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fender bender

Can You Sue for a Fender Bender in Florida?

Fender benders may seem like minor inconveniences, but the reality is that even these seemingly small accidents can result in significant injuries and losses.

If you've been injured in a fender bender, you may have grounds to pursue a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party. However, your ability to file an injury lawsuit after a fender bender in Florida depends on the severity of your injuries, scope of losses, and whether you’re able to effectively prove fault and advocate for a fair recovery.

The Impact of Fender Benders: Understanding Potential Injuries

While fender benders are typically known to be low-speed collisions, they can still cause a range of injuries. Common injuries resulting from fender benders include:

  1. Whiplash: Whiplash occurs when the head is suddenly and forcefully jerked backward and forward. This motion is frequently observed in rear-end collisions, which are typical in fender benders. The rapid movement strains the neck's muscles, tendons, and ligaments, leading to symptoms such as neck pain, stiffness, headaches, and decreased range of motion. Whiplash can have lasting effects and impact daily activities and quality of life.
  2. Soft Tissue Injuries: Soft tissue injuries encompass a range of damage to the body's muscles, tendons, and ligaments, frequently resulting from the sudden impact of a collision. These injuries can include strains, sprains, and bruising, leading to pain, swelling, and reduced mobility in the affected area. While soft tissue injuries may not be immediately apparent following a fender bender, they can worsen over time, causing chronic pain and functional impairment.
  3. Brain Injuries: Brain injuries can occur even without blunt force impact to the head. In fender benders, and particularly those involving rear-end collisions, rapid acceleration and whiplash can cause the brain to impact the interior of the skull, resulting in concussions or other forms of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Regardless of the severity of the crash, TBIs can have profound and long-term consequences.
  4. Back Injuries: The force of impact in a fender bender can place significant stress on the spine, leading to a variety of back injuries. These may include herniated discs, compression fractures, and other spinal cord injuries. Symptoms of back injuries can range from localized pain and stiffness to radiating pain, numbness, or weakness in the arms or legs. In severe cases, back injuries can result in chronic pain, disability, and impaired mobility, affecting daily activities and quality of life.
  5. Pain and Suffering: Accidents and injuries can result in considerable pain and suffering, as well as a range of emotional and psychological injuries that contribute to anxiety, stress, and conditions like PTSD or depression. These emotional consequences can greatly impact a person’s quality of life and ability to handle obligations such as work or school. They can also be felt by close family members, including spouses and dependents who suffer.

When Can You Sue Outside of Florida’s PIP System?

Even if you’ve suffered injuries in a fender bender, you may not have grounds to pursue a lawsuit. That’s because Florida operates under a unique no-fault insurance system that requires injured auto accident victims to first file claims under their own Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage.

PIP insurance, which is mandatory in Florida, offers a way for victims to be promptly paid for medical expenses and a portion of their lost income, regardless of fault. To sue outside of the PIP system, you’ll need to meet one of the qualifying exceptions. These include:

  1. Serious Injuries: If your injuries meet the state's criteria for "serious injuries," as defined by Florida law, you may pursue a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
  2. Damages Exceed PIP Coverage: If your medical expenses and other damages exceed the limits of your PIP coverage, you may be entitled to seek additional compensation through a personal injury claim.
  3. Permanent Impairment: If the accident results in a permanent impairment or disability, you may be eligible to pursue compensation beyond what PIP coverage provides.

In addition to meeting these requirements, you’ll also need to be able to prove fault. That’s because, unlike PIP, plaintiffs in civil injury claims have the burden of proving that the defendant was at fault for causing the accident (often because they were negligent) and therefore liable for resulting damages.

At Perry & Young, we’ve successfully handled thousands of personal injury cases during our time in practice and know how to investigate accidents and construct claims in a manner that effectively proves fault and liability.

Importance of Seeking Medical Attention After a Fender Bender

After a fender bender, it's crucial to seek medical attention, even if you don't immediately feel injured or feel as though your injuries aren’t serious enough to warrant immediate medical treatment. There are two main reasons why:

  • Hidden Injuries: Some injuries, such as whiplash, concussions, and soft tissue injuries, may not present immediate symptoms, may result in pain or symptoms that progressively become more severe, or may be masked by the adrenaline rush and shock experienced during and immediately after an accident. Seeking medical attention promptly allows healthcare professionals to assess you for any hidden injuries and provide appropriate treatment.
  • Documented Evidence: Medical records, just like police reports, serve as vital evidence in personal injury claims. They establish a link between the accident and your injuries, providing concrete documentation of your medical diagnosis, treatment received, and prognosis. This documentation strengthens your case and enhances your chances of receiving fair compensation for your injuries and losses.

Steps to Protect Your Rights After a Fender Bender

If you've been involved in a fender bender in Florida, here are some essential steps to protect your rights and your ability to recover fair compensation:

  1. Document the Scene: Take photos of the accident scene, including damage to vehicles and any visible injuries. Exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver(s) involved.
  2. Seek Medical Attention: Even if you feel fine after the accident, it's essential to undergo a medical evaluation to rule out any hidden injuries. Keep detailed records of all medical treatments and expenses related to the accident.
  3. Notify Your Insurance Company: Report the accident to your insurance company promptly. However, avoid admitting fault or providing a detailed statement without consulting with an attorney first.
  4. Consult with a Personal Injury Attorney: A skilled personal injury attorney can assess your case, advise you on your legal options, and help you navigate the claims process.

Injured in a Fender Bender? Call (850) 215-7777.

At Perry & Young, our award-winning attorneys have helped victims and families across northwest Florida recover millions of dollars in compensation in a range of personal injury cases, including many involving motor vehicle accidents. We know that fender benders aren’t always minor mishaps – some result in serious and long-term injuries.

If you have questions about your rights and options after being injured in a fender bender, we’re available to help. Give us a call at or (850) 215-7777 or contact us online for a FREE consultation.