Boca Raton Car Accident Data Sheds Light on a Serious Problem
Accidents are all too common in south Florida. If you were injured in a car accident, contact an experienced Boca Raton car accident attorney at The Grife Law Firm.
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) tracks accident data for each year by county. While statistics are not available by city, the most recent data available for 2021 from the FLHSMV paints a sobering picture:
- There were 24,850 crashes in Boca Raton and Palm Beach County
- Those crashes resulted in 209 fatalities and 15,197 injuries
- This included 290 crashes due to driving while under the influence of alcohol, which resulted in 7 fatalities and 140 injuries
- It also included 29 accidents due to driving while under the influence of drugs, which resulted in 5 fatalities and 32 injuries
Comparing this data to the data for 2020, you see some startling increases:
- For 2020, there were 22,106 accidents resulting in 185 fatalities and 12,832 injuries
- This included 265 alcohol-related accidents that resulted in 9 fatalities and 171 injuries
- It also included 30 drug-related accidents that resulted in 6 fatalities and 27 injuries
While the statistics for 2020 are believed to have been affected by the pandemic, it is interesting to note that Boca Raton and Palm Beach County see almost 25,000 car accidents per year, thousands of which result in serious injuries. Furthermore, the number of alcohol and drug-related car accidents remains shockingly high, despite our efforts to discourage driving while intoxicated. With 100,000 people living in Boca Raton, our residents face the danger of being involved in a serious car accident or motor vehicle accident every time they get on the road.
Common Types of Car Accidents
When you get injured in a collision, it is important to hire an experienced Boca Raton car accident attorney as soon as possible. We handle all types of car accidents, including:
Aggressive Driving Accidents
Aggressive drivers are dangerous to themselves and everyone else on the road. There is no excuse for aggressive driving, and when aggressive drivers cause accidents, Florida law holds them accountable for the consequences of their poor decision-making.
As with other types of car accidents, recovering just compensation after an aggressive driving accident usually involves dealing with insurance companies. Even if there is no question that the person who hit you was driving aggressively, you still need to be able to prove it—and the insurance companies will still fight your claim by all means available. With this in mind, it is crucial to have an experienced Boca Raton car accident attorney on your side.
Car Accidents at Intersections and Stop Lights
When car accidents happen at intersections and stop lights, proving who was at fault requires a prompt and thorough investigation. While several forms of evidence may be available to prove that you got hit, it will be important to collect this evidence before it disappears.
We regularly handle cases involving car accidents at intersections and stop lights in Florida. If you got hit by a driver who ran a red light or stop sign or failed to yield the right of way, we can gather all available evidence to prove it. Then, we can focus on calculating the long-term costs of your injuries to help make sure you receive the full compensation you deserve.
Cell Phone Car Accidents
Using a cell phone while driving is dangerous. This is true whether you are talking, texting, reading an email, or scrolling social media. Unfortunately, far too many Florida drivers use their cell phones behind the wheel, and, as a result, cell phone use is among the leading causes of car accidents in the state.
If the driver who hit you was using his or her cell phone at the time of the crash, we can subpoena his or her cell phone records to prove it. We have significant experience handling cell phone car accidents, and we can use this experience to your advantage.
Distracted Driving Car Accidents
Cell phone use is just one of many forms of distracted driving that can lead to serious and fatal collisions. Following GPS directions, changing playlists or podcasts, eating and drinking, personal grooming, rubbernecking, reading signs, and talking to passengers are all common driving distractions as well.
At highway speeds and in heavy traffic, it only takes a split-second distraction to create a dangerous situation. As a result, distracted driving car accidents are extremely common, and, unfortunately, these accidents often result in serious (and sometimes fatal) injuries.
Drunk Driving Car Accidents
As the FLHSMV’s statistics show, drunk driving accidents are far too common. Despite the fact that there are no excuses for drunk driving—absolutely none—there are still hundreds of drunk driving car accidents in Florida every year.
If you have been injured or lost a loved one in an accident involving a drunk driver, you should speak with a Boca Raton car accident attorney about your legal rights. The drunk driver’s DUI case will not result in payment of the financial compensation you and your family deserve. Instead, you will need to pursue a civil claim (most likely through insurance), and to do this, you will need a lawyer who has significant experience helping individuals and families in these complex cases.
Elderly Driver Car Accidents
Age is not an excuse for driving when it is unsafe to do so. Unfortunately, many elderly drivers don’t know when it is time to stop driving, and in some cases, they may not have anyone available to drive them around. As a result, they get behind the wheel when they shouldn’t, and they end up causing accidents because they are no longer capable of driving safely.
While it is easy to feel sorry for an aging driver who didn’t realize that what they were doing was wrong, accident victims still need to protect themselves. Car accidents can be incredibly expensive, and auto insurance covers elderly-related car accidents just like it covers accidents caused by other negligent drivers.
Failure-To-Yield Car Accidents
There are several circumstances in which drivers in Florida have a duty to yield. This includes turning left at intersections, turning right into traffic, and merging onto the highway—just to give a few examples. Unfortunately, many drivers don’t know when they have to yield (or they simply ignore their duty), and they end up causing dangerous accidents as a result.
