Commonly asked questions and answers about car accidents in Florida
If you’ve been involved in a car accident, you may feel like your life has been turned upside down. You undoubtedly have an array of questions. You can begin to get your arms around the situation by arming yourself with information about your legal rights following a car accident.
This FAQ summary is designed to assist you better understand the process following a car accident in Tampa, FL.
Q: What should I do after a car accident?
The first step to take in the aftermath of a car accident is to tend to your injuries and to those of anyone else involved in the incident. Contact emergency medical services by calling 911. You also need to wait for police and help them file a police report.
Next, exchange contact information and car insurance information with the other party. If there are witnesses to the accident, collect their names and contact information as well.
If possible, document the accident scene and injuries by making a video or taking photos on your phone.
Q: How is fault determined in a car crash case?
Fault is determined through a demonstration that at least one driver was negligent and that this negligence was an underlying cause of the accident. From a legal standpoint, negligence is the failure to use the level of care that a reasonable person would exercise under a similar set of circumstances.
Q: What is Florida’s no-fault law?
According to Florida’s no-fault law, a motorist involved in an accident must first file a claim with their own insurance company. This is the case no matter which party appears to be at fault in a car accident. If car accident damages exceed what your insurance company is willing to pay, then you can pursue a personal injury case against the at-fault driver.
Q: What happens if more than one person is at fault?
Florida is what is known as a “pure comparative negligence state.” What this means is that if more than one party is at fault for an accident (including you), a judgment in a lawsuit will be reduced by the percentage of fault of the person who is not a defendant in a lawsuit.
For example, if there is one defendant and you are 30 percent at fault in causing an accident, any final judgment you receive will be reduced by 30 percent.
Q: If my vehicle is rear-ended, can I still be found at fault?
Yes, if your vehicle is rear-ended, it is possible that you will be found at fault. The fault analysis previously discussed is applicable in this type of situation. In most rear-end collisions, the vehicle behind who rammed into the car in front is considered responsible; however, there are exceptions that can make the front driver liable for a rear-end crash. Fault is determined on a case-by-case basis.
Q: When am I required to file a police report?
Florida law requires the immediate filing of a police report in situations involving:
- Property damage over $500
Q: How are losses and damages calculated in a Florida car accident case?
The amount of losses and damages stemming from a car accident are calculated on a case-by-case basis. Florida law specifically states:
“There is no exact standard for measuring such damage. The amount should be fair and just in the light of the evidence.”
In calculating losses and damages, the following categories are considered in determining an overall award of compensation:
- Pain and suffering
- Physical injury, disability or disfigurement
- Loss of capacity of enjoyment of life
- Medical bills and expenses
- Lost wages
- Reduced earning potential
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of support
Q: What is the car accident statute of limitations?
Every state, including Florida, has a law called the “statute of limitations.” This law sets a specific time period in which a particular kind of lawsuit must be filed. In most personal injury cases, including car accidents, a lawsuit must be filed within 4 years of the date of the incident.
If this deadline is not met, you can forever lose your ability to file a lawsuit and obtain compensation for your injuries and losses.
Q: When do I need to hire a car accident lawyer?
The laws associated with car accidents cases in the Tampa area are complicated. Moreover, the insurance settlement and lawsuit negotiation processes can be complex. When push comes to shove, the best way to protect your legal interests is to retain the services of an experienced Florida car accident lawyer to represent you.
At The Law Offices of Tragos, Sartes & Tragos, our experienced and trained attorneys specialize in car accident cases. Our team is ready to fight for your rights.
Contact us today for your free consultation.