What to Do After a Single Car Accident in Florida

Single Car Accidents Florida

Getting into a car accident is always a frightening experience. Even in the best situations, you still deal with shock, wondering how it all happened, and hoping that repairs won’t be too costly. And in the worst cases, you’re left dealing with injuries, substantial time missed from work, and even the death or serious injury of another party.

Because most people generally think of a car accident as involving two or more vehicles, single car accidents can be especially confusing and stressful. The aftermath can come with many questions, including what to do and whether or not you were the one at fault.

The following guide can help you gain a clear picture about single car accidents in Florida, what to do in the aftermath, who or what else could potentially be at fault, and how an experienced car accident lawyer can help.

Single Car Accidents in Florida

While most accidents occur when two or more vehicles collide, it’s still possible to collide with a tree, railing, wall, or a residential or commercial building. These accidents can be startling and cause a lot of damage, from bodily injuries to repair costs. The most common causes of single car accidents can include:

  • Slippery roads
  • Obstructed, damaged, or mismarked street signs
  • Construction zones
  • Defective or malfunctioning parts in your car
  • Another driver’s conduct or negligence
  • Road hazards, such as potholes, inadequate lighting, or anything that minimizes visibility
  • Bad weather and sun glare
  • Flying Objects

Do you Have to Report a Single-Car Accident to Your Insurance or the Police?

There are no Florida laws that require you to report a car accident to your insurance company. However, your insurance policy may require you to report any and all car accidents. If you fail to report an accident promptly, your insurer may deny coverage.

In Florida, you must immediately report a car accident to the police if:

  • The accident caused death, injury, or any pain or discomfort to the driver or any of the passengers
  • The crash caused property damage that appears to be over $500
  • The driver was under the influence at the time of the accident
  • The vehicle was rendered inoperable and needed to be towed from the scene of the accident

What to Do After a Single Car Accident in Florida

1. Get Your Vehicle Out of Traffic

If you’ve been involved in such an accident, if at all possible, move your vehicle so that you’re not obstructing the flow of traffic. If the car won’t start, call a towing company. This is a requirement imposed by Florida Statutes Section 316.61.

2. Call the Police

Florida law requires filling out a police report when an accident results in the personal injury or death of anyone involved, or if a party simply complains about pain. This requirement also applies if the crash rendered your vehicle inoperable, if you were driving a commercial motor vehicle, or if the crash was caused by someone driving under the influence. For example, if you swerved to avoid a collision with someone who seems to have been driving while impaired, you would need to get a report filed.

If the police do arrive on scene, in most situations, it’s best to say as little as possible to the police. Law enforcement may ask you what happened, but you are under no obligations to answer questions. Do not tell them anything that could incriminate you. Remember, you have the right to remain silent and exercise your fifth amendment rights.

3. Take Pictures

Document everything that might be helpful in litigation or an insurance investigation. This includes evidence that the roads were in poor conditions or visibility was obstructed, and the extent of the damage caused to someone else’s property as well as your car. This will be helpful for liability issues as well as for accident reconstruction efforts.

4. Go to the Doctor

Every car insurance policy in Florida is required to offer personal injury protection (PIP) benefits. These cover up to 80% of medical bills and 60% of lost wages, for a maximum of $10,000. This is available to you regardless of whether you were at fault for the accident. It also covers injuries sustained by you, anyone who lives with you, passengers in your car, and anyone struck by your vehicle. However, in order to file a claim, Florida Statutes 627. 736 requires that you do so within 14 days from the date of the accident.

5. Speak with an Attorney

If you know the accident wasn’t your fault, or if you have reason to believe that someone else may be held liable, consult with an experienced car accident attorney. This way you can make an informed decision about whether to move forward with a claim against a third party.

Who could be held accountable for a single-vehicle car accident in Florida?

Although there are several individuals or entities that could be held liable for a single-vehicle car accident, the most important factor is negligence. This means someone who had a duty of care, breached that duty, and caused the damages. Those who could be held accountable for such negligence include:

Another Driver

There are scenarios when another driver is the catalyst for a single-vehicle car accident. Causes such as slamming on the brakes, having cargo that falls off their vehicle, or driving in an erratic manner can all contribute. All of these instances could cause a person who’s driving behind to swerve to avoid an accident, only to end up colliding against something else. If this is the case, the other driver will be held liable for your injuries. This liability is not absolute though. A court will look at whether you were partly to blame for the accident. If so, the amount you can recover will be reduced by your percentage of fault.

Car Manufacturer

Most people have seen either news stories of product recalls, or have possibly received recall notices in the mail for something they’ve bought. It’s not necessary for a manufacturer to be held strictly liable for damages caused by their products. Florida law specifically establishes this liability for damages caused by the manufacture, construction, design, formulation, installation, preparation, or assembly of a product.

This also includes injuries that were greater than what you would have experienced but for the defective product. Therefore, if you had an accident or if your injuries were worsened due to a defect in your car, the car manufacturer could be held liable.

Mechanic or Auto Repair Shop

The same way a car manufacturer can be held strictly liable for injuries arising out of a product defect, a mechanic or auto repair shop could be held liable for injuries sustained in an accident if they failed to repair something you paid them to fix prior to the crash. This also applies if you took the car for regular maintenance and the issue was supposed to be discovered during the regular course of such maintenance.

The Department of Transportation

This type of case is harder to prove, but it’s possible. Florida Statutes Section 337.195 establishes that in a civil action for the injury or death of a person against the Department of Transportation will be presumed that it occurred by the driver’s operation of the vehicle. This presumption can be overcome by showing that there was either gross negligence or intentional misconduct by someone at the Department. An example would be construction, maintenance, or repairs that are done in violation of compliance requirements.

The Driver

Sometimes even the most well-intentioned and safe drivers engage in distracted driving. Whether due to thinking about work or family responsibilities, replying to a text, or reading a billboard, it’s sometimes too easy to unintentionally run a red light or drive too fast when the roads are wet. In that event, you would be responsible for your own damages. It could also include someone else’s damages, if the accident harmed somebody else’s property.

Do You Need a Lawyer for a Single-Car Accident?

It’s not always possible to walk away from a single-car accident with no injuries or property damage. You should consider contacting a car accident lawyer if any of the following is true:

  • Your car was towed from the scene of the accident
  • You received any citations or tickets
  • The accident caused damage to another person’s property
  • You were, or authorities may have reason to believe you were, driving under the influence
  • Another party was at fault

Having a lawyer on your side who understands the legal system and knows how to work with insurance carriers can minimize your legal and financial exposure. An attorney can also work to ensure you receive any compensation you are entitled to if another party’s negligence contributed to the accident in any way.

Call Clark Hartpence 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 Hartpence Law, we have experienced attorneys who regularly represent clients involved in motor vehicle accidents, 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.