Central Florida Car Accident FAQ
Sunny beaches, world-class theme parks, and tropical play spaces draw motorists to Orlando from across the country. As commuters and local residents share the roads with tourists and sun-seekers, accidents become inevitable. Accidents are always unanticipated—but always avoidable. Read our car accident FAQ before the next accident takes you by surprise.
Why Do Auto Crashes Occur?
Accidents happen in Orlando every day. Each one has unique circumstances but many result from risky driving behaviors as classified by the National Highway Traffic Agency.
- Drunk driving. Florida law prohibits the operation of a motor vehicle when a driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is greater than 0.08 percent. Studies show that alcohol impairs judgment, vision, muscle control, and other critical motor functioning at much lower BAC levels. Still, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) reported 619 accidents involving drunk drivers in the Orlando area in one recent year; during the last 10 years between 32 and 77 people have died from alcohol-related crashes in the Orlando area. In just one year, drunk drivers were involved in 10,511 fatal accidents nationwide. Drug-impaired driving. During one recent year, the DHSMV confirmed 668 drug-related accidents, resulting in 589 injuries and 338 fatalities in the state. Drivers under the influence of drugs experience physical and cognitive impairments similar to drunk drivers.
- Drug-impaired driving is illegal whether the substance is prescribed or an illegal controlled substance such as recreational cannabis. (Effective March 2019, Florida Statute Title XXIX, §381.986 formally legalized medicinal marijuana in Florida. However, driving under the influence of medical marijuana is nonetheless a criminal act.)
- Distracted driving. NHTSA statistics for one recent year reveal that 3,166 people died in distracted driving-related accidents nationally. Recent studies point to smartphones and other digital devices as the primary driving hazard. Passenger conversations, eating, daydreaming, and other activities may also direct a driver’s attention away from driving. Authorities nationwide are undergoing training to detect and stop drivers using digital devices before an accident occurs. In Florida, law enforcement authorities are now required to document distracted driving in accident reports.
- Speeding. During just one recent year, the NHTSA documented 299 speed-related accident fatalities in our state. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) report, Speed by the Numbers, suggests excessive speed contributed to 9,000 fatalities per year. Nationally, the fatalities accounted for 26 percent of all accident fatalities in one recent year. IIHS also found a correlation between increases in the posted speed limit increases and increases in accident fatalities.
- Drowsy driving. The NHTSA documented 795 drowsy-driving related deaths nationwide in a recent year. Medication, overwork, fatigue, and inadequate or poor-quality sleep often contribute to drowsy driving accidents. Because drowsy driving shows few verifiable signs after a crash, the National Transportation Safety Board believes accidents caused by fatigued driving are underreported.
Should I Report My Accident To The Police?
Yes. Florida statutes establish accident reporting guidelines under Title XXIII, §316.065. You must contact law enforcement authorities at an accident scene under the following circumstances:
- An accident causing a death
- A person is injured
- A vehicle involved fled the scene
- An accident involving a driver under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- A crash where the vehicles require tow truck removal
- crash with a commercial motor vehicle Damage to a vehicle or other property over $500
If an accident involves any of the above circumstances in Orlando, you must report it to local authorities. If the accident occurred in the county, you must report it to the county sheriff or the closest Florida State Highway Patrol office.
If your collision caused any amount of property damage (even less than $500), you must still submit a report. When you’re in a minor damage accident, you can download the Driver Report of Traffic Crash form. Once you complete the report, you may either email it to SelfReportCrashes@flhsmv.gov or mail it to:
2900 Apalachee Parkway, MS 28
Tallahassee, FL 32399
How Do I Obtain A Copy Of My Crash Report?
Police officers must file a written crash report within 10 days of an accident. If you were in the accident or meet the criteria described in the law, you may receive a copy immediately. You can download your crash report at the Florida Highways Safety and Motor Vehicles Crash Portal. To obtain the report, you must pay $10 for the report plus a $2 convenience fee.
