Multi-vehicle accidents often involve complicated liability questions that result in lengthy legal disputes.
Multi-vehicle accidents involve statements from drivers and eyewitnesses, police reports, evidence collection, and multiple insurance companies. Because there are many working parts, these types of accidents generally benefit the aid of an experienced Florida car accident attorney.
Florida’s “No-Fault” Insurance Still Assigns Fault
All Florida drivers are required to carry two types of insurance coverage: property damage liability (PDL) and personal injury protection (PIP).
Property damage liability covers property damage caused by you; whereas personal injury protection covers you and others listed on a policy in the event of injury, regardless of who’s at fault—hence “no-fault” insurance.
Florida’s no-fault rule was designed to lower monthly insurance premiums and reduce costly lawsuits through limited liability. Instead of negotiating with another driver’s insurance, no-fault insurance expedites payouts from a driver’s own insurance.
However, the term “no-fault” is misleading since negligent drivers can still be held responsible for economic and noneconomic damages depending on the circumstances of the crash. This is especially true of multi-vehicle accidents that result in severe or catastrophic injury.
In Florida, the minimum coverage for PIP insurance is $10,000; but that’s usually not enough to cover emergency services, hospitalization, or extended time away from work.
Multi-vehicle accidents are often serious, especially when they involve large trucks like commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) or buses. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Florida ranks third among all states for fatal accidents involving large trucks.
When there’s been a serious accident or injury, victims can step outside the no-fault rule and file a civil lawsuit against the at-fault driver. In multi-vehicle accidents, this can be tricky.
Pursuing an At-Fault Driver in a No-Fault State
Filing a lawsuit is more complicated than pursuing a PIP claim though one’s insurance. In order to step outside Florida’s no-fault rules, certain criteria must be met, according to state statute.
For example, Florida qualifies “serious injury” as one that:
- Results in death
- Leaves permanent scarring or disfigurement
- Results in significant and permanent loss of a bodily function
Assigning fault or pursuing compensation following a multi-vehicle accident is challenging since these accidents involve a series of actions/reactions from multiple drivers. Moreover, these accidents often require detailed investigation to uncover exactly what went wrong.
Anyone involved in a multi-vehicle accident should be prepared to diligently document every medical expense, every doctor visit, and any time away from work. These details, as well as the police report and statements from drivers and eyewitnesses, will impact how fault is assigned and how much compensation is available.
Liability, or fault, in Florida follows the rule of pure comparative negligence, which awards compensation to an injured person proportionate to his or her percentage of fault. Similarly, parties found responsible for a multi-vehicle accident are required to pay for his or her percentage of fault.
Florida’s no-fault rules pose limitations over minor accidents that don’t rely on fault to pay out damages. However, assigning fault is a necessary mechanism in serious multi-vehicle accidents since these types of crashes often result in injuries that exceed Florida’s no-fault laws.
If you’ve been in a multi-vehicle accident, you need a legal team that knows how to investigate these complicated cases.
At Heintz & Becker, we’re dedicated to representing victims of negligence in Bradenton, Sarasota and the surrounding parts of Florida. With decades of combined experience, our team is prepared to carry the legal burden for victims and their families so they can focus on recovery.
Call 941-748-2916 for a free case consultation; or tell us about the accident online to get started now.