Florida Car Accident and Personal Injury Laws



If you've been injured in a car accident in the State of Florida, you may have questions about how the laws will affect your property damage and/or personal injury claim. In this article, we'll review the laws most commonly associated with car accidents. To read the entirety of each law, click the link to the specific State of Florida statutes in each section.

Here are the Florida car accident and traffic laws we'll cover:

Pedestrian Laws

Pedestrians and Crosswalks

The driver of a vehicle must stop and yield the right of way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian has reached the halfway point of the crosswalk, or when the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the crosswalk as to be in danger.
Section 316.130

Restrictions on Pedestrians Crossing Roadways

No pedestrian must enter any marked or unmarked crosswalk when traffic is so close that it might constitute an immediate hazard, nor must any pedestrian enter any marked or unmarked crosswalk where traffic signs forbid such entry.
Section 316.130

Crossing at Other Than Crosswalks

Pedestrians intending to cross a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles on the roadway.

Pedestrians must use only the marked crosswalk to cross between two adjacent intersections that have traffic-control signals in operation.

Pedestrians can cross an intersection diagonally only when it is authorized by traffic-control devices.
Section 316.130

Pedestrians on Roadway

Where sidewalks are provided, it is unlawful for any pedestrian to walk along and upon adjacent roadway.

Where sidewalks are not provided, pedestrians are permitted to walk only on or along the left side of the roadway or on it's shoulder facing traffic from the opposite direction.
Section 316.130

Pedestrians' Right of Way on Sidewalks

The driver of a vehicle emerging from or entering an alley, building, private road, or driveway shall yield the right of way to any pedestrian approaching on any sidewalk extending across the alley, building entrance, road, or driveway.
Section 316.125

Drivers to Exercise Due Care

The driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian upon any roadway and shall give warning by sounding the driver's horn when necessary and shall exercise proper precaution upon observing any child or obviously confused or incapacitated person.
Section 316.130

Pedestrians Under the Influence of Alcohol or Controlled Substance

The driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any obviously incapacitated person.
Section 316.130

Driving Laws

Obedience to Traffic Control Devices

A driver must obey any traffic control devices applicable to the driver, unless directed by a traffic or police officer.
Section 316.072

Driving on Right Side of Roadway

Drivers must drive in the right lane of roadways with the following exceptions:

  • When passing another driver in the same direction
  • When there is an obstruction in the right lane
  • Upon a roadway restricted to one way traffic
  • Upon a roadway with three marked lanes of traffic
Section 316.081

Passing On the Left

Driver proceeding in the same direction must pass to the left at at a safe distance and shall remain in the passing lane until it is safe to return to the right lane. Drivers being passed must not increase the speed of their vehicle until their vehicle is completely passed by the overtaking car.
Section 316.083

Limitations on Overtaking on the Left

Drivers may drive to the left side of the center of the roadway in overtaking and passing another vehicle only if the left side is clearly visible and the overtaking vehicle can return to its lane without coming within two hundred feet of oncoming traffic.
Section 316.085

Passing On the Right

Drivers may pass on the right under the following conditions:

  • When the driver about to be passed is about to make a left turn. However, the driver attempting to pass on the right must not do so without driving off the pavement of main-traveled portion of the roadway.
  • When the roadway has two (2) or more lanes of traffic moving in the same direction.
  • On a one-way street where the roadway is free from obstructions and wide enough for two or more lines of moving vehicles.
Section 316.084

Following Too Closely

A driver must not follow another driver more closely than is "reasonable and prudent", having due regard for the speed of other drivers and traffic conditions along the roadway. A driver who is towing another vehicle must leave sufficient space (at least 300 feet) ahead of their vehicle to allow an overtaking vehicle to enter and occupy this space without danger.
Section 316.0895

Drivers and Mobile Electronic Devices

Drivers must not drive while using a handheld mobile electronic device to enter multiple letters or numbers or to send or read information, except for the purpose of contact emergency services.
Section 316.305

