Understanding the Legal Process After a Car Accident

May 18, 2023
Jack Fine

If you were injured in a Gainesville car accident, you may be confused about the legal process. You might be wondering about your legal rights and options for recovering money for the losses you have suffered in the auto accident. An experienced car accident lawyer in Gainesville, FL from Fine, Farkash & Parlapiano, P.A. can answer your questions during a free case review. 

Here are some of the basics regarding Florida car accident laws you should know to better understand the legal process after a Florida car accident.  

How Is Fault Determined in a Florida Auto Accident?

Florida is a no-fault state for car insurance, meaning that parties injured in car accidents turn first to their own auto insurance policy for coverage under their Personal Injury Protection (PIP) policy. However, if a crash causes more serious injuries or your PIP benefits do not fully cover your financial losses, you may be able to make a claim against the driver who was at fault for the collision. 

Determining fault in a car crash requires reviewing evidence such as:

  • The accident report
  • Photos or videos from the crash scene
  • Witness statements
  • Physical evidence, such as skid marks and damage to the vehicles
  • Electronically-stored vehicle data
  • Medical records

If it is unclear how the collision occurred, a Gainesville car accident lawyer may hire an accident reconstruction expert to develop simulations about the most likely cause of the wreck.

What if the Other Driver Does Not Have Insurance?

Any vehicle registered in Florida is required to have a minimum of $10,000 in PIP insurance and $10,000 in property damage liability coverage. Vehicles registered as taxis must have a minimum of $50,000 in property damage liability coverage and $125,000 in bodily injury liability coverage. If the at-fault driver did not have insurance, you would need to make a claim against your own insurance policy’s Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage. However, you will only have this insurance if you purchased it since this type of coverage is not mandatory to meet the state’s minimum insurance requirements. 

A Gainesville car accident attorney can review your insurance policy to determine possible coverage. They can also explore if there are other parties who may be responsible for the incident or whether filing a lawsuit against the responsible party may be a viable option, depending on the circumstances.

What Is the Statute of Limitations in Florida for Car Accidents?

Due to a recent change in Florida law, the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit after a car crash is two years for accidents occurring after March 24, 2023. This means that in most cases, you now only have two years to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party, or you risk forfeiting your right to recover money for your accident-related losses.

If Injuries Happen as a Result of the Crash, Does it Change the Legal Process?

You will still begin the process by turning to your PIP insurance for overage. However, Florida Statute 627.736 states that these benefits are limited to:

  • 80 percent of your medical expenses, subject to a maximum of $10,000
  • 60 percent of your lost wages, subject to a maximum of $10,000
  • Death benefits up to $5,000

If you suffered a permanent injury, Florida Statute 627.737 states that you can pursue a claim against the at-fault driver for the full extent of your losses, which may include:

  • Past, current, and future medical expenses 
  • Lost wages 
  • Reduced earning capacity 
  • Costs to repair or replace your vehicle
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish 
  • Emotional distress
  • Permanent disfigurement and/or scarring 

The other driver is still responsible for medical bills and lost wages that are not covered by your PIP insurance, even if your injury is not considered permanent.

How Can a Lawyer Help Me with This Legal Process?

One of the most vital decisions you can make after a car crash is to hire an experienced car accident attorney in Gainesville, FL. A lawyer can take the following steps to protect your legal rights and maximize the value of your claim:

  • Investigate the incident
  • Identify all contributing factors to the crash and at-fault parties 
  • Explain your legal rights and advise you of your options at each phase of the case
  • Talk to witnesses
  • Review accident reports
  • Hire expert witnesses, as necessary, to further bolster your claim
  • Handle communications with the insurance company 
  • Compile evidence regarding the full extent of your losses
  • Negotiate aggressively to fairly compensate you for the losses you suffered
  • Take your case to trial, if necessary

When you hire Fine, Farkash & Parlapiano, P.A., you will work with a car accident lawyer in Gainesville, FL from start to finish. We do not pass you off to a less experienced associate or paralegal. Instead, you will work closely with a lawyer who is dedicated to securing the best possible outcome for your case. If you need to go to trial, you can rest assured you are in good hands because all of our attorneys have extensive trial experience. 

We can help you navigate the legal process after a car accident. Contact us today for your free case review.