therefore cannot note these things down. Do not blame yourself if this is the case. It is also important to remember that you should not try and chase the car as this could mean you also get in trouble with the authorities for leaving the scene of an accident and could be charged with a hit-and-run offense too! Instead, you should call 911 immediately and let them know what has occurred.
What Damages Could I Be Owed?
If you have been involved in a car accident in Florida, then it is likely you may be able to claim the following damages from your insurance company or the at-fault driver’s insurance company:
- Medical expenses – It is likely that you have sustained some injuries following a car crash. If you have had to receive professional medical attention, then any resulting medical bills can be accounted for in your auto insurance claim. Your accident report, medical receipts, and medical record can be used to prove this.
- Lost wages – If your car accident has meant you have had to have time off from work and have thus lost your source of income, then any lost wages from this time can also be considered within your car insurance settlement.
- Property damage – A car wreck is very likely to have resulted in some property damage. If you have had to have your car repaired or replaced, then these costs can be included in your settlement, as long as you have kept any receipts as evidence.
- Pain and suffering – Pain and suffering will include any mental or physical suffering you sustained because of the auto accident, as well as a loss of enjoyment in life. Loss of enjoyment compensates for if you are unable to enjoy an activity that you once did regularly, e.g., a weekly soccer team. Pain and suffering can be hard to prove, so it is important you have a lawyer on your side to do this for you.
- Wrongful death – In the unfortunate scenario that you have lost a loved one in an accident that was not their fault, then you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit, as per Florida Statute 768.21. This type of lawsuit will allow you to be compensated for any loss of consortium, necessary funeral expenses, and remaining medical expenses.
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What About Personal Injury Protection Insurance?
Florida Statute 627.7407 lays out the rules surrounding No-Fault insurance laws in the State of Florida. Florida’s No-Fault laws mean that if you have been involved in an auto accident, then each vehicle owner will be required to consult their own insurance company in order to make a claim, regardless of who was actually identified as the at-fault party. So that these claims can be covered, all drivers across Florida are required to have Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage within their own car insurance policy.
PIP insurance should be able to cover any medical expenses and lost income that resulted from your accident, as well as any other relevant expenses (e.g., if you had to pay for childcare whilst you received medical attention). PIP coverage does, however, have a limit on how much you can claim. If your desired claim goes over this threshold, then you may have to also file a lawsuit against the at-fault party to make up this amount.
Will Comparative Fault Laws Affect My Settlement Value?
Florida Statute 768.81 explains the concept of pure comparative fault in relation to auto accidents. Comparative fault means that Florida considers fault to be an integral part of any Florida car accident case. The presiding Judge or Jury will assign fault, and your settlement will be based on the laws of comparative negligence. This means that your settlement will be reduced by the percentage of fault that was assigned to be your own (if any).
For example, if your auto accident was predominately caused by the other person involved being intoxicated, but you were proven to be slightly over the speed limit at the time, then your Judge may reduce your settlement by roughly 10%. This reduction reflects your own fault whilst also appropriately punishing the more severe crime.
Is There a Time Limit on My Personal Injury Claim?
Yes! Florida Statute 95.11 states that all personal injury cases will have four years from the date of the car crash for a claim to be made. If you fail to present your case within these four years, then you will be unable to receive any compensation. Similarly, if you have lost a loved one and wish to file a wrongful death lawsuit, then the time limit is reduced to two years from the date of their passing.
Contact a lawyer at The Law Place to learn more about any relevant deadlines on your case.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer From The Law Place Today!
If you or a loved one have been a victim of a car collision that was not their fault, then contact our Florida law firm today! Car accidents have the power to completely uproot your life and will require a significant amount of time to recover from, physically, emotionally, and financially. Because of this, it is best to focus your energy solely on your recovery and let our lawyers take on all legal stress. We will work tirelessly to get you the justice you deserve!
Call our office today at (941) 444-4444 to schedule your free consultation. We take phone calls 24/7.