Accidents, by definition, are unintentional. Every day, thousands of drivers in Florida unintentionally cause an accident that is beyond their control. Yet every day careless drivers cause accidents that could have been prevented. If you’ve been involved in an accident caused by another driver, you may have noticed that the accident report mentions that a driver was cited for “negligent driving.” In Florida, the legislature passed the negligent driving statute FS 627.737 which does not consider the intent of the driver. Florida negligent driving statute FS 316.1925 states that any person operating a vehicle on any street or highway in Florida, “shall drive…in a careful and prudent manner, taking into account the width, grade, curves, corners, traffic and all other concomitant circumstances, so as not to endanger the life, limbs or property of any person.
A driver must exercise reasonable care with the laws and current conditions of the road. Typically, a negligent driver who causes an accident fails to use reasonable care and is then liable to cover some or all of the resulting damages.
Careless driving is frequently cited in cases such as rear-end car accidents and failure to yield crashes. Officers sometimes cite it in distracted driving cases as well, though if they can prove it specifically, they can claim a violation of FS 316.305, Florida’s distracted driving law. This provision prohibits not only texting while driving, but also emailing, instant messaging, and other forms of interpersonal communication without a voice behind the wheel.
Careless driving complaints can cross the threshold of “aggressive careless driving,” as defined in FS 316.1923, if two or more traffic violations occur at the same time or one immediately after the other.
Some examples of applicable violations:
- Speeding (exceeding the speed limit or traveling too fast to be safe under the conditions).
- Improper or unsafe lane change.
- Following too closely behind another vehicle.
- Failure to yield the right of way to another vehicle.
- Improperly passing another vehicle.
- Violate traffic control signals or devices (i.e., run a red light or stop sign).
Aggressive driving can cross the threshold of “reckless driving” if it can be shown that a person was acting on purpose with willful disregard for the consequences of their dangerous actions. That still doesn’t mean you have to prove that someone intended to cause an accident. What it means, as explained in FS 316.192, is that the driver was operating the vehicle in a manner that showed willful or wanton disregard for the safety of other people or their property. Reckless driving would include things like:
- Weaving in and out of traffic while speeding up.
- Drag racing on the highway.
- Running from law enforcement (particularly at high speeds).
- Brake control of other vehicles on the road.
Although most insurance companies will accept liability for it, a police issued ticket citing an impaired driver for careless driving alone is not enough to win your case. This is because the traffic citation and your injury claim are two separate processes.
Car accident injury claims in Florida are initially handled by each respective driver’s own personal injury protection (PIP) insurer, thanks to the state’s unique, no-fault system. That should provide coverage for up to $10,000 in medical bills and a portion of lost wages if you need to take time off work. If your injuries are more serious, then seek bodily injury insurance coverage from the at-fault driver.
Elements of the police investigation, including the accident report, officer testimony, and statements made in writing the report, may be used as evidence to establish your civil injury claim and may be used to negotiate a larger settlement offer. . However, that does not automatically give you a win in our case, as police reports and officer testimony of an accident are not admissible in court and some insurers will ignore a police report on that basis. This is why you should always collect evidence that a driver was driving negligently or recklessly, such as video evidence, independent witness statements, black box log data, etc. Do not rely solely on a police report.
If the injuries involved are serious or the insurer refuses to treat you fairly, you should call me to deal with them. They are not your friends.
Even if you are dealing with your own insurer, you may be wondering if you were also partially at fault under Florida’s comparative fault statute FS 768.81. Or they can dispute the stated value of your claim. This is where having an experienced personal injury attorney can really help. We understand the factors necessary to establish your right to compensation in an accident caused by someone else’s negligent driving in South Florida.
If you are injured in an accident caused by a careless or reckless driver, call Jaime “Mr. 786Abogado” Suarez today for a free initial consultation.