​Should I Get a Lawyer for a Car Accident That Was My Fault in Florida?

Many images come to mind when we think about Florida. Some people may imagine palm trees at every corner. Other people may think of Disneyworld. For some, clear blue waters may pop up. The last image that may come to mind is the image of a car crash. Unfortunately, car accidents are common in the Sunshine state and affect many people daily.

One of the biggest misconceptions about car accidents is that the protocol to handle each one is the same throughout each state. That is not the case when it comes to Florida. There are specific differences between the car accident requirements in Florida and other states. If you have had a car accident in Florida, the best decision that you can make is to hire a car accident lawyer to represent you, especially if you were at fault for your accident.

Is Florida a No-Fault State?

Like a handful of states in America, Florida is a no-fault car accident state. This means that two drivers involved in a car accident must file claims with their respective insurance companies. Florida legislators created these no-fault laws to ensure that all injured drivers have an easier way of obtaining medical treatment for their injuries. Instead of being required to file a claim and argue for compensation through the courts, injured drivers can rest easier knowing that their medical costs and other expenses are covered.

What are Restricted Claims?

Another benefit of Florida’s no-fault laws is that they restrict an accident victim’s ability to file claims for other damages related to the crash. For example, an injured driver’s ability to pursue compensation for pain and suffering through a car accident claim is limited. Drivers who want compensation for pain and suffering must meet an injury threshold even to be eligible to file a claim.

Serious Injury Threshold

Florida uses this injury threshold to determine whether a driver can file a car accident claim.

Florida law defines a serious injury as one that:

  • Causes a substantial or permanent loss of an important bodily function
  • Is permanent within the reasonable medical guidelines
  • Causes severe or permanent disfigurement
  • Results in death

Suppose an injury qualifies under one or several of these factors. In that case, victims have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit against the other party responsible for the accident and vice versa. The other driver who endured severe injuries from your accident has the right to file a lawsuit against you to receive compensation for severe injuries. Fortunately, your insurance policy can cover the full extent of the other driver’s injuries and losses.

​Should I Get a Lawyer for a Car Accident That Was My Fault in FloridaPersonal Injury Protection (PIP)

To ensure coverage for all injuries from a car accident for each driver, Florida drivers must carry personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. Personal injury protection coverage is a coverage that drivers can use to cover any medical expenses related to their accident or any wages lost from their accident. Every driver has to carry a minimum of $10,000 coverage for their policy. One of the most significant benefits of this insurance policy is that it provides coverage for each policyholder, regardless of who was at fault for the accident.

However, some limits are associated with this policy. As stated before, PIP coverage only covers up to $10,000 of your medical expenses and lost wages. PIP may not pay any medical bills that exceed that limit. Victims can only receive coverage for up to that specific limit.

Serious Injuries

This coverage may be acceptable for drivers whose injuries are minor or at least moderate. However, if your injuries are catastrophic, PIP coverage will not be enough to cover the full extent of these injuries. PIP coverage can only cover at least 80 percent of a policyholder’s injuries. Catastrophic injury victims settle claims for an average amount between $20,000 and $75,000. You must consider filing a personal injury lawsuit or exploring other insurance policies to receive full compensation for your catastrophic injury.

Bodily Injury Liability

Other insurance policies can provide additional coverage for your injuries. One of those insurance policies is bodily injury liability. This insurance policy can pay for the damages you caused the other driver. This insurance policy helps if the other driver files a claim against you for additional compensation. The only issue is that this type of coverage is not mandatory, unlike personal injury protection.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage

What if the other driver involved in your accident is not insured or underinsured? There is an insurance policy that can provide coverage for that scenario. Uninsured motorist coverage can cover damages caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver. Drivers with insurance policies who do not carry enough damage coverage can take advantage of this insurance policy. However, this type of coverage is also optional.

Property Damage Claims

In addition to personal injury protection coverage, Florida drivers must carry property damage liability insurance. This insurance policy covers up to $10,000 in property damage like PIP coverage. However, Florida drivers can file a claim for any property damage resulting in a vehicle’s loss. The no-fault laws do not apply to property damage claims.

Protecting Yourself Legally

Even when you have been declared the at-fault driver of your accident, you are still capable of receiving compensation for your injuries. However, insurance companies hope you are unaware of your legal rights regarding your insurance policies. Many drivers may not know that fault does not result from consideration of evidence like police reports. It ultimately gets determined by the negotiation process between you and insurance companies or the courts. That is why seeking legal counsel from a lawyer is essential.

Statute of Limitations

The other driver in your accident has a specific period to file a personal injury claim against you, called the statute of limitations. For car accident victims, the statute of limitations is four years from the accident to file a claim and recover compensation.