Drivers and Intersections

When two (2) drivers approach an intersection at approximately the same time the driver on the left must yield to the driver to their right.
Section 316.121

Drivers Intending to Turn Left at Intersections

A driver who intends to turn left at an intersection, or into an alley, private road or driveway must yield the right of way to drivers approaching from the opposite direction.
Section 316.122

Drivers Entering or Crossing a Roadway

A driver about to enter or cross a roadway from any place other than another roadway must yield the right of way to all other vehicles on the roadway to be crossed.
Section 316.125

Bicycling Laws

Bicyclists must obey the same traffic laws as drivers of cars, and are subject to the same penalties as are drivers for violating traffic laws.
Section 316.2065

Motorcycling Laws

Motorcycles

Motorcyclists must obey the same traffic laws as drivers of cars, and are subject to the same penalties as are drivers for violating traffic laws.
Section 316.208

Motorcyclists and Lanes of Traffic

Motorcyclists are entitled to the full use of a traffic lane and drivers must not take any action to deprive a motorcyclist of his or her right to use a full lane on a roadway. A motorcyclist must not pass another driver in the same lane. Motorcyclists must not ride more than two (2) abreast in a single lane.
Section 316.209

"Lane Splitting"

Motorcyclists must not pass another driver in the same lane. Commonly known as "lane splitting," motorcyclists sometimes attempt to pass other drivers when traffic is slowed, or bumper to bumper. To move forward through traffic motorcyclists sometimes drive between cars. Doing so is not only illegal, but quite dangerous.
Section 316.209

Helmet Law

All motorcyclists must wear helmets and eye-protective devices while riding on roadways.
Section 316.211

Motorcycles and Headlights

Every motorcycle riding on a roadway must have at least two lighted headlights turned on at all times.
Section 316.217
Section 316.220
Section 316.405

Driving Offenses and Accident Requirements

Careless Driving

A driver who does not drive in a careful and prudent manner, and who does not have regard for the life, limb, or property of any person, is guilty of careless driving and can be fined and imprisoned.
Section 316.1925

Reckless Driving

A driver who drives in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving, and can be fined and imprisoned.
Section 316.192

Alcohol and Minors

A driver under the age of twenty one (21) must not drive if they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.02% or higher.
Section 322.2616

Driver's Duty to Give Information and Render Aid

A driver involved in an accident resulting in injury or death to any person or to property damage must give their name, address and vehicle registration number, and must upon request, exhibit their driver's license information to any person involved in the accident and to police officers investigating the accident.

Moreover the driver must render to any person injured in the accident reasonable assistance, including making of arrangements to transfer the injured person to a physician, surgeon, or hospital for medical or surgical treatment if it is apparent medical treatment is required.
Section 316.062

Accidents Involving Death, Personal Injury, or Substantial Bodily Injury

A driver involved in an accident resulting in injury or death of any person must immediately stop and remain at the scene of the accident until the driver has fulfilled the requirements of Section 316.062.

Section 316.062 reads in part that a driver involved in an accident resulting in injury or death to any person or to property damage must give their name, address and vehicle registration number, and must upon request, exhibit their driver's license information to any person involved in the accident and to police officers investigating the accident.

Moreover the driver must render to any person injured in the accident reasonable assistance, including making of arrangements to transfer the injured person to a physician, surgeon, or hospital for medical or surgical treatment if it is apparent medical treatment is required.
Section 316.027
Section 316.062

Accidents Involving Only Damage to Another Car or Property

A driver involved in an accident resulting only in damage to property or another car which is driven or attended by any person must immediately stop at the scene of the accident or as close to it as possible and must remain at the scene of the accident until the driver has fulfilled the requirements of Section 316.062.
Section 316.061
Section 316.062

Accidents Involving Damage to Unattended Car or Unattended Property

A driver who collides with a parked car or who collides with other property which is unattended must immediately stop at the scene of the accident or as close to it as possible and must attempt to locate and notify the driver or owner of the damaged car or damaged property.

Once located the driver who caused the accident must give their name, address, and vehicle registration number.

