Auto accidents are distressing and can happen to anyone in the blink of an eye. The weeks and months after the incident can be equally unsettling, especially for victims with serious injuries.
Unintentional injuries, including motor vehicle accidents, are among the most common causes of death in the United States. In 2020, the National Center for Health Statistics recorded more than 200,000 fatalities due to accidents.
Government data showed the State of Florida had more than 3,000 fatal auto accidents in the same year. Florida law does not require car accident victims to consult a personal injury lawyer after a vehicle crash. But people seek legal advice from a Florida car accident attorney to focus on their health and recovery.
Law firms generally offer free consultations for car accident cases. The initial consultation is usually for reviewing case facts and how a car accident lawyer can help you. Hire an accomplished Florida car accident lawyer to receive fair compensation for your injuries.
Most Common Auto Accidents in Florida
According to data from Policygenius, Florida ranked third among US states with the most vehicle accidents. The state recorded more than 2,900 car crashes, just behind California and Texas. This makes Florida one of the most dangerous states for road users and motorists.
The injuries a passenger can sustain depend mainly on the auto accident type and level of impact. According to government data, the state of Florida logged more than 212,000 injuries from vehicle accidents in 2020. Find some of the most recurrent types of Florida car accidents below.
Accidents of this type occur when one vehicle follows another car too closely or when the car ahead suddenly stops. Distracted driving and tailgating often cause rear-end auto accidents. It commonly happens on heavy traffic roadways, as drivers accelerate and stop frequently.
Victims of rear-end collisions are prone to whiplash, leading to long-term complications if not treated appropriately. Motorists can prevent this type of car accident by driving a safe distance from other cars and avoiding distractions.
Generally, the law presumes the rear driver is the at-fault party for a rear-ended car crash, but it is not always the case. The lead driver can also be liable if they pulled over in front of another vehicle without warning. Likewise, traveling with broken tail lights or reversing into a car behind can make them responsible for the car crash.
Single-vehicle car crashes
This vehicle accident includes crashing onto objects like trees, guard rails, or poles. In some cases, another vehicle might be involved. For instance, a driver swerves to avoid hitting another car, striking the object instead.
Swerve circumspectly around another car and avoid turning the steering wheel too hard. Sharp turns can flip your car and can be more dangerous to passengers. Aim for bushes instead of solid items like barriers or trees if you have to hit an object.
Sometimes the driver may not be liable for a single-vehicle accident. Other parties could be the at-fault party for an accident not caused by driver error. A vehicle’s design flaw, defects, or a road’s poor maintenance can likely transfer liability to another party.
The Florida product liability statute allows victims to seek compensation for injuries because of a defective product. It covers “damages caused by the manufacture, construction, design, formulation, installation, preparation, or assembly of a product.”
There are three types of product liability lawsuits:
- Design defect: When a product has flaws in its structural design or formula, which causes it to be harmful. Products not undergoing rigorous testing are likely to have undetected defects.
- Marketing defect: A manufacturer can be held liable if they do not inform the public of risks associated with a product. They should provide consumers with adequate warnings or instructions to avoid injuries.
- Manufacturing defect: An error can occur during manufacturing, resulting in a flawed product, even if its design is flawless. It can happen with a single product or a whole batch of products.
Head-on car crashes happen when two vehicles from opposite directions hit each other in the front. It is the most common fatal auto accident, along with truck accidents. It occurs when a driver fails to yield a right-of-way or when they turn left towards oncoming vehicles. Usually, drunk or distracted driving causes head-on car accident cases.
Car accident victims would sustain severe injuries if the two cars were at full speed. The impact force could throw vehicle occupants through the windshield if they were not wearing seat belts.
T-bone and left-turn collisions
T-bone or side-impact collisions occur when a car hits the side of another vehicle. It mostly happens at intersections where a car turns left while another goes straight through. One of the motorists may have been running a red light in many cases.
T-bone car wrecks might also happen due to a driver’s failure to yield the right-of-way to oncoming traffic. Other common causes include speeding, distracted driving, and unsafe left turns.
Occupants are prone to receive severe car accident injuries in T-bone car crashes as most car doors are thin and offer little protection. Car doors can fold in during a side-impact auto accident and trap passengers inside. The motorist’s arms might also break from the impact if their hands were on the wheel.
Suppose the oncoming vehicle travels at high speed. The other vehicle might roll or strike the car hard enough to crush the motorist.
Sideswipe car crashes
Sideswipe car crashes happen when two vehicles collide while moving parallel. It is more common on highways or interstates where cars change lanes frequently. The risk of sideswipes increases while merging or traveling at high speeds. Most often, the motorist’s negligence in checking blind spots before merging causes sideswipe crashes.
