If you’ve driven for long enough, you know the scenario — you’re on cruise control on the freeway, listening to your favorite podcast, when a pebble flies off the road due to a truck driving fast in front of you. You hear it hit your windshield, and now you have to deal with a crack that wasn’t your fault. In some cases, the damage can be caused by a larger item that falls off a freighter truck’s cargo. And, due to the size of their motor vehicle — and the lack of an actual accident — the truck driver seldom notices what happened. What can you do if you’re in such a situation? Who will pay for your damage if you can’t even get the offending vehicle to stop to hold them accountable?
Hit by an Object That Came Off Another Vehicle
Objects flying off another vehicle can cause serious damage. From a broken windshield to catastrophic collisions due to swerving, the danger is undeniable. Generally speaking, a person who caused the damage is liable for it. However, if your windshield was cracked by road debris and the trucker never noticed, you’ll have to look to other recourses to cover your damage. These include:
1. Personal Injury Protection
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) will cover 80% of medical bills, up to $10,000, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. This means you can file a claim with your own insurance company. PIP covers you, anyone driving your car, anyone who lives with you, or passengers who were injured during the collision. The insurance companies are prevented from increasing your premium unless they can make a good faith determination that you were at fault for the accident. The problem with PIP is that it only covers a percentage of your medical bills, and doesn’t account for damage to your car.
2. Comprehensive Car Insurance Coverage
When you first sign up for car insurance coverage, you’re offered the option of obtaining comprehensive insurance. This type of coverage protects you from damage due to anything other than a crash — such as a projectile object from another vehicle hitting your car.
3. Collision Car Insurance Coverage
This type of coverage usually costs less than comprehensive insurance. You will only be able to use it if you actually crashed into another car — whether with the vehicle that was carrying cargo or by swerving to avoid the flying object.
4. Uninsured/Underinsured Coverage
Although Florida Statute 324.021 requires everyone who drives a motor vehicle in the State to carry car insurance, it is no secret that there are plenty of drivers with no insurance. There are also plenty of motorists who are insured, but not for enough coverage. It is for this reason that Florida Statute 627.727 establishes that — in addition to the required minimums — policies offer optional coverage in the event you get into an accident with someone who is either uninsured or underinsured. This is known as uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM) coverage.
5. Suing the Other Driver
If none of the above options are enough to cover your damages — or if you don’t have comprehensive or UM insurance, your remaining recourse is to file a lawsuit against the driver of the other vehicle. If your damage was minor (e.g. a crack on your windshield due to road debris and you didn’t catch the driver’s license plate), you will have to file a claim with your own insurance. However, always talk with a personal injury attorney to determine your best course of action.
Legal Obligations When You’re Involved in a Car Accident
In addition to being aware of your recourses in case of this type of accident, you should also take note of your legal obligations. These include:
- Do not block the flow of traffic. Florida law requires that, whenever it’s possible, you move your motor vehicles to an area where it is not obstructing the flow of traffic. This would not apply if a person is severely injured and/or one of the vehicles is inoperable. If your vehicle has to be towed, you’ll have to fill out an accident report. In addition, be aware that if you fail to stop at an accident scene where there is a serious injury or death, you’d be committing a felony.
- Fill out a police report. Florida Statutes section 315.066 requires a written crash report to be submitted to a police department whenever an accident results in personal injury or death, if a person was driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, a vehicle had to be towed, or a commercial vehicle was involved in the accident.
- If you’re filing a PIP claim, do so within 14 days. Even if you feel fine after an accident, get evaluated by a physician. Certain injuries may have delayed symptoms, and you want to prevent aggravating them. In addition, Florida law requires that if you’re going to file a PIP claim, you can only do so within 14 days from the date of the accident. This deadline is designed to minimize insurance fraud.
Call Us at Clark Law for a Consultation
There are many factors that affect the outcome of a case. If you or someone you love was involved in a car accident, call us at (855) 680-4911 or schedule a free consultation. We’ll consider all circumstances to determine your best next step. We can also ensure that you receive proper compensation for any present as well as future medical expenses relating to your neck injuries.
Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney/client relationship.