If you were seriously or permanently injured in a failure-to-yield car accident, the driver who caused the accident should be fully liable for your collision-related losses. This includes not only your out-of-pocket losses (i.e., medical and repair bills) but your lost income, pain and suffering, and various other types of losses as well. When you hire a Boca Raton car accident attorney at The Grife Law Firm, you can count on your attorney to seek the full compensation you deserve.
Head-on collisions can be extremely dangerous. In these collisions, the forces involved are multiplied, and, as a result, it is not uncommon for drivers and passengers in both vehicles to suffer severe, life-altering or even life-threatening injuries.
Whether a head-on collision happens at an intersection, on a two-lane road or because a driver turns the wrong way on a one-way street, proving liability requires a thorough on-site investigation. Depending on the circumstances involved, it may be necessary to obtain the other driver’s cell phone records, vehicle “black box” data or receipts (if he or she was drinking before the crash) as well.
Hit-and-Run Car Accidents
What are your legal rights after a hit-and-run car accident in Florida? The short answer is that your legal rights are the same regardless of whether the at-fault driver stops or flees the scene. You have the right to just compensation, and if the hit-and-run driver has insurance, you have the right to file a claim with his or her insurance company.
Of course, asserting your legal rights after a hit-and-run accident can present some unique challenges. To file a claim against the driver, you must first determine the driver’s identity. An experienced Boca Raton car accident attorney can help, and even if it isn’t possible to identify the driver, your attorney may still be able to help you recover financial compensation through other means.
Impaired Driving Based On Drugs
Drugged driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving. Unfortunately, since drugged driving doesn’t get as much attention as drunk driving, not as many people are aware of the risks involved.
We handle cases involving impaired driving based on drugs throughout Florida. Whether the driver who injured you (or your loved one) had been using prescription or over-the-counter medications, smoking marijuana, or using any other mind-altering drug, we will do everything in our power to prove it. We will then determine what recovery options you have available, and we will pursue these options vigorously on your behalf.
Improper Lane Change Accidents
Most of us change lanes multiple times every day, and we rarely give too much thought to the risks involved. We check our mirrors and blind spots, turn on our blinkers, and then get over when it’s safe to do so.
Unfortunately, not all drivers exercise this same level of care. Many drivers change lanes recklessly—and they cause improper lane change accidents as a result. If you (or a loved one) were injured in an accident involving an improper lane change in Florida, you will want to hire an experienced Boca Raton car accident attorney to help you fight for the financial compensation you deserve.
Getting a Lyft is supposed to be easy. You’re supposed to be able to request a ride on your phone, have a responsible driver show up at the burb, and then transport you safely to your destination. When all you need is a short ride, the last thing you expect is to be involved in a life-changing car accident.
Yet, Lyft accidents are a very real concern—and they are a growing problem in cities like Boca Raton. The good news is that Florida requires rideshare drivers to carry liability insurance (even though liability insurance is optional for other drivers), and Lyft carries insurance that covers its drivers’ accidents as well.
Physical Impairment Accidents
Many people have physical impairments that impact their day-to-day lives. For some, this includes impacting their ability to drive. While Florida law doesn’t prohibit people from driving with certain health conditions, it requires all drivers to have the ability to safely maintain control of their vehicles.
As a result, when drivers cause accidents due to physical impairments, they (and their insurance companies) can be held accountable. Accident victims and their families can seek just compensation for serious, permanent and fatal injuries, and they can hire an experienced Boca Raton car accident attorney at no out-of-pocket cost to seek just compensation on their behalf.
Rear-end collisions can happen in a wide range of scenarios—from bumper-to-bumper traffic on the highway to collisions at red lights and stop signs. If you’ve been rear-ended, the driver who hit you is highly likely to be deemed at fault in the accident, and this means that you can (and should) hire a lawyer to help you recover just compensation.
In Florida, there is even a presumption of negligence in rear-end accident cases. This presumption says that the following driver will be deemed at fault unless he or she can prove otherwise. Even so, calculating and proving your losses isn’t easy, so having an experienced lawyer is crucial.
Road Rage Accidents
Road rage is a common problem in Florida. With Florida’s growing population and popularity as a tourist destination, its roads are becoming increasingly congested, leading to an increasing number of road rage incidents. But, while it is understandable for drivers to get frustrated in some circumstances, there is no excuse for drivers taking these frustrations out on others—especially when it puts others in harm’s way.
When we represent victims and families after road rage accidents, we use various forms of evidence to prove that the enraged driver is responsible. We fight to hold the driver (and his or her insurance company) fully accountable, and when necessary, we pursue alternate sources of financial compensation as well. If you have a road rage accident case in Florida, we can help, and we invite you to contact us to learn more.
Side-impact accidents can take two primary forms. Sideswipe accidents occur when one vehicle hits another side-to-side, while T-bone accidents involve one vehicle colliding head-on with the side of another. Both present serious injury risks, and both can justify claims for significant financial compensation.
