How Is Fault Determined in Florida Auto Accidents?

Rear-end car accident

Determining fault in a car accident in Florida is a complicated process that involves gathering evidence, using it to rebuild the chain of events, and determining whose behavior ultimately caused the collision.

While Florida follows a no-fault insurance model – in which an injured motorist turns to their own policy for coverage in the immediate aftermath of an accident – the state also allows individuals who’ve suffered serious injuries to pursue third-party insurance claims or lawsuits against at-fault parties. Determining fault on someone else’s part is likely essential to securing the compensation you need for your injuries.

The Pensacola car accident lawyers at Cardoso Law, PLLC, understand Florida’s insurance laws and how to help you assertively seek maximum compensation after an accident that wasn’t your fault. We are ready to fight for you and deal with the insurance companies while you focus on your medical treatments and other matters.

Get your free consultation when you contact us today.

Who Can Be at Fault in a Florida Car Accident?

Many different parties can potentially be at fault for a car accident in Florida, including any (or several) of the following:

  • Drivers – If a driver breaks traffic laws, drives recklessly, or is simply not paying attention, they can be held responsible for causing an accident.
  • Employers – When a car accident involves a driver who was working at the time, their employer might bear responsibility for the crash. That is often the case in accidents involving commercial vehicles or drivers running business errands.
  • Automobile manufacturers – If a vehicle defect caused the accident, the manufacturer of the car or the defective part might bear fault for the collision. Examples of defective parts that can cause crashes include faulty brakes, tire defects, and malfunctioning steering systems.
  • Mechanics and maintenance companies – If poor vehicle maintenance contributes to an accident, the mechanics or company responsible for maintaining the vehicle might be liable. This applies particularly to crashes involving semi-trucks and other large commercial vehicles that need regular servicing.
  • Government entities – Sometimes, poor road conditions like unmarked hazards, inadequate signage, or poorly designed intersections contribute to car accidents. In such cases, the government entity responsible for road maintenance and safety might be liable.

How Is Fault Determined in Florida?

The bedrock principle of personal injury law is that someone who causes another person to suffer harm must pay for the consequences of that harm. The person at fault for causing a car accident is financially responsible – or liable – for the injuries anyone else suffered in the crash. Liability extends past dollar-and-cent costs like medical and repair bills to less tangible but equally real consequences like pain, suffering, and diminished quality of life.

Car accidents often cause serious (and seriously expensive) injuries well beyond the ability of the average person to pay out of pocket. That’s why the law requires that every driver carry at least $10,000 in property damage liability insurance, and why many motorists choose to carry bodily injury liability insurance as well. These policies assume liability on behalf of the policyholder, paying for any property damage or injuries they cause up to their agreed-upon limits. If you’ve been seriously hurt in a car accident in Florida, the compensation you need to rebuild your life will likely come from the at-fault motorist’s liability insurance provider.

Insurance companies won’t pay out a claim unless their policyholder is demonstrably to blame, though, which means fault must be determined for your claim to be successful. To do this, you’ll likely need compelling evidence like:

  • The police report
  • Eyewitness accounts
  • Photos and videos from the accident scene
  • Surveillance videos
  • Testimony from accident reconstruction specialists and other expert witnesses
  • Medical records
  • Each driver’s account of the crash

Who Determines Fault in a Florida Car Crash?

The insurance companies are usually who determines who is at fault in a car accident – at least initially. But they don’t get the final say. Ultimately, determining who is at fault is a matter for the courts.

Insurance adjusters will review the evidence to decide which party they believe caused a crash and should pay for any resulting injuries, lost income, and other losses. However, an insurance company’s decision is not final. An injured motorist who disagrees with the insurance company’s determination can take the company’s policyholder to court for a ruling on who is at fault and how much compensation is owed.

What Should You Do If You’re at Fault?

First, don’t automatically assume you’re at fault for a crash. What seems clear at first glance may not be what actually happened, especially if a lawyer hasn’t had a chance to investigate the collision for you. So, be careful about admitting fault in the immediate aftermath of a crash.

Next, take your Florida car accident case to our attorneys. We can review your situation to determine who’s at fault and then pursue an insurance claim against that person. If the at-fault party’s insurance company tries to blame you for something you didn’t do, your lawyer can defend your rights and help you push back against their false allegations.

What If the Other Party Is at Fault?

If the evidence shows the other driver or another party caused the crash, let our lawyers handle the case while you focus on your medical treatment. We can determine if your injuries qualify you to step outside the no-fault system to pursue additional compensation. According to Florida law, you can do so if your injuries result in significant, permanent losses of a key bodily function, permanent injuries, or significant, permanent disfigurement or scarring.

Calculating Damages in a Pensacola Car Accident

The compensation you recover through a Pensacola car accident claim can pay for your:

  • Medical expenses, including the cost of any treatment you need
  • Lost wages and other benefits
  • Reduced future earnings due to an injury or disability
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Damaged personal property

Contact Our Pensacola Car Accident Lawyer for Help with Your Case

Hurt in an auto accident in Pensacola? Then contact our personal injury lawyers to determine fault for the crash and calculate the full extent of your losses. The experienced car accident attorneys at Cardoso Law, PLLC, look forward to meeting you and hearing your story during a free initial consultation.