Personal injury claims are legal claims when a person suffers injuries due to another’s negligence.
While car accidents are the most common reason for personal injury claims, they are not the only basis for a claim. In Florida, personal injury victims can seek compensation for damages and losses. That’s because the law recognizes that injuries come with high costs, and victims should recover accordingly.
Consider whether your injuries were preventable to determine if you have a valid personal injury claim. For example, would you have been safe if the at-fault party had not acted negligently? If you want to sue for personal injury damages in Florida, it’s crucial to prove the other party’s negligence. This means that they owed some duty to you and breached it. In a car accident, the driver of a vehicle owes a duty to all the other drivers on the road to drive with care. When they don’t they breach the duty and a personal injury claim is created.
Many injury victims struggle with pain, confusion, and other emotional distress on top of financial burdens. Fortunately, Florida laws allow injury victims to protect their rights and hold the at-fault parties accountable.
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How to Deal With Personal Injuries Due to Negligence in Florida
If you or a loved one suffers injuries due to another party’s negligence, recklessness, or carelessness, you might need to contact an attorney. Some people decide to represent themselves. However, the odds of a successful case outcome are better with a licensed professional Florida personal injury attorney. Having an expert with experience handling personal injury claims means you have a better chance of winning the appropriate compensation for your losses.
As some of the top personal injury lawyers in Florida, we believe it’s imperative to educate people about their legal rights. So here are some things that can be helpful if you have a personal injury case in Florida.
Auto Collisions Are the Most Common Reason for Personal Injury Claims in Florida
Motor vehicle collisions are the top cause of personal injury claims in Florida. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, there were 386,180 crashes in Florida in 2022. In addition, there were 245,936 recorded injuries related to car crashes. That figure does not include injuries that were not officially reported or documented. Furthermore, in 2022, there were 3,355 fatalities from all crashes.
Florida has no-fault insurance laws that require all drivers to carry a minimum of $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP). So, regardless of who is at fault for the accident, your insurance will pay for medical costs up to $10,000. If you experience damages and losses that exceed $10,000, you may need to file a personal injury claim to seek compensation.
Florida’s No-Fault Laws Don’t Exempt Negligent Parties From Liability
The term “no-fault” can be misleading. “No-fault” laws ensure that all parties involved in the accident have at least some coverage for medical care. However, it does not absolve any person from fault or negligence. Moreover, you can still sue the negligent party for damages, especially if you sustained severe injuries.
Under Florida law, “serious bodily injuries” are any of the following:
- Permanent disability
- Significant personal disfigurement
- Permanent loss of a bodily or organ function
- Substantial risk of death
- Any injury that leads to death
Get medical attention immediately if you believe that you or a loved one has serious bodily injuries from a car accident. Then consult an experienced personal injury lawyer. Timing is of the essence, as Florida has a time limit to file a claim for personal injury.
There Is a Time Limit to File a Personal Injury Claim in Florida
Florida has a time limit when injury victims can file a claim. The “statute of limitations” is a deadline for you to take your case to court and present evidence. Examples of evidence include medical records, eyewitness testimonies, and more. Evidence is usually best sooner rather than later. Documents and witness accounts may deteriorate over time. Therefore, it’s best to contact your lawyer immediately after the accident so they can help you start gathering evidence.
For auto accidents in Florida, the statute of limitations is four years. So, you have four years from the date of the accident to file a claim. However, there are rare circumstances when you can extend your deadline, depending on your case circumstances. For example, let’s say you sustained an injury directly related to the accident but had a delayed onset of symptoms. If the effects of your injury appear later, you might get an extension on your state of limitations.
Lastly, there may be situations in which you can pause the statute of limitations. For example, if the defendant cannot be located or is mentally incapacitated, you might have more time to file your claim. However, even in such scenarios, there is a finite amount of time to pursue your claim.
You Can Seek Compensation for Pain and Suffering
Florida’s personal injury law recognizes two types of damages: economic and non-economic. For example, financial strain is the most obvious damage that results from a car accident. Moreover, medical bills and lost wages are objectively calculable. Thus, those damages are considered economic damages.
