Our beautiful state of Florida is home to millions of tourists each year. Despite recent changes to traveling due to COVID-19, we know our great state will eventually bounce back along with the rest of the world. Spring break plans might be canceled, but positive thinkers everywhere are already anxiously anticipating their vacations for later this year. Before you book your flights and lodging for fall break, there are some things you should keep in mind when considering the possibility of an accident while out of state.

Do I Have a Claim if I’m Injured in Florida But Am Not a Resident?

Yes, you do have the right to file a claim or lawsuit if you are involved in an accident while on vacation in Florida. Just because you are outside of your home state does not mean you lose your rights as an individual. If someone harms you or is vicariously responsible for harm you experience, they need to be held responsible. For personal injury claims, you need to keep in mind the statute of limitations as they vary for the situation.

What Accidents are Common While on Vacation?

  • Car Accidents/Bicycling: If you are involved in a car or bike accident while on vacation in Florida, follow the same steps you would at home (document everything / call the policy / trade information / seek medical attention / call an attorney). Your auto insurance should cover you anywhere. If needed, your insurance can even provide you tow truck service, a mechanic for repairs, and an adjuster to determine the extent of the damage. If you’re in a rental car, it’s rare that the rental company would be responsible for an accident. However, you might have a claim against the rental company if they failed to properly train employees or keep up with vehicle maintenance.
  • Trips/Falls: If you trip or fall in an establishment that failed to warn you, you could receive compensation for your injury.
  • Boating / Parasailing / Jet Skis: If renting equipment, it’s crucial that you ask questions and inspect the equipment before use. Most rental companies will have you sign a waiver that releases them from responsibility. However, you can make your vacation a lot easier by simply checking out the equipment for visible damage before risking your life on it.
  • Injuries on Rental Property: Rental companies like Airbnb are a popular option for lodging these days. Before you book your stay, ask if the owner has a homeowners policy on the property and if it includes guest liability coverage. If there is an accident, document everything and seek medical attention immediately. Then, find legal counsel and provide your Florida attorney with a copy of the rental contract.

Why Is Location So Important for My Claim?

Millions of people come in and out of this state every year. Visit Florida reported 126.1 million out-of-state tourists visited in 2018. This was the 8th year in a row that Florida has surpassed its record for visitors. Just the influx of that many people is going to pose more threats than usual to major hotspots.

Orlando draws huge crowds as people love to bring their families to some of the most popular amusement parks in our nation. Daytona Beach has become a desired spot for fans of the Daytona International Speedway. Co-eds flock to Panama City Beach for Spring Break while others opt to enjoy the Emerald Coast of Destin. If you’re looking for just a classic trip to the beach, your options are endless when it comes to gorgeous scenery in places like St. Pete Beach, Miami, or the Florida Keys.

Location is crucial because you need to prove the accident fell within Florida jurisdiction. In other words, the accident or source of any injury needs to have happened within Florida state boundaries in order for you to file a claim in Florida.

What if I’m Arrested While Vacationing in Florida?

If you are arrested in Florida while on vacation, you need to immediately contact a skilled lawyer in criminal defense. The law offices of Keller, Melchiorre, and Walsh are highly skilled in criminal defense and are ready to represent you.

Do I Need a Florida Attorney? 

While it is not required, it is strongly recommended that you seek legal counsel from a Florida attorney. Do your own research to determine which attorneys in your vacation area have the strongest reputations. It will be to your benefit to have someone on your side that is familiar with the area and Florida law. Eventually, you will return to your home, so consider your Florida attorney to be your guide to all things Florida-related and your physical representative while you are no longer in state.

Where Do I File a Lawsuit?

To file a claim, you can visit any county court clerk in Florida. Visit the Florida Courts website for detailed information on this process. If the parties are diverse, meaning the plaintiff and defendant both live in separate states outside of Florida, the case could then be removed to federal court.

Despite your options, your first move should always be to contact a trusted lawyer immediately. If you or a loved one have been involved in an accident while on vacation in Florida, contact us today to set up a free strategy session to discuss your next move. Let Keller, Melchiorre, and Walsh guide you through the process of getting the most out of your vacation memories, whether good or bad.