Nobody likes to talk about this subject – even if only hypothetically. But unfortunately, we need to approach this sensitive subject like any other situation that life might present us with. The good news is, if you are involved in a car accident in Florida, you are entitled to the same rights as Americans, regardless of how you got here. Whether you’re here as a tourist, a student, on any type of visa, or if you entered the country across the border without ever being formally admitted by US immigration – it doesn’t matter. Yes! – you read that correctly – your immigration status does not interfere with your right to medical treatment, nor with your right to receive fair compensation for injuries and damages suffered.
In the United States, each state is empowered to make its own laws on various matters, including that regulating car insurance. Florida is one of the American states that adopts a car insurance system in which no fault is analyzed, ‘no fault state’ (similar to our system in Brazil). In this ‘no fault’ system, drivers turn to their own insurance companies for compensation after an accident, rather than filing a claim with the responsible driver’s insurance company, regardless of which party was at fault. by accident. However, although drivers in general are almost always protected from liability arising out of an accident (due to the legal system in place), there are some exceptions that deserve attention.
In the event that you suffer a serious bodily injury, for example, you are legally entitled to leave the ‘no fault’ system and file a civil action against the guilty party (a negligent driver or other responsible party). When filing a civil action, you can claim compensation for the full amount of your medical expenses and wages not received due to the injury suffered, as well as compensation for non-economic losses such as pain and suffering.
A serious injury is defined by law as one that results in death, permanent scarring and disfigurement, significant and permanent loss of bodily function, or other permanent injury in addition to disfigurement and scarring. Your doctor will determine if you have suffered any permanent injury or disability. Injuries to tendons, muscles, vertebral discs, for example, can be considered permanent even if they do not present an apparent scar or loss of bodily function.
Filing and winning a lawsuit is a much more complex task than dealing with your own insurance company. In addition to proving that you were seriously injured, in order to sue the guilty party you will also need to file your lawsuit within the statute of limitations provided by Florida law, otherwise you will lose your right to compensation. In addition, you will need to prove the negligence of the party causing the damage, which requires a thorough investigation, expert help, and knowledge of personal injury and ‘moral damage’ laws.
Negligence occurs when a person fails to exercise the care and prudence that a reasonable person would exercise under similar circumstances, resulting in damage or injury to others. For example, a driver who texts while driving is very likely incurring negligence insofar as he is distracted while driving. This distraction, however brief, can compromise the driver’s ability to react, making it impossible for him to apply the brakes when necessary at an intersection and causing a collision.
If you are involved in a car accident, be sure to consult a trusted, personal injury attorney before speaking to your insurance company or the other party’s insurance company, thus preventing you from rashly providing your data or details about your accident.
What to do in case of an accident
When an accident happens, the first thing you should do is notify the police and request a police report (police report). If after the accident you are physically fit, get as much information as possible and take pictures of the car (exterior), the scene and the interior of the car as well. Even if you don’t have a medical emergency, get medical attention as soon as possible.
Worried about medical bills? Yes! They are a headache! We know, don’t we?! However, if you have car insurance in Florida, you are covered under a Personal Injury Protection (PIP) policy (required in Florida) up to $10,000.00 to pay for medical expenses. Just remember to make sure your doctor sends notification of treatment to your insurance company within 14 days of the accident date, otherwise you will lose most of your PIP benefits.
It is very important to keep in touch with your doctor, if you report to your clinic.