You may also request a report by mail. You should note that the Florida DHSMV does not release personally identifiable data until 60 days after an accident. To receive your report in advance, you must complete a Sworn Statement For Traffic Control Information verifying your right to receive a report. You must then mail the request and your $10 fee to the Crash Records address listed above.
Your car accident lawyer can complete and file the necessary paperwork for you.
What Happens If The Other Driver Leaves The Scene?
When a driver causes an accident and leaves the scene, he commits a criminal act under Florida law. You must call a police officer at the scene of an accident when it involves a hit-and-run-driver. If the police catch the person who caused your accident, they will arrest and impose criminal charges. Criminal charges for hit-and-run vary depending on the severity of the accident and whether injuries or fatalities resulted. If convicted, penalties include fines, license revocation, and imprisonment.
You will not, however, recover compensation for your injuries as a direct result of criminal sanctions. For that, you’ll need to call an Orlando car accident lawyer.
If you sustain injuries in an accident with a hit and run driver, the driver may not carry insurance. In this case, you may be eligible to file an Uninsured Motorist claim with your insurance carrier. Our Orlando car accident lawyers can help you do that. If police cannot locate the hit-and-run driver, call us. We might find ways to help you get your own insurance company to pay for your damages.
What Should I Do While I Wait For The Police To Arrive?
If you or another person sustained injuries, tell the emergency operator when you report the accident. They will dispatch the ambulance so you will not have to wait for an officer to call emergency medical responders. If you’re seriously injured and can’t move, do your best to wait calmly until assistance arrives. If you can physically leave your vehicle and move around the accident scene, gather information while it’s still available.
Accident scenes begin changing within minutes of a crash. While you’re waiting for the police to arrive, valuable evidence may slip away. Drivers may leave the scene or move their cars off the road. Witnesses may blend into the crowd or walk away. Use your phone’s camera to capture any evidence you can.
Pictures and video from the accident scene may support your version of how the accident occurred.
Try to take photos and video of the scene before the vehicles move. It may help to capture:
- Close up and distant shots of the accident scene.
- Close-up shots of the vehicles, license plates, vehicle damage, and debris left in the roadway.
- The other person’s driver’s license, insurance card, and the driver (if you can do so discreetly).
- Street signs, traffic signals, and other landmarks.
Also, try to gather witness contact information. If you see bystanders after the accident, speak with them before they leave the area. Investigate whether any bystanders witnessed the accident and ask for their contact information. Sometimes witnesses feel reluctant to speak with police officers. However, they may feel more comfortable reporting their observations to you. You will have to ask to find out.
Must I Report My Accident To My Insurance Company?
Whether or not you believe you’re at fault, you must report your accident to your insurance company because:
- Auto insurance policies have a reporting requirement. Insurance carriers must know about your accident so they can determine responsibility for your losses—and pay your no-fault benefits.
- When you fail to report an accident or delay your report, you prevent your insurance company from conducting a timely investigation.
- Even if you don’t believe you’re at fault, your insurance company has a right to make that determination. If someone owes you damages, they may wish to settle those claims before an injured person files a lawsuit.
- If you’re injured, you are entitled to benefits for medical bills, wage losses, and expenses under your Personal Injury Protection coverage.
- You might not understand all of the liability issues or understand whether or not you’re at fault. If you’re not at fault, your insurance company wants the opportunity to gather enough information to defend you.
- If the other driver is uninsured or fled the scene, you will need to file an uninsured motorist claim with your insurance company.
Call us for help. We know how to deal with insurance companies and protect you from them—including yours.
How Does My Insurance Company Determine Who Is At Fault?
When you file a claim, your insurance company investigates the accident to determine legal responsibility. If you suffered minimal damages or minor injuries, claim representatives sometimes rely on written accident reports for driver and witness accounts. When you sustain serious injuries are, they may conduct a more comprehensive investigation with recorded interviews, site investigations, and witness statements.
Call us before you file a claim. We will know what information you gathered immediately following the accident you should share and how to present it to the insurance company. Photographs and witness contact information can help strengthen your claim. An unbiased witness’s statement is more credible because they have nothing to gain by telling a false story. Any relevant information you provide could the decision-making process easier.
