Estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest that more than 2 million U.S. drivers suffer injuries in car accidents each year. While some of these accidents lead to only minor injuries, a smaller percentage cause catastrophic injuries. These are serious injuries that keep you from being able to care for yourself and cause a loss of enjoyment in life. Spinal cord injuries, especially ones that result in complete paralysis, are a perfect example of a “catastrophic injury.”
Florida is a “no-fault” state, and you may have to pursue compensation through your PIP insurance policy before being able to file a car accident lawsuit against another driver. We have more information about this process on our website.
Depending on the nature of your injury and other factors, it may be possible to file a lawsuit.
Which Florida Car Accident Laws Could Apply to My Potential Case?
You may be able to obtain car accident compensation through a lawsuit for a car accident caused by the negligence of another driver. It would depend on the circumstances, such as the severity of your injury, medical treatment costs or whether you are seeking compensation for the death of a loved one.
Florida’s “permanent/serious injury” requirement can affect your ability to file a lawsuit for an injury. Below are a couple of examples of what may qualify as a serious injury:
- Permanent and severe disfigurement
- Spinal cord injuries that result in a significant loss of motor function
- Brain injuries that lead to permanent and serious disabilities
- Injuries that cause substantial disability for 90 days or more
Keep in mind, these are only a couple of examples of what might meet Florida’s serious injury threshold. An experienced Florida car accident attorney can help you determine if state law would consider your injury as serious enough to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver or if there are other options for filing a lawsuit. There are several nuances that could apply to your potential case.
You may be able to file a claim against the other driver’s insurance company if you meet the serious injury threshold or your injury results in medical bills exceeding $10,000. Since you would not be obtaining compensation through your own insurance policy, you would need to file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance provider. This is also called a “third-party claim.”
Florida also has a statute of limitations for filing a car accident lawsuit against an at-fault driver. Waiting beyond this point will bar you from filing a lawsuit. There are cases where the statute of limitations is tolled (meaning it is delayed), so you should speak with one of our attorneys if you are unsure about your eligibility for filing a lawsuit.
The rules for filing a lawsuit are also different if you intend to seek compensation for a fatal car accident that resulted in the death of a loved one. You would have more flexibility to pursue damages through a lawsuit. In addition, you also have more flexibility to file a lawsuit if an intoxicated driver caused your injuries or loss. Drunk driving lawsuits may involve additional defendants, such as bars or restaurants.
Do I Need to File a Car Accident Lawsuit?
It is important to remember that insurance companies have only one bottom line: make as much money as possible. Unfortunately, this means the other driver’s insurer is unlikely to offer a settlement that can actually pay for your damages in full.
One common tactic used by insurers to limit the value of a claim is to argue that you are partially at fault for the accident. In Florida, the value of an insurance claim may be lower if the adjuster demonstrates you are partially at fault.
You could attempt to negotiate a larger settlement with the insurer, but it may be necessary to file a lawsuit to force a fairer settlement or to seek a jury verdict.
Your case could go to trial after filing a lawsuit against the other driver or a business. If this outcome occurs, then it is important to understand how Florida laws could affect your case. Our attorneys can help in this regard.
Fortunately, a successful lawsuit could award you damages that would not have been possible had you not filed a lawsuit. This means a successful jury verdict could help pay for your damages in full. Our attorneys can help you determine which damages may be relevant to your potential case.
Do I Need a Tampa Car Accident Lawyer?
It is generally necessary to hire an attorney if you intend to file a successful lawsuit against the other driver or a business that is responsible for your damages. Negotiating settlements is also a tricky process full of potential pitfalls. Personal injury law firms, including our own, work with accident reconstruction specialists and other experts to give your lawsuit the best possible chance of succeeding.
Expert testimony and accident reconstruction help provide an accurate assessment of your damages and can prevent Florida’s pure comparative fault rule from reducing your compensation.
About Our Tampa Car Accident Law Firm
We encourage you to reach out to us for a free consultation if you have questions about negotiating an insurance claim or filing a car accident lawsuit in Florida. Tampa car accident lawyer Armando Edmiston can answer your questions and help you determine what your next steps should be for recovering compensation.
Armando Personal Injury Law Firm takes cases on a contingency fee basis. This means you do not owe us fees unless we recover a settlement or verdict. For a free consultation, you can call (813)906-1168 or use our online case review form.