If you need help after a side-impact accident in Florida, we encourage you to speak with a Boca Raton car accident attorney at The Grife Law Firm promptly. We can help you recover, and we are prepared to do everything in our power to help you move on.
Speeding is a leading cause of car accidents in Florida and throughout the country. Speed limits exist for a reason, and when drivers exceed the limits that are in place, they can find themselves going too fast to avoid a serious collision.
We regularly represent clients who have suffered serious injuries in speeding accidents. If the driver who hit you was speeding, we may be able to use traffic camera footage, skid marks, the severity of your injuries and the damage to your vehicle, and various other forms of evidence to prove it. But, to help you recover the compensation you deserve, it will be important for us to get to work on your case as soon as possible.
Teen Driver Accidents
Statistics show that teen drivers cause accidents at a disproportionate rate. This is likely due to a combination of factors—including not only teen drivers’ inexperience but also distractions, recklessness, poor judgment, and drug and alcohol use behind the wheel.
Filing a claim after a teen driver accident typically involves dealing with the parents’ insurance company. While most teens don’t have their own auto insurance, they are covered under their parents’ policies when driving their parents’ cars, trucks and SUVs. We regularly handle teen driver accident cases as well, and we can use our experience dealing with the insurance companies to help maximize your financial recovery.
If you have been seriously injured or lost a loved one in a texting-and-driving accident in Florida, you need an experienced Boca Raton car accident attorney. The costs of serious and fatal texting-and-driving accidents can impact victims and family members for the rest of their lives, and recovering financial compensation for these costs requires experienced legal representation.
Even though Florida law bans texting behind the wheel in most cases, it is clear that far too many people still choose to text and drive. In texting-and-driving accident cases, we can obtain the driver’s phone records to prove that he or she was texting at the time of the crash. We can then use these records to prove liability, and then we can use various other forms of evidence to prove how much financial compensation you deserve to recover.
Tire Blowout Accidents
Tire blowouts can be both frightening and extremely dangerous. This is true not only for the driver whose tire explodes but also for other drivers in the vicinity. If you were injured in a tire blowout accident, determining who (or what company) is responsible will require a thorough investigation focused on understanding why the tire blew.
Drivers can be held liable for tire blowout accidents when such accidents occur because they failed to adequately maintain their vehicles. If a tire blowout occurred despite adequate maintenance, the tire manufacturer may be liable instead. In some cases, shops and dealerships that install tires can be held liable as well. When you choose The Grife Law Firm to represent you, we will work quickly to identify the liable party and then build a strong case for just compensation.
Whether you were driving or getting a ride, if you were injured in an Uber accident in Florida, you will want an experienced Boca Raton car accident attorney on your side. Just like Lyft accidents, you may have multiple options for recovering your losses after a crash involving an Uber vehicle. An experienced attorney can help you decide which option (or options) to pursue, and your attorney can help you make informed decisions about when (and if) to settle.
Florida law requires that Uber drivers carry liability insurance, and Uber has substantial insurance coverage for accident claims involving its drivers. When we handle Uber accident cases, we fight to recover just compensation from all available sources, and this includes taking on Uber directly when necessary.
While we may not get snow and ice, weather-related accidents are still a common occurrence in Florida. Heavy rains, strong winds and other effects of storms can impair drivers’ visibility and ability to maintain control—and they can make the roads extremely dangerous.
Bad weather is not an excuse for bad driving. When weather conditions make driving more difficult, drivers need to slow down, and they need to stay home if they aren’t confident in their ability to get where they need to go safely. If you’ve been injured in a weather-related accident that was someone else’s fault, a Boca Raton car accident attorney at The Grife Law Firm can help you seek just compensation for your accident-related losses.
Accidents Involving Failure to Maintain a Vehicle
Many drivers throughout Florida take pride in keeping their vehicles in optimal condition. Maintaining a car is also necessary to ensure that it is in good working order. Cars that are not properly maintained are more likely to suffer from sudden breakdowns, part or equipment failures, and tire blowouts, all of which can lead to collisions. People injured in accidents involving failure to maintain a vehicle can often recover damages for their harm if they can prove liability. At The Grife Law Firm, our Boca Raton car accident lawyers are well-versed in what it takes to obtain a successful outcome. If you were hurt in a car accident, we will gather the evidence needed to set forth compelling arguments to help you pursue damages.
Numerous vehicle maintenance issues can lead to collisions. For example, over-or under-inflated tires may fail or explode, leading to a loss of control. Similarly, tires with worn-down treads may render a car impossible to steer. Worn-down brake pads and mechanical brake issues can leave a driver with a diminished ability to stop a vehicle. At the same time, problems with the steering mechanisms can cause a driver to veer into another lane. Seemingly simple issues, such as worn-out windshield wipers and broken defrosters, can cause reduced visibility, leading to a collision. In some instances, rust in a car’s chassis can cause parts to come loose or collapse while driving, and they may strike another vehicle or lead to an accident.
