Who Is At Fault in a Multi-Car Accident on a Florida Roadway?
September 17, 2018
If you were involved in a multiple vehicle collision on a Florida roadway determining liability can be complicated. It doesn't matter, if you were the driver at the front of the crash or at the tail end, it must first be established in court who was driving too fast or too close as well as whether one of the motorists was grossly negligent in his or her driving behavior. Yes, similar to how it sounds; your life may have just become much more complicated and expensive following the collision. Moreover, you may have heard that Florida is a "No Fault" state that requires each driver to have Personal Injury Protection (PIP). So, who pays for what?
Florida law is based on contributory fault
In states with provisions for "joint and several liability", the injured party could choose to only sue the "at fault" driver with the best insurance coverage or deepest pockets. However, Florida law is based on "contributory fault", which means each claimant's responsibility for economic and non-economic rewards is based proportionately to the percentage of fault as determine by a jury. For example, the car behind yours may have been guilty of following to close (deemed 25% of cause) while the truck behind them was guilty of speeding (deemed 75% of cause). Under Florida's statutes for contributory fault, the trucker's insurance carrier would only be responsible for paying 3/4ths of the judgment and other driver would be liable for the remaining 25%.
Cheap car insurance may only provide bare-bone protection
Since Florida's insurance laws require each driver to carry minimum limits that cover medical costs and property damages, it could be your insurance company that pays for all of your expenses, especially in a routine fender bender. However, cheap policies often provide only bare-bone coverage, dropping extras like collision and comprehensive insurance that protects expensive vehicles. Some insurance companies have agreements with other carriers that they won't pursue each other's clients for payments, which can save them on legal fees. In general, insurance companies know they can't get blood out of turnip and often don't pursue an extended judgment for the loss of vehicle's equity value.
If you were involved in a multi-car collision, it is important to speak with an attorney to determine how your claim should be managed. After all, the insurance carrier for your PIP or uninsured motorist insurance policy really does not work for you and should be expected to settle your claim at the lowest cost for their company.
NOTE: Information provided in this two-part series about Florida auto accidents should not be taken as legal advice or used in lieu of seeking a professional opinion about your specific liability claim.