Car Accidents by the Numbers
Vehicle Crashes in Florida
Over 1,000 Crashes Happen Every Day
Florida is known for its roads being especially dangerous and teeming with bad drivers. The state is consistently ranked in the top 5 for the states with the worst drivers. But far from being a general feeling, hard data have shown that Florida drivers get into more car accidents than drivers in many other states.
Just how many? In 2019, the Florida Department Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles documented a total of 400,788 crashes in Florida. That works out to 1,098 traffic collisions per day. Of those various crashes, 254,342 people were injured and 3,217 people were unfortunately killed.
South Florida is an especially hazardous part of the state. Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade counties together accounted for 33% (132,567) of Florida’s total collisions, as well as 28% (71,934) of the total crash-related injuries and 22% (708) of the fatalities.
The worst part is that car accidents don’t just hurt the negligent drivers. Perfectly safe and law-abiding drivers can be swept up in a horrific and life-altering car crash in the blink of an eye. You don’t even have to be driving to be the victim of a car accident. Hundreds of passengers—coworkers, friends, and children—are injured every year as well!
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Key Rules of the Road in Florida
It’s almost a statistical certainty that you will be in a car accident at some point in your life. If or when this unfortunate situation occurs, every driver should be aware of these five critical Florida accident laws that could affect your compensation.
1. Report Car Accidents with Over $500 in Damages
Any driver involved in a car or motor vehicle collision is required by law to stop at the scene of the accident. Florida law also requires drivers to report the accident to law enforcement if injuries or damages exceed $500. If anyone is injured, you have to stay at the scene of the accident, and you must also exchange information (e.g. name, address, vehicle registration) with all parties involved.
2. Florida Is a No-Fault Insurance State
Florida is a “no-fault” insurance state—one of only a handful in the country. This means that when a car crash occurs, each driver turns first to their own insurance company to pay for their repairs and recovery costs—regardless of who is responsible for the accident! If an accident causes more damage or injuries than an insurance policy covers, a personal injury lawsuit can be filed to seek additional damages.
3. $10,000 PIP and PDL Insurance Minimums
Florida requires all drivers to have an auto insurance policy with a minimum of $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) coverage and $10,000 in property damage liability (PDL) coverage. PIP coverage pays:
- 80% of crash-related medical bills up to the policy limit,
- 60% of lost wages if the injured person cannot work,
- $5,000 in death benefits, in addition to the benefits provided under the policy.
To further complicate matters, if you do not have an “emergency medical condition,” PIP will not pay out more than $2,500 in benefits.
4. Pure Comparative Fault
Florida operates according to the principle of “pure comparative fault” for assigning responsibility in an accident. Under this system, both parties in the accident essentially share fault. For example, if one driver makes an aggressive left turn in front of an oncoming driver who was speeding, there will be a discussion of what percentage of the fault to assign to each driver. These percentages of liability will then directly determine the amount of damages recoverable by each party.
5. Four Year Statute of Limitation
Florida law states that you may be able to seek financial compensation if you are injured by a negligent driver, but such personal injury claims must be filed within a specific time frame. In general, the Florida statute of limitations for car, truck, and motorcycle accident cases is four years from the date of the accident. However, the statute of limitations for seeking medical attention is only fourteen days. And PIP will not cover any medical bills if you do not seek treatment within 14 days of the accident.
Common Causes of Car Accidents in Florida
Although we use the term “accident,” most car crashes aren’t accidents at all. Rather, they are caused by negligence, malfunction, environmental factors, or a mix of all of these. Some of the most common causes of car accidents in Boca Raton include:
Distractions come in three types: visual, manual, and cognitive, which means distracted driving is anything that takes your hands off the wheel, eyes off the road, or mind off driving. Drivers who are texting or talking on cell phones, adjusting the radio, eating and drinking, putting on makeup, or interacting with other passengers can he held liable for damages caused by their negligent behavior. Even at 50 mph, a focused driver will need roughly the length of a football field to come to a complete stop.