Claims for Damages Caused by a Collision
In any lawsuit arising out of a car accident, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant is liable to recover damages. Usually, demonstrating liability requires a plaintiff to prove negligence. In Florida, a plaintiff alleging that a defendant should be held accountable under a theory of negligence must prove that the defendant had a duty to act with reasonable care under the circumstances, but the defendant breached the duty owed. For example, people owe a general duty to others to prevent foreseeable harm, including an obligation to avoid the natural consequences of allowing a car to fall into disrepair. The plaintiff must also prove that the defendant’s breach led to the accident and that the accident caused the plaintiff to suffer measurable harm.
Evidence Needed to Prove Liability Following a Car Crash
In cases arising out of accidents involving failure to maintain a vehicle, the plaintiff may need to rely on circumstantial evidence to establish that the defendant’s lack of care led to the plaintiff’s injuries. For example, documentation of vehicle inspections or repairs, or replacements of parts such as tires, brakes, and windshield wipers, can be used to demonstrate that the defendant failed to perform necessary upkeep on a vehicle.
In many instances, the way that vehicle neglect caused or contributed to an accident will be beyond the jury’s or judge’s comprehension. In these cases, the plaintiff’s attorney may need to hire an accident reconstruction expert to establish causation between the defendant’s failure to maintain a vehicle and the plaintiff’s harm. Plaintiffs have the right to introduce the testimony of these experts at trial according to Florida Statute 90.702, which provides that a qualified expert witness can offer an opinion on evidence or a disputed fact. The expert’s testimony must be based on adequate facts or data and must be a product of an application of reliable principles and methods to the facts of the case. A person may be qualified to testify as an expert based on training, education, skills, or experience.
Common Car Accident Injuries
All types of car accidents can result in serious injuries. Tragically, some car accidents result in fatal injuries as well. While auto insurance covers all types of accident-related injuries, the type of insurance claim you can file depends on the severity of the harm caused by the accident.
This is due to Florida’s “no-fault” auto insurance law.
Under Florida’s “no-fault” auto insurance law, most drivers are not required to carry liability insurance. This type of insurance covers other people when the insured driver is at fault in an accident. Additionally, to file a liability insurance claim (if an at-fault driver has coverage), a claimant must be able to prove that the accident resulted in a significant, permanent or fatal injury.
Without proof of a significant, permanent or fatal injury, accident victims may be limited to filing a personal injury protection (PIP) claim—though there are some important exceptions. Unlike liability insurance, PIP insurance is mandatory in Florida. This is insurance that covers the policyholder’s losses, and it applies on a “no-fault” basis.
In other words, if you have auto insurance and you’ve been injured in a car accident in Florida, you should have a PIP claim. If you suffered a significant or permanent injury (or if you lost a loved one), you may have a liability insurance claim as well. Depending on the circumstances, you may have other options as well—and this is one of many reasons why you should discuss your case with an experienced Boca Raton car accident attorney as soon as possible.
“Significant” and “Permanent” Car Accident Injuries
All of this raises an important question for car accident victims in Florida: What qualifies as a “significant” or “permanent” injury?
Significant and permanent injuries are defined in the Florida Statutes. To file a fault-based auto insurance claim after a car accident in Florida, you must be able to prove that the accident resulted in the following:
- “Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function;”
- “Permanent injury with a reasonable degree of medical probability, other than scarring or disfigurement;” or,
- “Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement.”
While minor cuts and bruises generally won’t meet the “significant” or “permanent” threshold, many types of common car accident injuries will. For example, car accident victims in Florida will frequently be able to file claims for injuries such as:
While broken bones can often heal with treatment, rest and recovery, they also leave many car accident victims dealing with chronic pain and permanent limitations. The severity of a fracture will determine not only what type of treatment is needed (including whether surgery is necessary), but also the likelihood that the injury will have long-term consequences.
The forces involved in a serious car accident are more than enough to fracture bones throughout the body. Broken ankles, wrists, ribs and clavicles (collar bones) are particularly common, but fractures can—and do—happen in other areas as well. Regardless of whether surgery is necessary, treatment for broken bones can be incredibly expensive, so it is important that accident victims who suffer these injuries speak with a Boca Raton car accident attorney about their legal rights.
Burns from fires and exploding airbags can cause significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement. They can also be excruciatingly painful, and even after the recovery process, burn victims can continue to experience pain for the rest of their lives.
The treatment needed for burns from a car accident depends on their severity. In the most severe cases, skin grafts may be necessary to replace the damaged skin. But, even if a car accident victim doesn’t need surgery, recovering from severe burns can still be a long, painful and expensive process.
Eye, Ear and Nose Injuries
Eye, ear and nose injuries can cause the “significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function,” and this means that they can justify claims outside of PIP under Florida’s “no-fault” insurance law. Loss of eyesight, hearing, or smell can drastically alter a person’s life, and, in many cases, the injuries that cause these impairments will cause permanent physical scarring as well.
For car accident victims who suffer eye, ear and nose injuries, the recovery process can be long and difficult. Some will never fully recover. This makes recovering just compensation extremely important, and protecting your legal rights starts with hiring an experienced Boca Raton car accident attorney.
