Car crashes happen every day. Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) reports that the three-year annual average for car accidents in the state is 382,297. If you are involved in a motor vehicle collision, it is crucial that the accident is thoroughly investigated. You need to be sure that you have all of the relevant documentation in case you get into a dispute over fault.
This raises a question: How do you dispute fault for a car accident? The short answer is that you need to notify all implicated insurance companies. In this article, you will find a more detailed explanation of why fault matters, why you need to dispute fault, and how you can protect your rights and seek the full and fair compensation that you deserve.
Background: Why Car Accident Fault Matters in Florida (A No-Fault State)
Florida is one of a minority of U.S. states that uses no-fault insurance rules. All motorists in the state are required to comply with the Florida Insurance Requirements, which includes the purchasing of at least $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection. (PIP) coverage is no-fault coverage. It means that the insurance covers initial injuries and regardless of who is at fault for the accident. However, fault still matters in Florida. Here are two key circumstances where it plays a role:
- Property Damage: Florida’s no-fault property insurance requirement does not apply to property damage. In other words, a property damage claim—even if you also have a personal injury claim—is a fault-based legal case in Florida. Determining fault is extremely important for property damage cases.
- Serious Accidents: With a serious injury, your damage is highly likely to exceed your PIP policy limit. In Florida, you can step outside of the state’s no-fault system and file a fault-based personal injury lawsuit if you suffered a serious injury in an accident. Were you or your loved one seriously hurt in a crash? Fault is extremely important.
Make Sure the Motor Vehicle Collision is Reported to Law Enforcement
It is important to make sure that any motor vehicle collision is reported to law enforcement, whether it is a minor fender bender or a more serious accident. You may want to report a crash to the Fort Lauderdale Police Department, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, or the Florida Highway Patrol.
There are several reasons why it is important to report a collision to law enforcement. To start, the police report will ensure that there is documentation that the crash happened. Further, the police report may also provide key details that can be used to assess fault.
Note: It is imperative that you challenge a police report if it is inaccurate. If you were issued a ticket related to the crash or otherwise assigned “blame” in an unfair manner, you need to challenge the police report. A Florida car accident attorney can help. While the police report is important, it is also just one piece of evidence. It can be challenged.
Carefully Document the Crash: Gather and Organize Evidence of Other Party’s Fault
If you are involved in a motor vehicle collision, it is important to carefully document the crash and gather evidence of the other party’s fault. The greater the level of documentation that you have, the better position you will be in to challenge fault. Relevant evidence in an auto accident claim comes in different forms. Some notable examples include:
- The police report;
- Photos of vehicle damage;
- Photos of the crash scenes;
- Statements from witnesses;
- Your personal testimony; and
- Anything else deemed relevant.
Gather, organize, and prepare all of the documentation that you have. A lawyer can help you put things together in a compelling manner. Ultimately, the better your evidence, the stronger position you will be in to dispute fault. For example, if another driver ran a stop sign—but they claim that they did not—a third party witness statement can be extremely persuasive.
Notify Implicated Insurance Companies that You are Contesting Fault for the Crash
If you are disputing fault in a car accident, it is important to notify the insurance companies that you are contesting fault for the crash. This is a key step in the process of disputing fault because it allows you to provide the insurance companies with your version of the events and any evidence you have to support your claim. You must notify all insurers that are implicated in the collision.
Few auto accident cases in Florida go through full litigation. In effect, this means that it is the insurance companies who determine fault and pay out claims. You have a right to make your case before any insurance company. To be clear, the insurance does not get to make the final decision. You can challenge an unfavorable decision by an insurance company all the way to court.
Consult With an Experienced Auto Accident Attorney
Do not go through a complex disputed car accident claim alone. If you are contesting fault for a car accident, it is essential that you consult with an experienced Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyer. Here are key reasons why it is a best practice to work through an attorney:
- A Lawyer Will Help You Build a Case: You need to put together a strong, well-supported case to successfully dispute fault. Knowing how to present your case to dispute fault is key.
- Insurance Companies are Not on Your Side: While they may claim to be working in your best interests, the reality is that they are in the business of making money. They look out for their own bottom line, not what is right for you and your family.
- Fault is Only One Issue: Beyond proving fault, you also need to establish the full extent of your damages. A Fort Lauderdale, FL, car accident attorney will help you build a case to maximize your settlement or verdict.
- There are Strict Deadlines: You do not want to miss out on compensation because you missed a filing deadline that you did not know about.