Important Facts to Know About Personal Injury in the Sunshine State
Many people think personal injury cases are simply a matter of filing a lawsuit and collecting money from the other party. The reality is that personal injury law is complex. Numerous factors go into evaluating whether you have a good case for compensation and what people or entities that case should be against.
Once you file a lawsuit, the burden of proof is on you to demonstrate that you did sustain damages and that someone else’s actions—or lack of action—caused those losses. If you’re in a car accident or experience another incident that leaves you injured or with property damage, consulting with a personal injury attorney is an important first step. An experienced lawyer can help you understand more about your rights and options for seeking compensation so you can make an educated decision.
Learn about six important Florida personal injury facts below. Then, reach out to Jiles Law, P.A., to request a consultation to find out more.
1. Florida Is a No-Fault Insurance State
Under Florida law, you must carry PIP, or personal injury protection insurance, of at least $10,000. This coverage is meant to go toward reasonable health care costs related to an accident on the roadway, no matter who caused the accident. In Florida, drivers turn to their own insurance policies first regardless of the facts of the accident.
This doesn’t mean you can’t seek compensation for certain damages and injuries from another party if someone else caused an accident. But it does put some limitations on how and when you can do that, making it important to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer to understand your options.
2. You’re Required to Report Accidents on the Road
Florida law includes rules about when it’s mandatory to report an accident on the roadway. If an accident has caused a death or injury to a person of any type, it must be reported immediately to law enforcement. The same is true if the accident appears to have caused damages of at least $500 to a vehicle or property.
For minor accident cases, such as a fender bender that hasn’t caused much damage, you may not have to call law enforcement. Instead, you are required to report an accident via the Driver Report of Traffic Crash (Self Report) or Driver Exchange of Information forms available for download online.
3. Florida Is a Comparative Negligence State
Florida follows a law of comparative negligence in matters of personal injury. That means that the amount of fault you might be considered to have had in an incident can impact how much you can receive in compensation for injuries in that incident.
Florida law goes by pure comparative negligence. This means that anyone in an accident can seek compensation, as long as the other party was at least somewhat at fault. However, the compensation is reduced by the portion of the suing party’s own fault.
For example, imagine a scenario where two people are involved in a car accident. Both were failing to follow at least one traffic rule at the time of the accident, and so both may be somewhat liable for the accident. If Driver A sues for compensation and wins $200,000 but is deemed 30 percent at fault for the accident, then he or she would receive 70 percent of the awarded compensation—or $140,000.
4. The Statute of Limitations on Personal Injury Cases Is Four Years
How long you have to file a personal injury case in Florida depends on whether or not it is based on negligence. Cases involving auto accidents would be negligence based, as would premises liability cases and many product liability cases. For these cases, the statute of limitations to file a lawsuit is four years from the date of the injury.
If the personal injury case is not based on negligence, which can include cases such as medical malpractice and some product liability cases, the statue of limitations is two years rom the date of the injury.
In some cases, the court may agree to begin the clock on the statute of limitations on the date that the injured person first discovered their injuries. This is in cases when the court believes that the person would not have reasonably known about the injuries or chance of injuries before the date of discovery.
5. Florida Has a Cap on Punitive Damages
Florida allows punitive damages in cases when injuries are caused by gross negligence. Gross negligence occurs when someone acts in a way that is extremely reckless and careless. If someone is going 10 over the posted speed limit on a highway and causes an accident, this would likely be considered regular negligence. However, if someone is going 20 over on the highway, weaving recklessly between other vehicles with no care, and they make no attempt to slow down for traffic ahead, this may be deemed gross negligence.
The purpose of punitive damages is to make such reckless behavior unlikely in the future—both on the part of the person who is being sued as well as anyone else. These types of damages are designed to be a punishment of sorts.
Florida caps punitive damages at $500,000 total or three times the compensatory damages awarded in the case, whichever is greater. For instance, if someone is awarded $100,000 in compensatory damages, punitive damages could not exceed $300,000 in that case.
6. Florida Allows Non-economic Damages
Florida law allows both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are compensatory in nature. They are meant to repay the person for specific, calculable losses related to the injury. Examples can include compensation for property damage, medical bills, and lost wages.
Non-economic damages are not compensatory in nature. They are related to intangibles such as pain and suffering or loss of companionship.
Find Out More About Your Personal Injury Case
Personal injury in Florida can be complex. Before you make decisions about filing lawsuits or accepting insurance settlements, reach out to Jiles Law, P.A., to find out more about your rights and what type of case you might have.