If the driver or owner of the damaged car or property cannot be located, the driver who caused the accident must attach a written note to the damaged property in a conspicuous place giving their name, address, and vehicle registration number. The must also immediately notify the police about the accident.
Section 316.063

Driver's Duty to Notify Police Department

A driver involved in an accident resulting in injury, death, or total damage to all property resulting in $500 or more must immediately by the quickest means of communication give notice to the nearest police office.

If the driver is physically unable to give immediate notice and there is another occupant in the car, the other occupant must immediately by the quickest means of communication give notice to the nearest police office.
Section 316.065
Section 316.064

Accident Reports Filed By Police Departments

Within 10 days of completing an investigation of a motor vehicle accident, a law enforcement officer must complete and submit a Florida Traffic Crash Report (Long Form) to the Department of Transportation.
Section 316.066

Accident Report Forms

The Department of Transportation must prepare and, upon request, supply to police departments, sheriffs, and other appropriate agencies or individuals forms for crash reports.

The form must call for sufficiently detailed information about the cause and conditions then existing and the persons and vehicles involved in the accident. Every crash report form must call for the policy numbers of liability insurance and the names of carriers covering any vehicle involved in a crash.
Section 316.068

Open Alcohol Container Law

A driver or passenger must not be in possession of an opened container of an alcoholic beverage or consume a controlled substance while the car is traveling on Florida.

An opened container of alcohol can be transported if it is located in a locked glove compartment, locked trunk, or other locked nonpassenger area of a vehicle.

Passengers of a motor home or of hired vehicle can consume and possess an opened container. Also, a re-sealed bottle of wine can be transported if it is placed in a locked glove compartment, a locked trunk, or the area behind the last upright seat of a motor vehicle that is not equipped with a trunk.
Section 316.1936
Section 564.09

Driving Under Influence of Alcohol or Controlled Substance

A driver must not drive after drinking an alcoholic beverage or consuming an intoxicant in an amount which impairs the person's normal faculties. In Florida, a driver is guilty of the offense of Operating a Vehicle Under the Influence of an Intoxicant if the driver has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% or higher.
Section 316.193

Ignition Interlock Device

A driver who is guilty of driving while under the influence of an intoxicant might be ordered to have installed at his or her own expenses an ignition interlock device. The ignition interlock device will serve to restore the driver's driving privileges during the pendency of the driver's probation. If an ignition device is installed, it must be installed in every car owned or operated by the driver.

An ignition interlock is a device which measures any amount of alcohol contained in a driver's body. Before starting the car the driver must blow into a tube emanating from the ignition interlock device. If the device then detects a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) higher than is permitted by law the car will not start and the violation will be reported to the prosecutor, the probation officer, and/or the judge. At that point the driver may be subject to loss of driving privileges, immediate arrest and incarceration up to the maximum term provided by law.
Section 316.193

Liability Laws

Florida Dram Shop Law

Florida has a modified Dram Shop Law. Dram Shop Law refers to the liability of private social hosts, bars, hotels nightclubs and other commercial establishments who serve alcohol to patrons or to minors for injuries intoxicated patrons or minors cause to third parties such as in car accidents.

A private social host is the host at a private party, such as a wedding reception, a corporate sponsored event, a gathering of friends at a private residence, where alcohol is served not for profit.

Under Florida law, an establishment or a private social host is not liable for the actions of an intoxicated person, unless they knowingly provided alcohol to a minor or a person habitually addicted to alcohol.
Section 78.125

Financial Responsibility Car Insurance Minimum Limits

In the State of Florida, each motor vehicle must be covered by an insurance policy that includes liability coverage of the following amounts for all damages resulting from an accident:

  • At least $10,000 per person
  • At least $20,000 for two or more people
  • $10,000 per occurrence for property damage
Section 324.021

Florida Insurance Information

For information about insurance requirements in Florida, see the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation website.

