Are you having one of those days? You could be either running late for work or trying to rush home to get dinner started before guests arrive. When you have a lot of things on your mind, it’s easy to become distracted. When you’re distracted while driving, your likelihood of an accident increases substantially… even if it’s something relatively minor, such as driving your car into a neighbor’s fence.
The fact that there were no injured parties doesn’t mean that the incident won’t cause anxiety. Damaging someone’s property can certainly cause enough stress to ruin your day. So, what exactly should you do if you accidentally drive through someone’s fence?
Liability for Property Damage
Driving through someone’s property is considered negligent. Such a cause of action has four elements. If you meet all of them, you will be held legally liable.
- Duty. As a driver, motorists on Florida roadways have a duty of care to follow all road laws, such as driving within the speed limit, obeying traffic lights and signage, keeping a reasonable and prudent distance between themselves and the car in front of them, granting pedestrians the right of way, and protecting life and personal property.
- Breach. If you neglect your duty of care by breaking any of the above listed laws, you’ll be considered by a court to have breached that duty.
- Causation. Causation refers to property damage or injury that was directly caused by your breach of duty. For example, if you drive into your neighbor’s fence, and that fence was already broken, and your driving into it didn’t cause additional damage, your neighbor can not sue you for the damage that you did not cause. However, if you drive into a pristine fence and damage it, you will have to pay for the damage you caused.
- Damages. This refers to the cost of fixing or replacing property you damaged. If the neighbor has to sue you to recover these costs, you’ll also be liable for their court and attorney’s fees.
In addition to negligence, you could also be liable for reckless driving, depending on the circumstances. Florida law establishes that any person who drives any vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving.
Examples of reckless driving include driving under the influence, fleeing from law enforcement, or driving at an excessive rate of speed (e.g. speeding in a residential neighborhood). In addition to civil liability for causing damage to your neighbor’s property, you’d also be facing criminal charges and exposing yourself to a fine between $25 and $500 and imprisonment of up to 90 days.
Will Car Insurance Pay for It?
There are different types of car insurance: Liability, collision, comprehensive, uninsured motorist, underinsured motorist, personal injury protection (PIP), medical payment (MedPay), and gap insurance.
All of them serve a specific purpose. Some are required by law (such as PIP), while others are optional (such as MedPay). Fortunately, liability coverage is also required in Florida. This type of insurance will cover any damages for injuries and property caused by you during a car accident. Specifically, Florida Statutes 324.022 requires a minimum of $10,000 in property damage liability (PDL). PDL covers damages that either you or members of your family cause while driving a motor vehicle. If the damage is over $10,000 and you have minimum coverage, you’ll have to pay the rest out of pocket.
Call Clark Law If You’ve Been in a Car Accident in Tampa Bay
If you or someone you love has been involved in an accident, call us at (855) 680-4911 or schedule a free consultation. At Clark Law, we have experienced attorneys who regularly represent clients who have been involved in a motor vehicle accident, and we can help you determine the best next step.
Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney/client relationship.