Florida is an international tourism hub, welcoming a record 113 million visitors in 2016. Local officials have been trying to draw more of those into Seminole County, and it appears to be working.
A substantial number of visitors who travel to Florida and within Florida are driving on our roads, which means congestion, particularly during the summer, is substantial. This can lead to more crashes, especially when you have a number of people who are unfamiliar with our roads and driving conditions (i.e., heavy fog and rainfall), may be exhausted from a long trek or aren't paying attention because they're too busy with their GPS. Tack onto that a vehicle that wasn't properly maintained prior to the trip, and a dream vacation can quickly turn nightmarish.
Fortunately, as our Seminole County car accident lawyers know, these crashes are avoidable. You can't control the actions of other motorists, but you can drive defensively and use precautions that will reduce your risk of a crash and ensure a safer summer road trip.
If You Crash on a Florida Road Trip
There is never a convenient time for a car accident, but those that occur on road trips can be especially challenging because you're often in an unfamiliar area and you may have nowhere immediately to go if your car is damaged or totaled. The first thing you have to do make sure everyone is Ok. If medical attention is needed, that should be the top priority. Police should be called even if there is no serious injury so there can be documentation of the crash. Make sure that you don't apologize or admit any fault during these encounters.
After getting medical treatment and contacting the authorities, your next call should be to an attorney. Florida is a no-fault state when it comes to auto insurance. That means per F.S. 627.736, motorists are required to purchase personal injury protection (PIP) that will cover their own damages - regardless of fault, up to $10,000, plus $5,000 in death benefits. However, you can only collect $2,500 of that unless you are diagnosed with an "emergent medical condition" - which is part of why immediate medical attention is so important. Further, if you want to file a claim against the at-fault party's insurer, you will need to prove your injuries meet the "serious injury threshold," as outlined in F.S. 627.737. This means proving your crash-related injuries resulted in:
- Significant and permanent loss of important bodily function;
- Permanent injury within reasonable degree of medical certainty;
- Significant and permanent scarring and disfigurement;
Of course, if you live outside of Florida, particularly in a "fault" state, you might not have PIP insurance. That doesn't mean you can't pursue damages, but it could complicate your claim. We can help.
Safer Summer Driving
For safer road trips, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends:
- Get your car serviced. That includes tune-ups, oil changes, battery checks and tire rotations. You'll also want to check for any vehicle recalls and stock your vehicle with an emergency roadside kit.
- Make sure all passengers are buckled and children have the appropriate size and kind of car seat/ safety restraint. Kids under 13 should be riding in the back.
- Stay alert. Stop along the way as needed to stretch, eat/ drink, return calls/ texts and change drivers if you feel drowsy. Consider planning an overnight stay so you aren't driving through the night. Be mindful also that in Florida, F.S. 316.305 bans texting-and-driving for all motorists.
If you are involved in a crash in Seminole County while on vacation or road trip, our attorneys can help. We understand the unique challenges tourists face after a collision, and are prepared to help you navigate those challenges.