Car Accident Attorneys in Tallahassee, Florida
So far in 2021, through the first eight-plus months, there have been 5,595 car crashes, resulting in 3,212 injuries and 27 fatalities, in Leon County, Florida. In neighboring Jefferson County, the figures are 284 crashes, 151 injuries, and one fatality, while in Gadsden County, 801 crashes resulted in 454 injuries and 17 deaths.
What all these drivers share in common is Florida’s requirement that they maintain both Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and Property Damage Liability (PDL) insurance coverage, though at any one time, it’s been estimated that 20 percent of drivers on Florida highways lack insurance.
If you or a loved one has been injured – or worse, you’ve lost a loved one in a fatal crash – in or around Tallahassee and neighboring cities and counties, contact the personal injury attorneys at Larry K. White, LLC. With our combined 40 years of experience, we can investigate the details of your accident, assess liability, and advise you of all your options to seek the compensation you deserve.
Florida: A No-Fault Insurance State
Florida relies on a no-fault automobile insurance system, which means that if you’re injured, you must first turn to your own Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage for reimbursement. By law, each driver must carry at least $10,000 in PIP coverage. Typically, PIP will pay 80 percent of your medical expenses and 60 percent of any lost wages you suffer due to time off from work, up to the limit you purchase.
Your PIP rider covers you when you’re a passenger in another vehicle as well. It also covers all members of your household, and will cover passengers in your vehicle if they don’t have their own PIP policies.
Additionally, you are required to purchase at least $10,000 in Property Damage Liability (PDL) coverage. PDL will reimburse you for any damages you suffer or you cause to other people’s property, up to the limit of the face value of the coverage you purchase.
If the Other Driver Is at Fault
Since Florida uses a no-fault system, you generally cannot seek compensation for injuries from the other driver, even if he or she is primarily at fault for the accident. However, Florida law makes exceptions for what it terms “serious injuries,” which it defines as:
Permanent limitation of use of a body organ or member
Significant limitation of use of a body function or system
Substantially full disability for 90 days
If you have a serious injury as defined above, then you can seek compensation from the other driver through their insurance coverage or by filing a personal injury lawsuit. A personal injury lawsuit throws open the gates to compensation wider than your PIP coverage offers. Not only can you be compensated for economic damages such as medical expenses and lost wages but also for non-economic losses such as pain and suffering.
You have four years from the date of your accident to file a lawsuit under Florida law.
Prevailing in a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Once you step outside of the no-fault insurance boundaries, then you must jump certain legal hurdles if you file a lawsuit. First, you’re going to have to show that the other driver’s negligence caused your injuries. Under Florida law, every driver has what is called a “duty of care” to respect the rights and privileges of other drivers on the road – in other words, not to cause harm in any way.
If something the other driver did – crossed lanes without signaling, drove too closely, was distracted on a cell phone, or simply drove too fast – contributed to your accident and resulting injuries, that can be used to show negligence.
To prove the negligence of the other driver in court, you need to have solid documentation from the scene of the accident. When there are injuries in a car accident, Florida law requires that you report it to the police. The police may or may not come to the scene, but if they do, they will conduct an investigation and file a report. It’s in your best interest, if possible, to get a copy of that report.
While on the scene, you should use your cell phone to capture as many images as possible, including of the vehicles involved, any road hazards that may have been present, and even roadway signs that indicate driving cautions or restrictions.
It’s important to record or write down the details of everything that happened as soon as you get a chance. If there are witnesses, try to get their statements and contact information. All of this compiled information will prove useful in court.
Pure Comparative Negligence
Even if you successfully show that the other driver’s negligence contributed to your injuries, Florida’s use of a legal standard called “pure comparative negligence” will come into play. This standard weighs the relative fault of each party in an accident. Say you contributed to the accident because you had a brake light that didn’t work, or you yourself were speeding. The court may hold you 20 percent (or more or less) responsible. This means that you share 20 percent of the fault, and when the compensation is awarded, 20 percent will be deducted for your part. If the total compensation is $20,000, you’ll get only $16,000.
Under pure comparative negligence, you can still receive compensation if you’re 99 percent at fault, but that would mean the other driver would have a major claim against you.
Car Accident Attorneys in Tallahassee, Florida
Car accidents and resulting injuries are everyday occurrences throughout Tallahassee and the surrounding communities. If you or a loved one has suffered significant injuries in a crash, don’t let the insurance companies lowball your settlement. We can deal with the claims adjusters on your behalf. The attorneys at Larry K. White, LLC, will listen to the details of your crash, investigate your situation, and advise you of your options to seek the compensation you need. Contact us today for experienced legal guidance.