Essentially, auto insurance policies cover the car, not the owner. This means if someone else was driving your vehicle during an accident, your policy should cover the damages that arise. Florida is a no-fault state, meaning that owners of cars involved in an accident should lodge a compensation claim with their insurer regardless of who is at fault for the accident.
How Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Works
Every driver in Florida should carry personal injury protection (PIP), which springs into effect following an accident, no matter who caused it. In other words, if your friend borrowed your car and was then involved in an accident, even if it wasn’t their fault, your PIP should cover for any injuries they sustain. In the event your PIP is not adequate to cover their damages, they can use their policy as secondary coverage.
The only time your PIP does not come into effect is if the person driving your car didn’t have your permission or had stolen the vehicle; then, your insurance only covers the property (vehicle) damages. You may also be exempted from liability if your friend sustained severe injuries, such as permanent injury or death, and the accident wasn’t their fault. In this case, they can pursue the at-fault driver’s insurance for compensation.
Principally, if your car has been involved in an accident in Boca Raton, Florida, and you weren’t driving, you need to work with car accident injury lawyers to help protect your rights. At Eltringham Law Group, we can help you. Contact us for a free case review.
What You Should Do Immediately Following a Car Accident
If your loved one has borrowed your car to run some errands only to receive a call moments later that they have been involved in an accident, or you are present in the vehicle, but someone else is driving when the accident happens, you may be wondering what you ought to do.
Whichever the case, here are essential steps that you should take:
- Report the accident – If you’re not at the accident location, tell your friend to dial 911 and report the accident. This is vital as it helps create an official police report that you can use later when filing insurance claims.
- Wait for help – Even if the driver using your car claims they’re not injured, they should wait for the emergency team to examine them. Following an accident, one may fail to notice injuries immediately, only to prove serious later.
- Clear the highway – It’s always advisable not to move the car following an accident, especially where multiple vehicles are involved, but if it’s obstructing traffic, advise the driver to get it to a safer spot.
- Document the accident – Ask the driver to take photos of the vehicles involved at different angles, and include details of where each car was coming from and going. They should also take shots of the injuries of all those involved in the accident and note reckless behaviors such as dangerous swerving or distracted driving from other drivers.
- Exchange insurance details with the other drivers – Before leaving the accident scene, the driver should request the other driver’s insurance details, no matter whose fault the accident was.
- Contact your insurer – Immediately after the accident, call your insurance provider and inform them about it. However, even if the accident was your friend’s fault or they were partially responsible, never admit fault to your insurer as this can be used against you and reduce your compensation or deny the claim.
- Don’t share accident details on social media – On the same note, avoid disclosing any details of the accident on social media. Insurance companies will be monitoring you closely, and any information you share with your friends on social media might be used against you later during settlement negotiations.
- Call a car accident injury lawyer – In most cases, insurance companies will try to apportion fault to the driver and reduce the liability as much as possible. For this reason, you need to contact a personal injury lawyer right away for counsel and legal representation.
How Can a Car Accident Lawyer Help Me?
Settlement processes are usually complex. A minor mistake, such as the driver mentioning they received a disturbing text that distracted them, can ruin a good case. A lawyer counsels you on what to say and statements that you should avoid.
Again, once you hire a lawyer, they will assist you with gathering the evidence, creating reports, and launching the claim. Insurance companies do not always pay your initial demand amount unless you ask for too little. Therefore, your attorney will help you determine the right amount to sufficiently cover the damages and then negotiate a settlement.
With most lawyers, once you hand over the matter to them, they will take over and manage everything. If the situation calls for expert witnesses, they will arrange for that, besides gathering additional evidence. Generally, the lawyer takes the load off your shoulders, so you can concentrate on things that matter to you.
The Statute of Limitations on Car Accident Claims in Florida
There’s a limit within which you should file a claim following the accident. If you delay and the deadline lapses, the claim becomes invalidated. This is known as the statute of limitation.
Under Florida car accident laws, the statute of limitation is four years, meaning you should file a claim within this duration.
Let Eltringham Law Group’s Accident Injury Attorneys Help You
If your car was involved in an accident and you weren’t driving, we can help you get around the tricky situation and pursue your insurer for compensation. We will also try to mitigate the situation as much as possible to minimize penalties such as higher future premiums. Our arrangement will be on a contingency basis, so you don’t pay us until we win the settlement.
Ready to get legal representation? Contact us for a free case review.