Facial injuries are fairly common in car accidents, and they can result from an airbag’s deployment or from its failure to deploy. When facial injuries result in permanent scarring or disfigurement, they also justify claims outside of PIP under Florida’s “no-fault” auto insurance law.
Like other types of disfiguring injuries, facial injuries can also cause severe emotional trauma. If your physical appearance has been irreversibly altered, this itself is a traumatic event that can take a significant toll on your psychological well-being. Recovering will take time, and it will require the financial resources to get both the treatment and the rest that you need.
Loss of Digits and Limbs (Including Due to Amputation)
Losing a digit or limb is a highly traumatic experience as well. This is true whether you lose your digit or limb in a car accident or injuries you sustain in a car accident require amputation. With these types of injuries, it is important to understand that the recovery process takes time, and while you are facing a difficult situation that relatively few people endure, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Here, too, recovering just compensation is extremely important. Along with your medical bills and rehabilitation expenses, you will likely experience loss of income, pain and suffering, and other losses as well. If you have a fault-cased claim outside of PIP, these are losses that an experienced attorney can help you seek to recover.
While some nerve injuries can be treated, nerve damage is permanent in many cases. In a car accident, nerve damage can result from internal trauma (i.e., when a broken bone pinches or severs a nerve) or from penetrating injuries caused by broken glass or other debris.
When dealing with nerve damage from a car accident, a prompt diagnosis can afford the greatest opportunity for a full recovery. But, even with prompt treatment, recovery won’t always be possible. In any case, it is vital to recover the maximum compensation that is available to you, and this starts with putting an experienced attorney on your side.
Organ damage is another type of car accident injury that can have significant or permanent effects. All organs in the body can suffer damage in a car accident, including the lungs, liver, kidneys and spleen—among others.
Intense pain is often the first sign of organ damage, but this pain doesn’t always onset immediately. As a result, it is important to seek a thorough diagnosis even if you feel fine initially, and, if you begin to experience intense chest or abdominal pain in the days after a car accident, you should see a doctor right away.
Soft Tissue Damage
Soft tissue damage – damage to the muscles, ligaments and tendons – can range widely in terms of severity. While some soft tissue injuries can be relatively minor, complete tears and other serious injuries often require surgery.
When soft tissue injuries present risks for permanent consequences, the costs of treatment can increase significantly. Accident victims’ other financial and non-financial costs (i.e., loss of income, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life) can increase significantly as well. While it will be possible to recover just compensation for these losses in many cases, doing so requires the advice and representation of an experienced Boca Raton car accident attorney.
Spinal Cord Injuries (SCI)
Spinal cord injuries (SCI) from car accidents can impact all aspects of victims’ lives. They can cause chronic pain, limited mobility, loss of bowel and bladder control, and paralysis—and these effects can prevent accident victims from going to work, enjoying life, and spending meaningful time with their friends and family.
With spinal cord injuries, a prompt diagnosis can be crucial. Some types of SCI can be fully treated with immediate medical intervention. But this isn’t always the case, and many car accident victims who suffer spinal cord injuries will find themselves dealing with their injuries for the rest of their lives.
Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)
In many cases, traumatic brain injuries (TBI) will also meet Florida’s “significant and permanent” injury threshold. All types of TBI present risks for long-term consequences, and, similar to SCI, the consequences of TBI can impact all aspects of car accident victims’ lives. Traumatic brain injuries can indirectly impact family members’ lives as well, as they may need to devote a significant amount of time to helping their loved one cope with their injury.
Car accidents can cause traumatic brain injuries in various ways. Colliding with a window or steering wheel, being hit by an airbag, being ejected from a vehicle, and even suffering whiplash can all cause many different types of TBI. With these injuries, prompt treatment is critical as well, though in many cases, it will already be too late to remedy the damage that has been done.
Fatal Car Accident Injuries
If you have lost a loved one in a fatal car accident in Florida, we offer our deepest sympathies. Your family is dealing with a tragedy, and it will take time for you to find a way to move on. No one deserves to endure your family’s circumstances, and while it is possible to cope effectively, we know that for many family members, it can feel as though there is no light at the end of the tunnel.
When dealing with the aftermath of a fatal car accident, it is important to have a clear understanding of your family’s legal rights. Despite Florida’s “no-fault” insurance law, grieving families can seek full compensation for the financial and non-financial costs of their loved one’s fatal accident—as long as they can prove that someone else (or a company) was to blame. This requires a prompt investigation, so while we know it can be difficult, it is important that you speak with a Boca Raton car accident attorney as soon as possible.
Florida law establishes specific procedures for pursuing a wrongful death claim after a fatal car accident. It also specifies the types of damages that grieving family members can recover. At The Grife Law Firm, we are intimately familiar with the laws that apply, and we can use this familiarity to effectively represent your family no matter what type of claim (or types of claims) your family needs to file.
