What Happens When You Are At Fault in a Fort Lauderdale Car Accident

Experienced Car Accident Attorneys Skillfully Represent Palm Beach County, Broward County and South Florida Communities

When you are at fault — in part or in full — for a car accident, Florida’s negligence laws and car insurance systems apply. These laws are confusing and can be quite difficult to navigate, depending upon the individual circumstances of your accident. At Gonzalez and Cartwright, P.A., we understand the challenges you are up against. Our car accident attorneys are experienced and knowledgeable, skillfully representing clients in Fort Lauderdale and South Florida with a demonstrated track record of success.   

Experienced Car Accident Attorneys Skillfully Navigate “No-Fault” Car Insurance System in Florida’s Palm Beach County And Broward County

Florida is one of the few states that follows a no-fault car insurance system. This is important to understand if you have been involved in a car accident. Under Florida’s no-fault system, your own insurance coverage — which is known as personal injury protection or PIP coverage — kicks in first and will pay the medical bills and other damages for all the people covered under the insurance policy, regardless of who is at fault for the accident. PIP has policy limits and not all losses are covered — you may not receive compensation for any emotional pain and suffering or other non-monetary damages that are a result of the car accident. 

Only in certain scenarios is a claim against the at-fault driver possible. In order to obtain compensation for pain and suffering and other non-monetary damages that are the result of the car accident, the injuries sustained in the accident must meet a certain threshold. Once that criteria is met, the injured car accident victim may file an insurance claim or a lawsuit against the driver who was responsible for the accident. Florida’s no-fault car insurance system does not pertain to any claims for vehicle damage. 

Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Provides Initial Coverage for South Florida Car Accidents 

Florida’s personal injury protection (PIP) coverage can be confusing. PIP provides benefits regardless of who is deemed at fault for the car accident. Furthermore, the protections cover several parties in addition to the policyholder. Specifically, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, in addition to providing benefits to the policyholder, PIP also provides coverage to the following parties:

  • Children of the policyholder. This applies to car accidents that occur in the policyholder’s vehicle, as well as any injuries the children sustained while riding on a school bus. 
  • Passengers in the vehicle who do not have their own PIP insurance. This benefit applies as long as the passengers do not own their own vehicle. 
  • Any members of the policyholder’s household.

PIP policyholders also have coverage while they are a passenger in another person’s car, and if they are a bicyclist or pedestrian and are in an accident with a motor vehicle. 

How Does Comparative Negligence Work in South Florida Car Accident Cases?

If you are entirely at fault for a car accident and another party was injured, your insurance policy will provide compensation for the other person’s medical bills, lost wages, and other losses that are the result of the car accident. If you are only partially responsible for the car accident, then Florida’s “pure comparative fault” rules apply. 

When more than one person is responsible for an accident, the damage award is reduced by an amount that is equal to the level of fault. Sound confusing? It is actually fairly straightforward. For example, if it is determined that you share 40 percent of the responsibility for the car accident, then under Florida’s pure comparative fault rule, your damages will be reduced by 40 percent. So if your damage award was $20,000, it would be reduced by $8,000 — 40 percent — for a compensation of $12,000.

Florida’s comparative fault rule applies even if it is determined that you bear more responsibility for the accident than the other driver. If, for example, it is determined that you are 80 percent at fault for the accident, you may still be entitled to 20 percent of your total damages. This is unusual. Most states follow a modified comparative fault rule, whereby you may not receive any compensation if it is determined that you are more than 50 percent responsible for the accident. 

Legal Deadlines For Filing A Car Accident Claim In South Florida 

All states have what is known as statutes of limitations. These are legal deadlines for filing a claim in the state’s civil courts. These deadlines vary from state to state and differ based upon the type of claim that is filed. In the State of Florida, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is four years from the date the accident took place. 

If this deadline passes and the injured party tries to file a claim thereafter, the Florida court will most likely dismiss the case. While there are some exceptions to this legal deadline, they are uncommon. If you are considering filing an accident claim against the other at-fault party, it is best to consult with an experienced Florida car accident attorney to discuss the specific circumstances of your situation. 

Accomplished South Florida Car Accident Attorneys Offer A Free Initial Consultation For Car Accident Claims 

When you have been involved in a car accident, you undoubtedly have numerous questions regarding what to do first, what your rights are, whether you can be held responsible for the accident, how the claims process works, and more. At Gonzalez & Cartwright, P.A., we understand. Our legal team has been nationally recognized for our exceptional legal services by Super Lawyers, Top Latino Lawyers, and the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, and we are an AV-rated law firm.

Our experienced car accident attorneys offer a free initial consultation to answer your questions and discuss your case. The legal team at Gonzalez & Cartwright, P.A. is bilingual, and we are dedicated to protecting the rights of South Florida residents. To arrange for a consultation with a car accident attorney at our firm, contact our office today.