Even when you take proper safety precautions, drive defensively, and follow all traffic laws, the risk of being involved in a car accident is still shockingly high. In reporting statistics for South Florida, the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) reveals that there are almost 212,000 auto collisions in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties every year. The death toll tops 1,000, while another 111,300 people suffer injuries. Fortunately, you have options under Florida law, so you may be able to recover compensation for your overwhelming losses.
There is more to the legal process than filling out a few forms and submitting them to the responsible driver’s insurance company. Insurers often deny claims by asserting defenses to liability, and these issues could even become the focus of litigation. You can trust a Miami car accident lawyer to develop a sound legal strategy, but it is important to know what defenses insurance companies may use to your detriment.
Statute of Limitations
In Florida, there is a time restriction imposed upon personal injury cases, including auto collisions. You have four years from the date of the crash to file a lawsuit in court, and the implications are severe if you miss the deadline: You will be barred from recovering any compensation because the insurance company will raise the statute of limitations as a defense. Note that the time period does not stop just because you are discussing settlement options with the insurer.
To recover monetary damages in a car accident claim, you need to prove that the injury-causing collision was caused by the responsible motorist’s breach of the duty to drive safely. However, the focus may turn to your own conduct when you are trying to obtain compensation from the insurance company. If you were negligent in any way, your monetary damages could be reduced by the percentage of fault attributed to you. Examples of contributory negligence include:
- Driving while drunk or under the influence of drugs;
- Running red lights or stop signs;
- Texting, talking on the phone, posting to social media, or related cell phone use;
- Other forms of distracted driving, such as eating, drinking, or operating a GPS;
- Failure to yield right of way; and,
- Many others.
Pre-Existing Medical Conditions
If you were previously hurt in an accident or suffer from certain medical conditions, the insurance company could assert that these incidents caused your injuries – not the car crash that is the basis for your current claim. There are strategies for overcoming this possible defense, which usually involve medical experts and a comparison of your medical condition across the separate incidents.
Count on Our Miami Car Accidents Lawyers to Fight Defenses
This information may be useful, but you will have fewer concerns about defenses when you retain a skilled legal counsel to advocate on your behalf in dealing with the insurer. For more information, please contact Gerson & Schwartz, PA. We can set up a no-cost consultation at our offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach, FL to discuss your options.