When it comes to automobile accidents, Florida is a no-fault state. That means regardless of fault, your insurance company will pay for your injuries and lost income resulting from an accident—up to your Personal Injury Protection coverage (minimum $10,000).
This also means you cannot file a Personal Injury claim against the person who caused the accident under most circumstances.
However, you have rights that can be a significant benefit to getting the compensation you deserve. That first right is the ability to hire an attorney.
Reason to Hire a Personal Injury Attorney
This no-fault arrangement between the State and insurance companies can leave many accident victims at a disadvantage. Many insurance companies will be quick to settle accident claims before victims have an opportunity to gather their thoughts. This often leaves money on the table for most car accident victims—and extra expenses on the victims part to pay for deductibles and future pain as a result of the accident.
That’s why it’s important to contact a Personal Injury Attorney quickly after an accident. They can be your advocate when negotiating with your insurance company to see that you are justly and fairly compensated.
Reasons to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit
Florida law allows auto accident victims to file personal lawsuits in cases where serious injury occurred. The State defines serious injury as:
- A permanent injury
- Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement
- Significant and permanent loss of a bodily function
An experienced Personal Injury Attorney may be able to clear your case from the “no-fault” limitation. This may allow you to pursue compensation for:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Other intangible damages resulting from the accident
Statute of Limitations: Be Aware that You’re on a Deadline
Under Florida’s statute of limitations for personal injury cases (which include automobile accidents), you have four years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit.
That deadline is an important reason to contact a Personal Injury Attorney as soon as possible after an accident—even if an injury is not at first apparent. In many cases, injuries could take a couple of years after the incident to manifest.
When it comes to automobile accident injuries, always remember that insurance companies will be involved. They’ll have legal representation protecting their interests almost immediately after the accident. You should have an experienced Personal Injury Attorney looking out for your interests as well.
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Your Guide to Personal Injury Law in Florida
Compensation (Damages) in a Florida Personal Injury Lawsuit
In Florida, there are two types of personal injury compensations: Compensatory Damages and Punitive Damages.
This is where the costs incurred by the injury are compensated. Costs may include:
- Medical treatment
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium
- Lost wages
- Property damage
When there is gross negligence on the part of the defendant, punitive damages may be awarded. In Florida, the cap for punitive damages cannot exceed three times the compensatory damages or $500,000 per individual (exceptions can be made on damages).
Steps in a Florida Personal Injury Lawsuit
We outline the steps of a personal injury lawsuit below. However, we always advise clients to take a critical step if possible after being injured in an accident: Document and preserve evidence.
- Write down everything about the accident: What, how, where, when and witnesses (names and contact information)
- Report the incident to proper authorities
- Take photos of your injuries, damages to property and scene of accident
- Contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible before making statements to insurance company representatives
The steps of a personal injury lawsuit include:
- Attorney consultation: Free at Fusco Law Group
- Case investigation: Independently conducted by your attorney
- Demand package: A demand settlement outlining your case, liabilities and damages
- Filing a personal injury lawsuit: If demand settlement not accepted
- Discovery phase: Further evidence evaluated
- Mediation: Between parties in an effort to avoid trial
- Trial: Where evidence is presented and judge or jury evaluates facts, fault and possible damage awards
- Appeal: Losing party has right to appeal verdict