Failing to use headlights in bad St. Petersburg weather can amount to negligence under the law. When a driver’s negligence directly results in an accident, along with personal injuries and damages, the accident victim may recover monetary damages and other compensation directly from the negligent driver. If the negligent driver and the owner of the at-fault vehicle are different people, the owner may also potentially face liability.
If you or someone you love sustained personal injuries and damages in a St. Petersburg motor vehicle accident, Florida law may entitle you to recover monetary compensation. The knowledgeable car accident lawyers at Dolman Law Group can review the facts and circumstances surrounding your case and may pursue monetary recovery on your behalf, via settlement or, if necessary, jury trial.
Under the Florida Statutes, “every vehicle operated upon a highway within this state shall display lighted lamps and illuminating devices…under the following conditions: …During any rain, smoke or fog….” Therefore, if a driver fails to turn on headlights and a motor vehicle accident results, that driver may face negligence claims.
If you did not turn on your headlights at the time of the accident, your insurance company may try to say that you caused—or at least contributed—to the accident, and that you are not entitled to any monetary compensation for your injuries and damages. Therefore, always pay attention to your vehicle’s settings and make sure that even your automatic headlights will illuminate you and your way. The temperamental Florida weather, especially in the summer, can bring a bright rain shower, during which time your headlights may not auto-illuminate.
Filing a Claim Against the At-Fault Driver
If another driver caused your accident by failing to turn on headlights in bad weather, you may file a claim or lawsuit against that other driver. To prevail in a negligence case against that other driver, you must show that the other driver failed to act as a reasonable person by violating a traffic law.
Assuming you file a claim against the at-fault driver and the at-fault driver’s insurance company accepts liability for the accident, then the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage may pay for some or all of your damages. Damages in a car accident case may include all related medical bills, treatments, lost wages, and non-economic damages, up to the limits of coverage on the subject insurance policy.
Filing a Claim or Lawsuit Against the Owner of the At-Fault Vehicle
In some cases, the driver and the owner of the at-fault vehicle are not the same person. The vehicle owner may have given the at-fault driver permission to drive the motor vehicle at the time of the accident, or the at-fault driver might work for the vehicle owner. Unlike every other state in the country, Florida law imposes strict vicarious liability on an individual who lends a motor vehicle to someone else and who, thereafter, causes a collision. Under Florida’s Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine, the motor vehicle owner can face liability for the accident simply by owing the at-fault vehicle. In many instances, the police report contains the at-fault vehicle owner’s name.
In cases where an employer owns a motor vehicle and allows an employee to drive it during off time, Florida’s Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine still lets victims hold the employer responsible for an employee’s negligent driving—and for causing a collision. This is true even in cases where the employer specifically directed the employee to use the vehicle only for work-related purposes.
Injuries and Damages Sustained in St. Petersburg Car Accident Cases
A driver who operates a motor vehicle without headlights in bad weather can make visibility of the vehicle much harder—if not impossible. This is especially true when the at-fault vehicle (that is, the vehicle without illuminated headlights) drives on the highway, makes a turn, or drives through a traffic intersection.
When these accidents take place at high rates of speed, serious accidents and injuries can result. Common injuries sustained in high-speed car accidents include traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), muscular sprains and strains, broken bones, neck and spinal cord injuries, paralysis, and even death. To recover monetary damages in a St. Petersburg car accident case, the injured accident victim must prove that the accident caused an injury.
Call a St. Petersburg Car Accident Lawyer Today for a Free Case Evaluation and Legal Consultation
When car accidents result from negligent actions or inactions, such as failing to turn on headlights, serious injuries can result. When no witnesses saw an accident, demonstrating fault can sometimes prove difficult—in those cases, juries must weigh one person’s word against the other’s. In some cases, plaintiffs must retain an expert witness, such as accident reconstructionist, who may piece together the accident and determine how it happened.
The knowledgeable car accident lawyers at Dolman Law Group can help you prove the liability and damage elements of your case and can safeguard all of your legal rights while your case progresses. Our attorneys are skilled negotiators and litigators, and they can represent you at every stage of your personal injury car accident case. To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a St. Petersburg car accident lawyer, please call us at (727) 222-6922 or contact us online.