About Physical Impairment Accidents
Many Floridians suffer from chronic or acute health concerns, and their failure to address such issues before getting behind the wheel is a cause of many collisions. Physical impairment accidents can cause grave injuries and financial hardship, and it is advisable for people injured by impaired drivers to speak to an attorney regarding their possible claims. At The Grife Law Firm, our capable Boca Raton car accident lawyers are devoted to helping people hurt by the negligence of others fight to protect their interests. If you were injured in a car crash, we can assess your options and help you pursue any compensation that you may be owed.
Florida Laws Pertaining to Safe Driving
Florida Statute 316.1925 imposes a duty on all drivers to operate their vehicles in a prudent and careful manner. In other words, they must be mindful of the relevant circumstances and must take measures to avoid endangering any other person. A failure to abide by Florida Statute 316.1925 constitutes careless driving.
While the law does not explicitly prohibit people with certain physical limitations from driving, it does require that all motorists drive carefully and sensibly, which includes being aware of physical maladies. For example, if a driver suffers from vision issues but does not obtain corrective lenses or wear them while driving, it can reduce his or her ability to observe or react to obstacles in the roadway, which can lead to a collision. Similarly, a hearing-impaired driver may be unable to hear horns or sirens and thus may be unable to avoid an impending accident or hazard.
Pursuing Claims After a Physical Impairment Accident
Drivers who suffer from impairments often unintentionally cause harmful accidents. Simply because the injuries caused by a collision are accidental, though, does not mean that the people who cause them should not be held accountable. Most plaintiffs pursuing damages in a personal injury lawsuit arising out of a car crash will allege that the defendant was negligent.
In Florida, negligence is made up of four elements, and a plaintiff must prove each element to demonstrate liability. First, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff. The duty owed is usually the duty to act with the care that a reasonable person would employ in the same situation. Then, the plaintiff must show that the defendant’s acts should be considered a departure from the duty. For example, if an elderly driver needs strong glasses to see properly but chooses to drive without them, causing an accident, this may demonstrate a breach of the duty to act with due care.
Next, the plaintiff must show harm and causation. In other words, the plaintiff must show that the defendant’s failure to comply with the duty owed directly caused the plaintiff to suffer actual harm. The defendant’s acts do not need to be the sole cause of a collision for a plaintiff to be awarded damages. Instead, the plaintiff must show that the crash would not have happened if the defendant had not violated the duty and that the violation was a significant factor in bringing about the accident. A plaintiff who successfully proves a defendant’s negligence may be awarded economic and non-economic damages. These may include medical bills, lost income, the costs of future treatment, and pain and suffering.
Types of Auto Insurance & Insurance Requirements in FL
We’ve touched on Florida’s “no-fault” auto insurance law already. But, as a car accident victim (or the parent, spouse or other family member of a car accident victim), it is important to make sure you know how the law applies to your present circumstances. In the vast majority of cases, recovering financial compensation for a serious or fatal car accident involves dealing with insurance companies. With this in mind, here is some more information about Florida’s insurance requirements, additional coverage options, and when you can (and should) file a claim outside of auto insurance:
Insurance Requirements in Florida
Florida only requires most drivers to carry two types of auto insurance. As we’ve discussed, neither of these types of insurance covers victims’ injury-related losses when the insured driver is at fault in a crash. Under Florida’s “no-fault” auto insurance law, the required types of coverage (and minimum coverage amounts) are:
- Property Damage Liability (PDL) – All Florida drivers must carry a minimum of $10,000 in property damage liability (PDL) coverage. This is insurance that covers vehicle damage and damage to personal property in the event of an accident.
- Personal Injury Protection (PIP) – PIP is “no-fault” insurance that helps to cover the policyholder’s medical expenses and lost wages when the policyholder gets injured in an accident. Under Florida law, the minimum PIP coverage limit is also $10,000.
Note that we said most drivers only need these two types of insurance. Some drivers are subject to additional insurance requirements. For example, Florida’s rideshare insurance law requires that Uber and Lyft drivers carry additional liability coverage that applies when they are logged into the app and when they are providing rides. Taxi drivers and drivers who have been convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) are required to carry liability insurance under Florida law as well.
Other Types of Auto Insurance Available in Florida
While most drivers in Florida are only legally required to carry PDL and PIP coverage, there are several other types of optional coverage that are also available to Florida drivers. Since Florida is a “no-fault” auto insurance state, and since Florida has one of the highest rates of uninsured drivers in the country, it is a good idea to consider these additional coverage options if you can afford them.
The following types of optional auto insurance are available to Florida drivers:
- Bodily Injury Liability (BIL) – Bodily injury liability (BIL) insurance protects the policyholder when the policyholder is at fault in an accident. Accident victims can file claims under the policyholder’s BIL policy if they suffer “significant” or “permanent” injuries in the crash.
- Collision and Comprehensive Coverage – Collision insurance covers the damage to your vehicle after an accident, regardless of who was at fault. Even if you have a claim under another driver’s PDL policy, the other driver’s policy limit might not be enough to pay for all of the damage. Collision coverage fills this gap. Comprehensive insurance covers damage to your vehicle from other causes, such as storms, theft, vandalism and collisions with animals.
- Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UIM) – Uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) insurance covers the policyholder after an accident resulting in “significant” or “permanent” injuries. It applies in three main scenarios: (i) when the at-fault driver doesn’t have BIL insurance; (ii) when the at-fault driver flees the scene of the accident (a hit-and-run); and (iii) when the at-fault driver has BIL insurance, but not enough to cover your accident-related losses fully.
- Medical Payments (MedPay) – Medical payments (MedPay) insurance acts as a supplement to PIP coverage. Like PIP, it provides coverage regardless of fault for the policyholder’s accident-related medical expenses. However, unlike PIP, MedPay covers medical expenses only.
- Rental Reimbursement, Accidental Death and Other Coverage Options – Florida residents also have the option to buy rental reimbursement coverage, accidental death coverage (which provides “no-fault” coverage similar to PIP), and a variety of other types of optional auto insurance. When shopping for a policy, it is important to carefully consider your needs along with your ability to pay and to create a policy that provides adequate protection for you and your family in the event of a serious or fatal accident.
Why You Need Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage
When it comes to optional insurance coverage, one of the most important types of coverage you can buy is uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) insurance. Here’s why:
Many Florida drivers don’t have auto insurance coverage that protects accident victims. This is largely due to the fact that this type of insurance isn’t required under Florida law. Additionally, even if a driver has this type of insurance, the driver’s policy limit might not be enough to fully cover your losses in the event of a serious or fatal accident. In serious and fatal accident cases, victims’ and families’ losses can easily climb into the hundreds of thousands—if not millions—of dollars.
You can avoid this risk by purchasing UIM insurance. When you have UIM insurance and you get seriously injured or lose a loved one in a car accident, your insurance company “stands in the shoes” of the at-fault driver’s insurer. This means that you can file a fault-based claim just as you could if the at-fault driver was fully insured. It also means that you can seek just compensation for all of your accident-related losses, including your medical bills, loss of income, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life.
Even though you will be dealing with your own insurance company when you file a UIM claim, it is still important to have an experienced Boca Raton car accident attorney on your side. Since UIM claims are fault-based claims—and since they often involve substantial amounts of money—the insurance companies fight them by all means available. An experienced attorney will be able to deal with your insurance company on your behalf, not only to prove that you are entitled to coverage but also to prove how much you are entitled to recover.
Filing a Claim Outside of Auto Insurance
When considering your options after a car accident, it is important not to overlook the fact that you may also have a claim outside of auto insurance. Car accident victims and families in Florida can have claims outside of auto insurance in several scenarios. Some common examples include:
1. Uber and Lyft Accidents
Uber and Lyft both carry liability insurance that covers accidents involving their drivers. While rideshare drivers should have liability insurance as well, Uber’s and Lyft’s policies will usually have higher coverage limits—increasing the amount that accident victims and their families are able to recover.
2. Accidents Involving Drivers Who are Working
Under Florida law, employers are vicariously liable for their employees’ negligence within the scope of their employment. This means that if you got hit by a negligent driver who was working at the time of the crash, you may have a claim against his or her employer. Most employers have substantial liability insurance policies that apply in these scenarios.
3. Accidents Involving Drunk Drivers
Under Florida’s dram shop law, bars and other establishments can be held liable for drunk driving accidents in some cases. Specifically, the law allows victims and their families to file lawsuits when a bar or other establishment either: (i) “willfully and unlawfully sells or furnishes alcoholic beverages” to someone who is under 21 or (ii) knowingly serves a person who is “habitually addicted to the use of any or all alcoholic beverages.”
4. Accidents Involving Vehicle Defects and Maintenance Issues
When car accidents result from vehicle defects, the manufacturer, dealership and any other companies involved in the chain of distribution can be held liable under Florida’s product liability laws. This includes accidents resulting from defects such as tire failures, brake failures and electrical failures. When an accident results from negligent service (i.e., a faulty brake job), the dealership or shop that performed the service can be held liable.
5. Accidents Involving Road Defects and Maintenance Issues
In appropriate cases, accident victims and families can also file claims based on road defects and maintenance issues. If the road where the accident happened was improperly constructed or poorly maintained, the government agency or contractor that is responsible for the road’s condition could be liable for all victims’ accident-related losses.
What to Do After a Car Accident in Florida
Regardless of what happened and who you think may be to blame, there are some important steps you should try to take promptly after a car accident. For example, to help protect your legal rights, you should:
- Get a Diagnosis and Treatment as Soon as Possible – Seeing a doctor as soon as possible will help protect your physical and psychological health. It will also help protect your legal rights. When you see a doctor promptly, your medical records will help link your injuries to the accident, and they will help show that your injuries qualify as “significant” or “permanent.”
- Keep All Photos and Information You Have from the Accident Scene – If you have photos, insurance information or a copy of the police report from the scene of the accident, be sure to keep these in a safe place. You will also want to bring them with you to your free initial consultation.