Sideswipes can cause damage to vehicles and may escalate to multi-vehicle crashes. If the impact is powerful or at a certain angle, it could push the car into another traffic lane. This scenario will likely lead to a secondary car crash.
Trusted Legal Reference
Legal and medical publications, like Galligan Law and Medical News Today, reference The Personal Injury Center. It is a credible source for legal articles on personal injury and medical malpractice lawsuits.
Florida Hit-and-Run Car Crashes
Motorists leaving the scene of an accident after a car crash is a crime in Florida. Section 316.061 of the Florida Statutes embodies the criminal provisions.
Despite that, according to the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), one in every four car accidents is a hit-and-run. While most hit-and-run car crashes result in property damage only, they can also result in injuries and fatalities.
A motorist in a car crash must stay and provide information to others involved and seek medical care if necessary. If drivers fail to comply with their obligations, they may be liable for a hit-and-run.
There are four critical pieces of evidence to convict a hit-and-run in Florida:
- The defendant drove the vehicle.
- A vehicle accident occurred.
- There was damaged property, or someone was injured or killed.
- The driver left the accident scene and did not provide personal information or arrange medical care.
- The court hearing the case has appropriate jurisdiction.
Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act
The penalties for a hit-and-run crash changed when the Aaron Cohen Life Protection Act was enacted on July 1, 2014. The revised law states that a hit-and-driver who causes the death of a person commits a first-degree felony. It carries a mandatory four years imprisonment.
It was named after Aaron Cohen, a 31-year-old cyclist fatally struck by an alcohol-impaired motorist in February 2012. The at-fault driver left the scene of the accident in South Florida.
The court sentenced the negligent driver to two years in prison. It was a lesser sentence had he been convicted of a DUI manslaughter charge.
FLHSMV data showed that liable drivers serve anywhere from 60 days to 30 years in prison. The length of their sentence depends on the severity of the crash. Property damage, injuries, and fatalities from the accident classify penalties.
For accidents involving property damage, the penalties under Florida law are the following:
- Second-degree misdemeanor
- Up to 60 days in prison
- $500 fine
If the accident caused serious injuries to another person, the penalties are the following:
- Second or third-degree felony
- Revoked license for at least three years
- Up to five years in prison
- $5,000 fine
If the accident incurred fatalities, the penalties are the following:
- First-degree felony
- Revoked license for at least three years
- Mandatory minimum of four years in prison, up to 30 years in prison
- $10,000 fine
Common Causes of Auto Accidents in Florida
Generally, the NHTSA identifies driver error, vehicle malfunction, and environmental factors as primary causes of motor vehicle accidents.
Categories for driver errors include the following:
- Recognition errors: When a driver fails to evaluate a situation and reacts accordingly in changing road conditions.
- Decision errors: When a driver acknowledges a dangerous situation but responds incorrectly.
- Performance errors: When a driver knows how to address a hazardous problem but fails in executing it.
- Non-performance errors: A driver does not act to keep the car on the road or avoid an accident.
Vehicle malfunction or mechanical failure can be the sole cause or a contributing factor in an accident. Examples of vehicle malfunction include seat belts that don’t work, airbags that do not deploy, brakes that fail, etc.
Meanwhile, car crashes can also be due to environmental factors. These include slick roads, missing signs and signals, and poor weather conditions.
In Florida specifically, various elements contribute to car accidents.
Failing to obey traffic laws
Running a traffic light or failing to make a complete stop at a traffic signal can lead to head-on collision accidents. Likewise, making left or right turns on roadways where you are not allowed to do so might cause side-impact collisions.
Even with the right of way, another motorist might ignore a stop sign and hit your car. It is more perilous if the at-fault driver is traveling fast.
Speed limits provide safety by reducing the likelihood and severity of auto accidents. The Florida Department of Transportation established speed limits on state highways as follows:
- 70 mph on Interstates
- 65 mph on a four-lane highway outside an urban area
- 60 mph on other state highways
Speeding makes it challenging to navigate turns or corners and increases the risk of getting in an auto accident. For instance, traveling at high speeds lowers the chances of a vehicle coming to a complete stop before hitting a roadway obstruction.
Additionally, reckless driving is dangerous as it can lead to rear-end or single-vehicle crashes. If the at-fault driver ignored speed limits leading to an accident, Florida law might classify it as negligence.
Driving while intoxicated by alcohol or drugs
Intoxicated driving causes 30 percent of car accident fatalities in the US. Alcohol impairs judgment and reduces your ability to react swiftly to changing conditions. For example, a drunk motorist cannot monitor their speed and stay in their lane the same way a sober motorist can. In addition, alcohol has a sedative effect, which may lead to fatigued and drowsy driving.
