Florida is one of the most beautiful states in the nation. It is also one of the most favored for retirement and is the most visited by tourists. As a life-long Floridian, I’m proud of our state and encourage visitors and retirees to enjoy our beauty and our many attractions. But the downside of all of this activity is an increase in car accidents. Therefore, Florida residents and visitors need to take extra precautions to stay safe on the road, and they need to remember to take certain actions if an accident does occur.
Causes of car accidents in Florida
Four of the five most dangerous highways in the nation are in Florida, with Route 1 being the most dangerous highway in the United States. This is a dubious honor, to say the least. But what causes our roads to be so dangerous? The reasons are varied and include both human error and the roads themselves:
- Significant traffic, especially to and from tourist attractions
- Very large numbers of senior drivers and tourists who do not know the area
- A significant number of distracted drivers; distractions can include looking at a phone, texting, looking at a GPS, eating while driving, or even sneezing
- Poorly maintained road surfaces – potholes and sinkholes, uneven lanes, loose gravel or debris
- Road obstructions (ex. pieces of tire on the road, debris, animal carcass) and insufficient merging lanes
- Missing signage, malfunctioning traffic signals
- Poor visibility
According to the Florida DMV, the number of accidents resulting in injury or death increased every year from 2014 to 2016 (the most recent years on the website). Other studies indicate that in 2020 alone, nearly 48,500 accidents were caused by distracted drivers. Shockingly, 90% of teens admit to using their smartphones in some capacity while driving.
Protect yourself while driving
While you may not be able to prevent other drivers from being distracted, you can decrease your chances of distraction by keeping your cell phone out of reach and not using it while driving, even if you are stopped at a light or in traffic.
Never multitask while driving. Don’t eat, put on makeup, or fiddle with the GPS. Pull over if you need to take your eyes off the road or hands off the wheel.
Drive defensively. Keeping in mind that many people on the road around you are distracted, watch for erratic driving, and if you actually see anyone with a phone in hand, stay away from that car! Watch carefully for road damage or obstruction, and slow down in bad weather or conditions of poor visibility.
What to do if you’re involved in an accident
If you’re involved in a car accident, first make sure everyone is all right. Next, call the police. Even if there is no visible damage and everyone feels fine, property damage or physical effects can manifest themselves within the following hours or days.
Exchange insurance information and don’t volunteer any other information or discuss the accident or its causes with the other driver or anyone present. If you have witnesses, take their information in case you need it in the future.
Take photos of the cars, the road and weather conditions, and the license plates. If the other driver is uncooperative, the license plate will be very important. Don’t move the vehicles until the police arrive.
Get medical attention. In Florida, the no-fault car insurance law requires that you carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP), which means you go first to your own insurance company for compensation for medical expenses. But you must be examined by an approved medical provider within 14 days or you forfeit your PIP coverage.
Contact your auto insurance provider, but do not give them a statement or sign anything until you have talked to an experienced personal injury attorney, especially if you have experienced significant injuries. It is to the insurer’s benefit for you to sign off on a low settlement. Wait. Injuries can take time to heal, and you don’t know what else may develop or how expensive it will be yet.
Where to get help
PIP is great for minor injuries resulting from car accidents. It helps keep the courts from getting bogged down with minor complaints. However, when major injuries occur, your PIP is not enough. If the other driver was at fault in the accident you can receive compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. An experienced attorney can help you with this process.
Furthermore, if the accident was caused by road conditions, you could also sue the road or highway authorities, road contractors, and manufacturers of road materials. If the accident was caused by faulty mechanics, such as bad brakes, you could have a case of negligence against the auto or parts manufacturer.
As a personal injury attorney, my goal is to fight for the “little guy” against the insurance companies and other big businesses who can afford to hire lawyers to intimidate you and prevent you from getting the just compensation you deserve for your injuries. Contact me 24/7 at (954) 448-7288 from anywhere in Florida to schedule a free consultation to see how I can help you. The statute of limitations for car accidents in Florida is 4 years from the date of the accident, so if your accident took place less than 4 years ago, and you have not received sufficient compensation for your injuries, I will work to get your compensation. But don’t wait! Call today.