Peter Catania | June 23, 2021 | Car Accidents
Under Florida’s no-fault insurance laws, you cannot sue after a car accident unless you suffered a “serious injury.” If you were uninjured after the wreck, you are not eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit.
A serious bodily injury is defined by Florida Statute §316.027 as:
- Loss of bodily function or mobility
- Significant scarring or disfigurement
- A life-threatening injury that has a substantial risk of death
- A physical condition that has a high risk of causing a long-term disability or impairment
If a person sustains injuries that meet the serious injury threshold, they may have legal standing to file a personal injury lawsuit.
What Damages Can Be Paid for a Personal Injury Claim Involving a Serious Injury?
If the at-fault driver has liability insurance, the insurance provider might settle out of court. However, if the insurance company disputes liability for the car accident or refuses to pay a fair amount to settle the claim, you may choose to sue the other driver.
If the jury finds that the other driver caused the traffic accident, you could receive compensation for your:
- Physical injuries, including permanent disabilities and impairments
- The cost of medical care and personal care, including physical, rehabilitative, and occupational therapies
- Lost wages, benefits, and other income
- The loss of future earning potential because of permanent impairments
- Decrease in quality of life or loss of enjoyment of life
- Pain and suffering, including physical, emotional, and mental trauma and suffering
The types of damages you might receive depends on the facts of your case. If you sustained catastrophic injuries, it could increase the value of your damages. However, if you were partially to blame for causing the accident, the value of your damages might decrease under Florida’s comparative fault laws.
Is There a Deadline for Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit for a Car Crash?
Florida’s statute of limitations gives car accident victims four years to file a lawsuit seeking compensation for damages. However, there are some exceptions. Therefore, it is best to meet with a personal injury lawyer soon after the car accident to discuss deadlines and the steps you should take to protect your legal rights.
What Happens if My Injuries Were Not Serious?
If you sustained injuries in a car crash that do not meet the serious injury threshold, you might still file a claim with your no-fault insurance provider.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance is required for all Florida drivers. The minimum PIP coverage required by law is $10,00.
No-fault insurance pays 80 percent of the necessary and reasonable medical bills for an accident, regardless of who caused the crash. PIP insurance also pays 60 percent of lost wages from a car accident. However, you must have medical treatment within 14 days after the car crash to be eligible for PIP benefits.
PIP insurance does not compensate you for your other damages. You cannot recover compensation for your pain and suffering, and you will not recover all of your medical bills or lost income.
What Should I Do After a Car Accident in Florida?
To protect your right to sue the at-fault driver if you sustain serious injuries, follow these steps after a car accident:
- Call 911 to report the crash
- Remain at the accident scene until police officers arrive
- Take pictures and make a video of the accident scene, if it is safe to do so
- Ask eyewitnesses for their names and contact information
- Never admit fault or apologize for the accident
- Seek medical treatment for your injuries immediately after the accident
- Follow your doctor’s treatment plan and keep careful notes about your recovery
- Avoid using social media or posting anything online until your car accident claim settles
- Do not discuss the crash or your injuries with anyone other than your doctor and your lawyer
The insurance adjuster may pressure you to accept an offer to settle the claim. The adjuster may ask you to sign documents or provide a statement. It is best not to do any of these things without discussing your claim with a car accident lawyer.
Settling your injury claim without a lawyer is not in your best interest. If you sign a settlement agreement, you could be giving up all legal rights to pursue additional claims. Therefore, if you discover you sustained additional injuries, you would not be able to pursue more money because of the settlement agreement.
An attorney can give you the legal advice and guidance you need to make the best decisions for your case.