Considering the beautiful weather here in the great state of Florida, it is no surprise that many of the people using the roadways are from out-of-state. While vital to Florida’s economy, these “snow birds”, as Floridians affectionately call them, sometimes bring their bad driving habits down from up North. No need to worry though; Florida law has you covered in the event of a crash with an out-of-state driver.
Picture this: you are driving to the beach, it’s 77 degrees out, and there is not a single cloud in the sky. Your windows are down, and you are listening to your favorite band on the radio. Then, as you are sitting at a stop light thinking about your relaxing day ahead, BOOM, you are rear-ended unexpectedly at full speed. The police come to the scene, and you are taken away by ambulance. You later discover that the driver that hit you is from Maine, and he has already gone back home. Youwonder, “What do I do now?” and “Am I just out-of-luck?”
You are not out-of-luck; in fact, the law is on your side. Just as with Florida drivers, out-of-state drivers have a legal duty to act reasonably in order to avoid causing a motor vehicle collision on Florida roadways. In the situation above, the Maine driver has breached that legal duty by acting negligently, because a reasonable driver would not rear-end someone stopped at a red light. Therefore, the Maine driver can be held responsible for your injuries caused and related costs, also known as “damages,” even though he is not a resident of Florida.
Should you ultimately have to bring a lawsuit against the Maine driver in order to recover your damages, Florida Statute § 48.193, also known as “Florida’s Long Arm Statute,” will bring him back to Florida to defend the lawsuit. This is also known as “personal jurisdiction.” Under Florida’s Long-Arm Statute, once the Maine driver in the scenario above caused the collision, he submitted himself to the jurisdiction of Florida, and, as such, he would be bound by any judgment entered against him by a Florida court. This means that the Maine driver cannot simply go back to Maine and hide from Florida law. This applies even if the Maine driver has a Maine insurance policy, as most insurance companies are nationwide.
As with any automobile accident, you should hire an experienced, knowledgeable, and aggressive attorney who will fight the insurance company to ensure you receive the maximum amount of compensation for your injuries caused by an out-of-state driver.
Don’t let the insurance company steer you in the wrong direction. If you are involved in a collision with an out-of-state driver, before you speak to the insurance company, call the attorneys at Dennis Hernandez and Associates, P.A. We are here to listen to your story and answer any questions that you have. As always, there are no upfront fees or costs.