Getting into a car accident is always an unfortunate experience. From minor crashes to catastrophic scenarios, people are left shaken up and facing an extremely stressful reality — injuries, dealing with filing a police report, trying to be of enough sound mind to take pictures and gather witnesses’ contact information while dealing with their own fear and anxiety over the event. And, while all of these components are stressful enough on their own, if you swerved your car to avoid another accident, you may also be wondering how you’re going to prove what happened. You were trying to do the right thing by swerving, and now there are all these damages. Who’s at fault? What are your recourses?
Who’s at fault if I swerve to avoid a car accident?
As with most legal questions, there’s no clear cut answer. Florida is a comparative negligence jurisdiction. This means that there can be more than one person liable for an accident. If the evidence shows that two people are responsible, the person who’s filing a claim will have their recovery reduced by the percentage of their own fault.
For example, let’s say a car in front of you slams on the brakes and you end up swerving and totaling your car when you crash into a car in the next lane. A court will look at all relevant details: Why did the other person stop so suddenly? Was anybody driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol? Was it a residential street? A freeway? Were you speeding? Was the car you hit speeding?
If the other people are determined to be 70% at fault and you are 30% at fault, then you can only recover 70% of your damages. These damages can include:
- Medical costs
- Car repair costs
- Car rental
- Lost wages
- Diminished earning capacity
- Future medical bills
- Loss of consortium
- Wrongful death
In order to determine who was at fault, your attorney will gather evidence through a process called discovery. Through it, your lawyer can take sworn testimony from witnesses, request surveillance videos from nearby businesses, residences, or traffic lights, subpoena records from mechanics or auto repair shops, and anything else that may be relevant to prove your case. Your attorney can also call on accident reconstruction experts to help piece together the entire picture, as well as medical experts if your injuries could only occur from certain types of accidents — e.g. from being rear-ended or from a side collision.
Ways to Recover for Losses After a Car Accident
1. Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
If the accident was relatively minor, you can recover part of your losses through personal injury protection. Florida law requires all car insurance policies to provide this coverage to the named insured, relatives who live with you, persons operating the insured car, passengers, and anyone else who was injured when struck by your car.
The benefits only cover up to 80% of medical bills and 60% of lost wages, and are capped at $10,000. Claims must be made within 14 days from the date of the accident, and are payable regardless of who was at fault. Your insurance company won’t be able to increase your premium unless they can make a good faith determination that you were at fault for the accident.
2. Medical Payment Coverage (MedPay)
This is an optional car insurance coverage that would cover the gap left exposed by personal injury protection coverage (e.g. 20% of medical expenses). Unlike PIP coverage, MedPay will only provide benefits for medical injuries — none for lost wages. Therefore, while it provides some relief, you would still need to look for additional resources to pay for all of your damages.
3. Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM) Coverage
While Florida law requires all motorists who drive within the state to have car insurance, the reality is that there are still plenty of drivers who either don’t have coverage, or have only purchased the required minimum. While they can get their driver’s license suspended, you are still faced with medical bills and car repair costs. To remedy this issue, Florida Statutes section 627.727 establishes that insurance policies offer optional coverage to pay for such damages.
Despite the different types of car insurance coverage available, the reality is that car accidents often result in substantial losses for which PIP, MedPay, and/or UM insurance don’t provide adequate relief. Something else that causes hardship to individuals is the fact that — with the exception of PIP — most are optional coverage. This means that, more often than not, people involved in a car accident are left with significant financial losses. Speaking with an experienced personal injury attorney means having someone who’s familiar with all applicable laws and effective strategies to recover what you’re entitled to.
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.