I Was Injured While on Vacation in Florida: What Are My Rights?

October 11, 2016 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman
I Was Injured While on Vacation in Florida: What Are My Rights?

If you were injured while on vacation in Florida, you may wonder what your options are. You may be wondering if you even have the right to collect compensation for your injury from a different state.

Well, the short answer is: you do have a right to collect damages for an injury, even if you don't live in Florida.

Every year, almost 100 million people visit Florida from around the globe. It's really no surprise since we have some of the best attractions in the world all concentrated into one area.

You can visit the happiest place on earth' to see princesses and fairytale creatures come to life; you can walk the halls of Hogwarts or mingle with superheroes; you can experience your favorite movie in a 3-D ride; or get up close with arm-chomping alligators; you can meet the exotic animals of the African savannah in a real safari ride, or have the floor fall out from under you as you slide 90 feet straight down on a water slide. The possibilities, for the young or young-at-heart, are nearly limitless.

In fact, just creating the short list above was a challenge since there are so many great attractions to choose from.

Unfortunately, vacationing does not bar one from things going wrong. It is so easy to be focused on all the fun, as you should be, that being involved in an unfortunate accident or suffering an injury can catch you completely by surprise.

In some respects, one's chances of sustaining such a luckless event may increase while traveling out of your home state. You may be driving more miles than you normally would, visiting more places in a day than you do back home, or taking part in activities that you never would during your routine life.

While vacationing in Florida, you may experience:

  • Getting into a car accident in your personal vehicle.
  • Getting into a car accident in a rental car.
  • Renting a piece of equipment that is defective, like a beach bike or scooter.
  • Being injured on the property you are renting, like a vacation home.
  • Slipping and falling while walking through a hotel lobby.
  • Being sexually assaulted while out partying in a Florida city.
  • Getting critically ill from food poisoning while eating at a buffet.
  • Experiencing the wrongful death of a family member.
  • The list could go on seemingly forever; there are just so many ways to get hurt or sick while on vacation.

If you are injured while visiting Florida from out of state, one of your first steps should definitely be obtaining an experienced personal injury attorney. Inevitably, you will have to go home and will need someone back in Florida to help defend your rights. Likewise, laws vary from state to state, so having someone that is specifically versed in the personal injury laws of Florida can be extremely valuable.

Jurisdiction and Statute of Limitations

Before this article moves to the specifics of the above scenarios, you should know two things about personal injury claims before we go any further. First, they have a statute of limitation, meaning one only has so long to file before their case expires. And second, the accident must fall within Florida jurisdiction. Meaning, the accident, injury, or illness must have occurred within the borders of the state of Florida.

Every state's statute of limitations are different, so understanding Florida's limits is important. For a common personal injury case against another party, someone has four (4) years to file a claim. For any claim against a division of government, say the city of Orlando, it is three (3) years. For a Florida wrongful death case, one would only have two (2) years to file.

Like the time limit, there is also a jurisdiction limit. The accident, injury, or illness must have occurred within the state of Florida for the Florida courts to handle the claim. This may seem so obvious that it's unimportant to mention, but one must consider if their illness could have possibly occurred while on the Bahamas leg of their journey, or if the car accident they were involved in happened in Georgia, but they didn't start to feel their injuries until Florida. Either way, one must be able to prove the circumstances of the claim happened within the state they file the claim.

With these two principle concerns met, one can begin thinking about moving forward with a Florida personal injury claim.

Getting into an accident in your personal vehicle.

When you are involved in an accident while out of your home state, you still want to follow the same procedures that you would in any other accident. You should follow these steps, no matter what. Whether you are in Florida or California, good evidence is still good evidence.

When it comes to your insurance policy, almost everything stays the same. Insurance policies usually cover all areas of the US, US territories, and Canada. This means if you're from Michigan and you're on vacation in Florida, you're probably covered by your own insurance. Check your policy to be sure.

Like any other accident, be sure to call the police and report the accident to your insurance company. Your insurance company will either assign you an insurance adjustor from your home state or one from Florida, depending on the size and policy of your carrier.

