You’re injured, you’re out of work, and you can’t even enjoy the things that matter to you. Even worse, you know it’s not your fault…or even worse, you might suspect that maybe you contributed to it in some small way. If this is where your head is at after an auto accident, you’re not alone. Even better, you can get through this difficult time with a surprising amount of ease. All you need is knowledge, and the right auto accident attorney. Where to begin? Read on to learn the basics of proving fault in a Florida auto accident.
What does it even mean to “prove fault”? To prove fault means to prove that a person failed to uphold their duty to obey traffic laws in order to do their part in ensuring that others on the road remain safe. For instance, texting while driving, driving while intoxicated, breaking the speed limit, or even rolling through a stop sign could all be considered examples of negligence which violate the standard of care while driving.
Florida is a no-fault insurance state, but that doesn’t mean there’s no fault involved. For many, this terminology is a source of confusion, leading to the belief that when it comes to auto accidents in Florida, no one is necessarily deemed at fault. This simply isn’t true. What it means is that regardless of who was at fault for an auto accident, something called personal injury protection (PIP) coverage under the injured party’s own auto insurance policy will apply. This PIP coverage is in the amount of $10,000, and any injured party is eligible to receive it, even if they were entirely responsible for the accident which caused them to sustain the injuries. The one caveat? The injured party must seek medical care and receive a diagnosis of an ‘emergency medical condition’ within 14 days of the injury. Failing to do so will result in a significant reduction or total elimination of PIP benefits.
When the damages exceed the PIP limit of $10,000, the at-fault party can be sued by the injured party for additional compensation. For example, if you were T-boned while driving through an intersection on a green light, the at-fault party who was running a red light would likely be considered 100 percent at fault for the accident. First, the PIP coverage under your own insurance policy would apply, meaning the first $10,000 worth of your medical costs would be covered. If you ended up needing a surgery, prolonged hospital stays, long-term physical therapy, or other forms of extensive care, then that $10,000 limit would quickly be surpassed. At that point, you would be able to sue the at-fault driver or their insurance company for the amount of medical expenses beyond $10,000.
There are many types of evidence which can prove that the other party was at fault for the accident. These include photos and videos of the scene of the accident or the accident itself, witness statements, police reports, and medical documents showing the nature and extent of injuries sustained by each party. In some cases, an accident reconstruction professional may be hired to testify. Testimony of this sort would include an explanation of how the evidence at the scene (including the damage to the vehicles involved) indicates fault on behalf of one or multiple parties.
When there is more than one at-fault party, it doesn’t mean the injured plaintiff doesn’t have a claim. In Florida, a pure comparative fault rule applies, which means that even if an injured party was 99 percent at fault for the auto accident, they would still be able to obtain compensation for one percent of their damages. For example, if a jury were to determine that the plaintiff is entitled to $80,000 in damages, but if it was also determined that that plaintiff was 20 percent at fault for the accident, then their award would be reduced by 20 percent. That is, they would receive 80 percent of $80,000, which is $64,000.
In many other states, there is a rule which precludes plaintiffs from obtaining any compensation if they are deemed more than 50 percent at fault for the accident.
Hiring an auto accident attorney in Florida is critical to proving fault. You’ve probably heard this before, and you may be wondering whether it’s actually true. It is. At every turn, insurance companies will go out of their way to avoid paying out on claims. This might include following a plaintiff’s social media posts to catch them saying or doing something that could be used against them, sifting through years of medical records to try to show that the injury was preexisting, or employing one or more of many other tactics.
The resources as the disposal of these insurance companies are significant, and far outweigh those of an individual who is unpresented by an experienced, sharp, and dedicated auto accident attorney. As soon as an insurance company is informed that the plaintiff is represented by a law firm, they will take a step back and realize they have to abide by the rules.
Contact our auto accident attorneys at Fenstersheib Law Group, P.A. today. Our legal team is ready and willing to fight for your right to compensation. Providing legal services for clients in Miramar, FL, Hollywood, FL, Fort Lauderdale, FL, West Palm Beach, FL, Orlando, FL, Sarasota, FL, Tampa, FL, and Jacksonville, FL. Call 800-TELL-ROBERT.
Get your questions answered - call us for your FREE consultation at 800-835-5762 & 954-456-2488