How to File a Car Accident Clam in Florida
If someone else’s negligence causes a car accident that injures you in Florida, you have the right to file a claim with your own insurance company and, potentially, with the negligent driver’s insurer. Here is a breakdown of five important steps in the process:
- Report the accident.
You should call the police as soon as possible after any crash. However, under Florida law, you technically must call police only if the crash results in injury, death or property damage in excess of $500. (If not, then you must report your crash within 10 days after it happens.) An officer who responds to your crash will prepare a report. Within a few days, you can order a copy. You can call the agency that prepared it such as the Miami Police Department, Miami-Dade Police Department or Florida Highway Patrol. You can also go online to order a copy.
- Document the crash scene.
If an officer prepares a report, it will contain information such as each driver’s name and insurance provider. If an officer does not respond to the crash, you will need to exchange that information on your own. Additionally, you should document the scene by taking photos which show the vehicles, surrounding debris, skid marks and traffic, road and weather conditions. You should also get witness names and contact information. This evidence will play a vital role in your Florida car accident insurance claim. After all, when faced with solid evidence of liability and damages, an insurance company will be more likely to make a fair settlement offer.
- See a doctor.
Above all, you need to see a doctor for your health. A doctor should check you for injuries, including some injuries that may not be apparent to you such as a concussion or internal bleeding. You also need to see a doctor for your insurance claim. In fact, you must get medical attention within 14 days after the crash, or your insurer can deny your claim for personal injury protection (PIP) benefits.
- File PIP and property damage claims.
Florida is a “no-fault insurance” state. So, you will initially file a PIP claim for any bodily injuries that you have suffered with your own insurance company. PIP benefits provide limited coverage of medical expenses, lost wages and other out-of-pocket costs that a crash causes – regardless of who was at fault. In Florida, you must carry at least $10,000 in PIP benefits coverage. You should check your policy and consult with a lawyer about the deadlines and process for filing a PIP claim with your specific insurer.
Of course, you also need to deal with damage to your car. Florida’s no-fault rules do not apply to property damage claims. So, you can file a claim for repair or replacement of your car with the other driver’s insurance company. Florida requires drivers to carry at least $10,000 in property damage liability coverage. You can also file a claim with your own insurer if you have collision or other property damage coverage.
- If eligible, file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
If your injuries meet Florida’s “serious injury” or “permanent injury” threshold, then you can file a bodily injury liability (BIL) claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. An injury meets this threshold if it involves:
- Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function
- Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, other than scarring or disfigurement
- Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement.
You can seek compensation in a BIL claim that goes beyond what PIP benefits provide, including compensation for pain and suffering. If the insurance company challenges liability and/or damages, then your case will likely go to trial. If you (or your lawyer) has not filed a lawsuit by this point, you must do so.
Keep in mind: Florida limits the amount of time that you have after an accident in which to file a lawsuit. This is the statute of limitations. Generally, you must bring the lawsuit within four years from the date of the accident. However, if your loved one died in the crash, you must follow the wrongful death statute of limitations. You will need to file suit within two years from the date of death. You will need to meet other deadlines if the at-fault party is a government entity.
Get Help from an Experienced Miami Car Accident Attorney
In reality, getting help from a lawyer will be the most important step that you take when you file a car accident claim in Florida. A lawyer will know how to investigate the crash, deal with insurance companies and, if necessary, pursue compensation for you in court. Make Payer & Associates your first call. We will bring more than 20 years of experience to your case and passion for providing outstanding service to our clients. Our goal is simple: We want to maximum the amount of compensation that you recover. To get started, schedule your free consultation today.