If your car is damaged enough to need repair on the spot, your insurance company will provide you with towing support, a mechanic to work on your vehicle, and adjusters to answer any questions.

You should also seek medical attention right away. Do not hesitate to do so. Your future health, income, and financial security could depend on it. Likewise, seek legal representation right away to prevent being taken advantage of and to assist you in finding and obtaining medical care.

Also, it should be mentioned, one should not fall for the attorney and medical referral service advertisements you will hear or see in the area. These companies offer little to no benefit and do not assign attorneys or doctors based on merit. It is simply a way for attorneys to pay for clients without needing much of a reputation.

Getting into an accident in a rental car.

Orlando International Airport is the largest car rental hub in the world. So it goes without saying that an accident in a rental car is a pretty common occurrence.

Most people want to know if they can hold the rental car company liable for their injuries. Whether you were driving the rental or the car that hit you was a rental, the short answer is: no, you cannot hold them liable except for very specific circumstances.

However, that does not mean that you will be stuck with all the financial responsibility created by someone else's negligence. Most often, your insurance company, the other driver's insurance company, or any other third party responsible, will be on the hook for any damages and injuries. Check out this article for more information about rental car accidents while on vacation.

Renting a piece of equipment that is defective, like a beach bike or scooter.

While on vacation visiting Florida's beautiful beaches, it is common for people to rent things likes a beach bike, scooter, or other pieces of equipment. Although most companies have you sign away most liabilities before renting, they are still liable if the equipment was defective or faulty in some way. These cases may be more difficult to prove, but it is very possible to receive compensation for injury due to someone else's negligence, no matter what the circumstances.

Before you rent a piece of equipment, ask if the vehicle or device has recently been inspected for safety. Check it out for yourself, so you can be sure you're not getting onto something with obvious safety concerns. Finally, make sure that you are operating the equipment safely. Before you ever reach the point of needing an injury attorney, you want to do everything you can to prevent such an occurrence.

Being injured on the property you are renting, like a vacation home.

Before you rent a vacation home, you may want to ask what type of insurance coverage the owner has. It's a good idea to find out if the owner has a homeowners' policy with guest liability coverage. This type of coverage will be of great help if you or someone with you is injured on the property due to the owner's negligence.

If you are injured while in a vacation home, be sure to seek medical attention and document the entire incident. Take pictures, make note of witnesses, and get copies of anything you signed.

Also, be sure to read the contract or short-term lease agreement. Likewise, be sure to retain a copy for your attorney to review.

If you are injured while staying at a hotel or resort while on vacation, different laws apply as far as liability.

Slipping and falling while walking through a hotel lobby.

Hotels and resorts have a responsibility to keep their properties safe and free of hazards. When guests stay at a resort or hotel it is expected that the grounds, provided transportation, and amenities are safe and free from danger. The owners and management are responsible for any necessary repairs to anything that could become a potential hazard.

They are also responsible to clean up any puddles of water inside the building, repairing a leaking pipe, or replacing a broken seal on a window. These things, among many others, can create great hazards on a property that welcomes so many guests.

Likewise, they have a responsibility to know about any dangers, post warning about things that cannot be fixed, and to repair the ones that can. In addition, guests should be warned about any dangers such as unguarded pools or beaches. Failure to protect guests from danger may result in serious injuries and potential liability.

Being sexually assaulted while out partying in a Florida city.

We hope that no person is assaulted while out trying to have a good time in Florida. But the unfortunate fact is, there are a lot of different people out in clubs and bars, who could potentially harm another. Sexual assault is no joke, and perpetrators can and should be held accountable.

One may not consider this, which is why hiring an attorney is beneficial, but the property where the assault occurred may be liable as well. A lack of security, faulty locks on the bathrooms, or any number of other instances can make a property owner liable for the assault. If you have been violated while on vacation, it is your right to seek justice.

Getting critically ill from food poisoning while eating at a buffet.

