Car Accident Laws in Florida
Reputable Personal Injury Lawyers Put Florida Car Accident Laws to Work for Injured Clients in Fort Lauderdale
If you have suffered injuries in a car accident in South Florida, you likely have a lot of questions and concerns. You’re probably wondering about your legal rights and options for recovering compensation. Some of these questions can be answered by looking at the car accident laws in Florida.
Figuring out what these laws mean, let alone understanding them, isn’t easy. That’s why it helps to hire a knowledgeable and experienced South Florida car crash attorney, such as one from Lawlor, White & Murphey.
Sources of Florida Car Accident Laws
Whether you’re in Dade, Lee or Martin County, the car accident laws will be mostly the same. That’s because car accidents are subjects to laws from two sources: cases and statutes. For the most part, case law and statutes will apply statewide.
Case law is created when judges apply statutory law to a specific set of facts. How does this work? We can look at a simple hypothetical to illustrate.
Let’s say there’s a law that says “it is illegal to overtake a slower moving vehicle using the right lane. All passing should be done via the left lane.” But on your drive to work one day, you’re driving in the left lane and the car in front of you stops suddenly.
To avoid a possible rear-end collision, you change lanes and move to your right, pass the stopping vehicle, then proceed to switch back into the left lane. All of these lane changes were done in a safe and reasonable manner. However, a cop sees this. You get pulled over and receive a ticket.
You think this is unfair, so you fight the ticket. At trial, you say that the law shouldn’t apply to your situation because you were trying to avoid an accident. The judge agrees with you.
In a judicial opinion, the judge dismisses your ticket because the passing law should have an exception for safe and reasonable attempts to avoid an accident.
The exception that the judge describes in the judicial opinion is now law, even though the Florida legislature did not change the statute.
The actual process of creating case law is a bit more complex, but that’s the general idea of how the law can come from court opinions. This is why simply looking at a statute online or in a book will not give you a complete picture of what the law really is. This is all the more reason why hiring an attorney is so important.
The more common place to find out about Florida car accident laws is from the statutes themselves. This is where you’ll find the “legalese” and difficult to understand language concerning how Florida courts will treat car accident cases.
A combination of case law and statutory law create much of the legal framework that forms the basis of your rights following a car accident. Three types of car accident laws that come up often have to do with:
- Assigning blame and creating liability for the accident.
- Car insurance requirements.
- Setting a deadline for how long you have to sue for damages.
Deciding Legal Responsibility for a Car Accident in South Florida
When it comes to assigning blame to Florida car accident drivers, the primary legal theory will be negligence. Negligence requires the plaintiff to prove the following four elements:
- The driver owed the victim a duty of care.
- The driver breached that duty by failing to drive carefully or in compliance with traffic laws.
- That breach of the duty caused the accident.
- The victim suffered damages as a result of that accident.
Florida is also a pure comparative negligence law state. This means fault for the accident can be assigned to all at-fault drivers according to their level of fault. In these cases, the injured driver’s compensation award is reduced in proportion to the percentage of blame assigned to that driver.
Florida Car Insurance Requirements
Florida is like most other states in that it requires drivers to carry a minimum level of car insurance to operate a motor vehicle on Florida’s roads. The purpose is to protect drivers from financial hardship when getting into an accident. These minimum car insurance requirements include:
- Personal injury protection (PIP) protection of at least $10,000.
- Property damage liability (PDL) coverage of at least $10,000.
PIP will pay for 80% of all reasonable medical bills due to injuries from an accident up to PIP policy limits. It doesn’t matter who caused the accident.
PDL will pay for damage to someone else’s property due to your vehicle becoming involved in an accident. PDL coverage applies whether you or someone else is driving your insured vehicle.
Drivers may, and are highly encouraged to, carry higher levels of PIP and PDL coverage. They may also obtain additional forms of car insurance and liability protection.
Car Accident Lawsuit Deadlines
Florida, as practically all other states, has a deadline for bringing a civil lawsuit. These are often referred to as statutes of limitation.
A statute of limitation requires the legal action to be brought within a certain period of time following the alleged wrong. The purpose of this is to prevent court cases well after evidence has been lost, memories fade or it otherwise becomes unrealistic to bring a lawsuit.
For example, if you wanted to sue someone for trespassing onto your property, you should bring that lawsuit as soon as possible. Imagine the unfairness and logistical nightmare if you waited 30 years to bring that lawsuit. In Florida, trespass lawsuits must be brought within four years.
Suing for injuries sustained in a car accident have a statute of limitation as well. And just like with trespassing, it’s four years. This means that in most situations, you will have four years after the date of the accident to bring your lawsuit for compensation.
There are some exceptions to a statute of limitation deadline. For instance, there might be situations where there can be a deadline extension. Or there might be a delay as to when the statute of limitation “clock” should begin ticking.
Are you Confused About Florida’s Car Crash Laws?
It’s not easy to understand how all Florida’s accident laws work. There can be some complex interactions among them. Then there’s applying them to your unique situation.
The experienced car accident lawyers of Lawlor, White & Murphey collectively have over five decades’ worth of experience. They can use this experience to help you recover compensation for your injuries and damages to the fullest extent under Florida law.
If you’d like to learn more about how Florida’s car accident laws will apply to you case, feel free to give us a call or fill out this online contact form. There’s no cost for this initial consultation, where we can hear your story and decide what your best course of action should be.
Frequently Asked Questions About Florida Car Accident Laws
Yes. As in most personal injury cases, the time limit for filing a formal personal injury lawsuit is four years from the date of the accident. If this time period passes, you will not be able to pursue your claim for compensation for your injuries in most cases.
Under Florida’s pure comparative negligence law, you can still recover compensation for your injuries. For example, assume that you were awarded $100,000 for your injuries, but you were found to be 60 percent responsible for the crash. Under these circumstances, your award would be reduced by 60 percent, so you could still recover $40,000. However, you may also be found liable for 60 percent of another party’s damages if someone else also suffered injuries in the crash.