Despite a decrease in car accidents overall in 2018, a study still ranked Florida drivers among the worst in the nation. The state earned this unfortunate distinction due to a low percentage of insured drivers—only 73 percent of drivers in Florida had insurance—as well as one of the highest traffic-related death rates in the nation, with 1.47 deaths per 100 million miles driven.
If you've been involved in a car accident due to someone else's negligence, an Orlando car accident lawyer at Dolman Law Group can help you understand your legal options.
How Florida's No-Fault Insurance Works
Florida has a no-fault insurance system in place, under which all motor vehicle owners who register their vehicles in the state must purchase a personal injury protection (PIP) policy with a limit of at least $10,000.
The expectation with this requirement is that drivers who suffer injuries in a car accident can file for compensation for medical expenses and lost wages due to their injuries through their own insurance carrier, regardless of who was at fault in the accident.
The insured vehicle owner's policy should cover expenses for the driver, as well as family members named on the policy and passengers who do not have their own PIP policy. Coverage generally protects the insured person in bicycle or pedestrian accidents as well.
Personal injury protection covers the following expenses in Florida:
- 80 percent of medically necessary costs in emergency cases, up to the policy's limit. Allowable medical expenses include necessary medical treatments and medication, surgical and hospital expenses, rehab costs, diagnostic services, and ambulatory services.
- $2,500 worth of medical costs in non-emergency cases
- 60 percent of wages lost due to accident-related injuries, up to the policy's limit, as well as payment for household services that the injured person used to do but can no longer complete because of their injuries, such as laundry, house cleaning, or yard services
- Up to $5,000 in death benefits for the family of a policyholder who is killed in an accident
PIP does not cover the following items:
- Medical or economic expenses that exceed the policy's limit or that the insurer determines are not medically necessary
- Property damage
- Bodily injuries to occupants of the other car
- Damages such as pain and suffering or emotional distress
Those who wish to claim medical treatment coverage must seek treatment within two weeks of the car accident. The insurance company must pay out the claim within 30 days, even if they have a suspicion that the claim is fraudulent. They have 60 days to investigate the claim if they believe it was made under illegitimate circumstances.
If an accident victim suffered a permanent injury in an Orlando car accident that was someone else's fault, they have the option to file a personal injury lawsuit. In addition to medical and wage benefits, the plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit may also seek compensation for property damage, loss of future earning capacity if they are no longer able to work in the position they previously held or at all, and damages for pain and suffering. To prevail in a personal injury lawsuit, the plaintiff must have injuries that cause one or more of the following:
- Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function
- Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, other than scarring or disfigurement
- Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement
What Happens If Your PIP Runs Out?
Florida's no-fault insurance laws were initially designed to reduce the number of lawsuits arising from accident-related injuries, while allowing the insured to get needed compensation quickly through their own insurance provider. However, many Orlando car accident victims find their expenses exceed their PIP policy's limits.
When their PIP coverage runs out, the injured person has the option to file a personal injury lawsuit against either an at-fault party or the at-fault party's insurance company if the other person happened to have bodily injury liability coverage at the time the accident occurred. As with cases that surpass the permanent injury threshold, cases in which expenses exceed the PIP policy limit may also be eligible for pain and suffering or other non-economic damages.
To successfully obtain compensation through a personal injury lawsuit after a car accident, the plaintiff must be able to prove the other party was negligent in causing their injury. Your Orlando car accident lawyer may establish the other party was negligent by showing that:
- The at-fault party owed the plaintiff a duty of care. In Orlando car accident cases, other drivers owe everyone else on the road a duty of care to obey traffic laws and drive safely.
- They breached the duty of care.
- This breach caused the accident, which resulted in the plaintiff's injuries.