In determining negligence, the claims department will attempt to answer the following questions:
- Did someone owe a duty to care? (Did you owe the other driver a duty to stop, slow down, or yield the right of way?
- Did he owe you a duty?) Did someone breach that duty?
- Did someone sustain injuries or property damage?
- Did the failure to live up to that duty cause those losses?
Will The Other Driver’s Insurance Company Pay My Injury Claim?
When a driver or passenger sustains injuries in an accident, their own Personal Injury Protection benefits pay for initial expenses. Any injured person must submit their medical bills, wage losses, and other costs to their own insurance carrier for payment.
The other driver’s insurance company may need to reimburse you for damages if its driver caused injuries that meet these elements of Florida statute 627.737:
- Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function;
- Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, other than scarring or disfigurement;
- Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement; or
How Does Uninsured Motorist Coverage Work?
Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage is optional in Florida. Uninsured Motorist coverage and its companion, Underinsured Motorists coverage, covers injury-related damages when an uninsured driver or underinsured driver causes an accident. Auto insurance policies describe uninsured drivers as:
- A driver who doesn’t have bodily injury liability coverage;
- A person whose insurance company denies coverage or is insolvent;
- A hit-and-run driver who leaves the scene without identifying himself; or
- A driver with less coverage than required by Florida’s financial responsibility law.
If you have UM or UIM coverage, you will file a liability claim against your own insurance policy. Your injuries must meet the same tort threshold requirements as any other injured person making a liability claim. If your injuries meet the elements, you must negotiate a settlement with your own insurance company. Our Orlando car accident lawyers help people like you all the time with these claims, so call us to see if we can help.
If I’m Injured, Do I Need A Car Wreck Lawyer To Handle My Claim?
It’s never a good idea to handle claims without a lawyer. Auto accident claims are complicated and sometimes difficult to resolve. To negotiate successfully, you must know the pertinent legal issues and how state law relates to your case.
When you negotiate your own claim, you must know injury values so you can feel confident you will receive the compensation you deserve. You must also understand what to say and what not to say as you may easily jeopardize your own liability claim.
Car wreck attorneys provide legal guidance and moral support and they protect their clients’ legal interests. With an Orlando car accident attorney fighting for your legal rights, you can focus on your recovery. Our Orlando car accident attorneys use their experience, research legal issues, assess evidence, and evaluate injuries. We negotiate, mediate, and try cases in court if the parties cannot reach a reasonable agreement. A car accident lawyer will make sure you only accept a settlement you deserve—one that will cover your medical expenses.
What Is A Legal Consultation?
A consultation is the first meeting with a personal injury lawyer. Legal consultations can occur by telephone, video chat, or in person. A legal consultation will allow a car accident attorney to evaluate your case and determine the best way for you to proceed.
When you consult a car accident attorney, there is no commitment required. It is simply a time for you to share your story and discuss your legal options in confidence. Any decision to move forward with legal action will be your decision. Most car accident lawyers—including ours—provide free initial consultations.
Need Help? Have Questions? Call The Law Office of Jerry Jenkins Now
Whether you need more information about filing an insurance claim, your claim was denied, or you are interested in filing a personal injury lawsuit, you should have a car accident attorney with knowledge and experience in Orlando car wreck cases on your side. Let the Orlando car accident lawyers at The Law Office of Jerry Jenkins help you understand your legal options. For a free consultation and case evaluation, contact us online or by calling (407) 287-6757.
- Why Do Auto Crashes Occur?
- Should I Report My Accident To The Police?
- How Do I Obtain A Copy Of My Crash Report?
- What Happens If The Other Driver Leaves The Scene?
- What Should I Do While I Wait For The Police To Arrive?
- Must I Report My Accident To My Insurance Company?
- How Does My Insurance Company Determine Who Is At Fault?
- Will The Other Driver’s Insurance Company Pay My Injury Claim?
- How Does Uninsured Motorist Coverage Work?
- If I’m Injured, Do I Need A Car Wreck Lawyer To Handle My Claim?
- What Is A Legal Consultation?