Aggressive drivers make the roads less safe for everyone by their risky behavior. You can identify aggressive drivers by their excessive speeding, tailgating, quick and unannounced lane changes, “rolling stops,” or just general disregard for the rules of road and the other drivers. This dangerous driving style, together with even minor distractions, can cause tragic accidents.
Drunk or Impaired Driving
Drunk driving is one of the top causes of road fatalities in Florida and it is entirely avoidable. On top of that, there is a growing threat posed by drivers who are impaired by drugs and prescription medications. In fact, traffic stops for impaired driving have outpaced DUI stops recently. Impaired drivers can be on the road at any hour of the day since many drivers who are pulled over taking doctor-prescribed medications. However, these drivers are no less dangerous than someone who has been drinking.
Drunk or impaired driving accounts for a disproportionate number of fatalities each year. In 2019, Florida had:
Impaired Driving Crashes
Impaired Driving Fatalities
Occasionally, car accidents are precipitated by the unsafe conditions of the roads themselves. Potholes and uneven pavement, poorly designed shoulders or exits, or improperly maintained road safety measures can all contribute to car crashes. In these instances, state and local government entities, property management companies, and private businesses can sometimes be held partly liable for the damages caused by improperly maintained or dangerous roads.
Anyone who lives in the “Sunshine” state knows that the sky can go from clear and blue to grey and rainy at the drop of a hat. When sudden downpours or more violent storms pass through, they create acutely hazardous road conditions. High winds and rain can decrease visibility and control and increase the likelihood of a car accident, especially on crowded highways and interstates.
Regular oil changes help keep a car’s engine running smoothly. The same is true of other critical components of a car’s mechanical skeleton. Florida does not have state-required car safety inspections, but cars need regular maintenance to ensure they work properly and can be driven safely. Car owners can be held liable for accidents caused by their failure to maintain a car’s essential safety measures.
Most Common Car Accident Injuries
Regardless of what causes a car accident or how severe the damage to the vehicles, drivers and passengers can suffer an array of bodily and emotional injuries. While some car accident victims are lucky enough to escape with only minor aches and pains, others sustain life-altering injuries. Some of those most common serious car accident injuries we see are:
Neck and Back Injuries
The rapid deceleration caused when two cars collide can wreak havoc on the bodies of drivers and passengers. One of the most common injuries sustained, particularly in rear-end collisions, is whiplash. The sudden and violent jerking movements can damage vertebrae, ligaments, or discs. Minor whiplash can simply cause neck pain and stiffness, but more severe cases can lead to longer-term effects such as blurred vision, headaches, memory problems, and depression.
Head and Brain Injuries
Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and concussions are some of the most serious and overlooked car accident injuries. Concussions are caused by the head smashing against a part of the vehicle itself such as the airbag, headrest, or steering wheel. The short-term effects of TBIs include nausea and vomiting, numbness, or blurred vision. But TBI can cause long-term damage as well such as chronic headaches, depression, behavioral changes, and seizures. While TBI symptoms may occur immediately, they could also take days to manifest. Therefore, we recommend that anyone who has had head trauma in a car accident should seek medical attention immediately to assess the damage. Medical treatment for brain injuries is complicated and costly, it is critical to have secure records to detail the impact of the injury on your life and wellbeing.
Bone Fractures and Tissue Damage
The sheer force involved in a high-speed collision is enough to fracture bones and tear muscles and ligaments. Simple bone fractures can take months to heal and result in lost wages. Multiple or complex fractures, muscle tears, and ligament damage often require surgery and extensive physical therapy, which will be a more significant financial burden on you and your family. Your chances of suffering serious bone fractures or ligament damage increase significantly in head-on collisions, sideswipe or “T-bone” crashes, and in high-speed accidents.
Psychological and Emotional Injuries
Unless you have suffered a serious car accident before, you may not fully appreciate the range of psychological and emotional effects such an experience can have on a person, especially children and young adults. In fact, a recent meta-analysis of previous studies concluded that over 22% of car crash survivors develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These psychological harms won’t be immediately obvious like cuts or fractures; they may take days or weeks to manifest. And you can be sure the insurance company or at-fault driver will fight tooth and nail to avoid paying for such damages.