Lack of Coverage

Another reason you will benefit from hiring a lawyer is if the insurance company does not want to cover the costs of your accident. Insurance companies can refuse coverage for a policyholder’s accident for legitimate reasons. Insurance companies will decide not to cover your accident to avoid paying for the other driver’s claim. You will be liable for the other driver’s compensation when this happens. Consulting with a lawyer will help you either prevent yourself from being placed in this predicament or prepare you for the next steps.

Legal Protection With The Help of A Car Accident Attorney

Although you live in a no-fault state, there are certain legal precautions you want to take when dealing with insurance companies. Even if you are responsible for a car accident, you do not want to admit fault to an insurance adjuster and take detailed notes of the accident scene. Whether you are the at-fault driver of an accident, you have the right to be represented by an experienced lawyer and protect your legal rights. Having a lawyer on your side can help you take full advantage of your legal protections.

Negotiating Your Coverage

A lawyer can help review your insurance policy and determine how other forms of coverage might work in your policy. Insurance companies use specific terms and phrases to confuse their policyholders. An experienced lawyer can review your policy and determine the total coverage you deserve.

Seeking a Settlement

Another way that a lawyer can assist you is by negotiating a fair settlement agreement on your behalf. One of the ways that an insurance company will try to resolve a car accident claim is by offering a settlement agreement.

A settlement agreement is a mutual agreement between you, your insurance company, and the other driver to pay a specific amount in compensation. The other driver accepts this settlement offer in exchange for waiving the right to pursue legal action against you in the future. Once the other driver accepts a settlement offer, they can no longer file a lawsuit against you.

Benefits of Settlements

A car accident settlement benefits not only you but the other driver. The other driver can receive compensation for their accident in a faster time frame than if they decided to take their claim to trial.

One of your most significant benefits is that the other driver no longer has the right to file a lawsuit against you once you agree on a settlement. You and the other driver can move on from the accident once the settlement offer is accepted.

Negotiations Process

Before accepting the settlement, you and the other driver will have the ability to negotiate the amount of compensation. This process is where your lawyer comes in. Your lawyer can negotiate on your behalf against the other driver’s lawyer and the insurance company. Lawyers have experience in the negotiation process and will convince the other parties involved to reach a mutual agreement that benefits you.

Damages Covered

Some of the damages covered through a settlement agreement include:

  • Medical expenses. Medical expenses include surgeries, injections, pain medications, ambulance rides, and routine doctor visits. The settlement may cover medical costs if they result from a car accident.
  • Lost income. Drivers who have to miss time from work due to their accident can receive compensation through their settlement offer. This loss includes time off from work taken to rehabilitate from any surgeries or medical testing.
  • Replacement services. This damage includes any household tasks that the driver’s injuries have impacted. Drivers can include the costs of any housekeeping services as damage through their settlement offer.
  • Burial costs. When a loved one has died from a car accident, the driver’s survivors or their estate can file a wrongful death claim and include burial costs in the lawsuit.

Establishing Liability After a Car Accident

Even if you think you did something wrong to cause an accident, you might not be 100 percent at fault. The other driver might also share some liability, so you always want a car accident lawyer to evaluate the cause of your crash. If another driver was partially responsible, their insurance might cover serious injuries.

Even if you are at fault for a crash, you want legal help for your PIP claim. If your insurance company does not want to cover the costs of your accident, a skilled lawyer can review your policy and convince the adjusters to keep their end of the bargain. When you pay the monthly premium on your insurance policy, that is an indication that you have kept your end of the contract between you and the insurance company. When the insurance company fails to maintain its end of the bargain, that is a violation known as bad faith practices.

Your lawyer can review your insurance policy and ensure that your accident meets the following requirements to be covered. Afterward, your lawyer can convince the insurance company to cover the accident or explore other legal options for you. Unless your accident was extremely egregious, there is no reason why an insurance company will not provide coverage for you.

Your lawyer can review your insurance policy and ensure that your accident meets the following requirements to be covered. Afterward, your lawyer can convince the insurance company to cover the accident or explore other legal options for you. Unless your accident was extremely egregious, there is no reason why an insurance company will not provide coverage for you.

Car Accident Attorney
Bill Bowles, Personal Injury Attorney

Consult with A Car Accident Lawyer Today

If you had a car accident in Florida, you have legal options. Contact a lawyer who knows about the no-fault laws and how insurance companies work.

Depending on the nature of your accident, you may have the opportunity to pursue compensation for your injuries from your PIP coverage or another driver’s policy if they share fault. Speaking with a qualified lawyer can help bring the sense of clarity you need to succeed in your car accident claim.

October 1, 2022

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