Ever get into a car accident while vacationing in Florida? As a Canadian, dealing with insurance companies and figuring out your rights can be daunting, especially south of the border. But don’t worry, help is out there.
Personal injury law firms with experience representing Canadians in Florida motor vehicle accidents can guide you through the process and fight to get you the compensation you deserve.
Understanding Florida Motor Vehicle Laws as a Canadian
As a Canadian driving in Florida, you’ll want to understand the state’s motor vehicle laws to avoid legal trouble. Florida’s laws differ from those in Canada, so pay close attention.
Your valid Canadian driver’s license is accepted for up to 6 months as a visitor. If you are staying longer, you’ll need a Florida license. To apply, you’ll need a proper ID, proof of insurance, and a social security number, and you will need to pass vision and driving tests.
Florida requires all drivers to carry at least $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) and $10,000 in property damage liability (PDL). Higher limits are recommended. As a visitor, check if your Canadian policy covers you in Florida or purchase extra insurance.
Accidents and Traffic Violations
If in an accident, call 911. Exchange info with other drivers. Florida has a no-fault system, so insurance covers injury claims. For traffic tickets, you may be able to plead “no contest” by mail or in person. Points go on your Florida record, not your Canadian one.
How Fault Is Determined in Florida Accidents
Determining who’s at fault is a crucial first step when an accident happens in Florida. Florida uses a comparative fault system, meaning more than one party can share liability for an accident. Fault may be apportioned based on the percentage each party contributed to the accident.
- Law enforcement officers will investigate the accident and issue a traffic report indicating which party they believe to be principally at fault. However, their determination is not legally binding.
- Insurance companies will also conduct their investigation to evaluate fault and determine liability. They consider factors like traffic laws, road conditions, and actions of all parties involved.
- Witness statements, footage from traffic cameras or dashcams, and physical evidence at the scene are all used to reconstruct what happened. Skid marks, debris, and the final resting points of the vehicles can indicate who had the right of way or who took evasive action.
- When fault is disputed, the parties involved may have to court. A judge or jury will hear arguments from both sides and review the evidence before deciding how much each party is liable.
Comparative fault and thorough accident investigations aim to determine liability fairly and sustainably. However, the deck can seem stacked against individuals when large insurance companies are involved. Hiring an experienced car accident attorney is often the best way to protect your rights.
Evaluating and Documenting Injuries After a Florida Accident
After being involved in a motor vehicle accident in Florida, it’s critical to properly evaluate and document any injuries. The better the documentation, the stronger your case will be. As soon as possible following the accident, seek medical attention from a doctor to get checked out.
Even if you feel fine initially, injuries like whiplash or concussions often don’t show up until hours or days later. Getting evaluated immediately establishes an official record of your condition during the accident. Tell the doctor exactly what happened so they know what injuries to look for.
Take pictures of your vehicle and the accident scene. Capture images of any visible injuries you sustained as well. Pictures provide visual evidence to support your claim. You’ll also want to get a copy of the official police report containing details about the crash’s circumstances.
Keep records of medical visits, diagnoses, and any prescriptions or treatments. Maintain a journal to document how your injuries impact your daily activities. Note things like pain, difficulty sleeping, chores you can no longer do, days missed from work, etc. These records demonstrate the severity and effects of your injuries.
Navigating Florida’s “No-Fault” Insurance System
Navigating Florida’s “no-fault” insurance system can be tricky, especially for Canadians. Under Florida’s no-fault law, drivers involved in an accident receive insurance benefits from their insurance company, regardless of who caused the crash. This means coverage for medical bills, lost wages, and other out-of-pocket expenses.
Florida requires all drivers to carry personal injury protection or PIP insurance. This covers 80% of medical expenses and 60% of lost wages for the policyholder and passengers, up to $10,000. PIP also provides $5,000 in death benefits. Ensure you understand your PIP coverage details before driving in Florida.
At-Fault Driver’s Liability
While PIP covers your own losses, the at-fault driver (or their insurance) is still liable for the remaining 20% of expenses and non-economic damages like pain and suffering. If the other driver was clearly at fault, you’ll want to pursue a liability claim against them to recover these additional costs. Their Bodily Injury Liability (BIL) coverage should cover your remaining medical bills, lost wages, and other damages.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Unfortunately, not all Florida drivers carry adequate coverage. If the at-fault driver has little or no insurance, you’ll need to turn to your own Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM) coverage. UM steps in when the other driver is uninsured or underinsured. As a Canadian visitor, make sure you have high limits of UM coverage on your auto policy before driving in Florida.
Why Hiring a Florida Accident Attorney Is Critical for Canadians
As a Canadian involved in a motor vehicle accident in Florida, hiring an experienced Florida accident attorney is critical to properly handle your claim.
Knowledge of Florida Law
Accident and injury laws differ in each state. Florida attorneys have an in-depth understanding of the specific statutes and case law pertaining to motor vehicle accidents in Florida. They know the procedures for filing a claim, the applicable deadlines, and the documents needed. They can determine who is at fault, evaluate liability, and pursue compensation for your damages.
Out-of-state attorneys lack this specialized knowledge and experience in Florida law. They may miss key details or not fully understand your legal options. Relying on a Florida attorney maximizes your chances of a fair settlement.
Handling Insurance Companies
Dealing with insurance companies after an accident can be complicated and frustrating. Florida attorneys are well-versed in negotiating with auto insurers in the state and know their common tactics. They can communicate with the adjuster on your behalf, handle the back-and-forth, and work to obtain a settlement that fully compensates you for your losses.
Going to Trial
If a settlement cannot be reached, a Florida attorney can represent you in court. They have experience taking accident cases to trial in Florida and know how to build a compelling case. Out-of-state attorneys lack trial experience in Florida and may not achieve the same results.
Contact an Experienced Pembroke Pines Car Accident Lawyer
Contacting an experienced car accident lawyer serving Pembroke Pines is one of the most important steps you can take after being involved in a motor vehicle accident in Florida. The attorneys at Frankl Kominsky have been representing Canadians injured in Florida car accidents for years.
Don’t wait to call us at (561) 800-8000. The sooner we get started on your case, the better. We will fight for you every step of the way to make sure your rights are protected, and you receive full and fair compensation under Florida law. Let our experienced car accident lawyers serving Pembroke Pines help you through this difficult time—we are here for you.