Your brother was in a show at the Gainesville Community Playhouse, but traffic was horrible, and you were running late to the performance. You turned onto Northwest 16th Boulevard and the cars were moving ... you thought you just might make it in time, after all. Then, as you slowed down to look at your phone to get the street address, you were rear-ended. You could tell by the impact that this was not a simple fender bender. What happens now? What do you do? Here is some information we've compiled to help you figure out what to do after a car accident in Gainesville.
Don't Leave The Scene
Florida law provides that the driver of any vehicle involved in a crash that results in injury or death, or even vehicle or property damage, must stop at the scene or as close to it as possible and remain there until he has provided information and rendered reasonable assistance to any injured party. Even if you hit and damage an unattended vehicle or other property, you must stop and either locate the owner, or leave a note in a conspicuous place providing your information. Failure to comply with these requirements is considered a criminal offense.
So, after a crash, make sure to stop. Then check if anyone is injured, call 911 if so, and provide your information (name, address, vehicle registration number) to the other folks. You should collect this information from the other driver, as well, and it is also a good idea at this time to get insurance information, gather contact information from any witnesses, and to take photographs if possible.
The Florida DMV has compiled the requirement in one spot, which you may find helpful.
If the crash results in injury, death or damage in an apparent amount of $500 or more you must report it to either the Gainesville Police Department, the Alachua County Sheriff's Department, or the Florida Highway Patrol, depending on where the accident occurred. You are required to do this immediately, by the quickest means of communication, and failure to do so is considered a noncriminal traffic infraction.
As the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles explains, to purchase and maintain a Florida license plate and registration, you must carry a minimum of $10,000 of personal injury protection ("PIP") and $10,000 of property damage liability ("PDL").
Florida is a "no fault" state, which basically means that no matter who caused the accident, if you are injured, your own PIP coverage will pay for a percentage of your medical expenses and lost wages related to the accident, up to the policy limits. The PDL coverage pays (up to the policy limits) for damage you cause to someone else's property.
Although PIP and PDL are the only types of coverage you are required by Florida to carry, many drivers do purchase additional coverage such as comprehensive, collision, uninsured motorist, and more. If you are financing your car, the bank may make you do so. The Florida Bar has a consumer information summary of the different types of automobile insurance you may find useful.
Taking Legal Action
This next step in deciding what to do after a car accident in Gainesville is critical. Although you may settle your car accident case with the insurance companies directly, and will look first to your PIP coverage, depending on the facts of your case and the extent of your injuries, you may decide to pursue legal action. Keep in mind that there are time limits within which you must bring a formal lawsuit or be barred forever from doing so. These are called statutes of limitations and they vary by state and cause of action. In Gainesville and the rest of the state, you will typically have 4 years to bring your car accident lawsuit.
Depending on the amount of money you are seeking, your case may be in the Circuit Court (matters involving over $15,000) or in the County Court (matters involving up to $15,000). We have compiled a complete listing of Gainesville courthouses, which includes some insider tips.
Your case will likely be based on your claim that the other driver acted negligently. To act negligently is basically to act carelessly and for that carelessness to cause or contribute to the accident. Florida is a comparative negligence state, which means that if you were also partially negligent, your recovery will be reduced by your percentage of fault.
Depending on the facts of your case, you may be able to seek damages (monetary compensation) for things like medical expenses and lost income. Under Florida law, in order to recover for pain, suffering, mental anguish and inconvenience, you must meet certain requirements.
Car Accident in Gaineville? Talk to a Local Attorney Today
A car accident is almost always upsetting, especially if you're injured. A skilled accident attorney can help you sort through it all and help maximize your recovery. Start the process today by meeting with a Florida motor vehicle accident attorney.