Comparative Negligence (51% Rule)

In Florida, the victim in a car accident can sue the negligent driver for compensation. The victim's liability in causing the accident, their comparative negligence, affects the amount of compensation the victim receives. If the victim contributed 30% to the causes of the accident, then their compensation is reduced by 30%.
Section 768.81

Example of Comparative Negligence (51% Rule)

One morning, Jackson was driving north on his way to work. At an intersection, he pulled into the left turn lane. At the same time, Melanie approached the intersection from the opposite direction. Suddenly, Jackson turned left into Melanie's lane and their cars collided.

Melanie sustained serious brain injuries and damage to her car, totalling in $100,000 dollars worth of damages.

After their investigation, the police determined that Jackson had failed to yield according to traffic laws. A pedestrian witness told police he saw Melanie texting at the time Jackson's car crashed into Melanie's. As a result, the police issued Melanie a citation for using a mobile device while driving.

Melanie sued Jackson for $100,000 and claimed he was 100% at fault for the accident because he did not yield to her right-of-way. At trial, the jury found Jackson liable for failing to yield the right-of-way. However, the jury also found Melissa liable for using a mobile device while driving and partially responsible for the accident.

The verdict stated Jackson's negligence equaled 70% of the accident, and Melanie's equaled 30%. The jury awarded Melanie only $70,000 dollars.

In the event the jury had found Jackson's negligence equaled 40% of the accident, and Melanie's equaled 60%, the jury would have awarded Melanie only $40,000 dollars.
Comparative Negligence: Section 768.81
Right of Way: Section 316.122
Drivers and Mobile Electronic Devices: Section 316.305

Florida's No Fault Car Insurance

In Florida, the law gives car owners the option of purchasing no-fault car insurance. No-fault insurance allows a person, who is injured in a car accident or whose property is damaged, to file a claim with their own car insurance company. No-fault insurance allows a person to avoid pursuing a negligent driver for compensation for damages. No-fault insurance does not compensate for pain and suffering, and the amount of personal injury protection (PIP) insurance purchased by the injured party determines their coverage.

For information about personal injury protection offered as part of auto insurance in Florida, see the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation website.

Statute of Limitations

Florida has a four year statute of limitations for property damage and personal injury claims. This means if a driver, passenger, or passerby is injured or sustains property damage at the hands of a negligent driver, the victim must file their claim within four years of the accident.
Section 95.11

Small Claims Courts

In Florida, victims of car accidents can choose to sue the negligent driver in small claims court. The jurisdiction of a small claims court regarding personal injury and property damage is limited to a maximum of $5,000, exclusive of filing fees and court costs.

For information about filing a claim, see the Florida Courts website.

Florida Government Tort Claims - Sovereign Immunity

In Florida, it is possible to submit a claim against a governmental agency or its employees for personal injury or property damage as a result of negligence on the part of the governmental agency or its employees. The claim must refer to an lawful action on the part of the governmental agency or employee performed in the scope of their duties.

If the injury or property damage occurred as a result of an unlawful action, then the claimant can sue only the person(s) who caused injury or property damage individually. The governmental agency would not be liable.
Section 768.28

Example

If Melissa, an engineer with the Miami Planning Department, ran a red light on her way to a worksite and caused an accident, then the City of Miami would be liable for the property damage and personal injuries caused her.

If Melissa stopped for a few drinks and became intoxicated before heading to a worksite and causing an accident, then the City of Miami can claim sovereign immunity. Melissa performed an unlawful act and was not acting in the scope of her duties when she became intoxicated on her way to the worksite.

To seek compensation for damages, injured parties would have to sue Melissa personally. The determination of whether or not Melissa was acting within the scope of her duties would have to be decided during a trial.

Florida places a cap on the maximum amount of damages that can be claimed against a government agency or its employees: $200,000 for any one person, and $300,000 for any one incident.

A government tort claim must be filed against the governmental agency responsible for the car accident within four years after the accident.

Section 768.28
NCSL

Sources

State Government of Florida

Florida Department of Transportation

Florida State Legislature

Florida Department of Law Enforcement

Governors Highway Safety Association

Florida Bar Association

National Conference on State Legislature

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