Recoverable Damages from Car Accidents
It’s difficult to give exact figures for how much a car accident victim can recover from a car accident case because each victim’s losses and damages are different. The better question to ask is “What types of damages can I recover?” Approached in this way, accident victims can recover both economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic or Special Damages
Economic damages are your compensation for the out-of-pocket expenses related to the injuries you sustained in the accident. They may include:
Depending on the type of accident and the severity of your injuries, the cost of your medical treatments could be massive. Emergency room visits, hospitalizations, surgeries, physical therapy, prescription medications, and assistive devices (e.g. wheelchairs) can all be necessary to help you recover from a serious accident. As long as you have seen a doctor within the required 14-day window, the medical expenses you incur (and are likely to incur in the future) as a result of an accident are recoverable damages—including mileage to and from appointments!
There are 80.4 million hourly workers in the U.S. Simply being in a serious accident and receiving medical treatment can result in fewer working hours and lost wages. Certain injuries can further prevent these employees from returning to work while they are recovering. In this case, future lost wages may also be recoverable damages.
The damage done to your vehicle will depend on the circumstances of the accident and the other vehicles involved. For example, rear-end collisions will likely do far less damage than most truck accidents. Sometimes items inside or on your vehicle can also be damaged, such as laptops, bicycles (on racks), or cell phones. If an accident is caused by the negligence of the other driver, you can make a claim against the various parties involved for the physical damage to your car or items inside your car.
Funeral and Burial Expenses
If someone you love has died from the injuries sustained in a car or truck accident, the funeral expenses may also be covered. However, after a person dies, their spouse, family, or personal representative must bring a wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf, which is a somewhat different undertaking than a personal injury lawsuit.
Non-Economic or General Damages
Non-economic damages are a fuzzy category that are hard to quantify. They often include future harms or injuries that lack specific dollar values. You and your lawyer will assign values to these items by their impact on your quality of life.
Loss of Capacity of Earn
In the worst case scenario, very serious injuries may result in a long-term absence from work or even a permanent inability to work or to return to a current job. This is known as a loss of “capacity to earn,” and accident victims can be compensated for this loss of future earnings.
Loss of Consortium
Consortium is Latin for “partnership” or “close connection.” These damages are recoverable when an injured party can no longer provide the same love, affection, companionship, parenting, care, or sexual relationship due to their injuries. Spouses and close family members of accident victims can be compensated for the loss of consortium.
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering damages are usually the most highly compensated damages, but they come with caveats. Florida law allows accident victims to recover damages for “pain, suffering, mental anguish, and inconvenience” only if a person is permanently injured and the pain. Furthermore, Florida follows the “impact rule,” which means that even though serious car wrecks can be emotionally traumatizing, emotional damages (generally) can’t be recovered unless emotional distress is proven to be a direct result of physical injuries. Regardless of whether you deserve them or not, the insurance company will do everything it can to prevent you from being compensated for your emotional damages.
Why You Should Hire a Car Accident Lawyer
If you are here, chances are that you or someone you know has already been hurt in a car accident and you need help. We are truly sorry that you have suffered an accident for which you need to seek out the help of a personal injury lawyer. We sincerely hope that you recover from your injuries and that you can return to your normal life as soon as possible.
We also want to help you make smart decisions about your case so you can choose the right lawyer and get on the path to full recovery—both physically and financially. The effects of a serious car crash can be devastating, and without a dedicated personal injury lawyer on your side, victims often don’t recover the full amount of damages to which they are entitled. When thinking about your car accident and hiring a lawyer, keep a few points in mind:
Insurance companies see it as their job to avoid paying you
The insurance company’s bag of tricks is ineffective on a legal expert
Your peace of mind is critical for recovery
If you have suffered any major injury in your car accident, you need to seek out an experienced Florida accident and injury attorney who will guide you through the claims process.
The personal injury lawyers here at Personal Injury & Accident Law Center would love to speak to you about your case and tell you how we can help you get on the path to recovery. Call us today at (561)372-3800 to schedule a free case evaluation or fill out the confidential form below and a team member will contact you soon.