Accident Liability If the Driver Is Disabled in Florida

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People with disabilities in Florida can lawfully obtain their driver’s licenses and operate motor vehicles, as they can in every state. The only time a disability would prevent someone from driving is if the nature of their special needs prevents them from safely controlling a vehicle. If a driver with disabilities causes your wreck and serious injuries through an act of negligence or carelessness, that driver may be liable for your damages. Below you will find more information on what you can do and the legality behind fault after an accident with a disabled driver, if you have more questions regarding your claim, contact a Fort Lauderdale car accident attorney for a free consultation.

Florida’s No-Fault Car Insurance Laws

Accident liability in Florida will only play a role if the victim has grounds to file a lawsuit outside the state’s no-fault insurance system. Florida is one of 12 no-fault insurance states in the country. No-fault laws mean every driver involved in a car accident will seek initial damages from their own insurance providers, regardless of who was at fault for the crash. A crash victim may only seek damages from the at-fault driver if their injuries meet Florida’s threshold.

  • Significant and permanent loss of a bodily function
  • Permanent injury
  • Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement
  • Death

If your injuries do not meet this threshold, you will seek damage reimbursement from your auto insurer, and you will not need to determine or prove liability. If, however, you have serious or permanent injuries and wish to file a personal injury action outside the state’s no-fault insurance system, you and your attorney will need to prove the other driver’s fault for your damages.

How Might a Driver’s Disability Impact an Injury Claim?

In Florida, the law holds drivers with disabilities to the same standard as non-disabled drivers. They must obey all the same traffic laws and roadway rules. If their disabilities interfere with the ability to safely operate a vehicle, it is their responsibility not to drive until they can do so safely. It is also their responsibility to obtain a valid driver’s license, and to follow any driving privilege restrictions, such as only driving at certain times of the day.

If a driver with disabilities negligently causes an accident, that driver could be liable for damages. Common causes of accidents may include distracted, drunk, or drowsy driving, as well as driving under the influence of impairing prescription medications. Others include speeding, ignoring the right-of-way, and running red lights in Florida. If someone with a disability has a medical emergency that leads to him or her causing an accident, this may not be the driver’s fault. Since the issue was out of the driver’s control, he or she may not be liable for losses.

The courts will determine liability for a car accident during an injury claim by examining all the facts, listening to both sides, and hearing testimony from experts. If the disabled driver reasonably could have done something differently to avoid the accident, but failed to do so, the driver may have to pay for victims’ damages. Having a disability will not exclude a driver from liability, unless something out of the victim’s control relating to the disability contributed to the incident, such as a stroke or seizure.

When to Speak to an Attorney

Determining liability and navigating Florida’s no-fault laws are difficult enough without extenuating circumstances such as a driver with disabilities. Hiring a personal injury lawyer to review your case can help you identify your options moving forward. A claim with your own insurance company might be the best course of action, or your injuries could be serious enough to give you the right to file outside the no-fault system for further damage recovery.

If the other driver has a disability that should have prevented him or her from driving, you could have a case against the driver for negligence. The same is true if the driver was breaching a restriction on his or her driving privileges, or driving without a valid license. It will be your attorney’s duty to prove the other driver’s responsibility for causing your wreck. You could qualify to recover medical expenses, property damage repairs, and more.