Key West Car Accidents
Car accidents are a leading cause of preventable injury and wrongful death in Florida, resulting in nearly 255,000 injuries and 3,200 fatalities annually. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reports that in Monroe County alone, there are nearly 1,600 crashes a year, with 700 of those resulting in injuries.
Ask any experienced Key West car accident lawyer, and they will be quick to confirm that motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians are especially vulnerable on our roads - accounting for nearly half of local traffic fatalities. FHSMV data shows one-quarter of all motorists killed in Monroe County crashes are motorcyclists, 12 percent are bicyclists and 12 percent are pedestrians.
Injuries most commonly resulting from Key West car accidents include:
- Traumatic brain injuries. These can include concussions or other brain injuries such as skull fractures and internal hemorrhages.
- Neck and back injuries. These include whiplash, sprains, strains, herniated discs and spinal cord damage.
- Spinal injuries. Severe spinal cord injuries can result in the loss of movement, use or sensation in extremities.
- Broken bones. Fractured bones are not only very painful but can require surgery and might take a long time to heal.
- Soft tissue injuries. Torn or stretched ligaments, tendons or muscles can result in severe pain and loss of significant bodily functions.
The type of crash - head-on, rear-end, side-impact, rollover - and speed are all key factors to, not only the severity of injuries that result but, in some cases, how liability is determined. Regarding rear-end collisions, there is a “rebuttable presumption” that the person driving the vehicle in the rear is at-fault. As noted in the 1997 ruling in Jeffries v. Amery Leasing Inc. by Fla. 5th DCA, a rebuttable presumption is not absolute. What it means, however, is the burden of proof to establish negligence shifts from the plaintiff driver traveling in the front to the defendant driver operating in the rear.Claiming Damages for Key West Car Accidents
Damages resulting from a motor vehicle accident can include medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, out-of-pocket expenses, and pain and suffering. Not all claimants will necessarily be entitled to recover all types of damages, nor is it a given that the auto insurers involved will concede to pay you fairly without a fight.
Your injury attorney can tell you more about the kinds of compensation you can pursue based on your specific claim, the challenges you may face in obtaining it and the best legal strategy for success.
In Florida, crash victims can pursue legal action against other motorists for accident-related injuries if:
- The crash was caused at least in part by the defendant’s wrongdoing;
- The plaintiff racked up more than $10,000.00 in damages;
- The crash resulted in serious injuries, as defined in F.S 627.737 (permanent scars/disfigurement/disability, significant and permanent loss of an important body function) or death.
In the event that the other driver does not have enough insurance to cover your losses, does not have any insurance or you do not know who the other driver was because it was a hit-and-run, your attorney can help you file for uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage from your own insurer.
If the serious injury threshold is not met to allow you to step outside the no-fault system, it may still be possible to collect compensation (up to $10,000.00) from your own auto insurer through a state-mandated form of no-fault coverage called personal injury protection, or PIP, as outlined in F.S. 627.736.Florida PIP Coverage Explained
Because Florida is a no-fault state with regard to auto insurance, all vehicle owners are required to purchase and maintain PIP coverage for compensation for their own injuries and those of their passengers in the event of a crash.
The nice thing about PIP is you can collect it without needing to prove the other driver was at-fault and it can be paid to pedestrians and bicyclists, even though they were not “driving.” (This can be paid for by the cyclist/pedestrian’s own no-fault coverage if they have it, or that of a live-in family member.) Still, many complain that PIP coverage is somewhat redundant because most health insurance plans already cover personal injuries but PIP does cover a bit more than that.
Some limitations with PIP claims can include:
- PIP will pay for 80 percent of medical bills (maximum $2,500.00 for non-emergency medical treatment received within 14 days of the accident) and 60 percent of lost wages/disability - both subject to a collective $10,000.00 limit.
- PIP caps death benefits at $5,000.00 per individual.
- PIP does not pay for property damage. (Those losses can be recovered from your own collision coverage - if you have it - or from the other driver’s property damage liability insurance, of which all drivers are required to maintain a minimum $10,000.00 in coverage.)
- PIP cannot be purchased by motorcycle owners.
- PIP cannot be used for compensation of non-economic damages such as pain and suffering or loss of life enjoyment.
If your health insurance does cover your medical bills upfront, then your insurer will have the right of subrogation on any PIP coverage you receive for those expenses.
Note, however, that your insurer may not be any easier to negotiate with than another driver’s. In fact, most insurers will hike up your rates after a crash regardless of whether you were at-fault. It is a good idea to consult with an experienced Key West car accident lawyer in any case.Contact our Key West Car Accident Lawyers