In Florida, there are 15 million drivers who could be on Florida’s roadways at any given day or hour. That’s a lot of people, especially when you consider the majority of those drivers are in the major population areas of the state such as Jacksonville, Orlando/Tampa, Palm Beach, and Miami.
In Florida, you are required by law to contact a law enforcement agency if you’ve been in a car accident. The police are responsible for filling out an accident report and submitting it to the state. However, that does not absolve you from taking down similar information to memorialize what happened and protect your legal rights. In many instances, accident culpability is determined by the police. However, there are more than a few instances when the liability is not clear and that issue is left up to the insurance adjuster. This is when proper note taking and strong legal representation become very important. After all, liability for the accident will determine who pays for the damages and any medical bills which can be substantial. Liability for a car accident hinges on the legal understanding of negligence, defined as someone has a duty to act with reasonable care and fails to do so, causing harm to another person. A negligent person is required by law pay for the harm he causes to another person in proportion to his or her liability for the other person’s losses. Florida uses a comparative negligence system to determine what is proper in each case. This means that in cases where liability is not clear cut or both drivers’ actions may have contributed to the accident, a determination is made by an adjuster or later on a judge as to who is more at fault. For example, if John is speeding on I-275 in Clearwater and runs into Denise as she’s changing lanes without using her blinker, a court may find that John is 60% at fault and Denise is 40% at fault. Therefore, under Florida law, John is liable for 60% of Denise’s losses resulting from the car accident. This includes any expenses from injuries or property damage that occurred because of the accident. Equally, Denise is liable for 40% of any of John’s losses resulting from the accident.
Comparative negligence and issues concerning who caused the accident are two of many factors that may influence you to hire a Pinellas County car accident lawyer who is a certified expert in accident investigation. If liability is not clear cut, a certified expert traffic accident investigator may make a huge difference in your case.