What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear about personal injury laws? Most people only associate it with car accidents. However, there are an ample number of cases handled by South Florida personal injury lawyers. Car accidents, motorcycle accidents, truck accidents, medical malpractice, slip and fall cases, product liability cases, and nursing abuse are covered under personal injury laws.
If you are about to file a similar case covered under personal injury laws in South Florida, here are some things to know.
Dealing with personal injury laws in South Florida
Car accidents form the majority of personal injury cases
In Florida, car accidents are still the most dealt with personal injury cases, which is also one of the reasons why people associate personal injury cases with only car accidents.
As per the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor vehicles crash report 2020, the total reported crashes were 341,399. 569, 182 drivers were involved, of which 3098 were reported as fatal crashes.
Though the total crashes in 2022 showed a downfall compared to past years, the fatal crashes show a minor spike. This could be the prime reason for the increase in car accident-related personal injury cases.
10/20/10 rule in Florida
This is the insurance rule in Florida. Car drivers in Florida must carry personal injury protection (PIP) insurance of $10,000. The 10/20/10 rule explains the same.
As per this insurance rule, the insured receives a $10,000 bodily injury coverage, a $20,000 maximum per accident coverage, and a $10,000 maximum property accident per accident coverage for a road accident. Property damage refers to the damage caused to the vehicle in the accident.
It also includes $5000 coverage in case of death. This amount is received by the dependents of the one who died in the accident. Does the PIP insurance cover medical bills, lost income and mileage reimbursement?
You should know that PIP does not cover these in full but a part of it. In Florida, PIP covers:
- 80% of the medical bills for injuries inflicted in the accident
- 80% of the medicine prescription
- 60% of the lost income
- Travel to and from medical facility, i.e., mileage reimbursement
However, there are certain rules and exceptions to such coverage.
Florida personal injury law gives ample time to file the lawsuit
Heard of the statute of limitation? The period within which the plaintiff (not-at-fault or partially-at-fault driver) has the right to file a lawsuit against the other driver. Usually, this period is kept at one to two years.
However, personal injury laws in Florida provide a limit of 4 years within which a victim can file a lawsuit against the other party. However, experienced personal injury attorneys say it is better to file the lawsuit immediately after the accident. This increases the chances of turning the case in your favor and receiving the maximum compensation possible. This is because it is easy to find evidence when the case is afresh.
Plaintiff can file a lawsuit against more than one defendant
In certain cases, multiple parties are financially responsible for the injuries, and the accident caused. This could be in the case of multiple crash accidents or truck accidents and where more than one defendant can be identified as liable for the accident.
Personal injury laws in Florida permit plaintiffs to file a lawsuit and receive a claim from all the identified defendants. Once the court confirms the same and finds the percentage of fault of each party, the injured is liable to receive compensation from all. Such compensations can go as high as $2 million.
Punitive damages have limits
However, Personal injury laws in Florida apply an upper cap to the amount of compensation one can collect for a certain type of damages. For instance, an upper limit of $5,00,000 is set on recovering punitive damages. Punitive damages are the damages recovered as a deterrent measure from the at-fault party.
However, like in every other state, not all personal injury cases allow attorneys to ask for punitive damages. Only punitive damages can be recovered in cases where the injuries are serious and permanent and caused due to negligence.
Even partially at-fault drivers can file a claim
Florida is a comparative negligence state. According to this, the compensation is calculated based on the percentage of fault of each driver involved in the accident.
This gives the right to partially at-fault drivers to file for a claim if their fault is lesser than the other driver’s fault. Sometimes an accident is not caused purely due to the fault of one driver. Both of the drivers are partially at fault for the accident.
Florida uses ‘pure’ comparative negligence. Here the amount for compensation will be reduced as per the percentage of your fault. For instance, between parties with 30% and 70% fault for the accident, the one will 30% fault will receive a reduced compensation by 30%. Instead of $1000, he will be entitled to receive $700, while the other party won’t receive anything at all.
The fault is determined by the evidence and injuries of the accident. A collision at night caused due to wrong left turn or driving with faulty headlights is sufficient enough to prove fault. Speeding or distracted driving is also a viable reason to prove fault.
The government can also be sued for negligence
In certain cases, government acts as a defendant party. The plaintiff/victim can also sue the government for negligence. For instance, if the accident was caused due to faulty traffic lights, missing road safety signs etc, the fault for the accident must be borne by the government.
For a plaintiff to file a lawsuit against the government, here are some of the rules to follow:
- Lawsuit against a state in Florida can only be filed after a 180-day investigation (after you trigger a claim).
- The claim must be made within three years of the accident
- The letter for the claim should be on paper as per the rules directed by the Florida Division of Risk Management.
- After the claim is denied, the plaintiff can file a lawsuit within three years.
- In case of wrongful death accidents, the statute of limitation is two years.
- The cap for damages against any state of Florida is $2,00,000. In case multiple states are sued, the upper cap limit is $3,00,000.
- The state government of Florida has the right to appeal against the claim made against it.
Seek help from a personal injury attorney in South Florida for filing a claim (against the responsible party).