Filing a Lawsuit after a Car Accident in Florida
With Florida being a No-Fault insurance law state, it can get very confusing when it comes to filing a lawsuit after a car accident. Firstly, what is No-fault insurance law? Simply put, your own insurance company compensates you after an accident, regardless of fault. No fault, or PIP insurance covers you and relatives residing in your household for injuries sustained in an automobile accident. This coverage pays 80% of reasonable and necessary medical bills, 60% of lost wages, and 100% of household services, up to a limit of $10,000. A benefit to this is if you are the person who causes an accident, you can still seek compensation from your own insurance. However, with no fault, you can’t file a lawsuit in many cases, so the amount you can recover is often times less.
Really? I can’t file a suit?
There are some exceptions to this rule under no-fault. If your injures are serious, you are allowed to go outside of the no-fault system and pursue a civil lawsuit against the at-fault party. This way you can seek compensation for the total amount of your medical expenses and lost wages that go past your PIP. Also you can seek compensation for other losses such as pain and suffering. A “serious” injury in Florida is defined under Florida statutes as:
- Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function.
- Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, other than scarring or disfigurement.
- Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement.
If you have suffered any of the above, or lost someone from an accident, you can pursue a car accident lawsuit. You have to file a suit before the statute of limitations are up on your case. For most car accident cases that is four years from the date of the accident. You also have to prove negligence of the at-fault driver with thorough research and investigation. Attorney Mike Hancock with Hancock Injury Attorneys will meet with you and tell you honestly if it is economically beneficial for you to pursue the case. There are many times he tells clients that pursing a case will not help, and knowing that an attorney can be honest with you is a crucial quality to look for in a lawyer.