- Take Detailed Notes About the Accident – It is important to take detailed notes while the accident is still fresh in your mind. Write down everything you can remember—from the weather and traffic conditions to when you first saw the other vehicle (or vehicles) involved in the crash.
- Document Your Vehicle Damage and Injuries – If you still have access to your vehicle, you should take photos to document the damage. It is a good idea to take photos of your injuries as well. As you work through the recovery process, continue to take photos for documentation and keep a log of all of the ways your injuries impact your daily life.
Talk to a Boca Raton Car Accident Attorney – One of the most important things you can do after a serious collision is talk to an experienced Boca Raton car accident attorney. You can get started with a free consultation, and your legal fees (if any) will be calculated as a percentage of your recovery.
Car Accident FAQs
The insurance company has already offered to send me a check to cover my injuries and other losses. Should I accept it?
Many people are surprised at how quickly the insurance company offers to send them a check to cover their losses. Before answering whether or not you should accept the payment, it’s first important to understand what this offer represents.
The insurance company is offering this payment as a full and final settlement of your claim. This means that if you accept it, you are not entitled to any additional compensation even if your losses are greater than you anticipated. In other words, you cannot seek more money if you find out that your injuries will require additional medical treatment or limit your ability to work.
We recommend that you do not accept any such offer until you have discussed it with an experienced Boca Raton car accident attorney. They will be able to evaluate the offer and help you decide whether it is fair or not.
Will I have to go to court for my Boca Raton car accident?
Most personal injury cases settle long before trial, many without even needing to file a lawsuit. The accident victim and the insurance company negotiate a compensation award that is mutually agreeable to both sides.
However, there are no guarantees that your claim will be settled without litigation. Insurance companies can sometimes be unreasonable and unwilling to negotiate. Cases involving complicated factual issues or nuanced legal questions often require going to court to find a resolution. While it is difficult to predict the outcome, a Boca Raton car accident attorney can evaluate your claim and identify any specific issues that may make it difficult to settle.
How does the settlement process work after a car accident?
Once you have a reasonable estimate of what your claim is worth, the settlement process begins by making written demand upon the insurance company. Typically referred to as a “demand letter,” your written demand will lay out the specific amount you believe you are entitled to in order to be made whole. The demand letter will also outline the reasons why you believe you are entitled to that amount. The demand letter essentially is an offer of settlement, whereby you agree to waive your legal rights if they agree to pay the amount demanded.
The insurance company will review your demand letter and will typically respond in one of the following ways:
- They will refuse to pay the amount demanded; or
- They will refuse to pay the amount demanded and make a counter-offer.
If the insurance company simply refuses to pay the amount demanded, your only option is to file a lawsuit. However, this doesn’t mean that your case won’t settle – negotiations can continue while the suit is pending and your case can settle at any time prior to the final verdict.
A counter-offer means that the insurance company is willing to negotiate. Once they make a counter-offer, you can then decide whether to reject the counter-offer or make your own counter-offer. A Boca Raton car accident attorney can guide you through the negotiation process so that you can make an informed decision at every step of the way.
What is my car accident claim worth?
If you have been injured in a car accident, you may be entitled to compensation for the following:
- Your medical expenses caused by the accident, especially any uncovered losses
- Any lost income as a result of being unable to work due to your injuries
- Your pain and suffering
- Damage to your vehicle, rental car expenses, and any other losses
The value of your claim will depend largely on the severity of your injuries. A knowledgeable Boca Raton car accident lawyer can estimate the value of your claim at your first consultation.
How a Boca Raton Car Accident Attorney Can Help
When you need to file a claim for a car accident in Florida, there are lots of important ways an experienced attorney can help you. Here’s what you can expect when you hire a Boca Raton car accident attorney at The Grife Law Firm:
- Your Attorney Will Determine Who Was at Fault – Your attorney will conduct a prompt and thorough investigation to determine who was at fault in the accident.
- Your Attorney Will Determine What Claim(s) You Can File – Based on your attorney’s determination of fault, your attorney can then determine what claim (or claims) you can file to recover your accident-related losses.
- Your Attorney Will Deal with the Insurance Companies – If recovering your losses involves dealing with the insurance companies (which will most likely be the case), your attorney can deal with the insurance companies on your behalf.
- Your Attorney Will Calculate Your Current and Future Losses – To recover just compensation, you need proof of your accident-related losses. Your attorney can calculate your current and future losses, and then your attorney can submit proof of your losses to the insurance companies.
- Your Attorney Will Go to Court if Necessary – While most successful car accident claims settle out of court, sometimes going to court is the only way to protect victims’ and families’ legal rights. If you need to take your case to court, your attorney can do what it takes to give you the best possible chance of success at trial.
Contact our office today for immediate assistance.
Turn To A Boca Raton Car Accidents Attorney At The Grife Law Firm
No Fees Unless You Win
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, contact a Boca Raton car accident attorney at The Grife Law Firm. We can review your case and fight for your legal rights. We help injured car accident victims throughout Broward and Miami-Dade Counties, including in West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami. Call us at 855-998-0770 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation.
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