But, many people don’t realize how challenging it is to determine the value of non-economic damages like pain and suffering. Since there is no exact cost for pain and suffering, it’s often harder to put a price on it. Nevertheless, while less easily quantifiable, pain and suffering are still valid damages under Florida law.
Suing for pain and suffering means you should calculate the cost for both physical and mental injuries. The most common factors to consider when calculating pain and suffering damages are the following:
- The nature and extent of your injuries: if you sustain severe or catastrophic injuries, you will probably get more damage compensation. Serious injuries are not limited to physical injuries, however. They include mental and emotional conditions like anxiety, depression, and PTSD.
- How much and what type of medical treatment you needed for your injuries: If you sustained injuries that required hospitalization, rehabilitation, or assistive devices, your claim value will be higher.
- How long it takes you to recover: likewise, the discomfort you endure during recovery will affect your claim value. If you need long-term care or have permanent disabilities, your claim value will be higher.
- How the injury affected your life: If you sustained life-threatening conditions or permanent disability, the accident will change your life. An unexpected disability can hinder injury victims from leading happy, normal lives like they did before the accident. Some people may be unable to work as much or completely unable to return to work after the accident. That can lead to a loss of earning capacity, affecting their family’s financial situation forever. As a result, they deserve compensation for the pain and suffering they experience.
You Need Evidence to Prove Your Pain and Suffering
Once you know that you have a valid personal injury claim and your pain and suffering are great enough to proceed to court, it’s time to gather evidence. Again, your attorney will help you gather all relevant evidence for your case.
Proving non-economic damages like pain and suffering is more complex than economic damages. That’s because they do not have fixed costs. Unlike lost wages and hospital bills, pain and suffering are intangible damages. That means you must provide evidence beyond documents like eyewitnesses or expert testimonies. There is no clear monetary value for such damages, and each person’s unique circumstances will differ.
Your Florida personal injury attorney might want to enlist expert and eyewitness testimonies in court, such as:
- A medical expert – whichever medical professional treated you for your injuries could be called in as an expert in court. Your doctor can give a professional opinion to support the extent of your injuries and how they affect your life.
- A mental health professional – severe physical injuries almost always present with mental distress, especially after a traumatic crash. A licensed psychiatrist or psychologist can vouch for you and explain how you have experienced emotional anguish due to the accident.
- Family members or spouses who are close to you – your closest family and loved ones will probably have witnessed closely how the accident affected your life. They have intimate knowledge of who you were before the accident and thus can testify how it impacted you and your life.
- Your testimony – you might give a testimony of your own experience in court. Your attorney might ask you to record daily how your injuries have affected your day-to-day life and caused pain and suffering. Keeping a journal is a good way to record your recollection of events while it’s still fresh in your mind and for evidence of your pain and suffering.
Comparative Negligence Rules Apply in Florida Car Accidents
Florida uses the “pure comparative negligence” rule. Comparative negligence laws state that parties can share fault or negligence. Then, a judge or jury can reduce your compensation based on the percentage of fault you have for causing the accident.
There are variations of comparative negligence laws that different states use. With pure comparative negligence, you can still recover compensation no matter how much your percentage of fault. However, other states might not allow the injured victim to seek compensation if they had any degree of fault. Furthermore, some states only allow injury victims to claim damages if they are less than 50% of 51% at fault for the accident.
To illustrate, let’s consider an example. Say you were in a car accident at night with a speeding driver. However, your headlights were not working. In that case, the other driver might have caused the accident by speeding. But, you might also have some percentage of fault for failing to properly maintain your headlights and thus contributing to the accident. In this case, an insurance adjuster would determine how much fault you contributed. If your case goes to trial, a judge or jury will determine the percentage of fault. So if your settlement award is $500,000, but you were 20% at fault, the jury would reduce your settlement to $400,000.
Seek Expert Help From A Florida Personal Injury Lawyer
Personal injuries can adversely affect a person’s quality of life. That’s why you shouldn’t take it lightly or try it alone. If you or a loved one has sustained physical and mental damages because of someone else’s negligence, get in touch with a lawyer. That way, you can recover the compensation you need for the expenses you incurred due to the accident.
We are one of Florida’s top personal injury legal teams and have extensive experience representing people with cases similar to yours. We will fight tirelessly to protect your rights and win you fair compensation.
Contact us today for a free initial case review.