Due to the staggering number of incidents, Florida imposes strict penalties for car accident cases related to drunk driving. Motorists can generally be charged with a DUI if they have a blood-alcohol percentage of 0.08 percent or higher.
Sometimes, the business or person who sold the drunk driver alcohol may be found liable for the accident. They could be at fault if they furnished alcohol to minors or a person habitually addicted to alcoholic beverages.
Poor road conditions
Driver error does not cause all motor vehicle accidents. Icy roads, missing signages, or potholes can cause car crashes too. In these cases, the government or road crew are at-fault for the accident as they must maintain public roadways.
Sometimes, private parties can also be liable for accidents caused by road hazards. For example, take the case of the property owner who has a tree on their premises.
Suppose they failed to inspect the tree for diseases and rot, and it fell on the highway during fair weather. In that case, the property owner may be liable for any car accident due to the fallen tree.
Heavy rains, slippery roads, and hurricanes are always huge factors in roadway accidents. For example, extreme winds can result in motorists losing control of their vehicles and hitting another car. An automobile accident in bad weather can quickly escalate into a multi-vehicle accident.
A common misconception is that drivers are exempted from liability after an accident during poor weather conditions. Drivers should consistently hold to a standard of duty by adapting to changing road conditions.
Accidents involving animals are common, especially on Florida state’s rural roads. Over 260,000 vehicle accidents involve animals causing at least 150 human fatalities in the United States.
The Wildlife Collision Prevention Program provides tips on how drivers reduce the risk of having a wildlife-vehicle collision:
- Watch for the signs
- Reduce speed
- Drive defensively
If a crash is inevitable, aim to drive toward where the animal came from, not where it is going. If you must hit something, try for a glancing blow instead of a head-on hit. In addition, let up on the brakes before you hit the animal. It lifts the front end of your vehicle slightly and reduces the chances of the animal hitting your windshield.
How is fault determined in Florida car accident cases?
Florida is one of twelve “no-fault insurance” states in the US. Drivers in Florida must carry $20,000 worth of insurance coverage. A $10,000 personal injury protection covers a portion of the policyholder’s losses after an accident. It applies regardless of who was at fault. On the other hand, a $10,000 property damage liability (PDL) pays for property damage the policyholder caused to others.
How insurance adjusters determine liability
The three common ways insurance companies determine fault in auto accidents are through physical evidence, traffic citations, and witness accounts. Insurance adjusters examine the damage done to the vehicle as well as road and skid damage. They will also take into consideration photographs submitted into evidence.
Insurance companies will also consider traffic citations at the time of the accident. These suggest that the motorist who violated traffic laws is most likely at fault. In most cases, speeding and running a stop sign determines the at-fault party for an accident.
Statements from witnesses are also contributing factors when insurance companies determine liability. It can be from any parties involved or passengers from their vehicle and bystanders near the scene of the accident.
Comparative negligence rules in Florida car accidents
The comparative negligence doctrine gives victims the right to pursue a claim even if they are partly responsible for the car accident. There are two types: modified and pure comparative negligence.
Some states follow modified comparative negligence rules. With this rule, only drivers less than 50 or 51 percent liable for the collision can pursue a car accident claim for damages.
Florida follows pure comparative negligence rules. It allows car accident victims to file a car accident claim and recover compensation proportional to their percentage of fault.
The damages a victim can recover for a Florida car accident depend on their liability percentage. For example, a victim was 20 percent responsible for the car crash and sustained $100,000 in losses. Insurance companies can award 80 percent of their losses or $80,000 in damages.
However, some states follow contributory negligence rules. Under these rules, car accident victims who are in any way responsible for an accident may not recover damages for their injuries.
In no-fault insurance states, drivers can claim compensation from their insurance companies, regardless of who is liable for a car wreck. It covers medical bills and lost wages and is not proportional to their percentage of liability in the accident.
Florida drivers’ PIP insurance policy pays 80 percent of their medical treatment bills and 60 percent of their lost wages. However, these may not go over the PIP insurance coverage, which is a minimum of $10,000 in Florida.
Their insurance company may also cover $5,000 in death benefits if a collision caused a wrongful death. The law also covers the policyholder’s household members and the vehicle occupants who do not own a vehicle.
However, you can get around Florida’s no-fault laws if you meet their “serious injury” threshold. With this, you can recover damages for losses or serious injuries above your coverage.
