23 Aug

Debunking 10 Myths That Florida Drivers May Believe About Car Accidents

Car Accidents

myth that Florida drivers may believe about car accidents

If you live in Florida, your chance of getting into a car accident is higher than many other places in the U.S.. Florida’s high amount of tourists, elderly retirees, and highways makes driving in the Sunshine State a risky activity! Most people, especially teens or those adults who have yet to be involved in a car accident personally, have preconceived notions about car accidents that may not be entirely true. Knowledge is power. Separating car accident facts from fiction – realizing that a myth that Florida drivers may believe about car accidents isn’t necessarily true – can equip you to handle a car accident with confidence, if you are ever involved with one, and ensure that you don’t get taken advantage of by other drivers or insurance companies.

The Florida Law Group has served hundreds of car accident victims since 1984, and has recovered over $1 billion dollars on their behalf. From the countless free consultations we’ve had with injured Florida drivers, we have had many of the same conversations with these clients that revolved around addressing what they thought was true about their car accident – which turned out to be false, and in some cases, jeopardized their chances of recovering monetary compensation for their injuries.

In order to save you from future stress and prevent you from falling prey to insurers’ stinginess, we want to list out some of the most common misunderstandings we hear from our clients. Here are 10 myths that Florida drivers may believe about car accidents!

  1. I don’t need to call the police or the insurance company if the accident was minor.

    Most people only think that it’s necessary to call the police and the insurance company when there is serious damage to the car or someone is visibly hurt. The fear for most people is that their insurance rates will go up if they contact the insurer, and it’s obviously an interruption to have to wait for the police, make a report, call the insurance company, wait on hold, and then give another report. For these two reasons, if the accident was “just a little fender bender” and the paint’s not too scratched up, and no one seems to be hurt, the majority of Florida drivers think it’s okay just to walk away without contacting law enforcement or exchanging insurance information. However, there are many reasons that this is a bad idea. It is absolutely necessary to get both of these parties involved immediately.

    Firstly, you agreed to report accidents when you bought your insurance policy; nearly every auto insurance policy in the U.S. requires the driver to report accidents. If you don’t abide by this rule, you could face financial penalties, and you give your insurance company a reason and legal right to deny you coverage.

    Secondly, not all injuries or car damages present right away. Even though a car or person may seem entirely fine at the scene of the accident, some car damage may be internal and not start causing issues until later, and adrenaline can keep people from feeling their injuries until hours or even days after the accident. If this happens – to either you or the other driver, or to your car or the other driver’s car – and you didn’t get a police report or an insurance report, you have no proof of your record of events. You either leave yourself vulnerable to a lawsuit from the other driver or prevent yourself from making an effective claim.

    No matter how “minor” the accident may seem or how much the other driver tries to convince you to leave law enforcement or insurance out of it, you need to call both parties as soon as you can; the police at the scene of the accident, so they can make an accurate report, and the insurance company shortly after.

  2. I have to give a detailed statement to the insurance company at the time of the accident.

    Debunking this myth that Florida drivers may believe about car accidents may seem contrary to debunking myth #1, but while you do need to notify your insurance company about the accident, you do not need to give them a detailed statement – more information than you have to, which is that you were involved in an accident, and when and where it happened. You are not obligated to tell them any more than that! And while the insurance adjuster on the phone may seem friendly and concerned about you, remember that they are not looking out for your best interests; they work for the company, and they will do everything in their power to save the company money, which means that they may use statements you may make after an accident against you.

    For example, if you try to explain what happened, you may be very shaken up and accidentally admit blame when you are in no position to do so – you do not yet have all the facts about the accident or know to what extent your car or the other driver was at fault. Even if it feels noble to admit blame, or even if they ask you what happened, you don’t have to tell them! You can politely but firmly say, “I’d like to make a statement at another time”, or “I would like to calm down down before I give those details”, or “I would like to see my doctor first”, or you can even say “I would like to consult with someone else before making a statement”. Then, you should call an attorney who can advise you on the best way to handle the situation. Car accident lawyers understand how insurance companies work, what tactics they use to devalue your claim, and what you can do to make sure you are fairly compensated if you are injured.