Once a plaintiff establishes negligence in a personal injury case, they must also show proof of the damages they've incurred due to their injuries. Car accident victims can show damages by presenting a court with:
- Medical or property damage bills
- Statements from their employer showing the wages they earned before the car accident and the amount of work they've missed
- Expert witnesses such as medical professionals who can speak about their long-term prognosis
Comparative Fault Laws in Orlando
Orlando allows car accident victims to file personal injury lawsuits even if the victim was partially responsible for the accident that caused the injury. This is called the “comparative fault” or “comparative negligence” rule (Florida Statutes § 768.81).
If you are partially to blame, any award you receive will be reduced by the percentage of blame you bear. For example, if you were found to be 25 percent responsible for the car accident that caused your injuries, your damage award would be reduced by 25 percent.
If you were injured in a car accident due to another party's negligence in Florida, let us help you get fair compensation. If you need an Orlando car accident attorney, Dolman Law is here to answer your questions about your rights under Florida law.
Types of Car Accidents
Here is a look at some of the automobile accidents that may occur in Orlando:
- Rear-end collisions: Rear-end collisions generally occur when one car follows another too closely, also known as tailgating. When the lead car comes to a sudden stop or slows down, the following car crashes into the back of it.
- T-bone collisions: These accidents generally occur at intersections, often when one car is trying to make it through an intersection during a yellow light and another car going in the opposite direction is attempting to make a left-hand turn at the same time. The car going straight collides with the side of the turning car. Also known as a broadside accident, this type of car accident may cause severe injuries to occupants of the turning car who are sitting on the side of the car that is struck.
- Head-on collisions: While the number of head-on collisions in the U.S. is relatively low compared to other types of crashes, this type of accident results in a disproportionately high number of traffic fatalities, particularly if the car accident occurs at high speed. Low visibility in fog or heavy rain increases the likelihood of a head-on collision.
- Multiple-vehicle collisions: Also known as multi-car pile-ups, this type of car accident can also result in serious or fatal injuries as at least some vehicles are subject to multiple impacts. Drivers who are distracted and/or driving in low visibility conditions that make it hard to see and react to a crash up ahead often cause pile-ups.
- Single-vehicle collisions: This type of car accident is particularly common among inexperienced drivers. Single-vehicle crashes normally involve a driver running off the road after failing to successfully negotiate a curve or swerving to avoid a collision with another car or object in the roadway. Single-vehicle collisions often involve the vehicle rolling over or striking a median, curb, or animal but remaining on the roadway.
- Rideshare accidents: Whether as passengers or drivers, anyone can become the victim of an accident while they are using a rideshare service. You may want to reach out to a Lyft car accident lawyer if you or a loved one was injured.
Dolman Law's personal injury attorneys in Orlando and across Florida can help you if you've been injured in any type of accident that was caused by a negligent party. If you were injured and it wasn't your fault, you should not be left holding the bills.
Car Accident Causes
Just as there are many types of automobile accidents, there are many reasons accidents occur. Some common causes our Orlando car accident attorneys in Tampa and across Florida see include:
- Distracted driving: Driver distractions include anything that takes the driver's eyes off the roadway, their hands off the wheel, or their attention away from the task of driving. Texting is a particularly dangerous driver distraction, as it involves all three types of distraction. Other common driver distractions include other cell phone use; eating or drinking while driving; messing with vehicle controls like the stereo system, air conditioning, or on-board GPS; talking with other occupants in the vehicle; applying makeup while driving; or external distractions such as a previous accident on the roadway, occupants in other vehicles, or a construction zone.
- Impaired driving: Impairment from alcohol, illegal drugs, or prescription or over-the-counter medications can lead to reduced reaction times, a loss of vigilance, poor decision making, and other impairments to the skills a driver needs to operate a motor vehicle safely.
- Speeding: Speeding is a major accident cause, as it shortens the time in which the driver must spot and react to hazards on the roadway and control the vehicle, as well as the ability for the vehicle's protective features—such as seat belts and airbags—to work properly.
