What Happens When You Are At Fault for a Car Accident in Clearwater?
Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes Personal Injury Lawyers | Car Accident
With more than 44 car crashes a day occurring in Clearwater and surrounding Pinellas County, it’s likely that either you or someone you know has been involved in a car accident.
If the accident was clearly someone else’s fault, you might be looking to recover compensation from the other party. But what if you contributed to the crash in some way? Do you have to pay for someone else’s injuries if you were at fault? Can you still recover compensation for your own injuries?
Understanding what happens when you are at fault for a car accident in Clearwater can help put your mind at ease. It’s always a good idea to consult a reputable Clearwater car accident lawyer. The information below will explain why.
Can I Still Recover Compensation If I Was at Fault for a Car Crash in Florida?
The biggest question on your mind might be whether you can still recover compensation if you’re being blamed for an automobile accident. The answer in Florida is almost always yes.
That’s true for a couple of reasons. First, Florida is a “no-fault” state when it comes to vehicle accidents. All drivers are required to purchase Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance as well as Property Damage Liability (PDL) insurance.
PIP insurance covers up to 80% of medical bills for your injuries, even if you were at fault. PIP can also cover passengers in your vehicle.
So, even if you caused the crash, you’ll have some funds available to you from your PIP coverage. You’re required to carry $10,000 in PIP coverage, but you may elect to increase that amount. PIP does not cover lost wages or pain and suffering.
Another reason that you could still receive compensation is a little more complicated. It’s because of Florida’s comparative fault statute. Even if you’re partially at fault, you may still be entitled to compensation above your PIP pays.
What Is Comparative Fault?
Comparative fault or comparative negligence is a legal concept that apportions damages when more than one party is at fault for an accident. Florida, along with many other states, uses a pure comparative fault rule. Under this model, an injured party can still recover damages as long as they are not 100% responsible for the accident.
When apportioning damages in a personal injury lawsuit, the court or jury will assign a percentage of fault to each party. If you’re 20% responsible for the accident and the total damages were $100,000, then you’d still get $80,000 (a 20% reduction).
On the other hand, if the defendant is also injured, you could also be responsible for 20% of the defendant’s damages. Any time you are at fault for an accident, there’s a possibility that the amount of compensation you receive will be reduced.
Do I Have to Pay for the Other Driver’s Injuries if I Was at Fault?
Remember, Florida is a no-fault state. But that doesn’t mean that you are off the hook if you cause an accident. It just means that you’ll have access to coverage regardless of fault.
The other driver should also have access to their PIP insurance, even if you were at fault. Your PDL insurance would cover property damage to someone else’s vehicle or other property if you were at fault.
However, if the other driver’s injuries are serious, they may file a personal injury lawsuit against you to recover additional damages. Under Florida’s comparative negligence law discussed above, you could be held financially liable for whatever percentage of the accident is determined to be your fault.
What to Do After a Car Accident in Clearwater
If you’re involved in a car accident, there are some key steps you should take no matter who is at fault.
Call for Help
If it’s an emergency situation, call 911 or try to have someone else call if you are unable. Call the police and stay at the scene even if it’s just a fender-bender. They will write up an accident report and help people get medical attention if needed.
And, in most cases, reporting an accident is required by law in Florida. Any accident that involves an injury, death, or at least $500 in property damage is required to be reported to the police – that’s going to apply to most traffic accidents.
Collect Evidence from the Scene
You’re not an investigator, but any evidence you can gather at the scene of the accident can be helpful. Snap a few photos of your wounds, the vehicles involved, and any other property damage. Take a picture of the overall scene and anything that seems important – an obstacle in the road, a road defect, or construction materials.
Try to get contact information for all other people involved, along with their insurance information.
Don’t Admit Fault
Even if you think you were at fault, it’s important not to say anything that could be interpreted as admitting fault. Even accidents that seem simple are often more complicated than they appear. You could end up paying for something that really was not your fault, or not completely your fault. It’s in your best interest to speak with a skilled attorney before talking to anyone about your accident.
Get Medical Attention
Even if you feel okay or don’t think you’re seriously injured, you should get checked out by a doctor as soon as possible after your accident. Many injuries, such as concussions and other brain injuries, or damage to internal organs, aren’t visible and can only be detected by a medical professional.
If you decide to file an injury claim – even with your own PIP insurance – it’s important to have a record of a medical exam that was done soon after the accident. If you delay medical treatment, the insurance company will argue that you weren’t really hurt.
Call a Reputable Clearwater Car Accident Attorney
This final step may be the most important – whether you were at fault or not. If you were even partly responsible, it’s critical to have a good lawyer. They will conduct an independent investigation to look for all contributing causes.
They’ll help push back when the insurance company blames you. That can help minimize the effects of unfair blame. And if you are partially to blame, they can make sure you don’t get stuck shouldering any more of the financial burden than is fair.
Contact the Clearwater Car Accident Lawyers At Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes Personal Injury Lawyers for Help
For more information, please contact the Clearwater and St. Petersburg car accident law firm of Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes Personal Injury Lawyers at the nearest location to schedule a free consultation today.
We serve in Pinellas County, and its surrounding areas:
Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes Personal Injury Lawyers – Clearwater
1875 N Belcher Rd. STE 201,
Clearwater, FL 33765,
Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes Personal Injury Lawyers – St. Petersburg
2560 1st Ave S,
St. Petersburg, FL 33712,