What to Do When You’re in an Auto Accident with a Florida Tourist
As one of the premier tourist destinations in the United States, Florida enjoys year-round comfortable climates and activities that draw visitors from around the world. From taking a bike ride along one of the peninsula’s many beach boardwalks or opting to go for a stroll around Orlando, not an hour goes by that residents don’t come into contact with tourists. This also means an increased risk of getting into a car accident with people unfamiliar with the local traffic flow and rules.
What should Sunshine State residents do if this happens to them? Here’s what you should do if you get involved in a car accident with a tourist.
Understanding Florida No-Fault Laws
Because Florida is a no-fault car insurance state, drivers and passengers who are involved in an auto crash need to first go through their own insurance for any injuries and related costs to care, lost wages, and other medical expenses. Typically, claims against the at-fault driver would only happen in incidents where injuries are severe, such as:
- Broken bones
- Loss of function of body parts or organs
- Disabled for at least 90 days
In an accident where the other drivers and passengers suffer these types of catastrophic injuries, under Florida law, they have the right to pursue your car insurance to cover the additional costs not met by their own policy. This is how personal injury lawsuits typically begin.
Comparative Negligence in Florida
In addition to at-fault laws, Florida also uses comparative negligence standards when assigning fault. Unlike other states that use a modified version of this approach, which puts a cap on the percentage of liability a plaintiff can hold before nullifying their claim, Florida uses a pure version of comparative fault that does not cap the liability percentage of the parties involved. Essentially, damages get determined by the total percentage a party contributed to an accident.
For example, if you were to get into an accident with a tourist who was going the wrong way on a roundabout, the court might determine that the other driver was 30% at fault for their own injuries based on their actions. This approach means you would be liable for the remaining 70% and would only pay that percentage of the damage award to the tourist, or vice versa if the scenario was flipped.
The Florida Long-Arm Statute
When involved in an accident with individuals visiting Florida from out-of-state, the Long-Arm Statute can compel them to appear in Florida court proceedings regarding their involvement. This option is important if you plan to file a damage claim against them for their actions that contributed to the accident. This process is complicated and underscores the necessity of working with a qualified Orlando accident attorney with a proven track record in personal injury claims involving out-of-state and international tourists.
The good news is that most insurance companies operate on a national and international level so that their customers have coverage no matter where they may be vacationing. This kind of coverage may even extend to their driving a rental car, or they may have bought additional insurance from the rental company. When in this type of accident, make sure you get a copy of their driver’s license information and their insurance. Getting this information early on will help you better understand what is or isn’t covered by their policy and what differences in compensation will need to be awarded by a court.
Statute of Limitations on Auto Accident Claims in Florida
If you or the tourist plan to file suit for injuries and damages, Florida sets limitations on how long you have to file a lawsuit. Specifically, the amount of time you have depends on whether there was a death or injury as a result of the crash. Injury cases typically have a four-year time frame from the time you were in the accident, and this includes damages to your car. If the crash caused someone to die, then you have two years to file a wrongful death suit.
You must not miss these deadlines, as the courts in Florida will probably dismiss your case otherwise. Working with an experienced Orlando car accident attorney is the most reliable method for ensuring your claim gets filed promptly and correctly.
You Need Experienced Orlando Car Accident Attorneys to Represent Your Case
It can be frustrating dealing with tourists unfamiliar with your local roadways, but getting into an accident with someone who lives out of state can significantly complicate your case. The comparative fault laws in Florida may work to your advantage and mitigate the liability their insurance company is trying to place against you, but you need an experienced Orlando car accident attorney to evaluate your situation before taking action.
From accident reporting to negotiating with the insurance company, having a knowledgeable accident attorney on your side will make the process go much easier. With over 100 years of combined experience and recognition on SuperLawyers, you can see we have proven our dedication to helping our clients through difficult injuries and insurance claims. Contact us online or by phone at (407) 228-3838 to schedule a free consultation.