While on vacation, most people eat out much more often than they would otherwise. It is common to visit a buffet in Orlando, a steakhouse in Tampa, or just the continental breakfast in the hotel lobby.

Food poisoning can be difficult to prove because it may be hard to trace back exactly what it was that caused you to become ill. In order to bring a successful persona injury claim, you must be able to show a connection between the exact food you ate and how it made you ill.

This can be difficult since most people do not get sick right away after eating. The symptoms often come later. But when many other people who have eaten at the same place come down with food poisoning, say at a buffet, it may be much easier to prove liability.

Most food poisoning cases fall under a product liability claim, similar to cases involving an injury from a defective product. This is because food is considered a product and it being bad, spoiled, bacteria-infested, etc. is what made it defective.

Experiencing the wrongful death of a family member.

One of the most difficult things that can happen while on vacation is the loss of a loved one. When someone goes on vacation with their family, they are expecting to create memories of a happy time; not one of tragedy.

But unfortunately, accidents that result in death do occur, at home and on vacation.

Recently, a young boy was killed in Florida while on vacation at a Disney resort. While staying on the property, the young boy waded into a small body of water near the hotel. Although there were signs stating, “no swimming,” the boy, with or without his parents' permission, waded in. He was then grabbed by an alligator, common to Florida, and drowned. His body was recovered sixteen hours later.

This case is yet to manifest into a product liability suit, though it probably will since the property did not post signs warning the guests of the water's risks. Most places in Florida, especially where the large reptiles are known to hang out, have signs posted warning guests of the animal. When people visit from out of state, they tend to think that alligators are only found in the most remote parts of Florida. But those of who live here know, they can be on a golf course, in our backyard, or crossing I-75. Disney property is no different.

If the resort had posted signs, it is possible that the two-year-old boy would still be alive. If the family had been warned that there was a huge man-eating creature in the water, they most likely would not have allowed their son anywhere near it. This is why resorts, hotels, and property owners of all sorts have a responsibility to warn other of dangers.

A wrongful death suit is a very viable option for these types of circumstances. Although nobody ever wants to be in this situation, when it does happen, those responsible should be held accountable.

Compensation you are entitled to.

If you are injured while on vacation in Florida, you are entitled to the same compensation that a resident would be. Just because someone injures a person who's from a different state, does not mean they aren't accountable for their actions and damages. Compensation for a vacation accident or injury, just like an in-state personal injury claim, may include:

  • Medical costs
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Rehabilitative care costs
  • Disability costs
  • Vehicle damage
  • Rental car damage
  • Personal property damage
  • Wrongful death benefits
  • Punitive damages

One last thing.

Getting injured, sick, or into an accident while on vacation is a pretty rare event in someone's life. Often, when people are involved in an odd or uncommon situation, they tend to post on social media about it. If this sounds like something you would do, don't. Posting on social media could harm your personal injury case. Likewise, do not post any photos of your vacation—as difficult as that may be—until after the case is over. Insurance companies and lawyers will very much use it against you later.

Dealing with the Geographic Difference

Because Florida is a popular tourist destination, Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA is accustomed to handling vacation injuries for individuals and families that have traveled here from out-of-state. If you have been injured while on vacation in Florida, we can help you, even after you have gone back home. Having a personal injury attorney back in the place of the incident can be extremely valuable. We can go back to the scene of the accident or injury and collect more information, easily reach the at-fault party in Florida, and conveniently access the Florida courts. We also have extensive knowledge of Florida laws, versus an attorney from another state who will have to look them up.

Before you leave the state, contact Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA to schedule a free consultation. It does not take very much time, but it could save you from some major headaches down the road We have worked hard to obtain a reputation as honest and personable personal injury attorneys. If your Florida vacation included a surprise injury, call us today at (727) 451-6900. We look forward to hearing from you.


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has successfully fought for more than 11,000 injured clients and acted as lead counsel in more than 1,000 lawsuits. Always on the cutting edge of personal injury law, Matt is actively engaged in complex legal matters, including Suboxone, AFFF, and Ozempic lawsuits.  Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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