Auto accidents happen for a multitude of reasons including adverse weather conditions, debris in the roadways, damaged roadways, moving violations, and intoxication. After an auto accident occurs, it must be reported if there was more than $1,000 worth of property damage or if any party involved sustained an injury. No one involved in the accident should leave the scene of an accident, and they will be charged with the offense if they do leave. All parties involved in the accident must speak to the officers who investigate the accident if they are conscious. All parties involved in the accident are subject to Florida’s no-fault auto accident laws, and they proceed according to the details of these laws. Reviewing information about personal injury laws in Florida shows victims what to do next.
Reporting the Accident
The first step after an auto accident is to contact highway patrol and give them an exact location where the accident occurred. Patrol officers complete a full assessment of the accident and review each victim involved in the accident. They collect information from all drivers and determine if the victims require emergency medical assistance. The officers contact emergency services for all victims with injuries, and they coordinate with wrecker services when necessary to remove the vehicles from the roadway. Victims can contact Ward & Barnes, Accident Lawyers to start a legal claim after a serious auto accident.
The Accident Report
The auto accident report shows exactly what happened during the accident and will identify the at-fault driver. If there was more than one driver that caused auto damage or injuries, their details are listed in the auto accident report. All parties involved in the accident must get a copy of the auto accident report and submit it to their auto insurance provider.
The accident report is a key piece of evidence that supports the victim’s claim against the at-fault driver. However, it is not infallible, and it doesn’t mean that the victim will win their legal claim. The officer’s findings are reported in the accident report. Eyewitness accounts of the accident might paint a completely different picture of the accident. In an auto accident claim, a jury reviews all details of the case and makes a judgment according to the testimony of all parties, and the auto accident report is not ironclad and could be overturned with testimony from several witnesses that contradict the officer’s assessment.
Seeking Medical Treatment for the Injuries
All victims should visit an emergency room if they have injuries, even if the victims do not require emergency medical treatment at the scene of the accident. The medical assessment determines if they have any injuries for which they aren’t exhibiting signs immediately. Some individuals may experience an adrenaline rush after an accident, and their adrenaline levels could remain high for up to 24-hours. They won’t show signs of the injuries until the following day. By seeking medical assistance, the injured party generates medical records for their injuries, and they can use the medical records if they need to file a legal claim later. If they do not get medical treatment, they won’t have adequate evidence to substantiate their claim.
If the victim is incapacitated, a doctor may provide testimony about the victim’s injuries in a legal claim. The doctor provides detailed information about how the injuries happened and how the injuries affect the victim. This is helpful for victims that sustained traumatic brain injuries.
Was the At-Fault Driver Intoxicated or Under the Influence?
If any driver shows any signs of intoxication, law enforcement offers have the right to conduct a breathalyzer test. If any driver refuses to submit to testing, state laws allow the officers to arrest them for a violation of DUI laws. If the tests show the driver was intoxicated or under the influence of controlled substances, the driver is charged with DUI. If a drunk driver caused an accident, they could face additional charges especially if an injury resulted from the auto accident. The state can charge them with aggravated DUI because they caused an accident.
If the auto accident victim dies as a result of their injuries, the drunk driver may face involuntary manslaughter. The age of the victim plays a role in what charges are applied, and if the driver’s blood-alcohol content reading exceeded 0.15 percent, the state increases the classification of the criminal charges to a felony. If the driver is convicted, the court orders restitution for the victim or the victim’s family.
If the victim dies because of an auto accident, the state requires an autopsy to show the victim’s cause of death. The victim’s family receives a copy of the autopsy report, and they have the option to file a wrongful death lawsuit if the auto accident was avoidable.
Starting an Auto Insurance Claim
Since Florida is a no-fault state, all auto accident victims are required to file an insurance claim through their own personal injury protection coverage. Their auto liability coverage provides compensation for property damage. According to state laws, all drivers must have at least $10,000 in property damage liability coverage and $10,000 in personal injury protection. Any drivers that violate the auto insurance laws will receive a citation for the violation. If they are involved in an accident and do not have insurance, the victim can be denied compensation due to a failure to comply with state laws.
When Can Victims File a Legal Claim?
Victims are restricted from filing a lawsuit in Florida due to the no-fault auto accident laws. However, there are a few situations that allow the victim to file a claim against the individual that caused the auto accident. According to the law, the victim must sustain injuries that are permanent and severe. Their medical records must show that they will require ongoing treatment because of serious pain or permanent disabilities. Common conditions that warrant a lawsuit include loss of limb, loss of organ function, and traumatic brain injuries. The injuries must create a condition that will max out the victim’s personal injury protection coverage.
When starting a legal claim, an attorney reviews the victim’s auto accident and all medical evidence. The victim must have evidence that shows the auto accident caused their injuries, and they must show that the at-fault driver caused their injuries. If they win their legal claim, the victim receives a monetary award that includes all medical costs, auto repair expenses, and any wages they lost because of their injuries. Since they must have a serious injury, it is possible for them to get lifetime earnings if they are unable to work because of their injuries. However, these earnings are based on their current pay scale, longevity, and the total number of hours they work each pay period.
What is the Statute of Limitations for Auto Accidents?
The auto accident victims are required to file their legal claims before the fourth anniversary of the auto accident. The statute of limitations runs out on the fourth anniversary, and the victim forfeits their rights once the statute of limitations has passed. If they wait too long, the victim cannot collect compensation through any means. The court will not allow any new claims for the accident if they do not get the lawsuit started by the deadline.
What is Comparative Fault?
Auto accident laws present a loophole that could lead to the personal injury claim getting dismissed, or the monetary award could be reduced significantly. The comparative fault ruling indicates that the victim played a role in causing their accident. This means that the victim committed a moving violation before or during the accident that caused their injuries.
The defendant introduces the ruling if they have any evidence that shows the victim is partially to blame for the accident. If the defendant has evidence that they did not cause the accident, the court may dismiss the victim’s claim. If this happens, the defendant could start a countersuit against the victim.
If the victim was also at fault, the court reduces their monetary award according to the percentage applied to their moving violation. If the percentage of blame exceeds 50%, the victim will not receive any monetary award in their case. Auto accidents present a significant risk of injuries according to what caused the accident. The events are unpredictable and the actions taken by all parties involved determine the outcome. Drivers who violate the law and drive while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs increase the risks of serious injuries, and they could turn a two-car accident into a multi-car pileup. Auto accident victims are required by state laws to file a claim through their own personal injury protection coverage. The policies provide up to $10,000 of coverage for personal injuries, and victims who didn’t sustain serious injuries may not max out their coverage. Only victims with serious and permanent injuries are allowed to file a lawsuit in Florida, and they must start the lawsuit before the fourth anniversary of their auto accident. Reviewing auto accident laws helps the victims make decisions about their legal claims.