What happens if you are at fault in a car accident

If you are at fault in a car accident in Florida, you must contact your insurance provider to report the incident and discuss your coverage options. You should also evaluate your financial exposure and explore strategies to safeguard your assets.

Immediate Steps After an At-Fault Accident in Florida

Reporting the Accident

Florida law requires drivers involved in an accident resulting in property damage, injury, or death to immediately report the incident to the local police department, sheriff, or Florida Highway Patrol. Failing to report an accident can lead to significant penalties, including fines and your driver’s license suspension.

Exchange Information and Document the Scene

Even though Florida’s no-fault laws limit the necessity of determining fault for minor accidents, you should exchange information with the other parties involved. This information should include names and insurance details. Documenting the accident scene with photos and gathering witness statements can be invaluable, especially if the accident leads to a legal dispute or the damage exceeds the PIP coverage limits.

Dealing with Insurance After an At-Fault Accident

After an at-fault accident, you must notify your insurance provider about the incident. This notification should include a comprehensive account of the accident, supported by any evidence you collected at the scene. Failing to promptly inform your insurer could result in a denial of coverage for the accident.

Protecting Assets If You Are At Fault in a Car Accident

Protecting your assets becomes a critical concern if you are at fault in a car accident. Florida’s status as a no-fault state offers some level of protection through Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance, which covers your own injuries regardless of fault. However, this does not shield you from potential lawsuits for damages over your policy limits or for serious injuries as defined by Florida law.

Asset protection involves structuring your assets in ways that are less vulnerable to creditors. Florida law offers significant protections for certain assets, including homestead property, retirement accounts, and life insurance policies. You can often take advantage of these protections even after the accident has occurred.

How Do Insurance Companies Determine Fault in Florida?

Florida requires drivers to carry personal injury protection insurance. Under this system, after a car accident, your own PIP coverage pays for your medical expenses and lost wages, up to the limits of your policy, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. This is called a no-fault law.

Florida’s no-fault law limits the ability to sue the other driver unless you meet a “serious injury” threshold, which includes significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function, permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement, or death. In practice, an injured person and their attorney will often claim that damages exceed the serious injury threshold.

For damages not covered by PIP, such as property damage or injuries that exceed the PIP coverage limits, fault is determined by examining which party’s negligence contributed to the accident. This involves looking at traffic violations, witness statements, police reports, and any other relevant evidence.

Florida follows a modified comparative negligence rule, meaning that if you are found to be partially at fault for the accident, your compensation can be reduced by your percentage of fault. For example, if you are 20% at fault, you can only recover 80% of your damages. If you are more than 50% at fault, you cannot sue for damages.

Gideon Alper

About the Author

I’m an attorney who specializes in asset protection planning. I graduated with honors from Emory University Law School and have been practicing law for almost 15 years.

I have helped thousands of clients protect their assets from creditors. Before private practice, I represented the federal government while working for the IRS Office of Chief Counsel.

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