Car Accidents in Florida: Trauma And Your Timeline

According to the DMV, there are an estimated 646 Car Accidents per day in Florida.  This makes car accidents common ways to encounter personal injuries, settlements and suits.  We hope this scary statistical average will motivate you to know what to do if you have a car accident in Florida.

Car Accidents:  The Moments After Impact

Car Accidents are constrained by Florida law and by time limits on submission of certain papers. .

Law books and hourglass–Symbols of the justice and time limits after a car accident.

From the moment you are involved in a car accident, there are steps to be taken to insure your rights and responsibilities are protected and supported.  By the way, when you are involved in a wreck through no fault of your own, what you don’t know about the Florida personal injury laws can really hurt you.

Today’s blog from Metts Legal brings you the baby steps on your legal timeline, when car accidents are involved.

From sport cars to swamp buggies, Florida law lists regulations for vehicles in car accidents.  Title 23 of the Statutes, Constitution and Laws of Florida, contains a storehouse of information for people who are involved as victims or causes of car accidents.

At Metts Legal, we often write a generalized story or extended example as a unique way to describe legal details.  Today, we will take you through the first few steps of your basic legal behavior after an accident.  And we will use just such a fictional, original mini-case study:  Our Story of 32 year old Lauren and her car accident.  We call it:

Car Accidents, Lauren and the Law:  A Victim’s Victory

Over the course of the next few Metts Legal blogs, we will follow Lauren’s personal injury story.

We begin on a sunny afternoon in Orlando, with an impact of two cars  at a busy intersection:

Her first awareness was relief that the terrible noises had stopped.  Lauren knew instantly that she’d been in a car accident.
“Chris,” she said thickly, as she tasted her own blood.  Her 7 year old son was locked and hanging in the backseat and was still in seat-belt and booster seat.  He answered with the resiliency of youth.
“I’m okay, Mom.  Hey, did you know we are upside down?”

Lauren tried to make her voice sound calm, “Yes, a car hit us.”
Chris answered, “We rolled, over and over and over.”  Then, Chris began to shiver.  “I think I broke my arm again–like when I fell out of the tree.  No, it’s the other arm. ”
Now Lauren could hear the sirens.  She made a grab for the keys and yanked them out of the ignition.  That’s when waves of pain crashed over her.  She could not move her legs and she could smell gasoline.  The warped metal had wedged her tightly behind the steering wheel, crushed door, ceiling and dash of the driver’s compartment.
“Mommy!” Chris screamed, you’re bleeding! A lot! You need help.”

Lauren and the Law:  A Beginning of Legal Awareness

Little Chris in his now-torn Superman tee-shirt, scrambled out of the crushed car window.  He practically climbed into the arms of an EMT, already crouching by the car.

Lauren heard the EMTs say something about jaws of life.  She stopped the painful process of trying to twist her way out of her trap.  Then vaguely, as EMTs carried her into the ambulance on their gurney, she overheard the other driver, the truck driver who that had hit them.

A Car Accident can result in settlement or suit. Beware, there is a time a time limit to make a claim. limit

Shattered car windshield symbolizes protocols for car accident behaivior in FL. (Dramatization, not an actual event…)

He was babbling to the police, “I knew I ran the red light.  I was looking for my next delivery spot and didn’t see them.  I hope they’re alright.  It’s all my fault. I didn’t see them.” 

Even as she began to lose consciousness again, Lauren knew the driver should not have admitted all that, right there at the scene of the crime.   Then she remembered her father instructing her as he gave her the keys to the family car a decade ago.  He had told her, “If you’re in a car accident, even if you think it was your fault, don’t blurt out that you caused the accident until you know all the facts.” 

As she lost consciousness, she saw Chris, with one of his arms already in a splint.  He held her hand in the ambulance, all the way to the ER.  “Car Accidents are no fun, mommy.”

Important Factors of Car Accidents:  Settlements, Suits and Timeline

We interrupt Lauren’s story to bring you some points of legal procedure and car accidents:  the legal lessons of Lauren’s story so far.

First Things First:  Time To Report!

1.   Stop!  The first law of a traffic incident, even a minor one, is that you must stop after impact.  Given her circumstances, Lauren had no choice but to remain at the scene of the accident.  But what about the other driver?  Had he driven away after running the red light, legal consequences would have been dire.  He would have been guilty of “leaving the scene” of the accident, and police could revoke his license.

2.  Assist!  The law also requires, “If anyone is hurt you are required to get help.  In addition you must give your name, address, and vehicle registration number to others involved in the accident.”

3.  Contact!  In Florida, you must immediately contact law enforcement if you are involved in car accident with  injury, property damage or death.

4.  Report!  The law states that any accident must be reported if it involves more than $500 worth of damage.  What if, under certain circumstances, there is very minor damage to a car?  The regulation says that the driver must still file a crash report within ten days of the incident.  Find out more information at this convenient “Self Report” online resource.

Taking a Look at Both Sides  in Car Accidents

5.  You probably know that if you are the cause of the accident, you will be charged by the officer at the scene.  Then you will go to traffic court to tell your story.  Your penalty might include Florida’s course in Traffic Collision Avoidance, to be attended in person, online or by video.  When it’s completed, you will have to present your certificate to the court.

6.   If Lauren had not been so badly hurt, she would know she needed to take contact information from the witnesses at the scene of her accident.  Likewise, she’d use her smart phone to take photographs.

7.  Lauren’s hazy memory of her father’s words was correct.  The DMV also specifies that you should tell the truth to an investigating officer.  But in the Adrenalin rush of moments after the impact, it is not the proper time to declare you were the cause of the accident.  Facts might reveal details you do not know, so Metts Legal advises, “Don’t judge yourself.

The Law and Florida Car Insurance:  What You Need To Know

In Florida, you need to know we are a No-Fault Insurance state:

Car accidents often cause you to seek a lawyer before you settle with a reluctant insurance company.

Car Accidents with Serious Personal Injuries often require a Specialized Lawyer to navigate Florida Insurance laws and time limits.

A. To put it simply, this means each driver in a car wreck must be insured for medical bills by their own carrier, no matter which driver is at fault.

B. You should also know that, “for property damage, you can pursue a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance.”

C.   The Florida laws require every driver to carry at least a minimal $10,000 policy in personal injury protection (PIP) insurance as well as $10,000 worth of property damage liability insurance.  The controversial PIP law, which 12 states currently mandate, will be the topic of several future Metts Legal blogs.

D. The PIP law has been criticized for placing limits on the right to to sue for certain types of damages.

You’ll see Lauren’s story of personal injury evolve over the next few blogs.  We invite you to follow her journey to justice.  Learn the lessons of  Personal Injury Law as she travels from impact to injury to Metts Legal.  We hope you will return to the Metts Legal Blog next week when Lauren will learn the depth of the personal injury legal term “damages.”

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