Being involved in a motor vehicle accident can be a traumatic experience. Every day, more than 1,000 car accidents take place on South Florida roads, leaving many drivers and passengers with questions about how to proceed after an accident.
After a motor vehicle accident, dealing with insurance companies and the other parties involved can feel overwhelming. At LJW Legal, we make it our mission to inform clients about the ins and outs of their motor vehicle accident claims. These are some of the most frequently asked questions by motor vehicle accident victims.
What falls under a motor vehicle accident?
While most people assume motor vehicle accidents are simply car accidents, a motor vehicle accident can include:
- Bicycle accidents
- Car accidents
- Golf cart accidents
- Truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- ATV accidents
- Train accidents
- Public transportation accidents
- Boating accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
What am I supposed to do after a motor vehicle accident?
The steps you take after a motor vehicle accident are very important for your claim. We understand the events following an accident can be confusing and traumatizing, but ideally, you want to make sure you:
- Stay calm and move to a safe place
- Make sure everyone else involved in the accident is safe
- Call the police
At the scene, you are also supposed to gather valuable information that will help with your claim, including:
- The contact information of everyone involved (addresses, phone numbers, and more)
- The other drivers’ license information and insurance
- The other vehicle’s information (license plate and registration number)
- Witnesses statements
- Photos of the vehicles and the scene
- Pictures of your injuries
- Notes of the road and weather conditions
What happens if I’m involved in a hit and run?
If you’re involved in a hit and run, you may still be eligible for compensation. You should still follow the same steps as any other motor vehicle accident. If you have uninsured motorist coverage, you may also file a claim with your insurance company. Under an uninsured motorist policy, you can still recover compensation for a hit and run accident.
What happens when the other driver doesn’t have insurance?
Under Florida law, every driver must possess motor vehicle insurance. However, in the case an uninsured driver hits you, you could choose to collect damages from your uninsured motorist coverage or seek damages from the at-fault driver.
What is the Florida no-fault law?
According to Florida law, injured drivers must collect damages from their own insurance company, regardless of who was at fault for the collision. However, in the case of serious injuries, the plaintiff can seek compensation from the at-fault driver and hold them accountable.
What is PIP?
PIP stands for Personal Injury Protection. A component of car insurance, PIP covers medical expenses and lost wages. In Florida, every driver must hold PIP coverage of $10,000.
What if I wasn’t wearing a seat belt or helmet at the time of the accident?
Florida requires that all drivers and their front-seat passengers use seat belts while on the road. However, in the case another driver was liable for the crash, you may still be able to collect damages, even if you were not wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident.
For motorcyclists, only drivers under 21 are required to wear a helmet by law. Motorcycle drivers over 21 can ride without a helmet as long as they can prove they possess a medical insurance policy that covers $10,000 in damages. While you don’t have to wear a helmet, this can affect the damages you may be eligible to collect later on.
Do I have to see a doctor?
Yes. Even if you can’t see or feel your injuries after an accident, this doesn’t mean you didn’t suffer them. Most injuries are not noticeable for hours or even days after the accident.
What if I was partly at fault for the accident?
Under Florida law, accidents follow a comparative negligence standard. This means that even if you’re partly at fault for a crash, you can still seek damages from the other party. The amount you can recover will be reduced by the percentage of responsibility assigned to you.
How is fault determined in a motor vehicle collision?
Again, Florida is a no-fault state. However, the fault for an accident will be determined by a variety of factors. The insurance adjuster or the court will look at the police report, evidence, medical records, and every other available information about the accident to determine the percentage of fault assigned to each party involved.
What is bodily injury coverage?
Bodily injury (BI) coverage or bodily injury liability (BIL) is an additional auto insurance coverage that is entirely optional for Florida drivers. Bodily injury coverage helps with medical costs associated with vehicle accidents. Florida law only requires drivers to possess a minimum of $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection coverage, which is why some drivers opt to obtain bodily injury coverage to make sure their medical costs are covered in the event of a major accident.
In some cases, drivers who have been involved in driving under the influence are often required to purchase bodily injury coverage due to the risk they present to others.
What if the other vehicle involved was an Uber or Lyft?
If you’re involved in a ride-share accident, the Uber or Lyft driver most likely was driving their own vehicle, which means they had to carry their own insurance. If the accident occurred while the driver was not working, then you can pursue a claim against the driver. However, if the driver was working, then you can pursue a claim against Uber or Lyft. In Florida, these companies are required to carry bodily injury coverage of up to $100,000. Additionally, they may also cover your vehicle damages up to $25,000.
Motor Vehicle Accident Claims
What information should I gather to start my claim?
Ideally, you want to collect as much information as possible. However, in general, to file a motor vehicle claim you need:
- The contact information of all parties involved
- Insurance information
- A detailed explanation of the accident
- Photographs of the scene and injuries
- Police reports
- Medical examinations
What’s the statute of limitations for filing a claim after an accident?
Under Florida law, motor vehicle accident victims have four years from the day of the accident to file a personal injury or property damage claim.
Do I need an attorney to file a claim?
It is not required, but it is strongly recommended. While filing an insurance claim may seem simple enough, motor vehicle accidents can have many complications. By working with a personal injury attorney, you can rest assured that they will work tirelessly to make sure you receive the compensation for the damages you’re entitled to, promptly. In many occasions, insurance companies will try to offer you a settlement for less than your total damages. At LJW Legal, our motorcycle accident attorneys work closely with you to make sure you receive the compensation you deserve.
What if I was involved in a golf cart accident?
In Florida, golf cart accidents are more common than most people expect. Golf cart accidents can also lead to serious injuries including whiplash, broken bones, contusions, and more. After a golf cart accident, you should follow the same steps as you would for a car accident. Golf cart owners may be held accountable for your injuries. In this case, golf carts are not required by law to possess insurance coverage, but working with a car accident lawyer can help you fight for compensation for your injuries.
Are punitive damages available in Florida for motor vehicle accidents?
Yes. If your motor vehicle accident was caused because the other driver was texting-and-driving, driving while intoxicated, or driving under the influence, you may be able to seek punitive damages against the driver.
If a malfunction caused my accident, do I have a claim against the car manufacturer?
It depends. You need to make sure that your car’s malfunction was indeed the result of the manufacturers’ negligence. An attorney will do the due diligence to see if you may be able to file a product liability claim against your car’s manufacturer and how to proceed.
Motor Vehicle Accident Benefits
What is my case worth?
It varies. Each case is different, which is why giving an estimate of your case’s worth is impossible. At LJW Legal, we focus on looking at every aspect of your motor vehicle accident claim to give you a better understanding of what your case is worth.
What can I recover after the accident?
The damages you can recover from your accident will depend on various circumstances. Some damages include:
- Vehicle and property damage
- Present and future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Wrongful death
Who covers my medical costs?
In most cases, your Personal Injury Protection insurance will cover your medical expenses, up to a maximum of $10,000. If your medical costs surpass the amount covered by your PIP insurance, you may pursue the other driver’s bodily injury liability coverage.
Can passengers recover damages in Florida?
Yes. Personal Injury Protection insurance will cover you whether you’re operating the vehicle or not. In addition, full coverage car insurance policies also cover passengers.
Have More Questions?
If you or someone you know has been recently involved in a motor vehicle accident, get your questions answered. Contact LJW Legal, today to schedule a private and complimentary consultation to go over your accident and your claim.