In addition, you can file an auto accident lawsuit against the at-fault driver and recover economic and non-economic damages. These include medical expenses, medical bills, lost wages, lost earning capacity, emotional distress, and pain and suffering.
There are four criteria to meet the “serious injury” threshold:
- Significant and permanent loss of a critical bodily function
- Permanent disability with a reasonable degree of medical probability, excluding scarring or disfigurement
- Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement
- Wrongful Death
What steps should I take after an auto accident in Florida?
Drivers may experience an adrenaline rush after an auto accident. Still, it is crucial to stay vigilant in these circumstances. As emotions run high, motorists can be easily carried away by their feelings and make more mistakes. But you can mitigate this by knowing what to do after a car crash.
- Dial 911
Stay at the accident scene and call 911 to report the accident officially. It is an official report that an auto accident has occurred, and you can also request immediate medical attention.
Inform the operator of the car crash’s exact location, and give specific details like mile markers or landmarks. Information like this makes it easier and faster for the police and paramedics to locate and help you.
- Call the police or self-report an automobile accident
A police report recorded at the scene of the accident will be advantageous, especially if a lawsuit is necessary. A police officer will note all vital elements of the crash, including names, vehicle registration, road conditions, and witness statements.
However, drivers may not need to report some Florida car accidents to the police. A traffic crash report from law enforcement is only a requirement in the following situations:
- It caused at least $500 in vehicle or property damage.
- It caused injury or wrongful death.
- It was a hit-and-run collision or a DUI car crash
- It requires a wrecker to remove the vehicles
- It was a crash with a commercial motor vehicle
If the car crash does not meet the requirements, the drivers can complete a “Driver Report of Traffic Crash.” Alternatively, the police officer can provide each driver with an exchange-of-information form.
- Exchange information with the other party
Reach out to other motorists involved and exchange relevant personal details. It includes names, phone numbers, addresses, driver’s license numbers, vehicle registration, and insurance policy information. If passengers were hurt, it is encouraged to get their details too.
- Gather evidence and witness testimonies
Regardless of the gravity of the automobile accident, gather evidence through photos or videos of the damage. Take clear photographs and videos, including different angles of the vehicles. It can also help identify weather conditions and road obstructions, which can be helpful for your personal injury claim.
Recording videos with audio can bear clues that prove liability. For example, slurred speech can be a sign of intoxication.
Seek witness accounts of the accident and collect relevant personal information of witnesses, such as their names and contact information. If permitted, you can also record their interpretations of the incident.
- Contact a Florida car accident lawyer
Filing a car accident claim in Florida can be straightforward due to its no-fault insurance rules. But car accident victims may still encounter unfair payouts and other challenges in determining liability in case of a lawsuit. Because of Florida’s pure comparative negligence rules, compensation for your car accident claim depends heavily on your contribution to the accident.
It is advisable to seek the guidance of a personal injury attorney before talking to insurance companies. Car accident attorneys can negotiate the best compensation for your losses.
Let The Personal Injury Center Help Find You a Car Accident Lawyer
Florida auto accidents can be tricky to address, given the various statutes that come into play. However, the process becomes more manageable with legal advice from an accomplished Florida car accident legal team.
You can seek financial compensation for economic and non-economic losses for you and your loved ones. A successful car accident claim will award you damages for medical bills, medical expenses, lost wages, and lost earning capacity. In addition, you will also receive damages for the emotional distress and pain and suffering you endured after a traumatic event.
Experienced auto accident attorneys with a record of successful verdicts in personal injury cases can help you the most with your claim. These specialists can negotiate fair compensation for your losses.
You can book a free case evaluation with The Personal Injury Center. It only takes three steps to get a 10-minute initial consultation with the appropriate car accident lawyer:
- Briefly describe your car accident case
- Provide your contact information
- Choose car accident attorneys to contact you
You can also browse our site for additional information on your personal injury case. It has a collection of helpful articles that can shed more light on your concerns about personal injury law.
FAQs on Car Accident Lawyer Florida
A statute of limitations generally sets a timeframe on when you must go to court and file a lawsuit. In Florida, a car accident victim must file a case within four years of the date of the accident. If this time limit passes, the Florida courts will most likely dismiss your personal injury case unless they extend the deadline.
Motorists in minor auto accidents can self-report a car crash in Florida. You can find their Traffic Crash Report Forms online at the FLHSMV website. Once completed, you can send the forms via email or snail mail to their office.
Suppose a motorist cannot report a car crash due to serious injuries. In that case, an occupant of the vehicle can report it to authorities. If the driver was alone during the auto accident, the vehicle’s owner should report it within 10 days. If a driver does not declare a car crash, it is considered a noncriminal infraction.