  3. Rear-end collisions are always the fault of the rear driver.

    While it is true that rear-end collisions are usually the fault of the driver who struck from behind – either due to texting and driving or due to speeding – this is not always the case, and the rear driver may not be at fault for the accident. A third party driver could have done something that caused the rear driver to hit the lead car, or the lead car may not have had properly working brake lights. The rear driver’s brakes may not have been functioning properly, which would mean the manufacturer could be at fault. No matter what your position was in a rear-end accident, do not automatically assume that you know whose fault the collision was until an investigation has been completed.

  4. If I have auto insurance and personal health insurance, and if I wasn’t at fault for the accident, all costs of my car accident will be covered.

    This is perhaps the most widely accepted and most dangerous myth Florida drivers may believe about car accidents. They assume that because they have the minimum auto insurance coverage required, and because they have health insurance, that they are fully protected if they get injured in an accident. Sadly, that is not the case! Car accident vehicle damage and injuries can cost thousands of dollars out-of-pocket when you factor in deductibles, copays, and partial costs that insurance doesn’t cover. Because insurance companies lose money if they cover the full costs of every accident, they will do everything in their power to avoid paying out your claim. It will take a fight to recover the amount you really deserve, which is why you need a skilled personal injury lawyer on your side who can advocate for your rights!

  5. All drivers in Florida carry insurance.

    Florida law requires drivers in Florida to carry a minimum amount of car accident insurance (known as PIP coverage, or personal injury protection coverage). However, just because it’s the law doesn’t mean that every driver is insured. In fact, data shows that 1 in 4 Florida drivers either doesn’t have insurance at all or is underinsured. When you get into a crash, the other driver may not have insurance; this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t call your insurance company or the police, though, and it doesn’t mean that you can’t still recover monetary damages from your own insurance company through your uninsured motorist coverage or other avenues.

  6. I can only recover up to the policy limits that the at-fault driver carried at the time of the accident.

    This is another myth that Florida drivers may believe about car accidents – that the amount they can get paid for their injuries is limited to the other driver’s policy. First of all, Florida is a no-fault state, meaning that everyone is required to go through their own insurance company first before seeking damages from the other party’s insurer. You can get paid based on your PIP insurance, based on your own uninsured motorist coverage, and by the other driver’s insurance company. If the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance or doesn’t have enough to cover your losses, a personal injury attorney can help you get the full amount your injuries are worth.

  7. I have a pre-existing condition, so I can’t hold anyone responsible if it worsens after the accident.

    You absolutely can file a claim for the extent that the accident worsened your pre-existing condition. When the accident wasn’t your fault, you shouldn’t have to suffer without compensation! However, it is true that insurance companies will be more likely to challenge your claim when a pre-existing condition is involved. If you have a pre-existing condition and are in an accident, it’s extra important for you to have a full medical exam immediately and be seen by your doctor for subsequent visits to monitor and report how the accident has exacerbated your injury.

  8. It’s too late to do anything about injuries I sustained in a car accident a long time ago.

    This actually may be true – depending on how long ago the accident was. Florida has a four year statute of limitations on car accident injury claims (four years starting the day of the accident). If you do not take action to recover damages within that time period, it is unlikely that you will ever get the chance to do so. However, if you are two or three years past the date of the accident, you can still hire a personal injury attorney and make a claim, although it will be harder to get fair compensation than it would have been if you had contacted an attorney right away.

  9. Whoever’s insurance company paid the property damage claim assumes liability for the personal injury claim as well.

    Property damage claims and bodily injury claims are entirely separate; property damage claims are usually resolved between insurers or by arbitration to determine liability, but it has nothing to do with the final determination of personal injury liability. This means that even if the other driver’s insurance company paid to fix your vehicle, they still may blame you for their client’s injuries, and even if your insurance company paid the other driver’s insurer, you can still pursue a claim for personal injury against them.

  10. Hiring an attorney isn’t worth the time or money, especially if my injuries were minor.

    The claims process is complicated. It is not always fair, and not always reasonable. Research has shown that people who have legal representation are significantly more likely to recover higher amounts than those who choose to try the process on their own. A lawyer can help you understand your rights and then negotiate with the insurer to get you what you need and deserve!

    Working with an attorney isn’t necessarily the expensive hassle most people think of. Most personal injury law firms, including The Florida Law Group, charge on a contingency fee basis, meaning that you do not have to pay legal fees unless you win a settlement. The Florida Law Group offers free consultations where you can discuss your options at no cost or obligation. If you were injured in a Florida car accident, call today to schedule yours and learn about how we can help you!