How Is Fault Determined in a Car Accident in Florida?
How Fault Is Defined in Palm Beach County, Broward County, and Across South Florida
In any car accident, it is usually necessary to determine who was at fault for the accident. Fault determined in a car accident is important to identify who is responsible for compensating others involved in the accident for their injuries and losses. In most cases, a party will be at fault for a car accident when they were negligent. A driver or other party is negligent when they fail to follow their duty of care to others on the road and this failure causes someone to suffer injury and losses they can be compensated for. Florida is considered a pure comparative negligence state, meaning that losses for a car accident are apportioned according to each party’s share of fault for the accident, including any share of fault assigned to the party seeking compensation.
The determination of fault following a car accident in South Florida is one of the most critical factors in any car accident claim. At Gonzalez & Cartwright, P.A., our experienced South Florida car accident attorneys have extensive knowledge of Florida’s negligence laws and have experience investigating car crashes to identify the party or parties that may have been at fault for the collision. Our legal team can vigorously advocate on your behalf to fight for a determination of fault in your car accident claim that means you can secure fair and full compensation.
Reach out to our firm for a free case review to discuss liability for the car accident you were involved in and how a determination of fault may affect your rights to compensation for your injuries and losses.
The Effect of the No-Fault System in South Florida
In Florida, drivers are subject to the state’s no-fault insurance system. Under a no-fault system, a driver or passenger injured in a car accident is expected to first turn to their own auto insurance company for compensation for medical expenses and lost wages they suffer. Every driver is required to carry personal injury protection coverage under their auto insurance policy; under Florida law, policies must provide a minimum of $10,000 in personal injury protection coverage, although drivers may choose to purchase higher coverage. PIP coverage is available to all eligible insureds regardless of who may have been at fault for the accident.
The purpose behind the no-fault system is to keep minor car accidents out of the courts by requiring injured drivers and passengers to turn to their own insurance company for compensation for minor injuries. As a result, in Florida’s no-fault system, determining fault for a minor car accident usually isn’t required since injured parties will be able to access compensation regardless of who may have been responsible for the accident.
How Fault Impacts Car Accident Claims in South Florida
Most drivers in Florida only carry the minimum $10,000 of PIP coverage required by state law. As a result, for more serious car accidents it is very easy for drivers to exhaust their PIP coverage limits. If the injuries you suffered in a car accident meet the “injury threshold” under state law, you may choose to sidestep Florida’s no-fault system and pursue a legal claim directly against the at-fault driver. Of course, Florida law does not require that drivers carry bodily injury liability coverage as part of their auto insurance, so the driver that hit you may not have insurance coverage to pay you even if you are entitled to file a claim against that driver.
If an injured car accident victim is legally entitled to pursue a claim for compensation against another driver, the determination of fault for the accident can have a significant impact on the amount of compensation the accident victim may recover. Florida is one of the few states that follows what is known as the “pure comparative negligence” rule. Under this rule, an injured party is not barred from pursuing a claim for compensation simply because they bear some share of fault for the accident and their injuries; however, their recovery will be reduced in proportion to their share of fault. For example, if you are found to be 20 percent at fault for the accident, any financial recovery you obtain in a claim may be reduced by 20 percent to reflect your share of fault. But in Florida, even if you were 90 percent at fault for a car accident, you may still pursue a claim for compensation of 10 percent of your losses.
Contact Gonzalez & Cartwright, P.A. for a Free Consultation to Learn More about the Impact of Fault on Your South Florida Car Accident Claim
The determination of fault for a car accident in Florida can significantly impact the compensation you receive for your injuries and losses. Call or contact Gonzalez & Cartwright, P.A. today for a free initial case evaluation to discuss your legal rights and options and to learn more about the process of establishing fault for a car crash and how it may affect your rights.
Frequently Asked Questions about How Fault Is Determined in a Car Accident in South Florida
Insurance companies will review evidence from the accident scene, including the police accident report, accident scene photos/video, vehicle damage/repair reports, and eyewitness statements. Insurers may also consult with accident reconstruction experts to determine how the crash occurred and identify the party or parties at fault, or with medical experts to determine how injuries suffered in the accident may have occurred.
If the driver determined to be at fault for the car accident lacks auto insurance, you may be entitled to pursue compensation from your own car insurance company through uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage in your own auto policy, if you have such coverage. However, your auto insurance company may choose to reduce your compensation if it finds you were partially at fault for the accident, pursuant to Florida’s comparative negligence rules.
Whether you have a valid car accident claim depends on the cause of the accident and who was at fault. Watch our video below for more information.