Florida is a destination state for so many people from around the world because of our incredible natural beauty and our many attractions, amusement parks, and entertainment venues. The downside of this is that many drivers aren’t familiar with the area, giving Florida a very high auto accident rate.
If you’ve been injured in an accident in Florida involving a motor vehicle, whether you were driving or riding in a vehicle, operating a bicycle or motorcycle, or were a pedestrian, and the accident was caused by someone else’s negligence, you are entitled to compensation for your injuries, pain and suffering, and loss of income.
What you should do right away
If you’re involved in an auto accident and you’re not too severely injured to move and speak, first make sure everyone is all right. Next, call the police. Even if there is no visible damage and everyone feels fine, 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 contact information and a statement.
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. If you must move the cars for safety reasons, take pictures of them and their positions in the roadway first.
If you have already had an accident and did not do everything listed here, or if you were seriously injured and were unable to collect this information, don’t worry. We can still gather much valuable information from the police report.
What to do next
Under Florida Statutes – Motor Vehicles 316.065, you are required to file a car crash report within 10 days if any injury or death occurred, if the accident was caused by a drunk driver, if it was a hit-and-run, or if there was property damage of $500 or more.
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 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.
You also have just 14 days to visit a doctor in order to be eligible for compensation for medical expenses under the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) law. Under PIP, your insurance policy is required to cover up to $10,000 of medical expenses due to the accident. Even if your injuries seem minor after the accident, visit a doctor within two weeks. Injuries don’t always present themselves immediately, but they may be discovered by a good physician who knows what to look for after auto accidents.
What if PIP isn’t enough?
PIP doesn’t cover everything, and if you were seriously injured, it is not nearly enough to cover all your expenses, lost wages, and other pain and suffering caused by someone else’s negligence. In Florida, you may legally sue for coverage of additional compensation after PIP coverage has been exhausted.
Even if you feel you’re at least partly at fault, you may still be able to receive compensation, because Florida follows the “pure comparative negligence” system. This means that, in a lawsuit, fault is distributed between parties and you may still receive a partial award.
Collecting strong evidence
In Florida, you are entitled to sue for compensation for the following:
- Medical costs, current and future
- Lost wages
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Other expenses caused by the auto accident, such as necessary changes to your home to accommodate your injuries
- Loss of companionship in the case of serious permanent injury or death
The more thoroughly you can prove your losses in any of these areas, the stronger your case and the more likely you are to receive fair compensation. There are a variety of different types of evidence that can help build a strong case for your personal injury lawsuit. Sources of evidence include:
- The other driver’s statements to you, the police, or another person
- Eyewitness report from someone who actually saw the accident
- Traffic cameras that captured the moments leading up to the accident
- Your photographs of the accident scene
- Police reports
- Phone company records documenting whether the person was texting or using the phone around the time of the accident (a common distraction that causes many accidents)
Evidence demonstrating the need for compensation includes a variety of documents, photos, and witness statements, including:
- Medical records (request from your healthcare providers); log of visits to healthcare professionals; correspondence with healthcare providers, insurers, Medicare/Medicaid
- Medical bills, including medical insurance coverage, premiums paid, and payments insurers have made; receipts for payments you have made toward your health care
- Pay stubs and tax returns to substantiate income; evidence of time lost from work due to your injuries, leading to income loss
- Photographs before and after injury and any other helpful photos
- Any additional damages (loss of housing, damaged family relationships, etc.) that can be attributed to the injury
Moving forward with your lawsuit
If you are missing any of this evidence, don’t give up. As an expert in personal injury law and a lifelong Florida resident, I’m dedicated to helping injured Floridians get the compensation they need to live as comfortably as possible following an injury. I will dive deeply into the details of your case to discover any and all factors involved in your auto accident in order to present the strongest argument for compensation. I have a long track record of winning significant awards in court or in settlements. Contact me today at (954) 448-7288 so that we can discuss the details of your accident.