- Aggressive driving: Aggressive driving behaviors not only pose a risk to the driver who is engaging in them, but also to others on the roadway. Some forms of aggressive driving include speeding, tailgating, running red lights, careless lane changes, and failure to signal or yield the right-of-way.
- Night driving: Not only does the risk of encountering other drivers who may be impaired or fatigued increase in the nighttime hours, but visibility is also much lower at night. Night driving is particularly dangerous for new drivers who don't have experience driving in darkness and older drivers who are experiencing natural vision loss with age.
- Defective products: Cars contain dozens of different manufactured parts. If any of these parts malfunction or are installed improperly, they can be dangerous to everyone on the roadway. Some common examples of parts that may be defective include steering mechanisms, tires, accelerator controls, brakes, and wiring systems.
- Poorly maintained vehicles: If a vehicle owner fails to maintain their vehicle properly, parts can fail. Common maintenance issues that lead to a car accident include failing to maintain the vehicle's tires, brakes, or brake lights.
- Construction zones: Work zones can create many dangerous conditions for drivers, including unfamiliar or confusing road alignments, cones and lights that distract the driver, reduced speed limits, and traffic back-ups.
- Teenage drivers: Young drivers are more likely to make errors while driving simply due to their lack of experience. One of the most common errors teens commit is failing to scan the roadway or intersection ahead for potential hazards. Teens may also be easily distracted by texting or having friends in the vehicle with them, and they are more likely to engage in risky or aggressive driving behaviors.
- Fatigued driving: Driving while drowsy affects a person the same way as driving with a blood alcohol concentration close to the legal limit. Shift workers, long-haul truck drivers, and those with sleep disorders are at particular risk for drowsy driving.
Car Accident Liability in Orlando
Now that you have an idea of what causes a car accident across Orlando and the state of Florida, we can delve further into who may be responsible for your injuries. If you hope to get the most out of your Orlando car accident claim in Orlando, your lawyer will need to prove that someone else's negligence was the cause of your accident.
If negligent driving caused your collision, the responsible driver could be held accountable for your injuries. This is because the negligent driver owed you a duty of care and breached that duty of care by driving in an unsafe or negligent manner. Other parties who could share culpability for your Orlando car accident damages include:
- Safety inspectors
- Maintenance technicians
- The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT)
- The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV)
- Auto parts manufacturers and distributors
- Motor vehicle dealerships
- Other third parties
An in-depth investigation into the details of your case will reveal who is ultimately responsible for causing your collision and therefore should compensate you for your suffering. The Orlando car accident attorneys from our firm are ready to tell you more about your rights.
Compensation for Orlando Car Accident Victims
Victims of car accidents in Orlando have the right to be made whole when someone else is responsible for causing their injuries. This means you have the right to be compensated for every way your life has been affected by your injuries.
An auto accident lawyer may be able to help you recover both economic and non-economic damages in your claim. Some of the possible types of damages you could recoup as part of your Orlando car accident lawsuit include:
- Any damages not covered by the insurance company
- Loss of income and diminished earning capacity
- Skin scarring and disfigurement
- Inconvenience and damage to your reputation
- Hospital bills, prescription medications, and other medical expenses
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Unexpected child care expenses, household maintenance fees, and other home services
- Loss of companionship, love, society, support, guidance, and advice (if you lost a loved one in the accident)
These are just a few of the damages you could recover in your car accident claim. If you hope to receive a fair injury settlement, be sure to go over your damages with your Orlando car accident attorney in great detail to ensure that no loss goes unaccounted for.
If a Car Crash Injured You, Call Our Orlando Car Accident Lawyers Today
When a devastating car accident has had a significant impact on your life, and you are unsure of where to turn for help, reach out to an Orlando personal injury lawyer at Dolman Law Group. We have offices across both Florida coasts, so you can easily reach Dolman Law Group at (727) 451-6900 or contact us online for a free, no-obligation consultation.
1701 Park Center Drive, Suite #240-G
Orlando, FL 32835
Phone: (407) 759-4565