As a car owner, you know that in a car accident case, you will file your claim against your own insurance policy. However, there are situations when a Miami car accident lawyer will recommend you file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
In this article, we will detail the cases that make you eligible to file a lawsuit against the other driver and their insurance company. Unfortunately, these are some of the most complex car accident cases, involving severe injuries and expensive medical treatments.
You already know that your own insurer will question everything in your claim before paying. You can imagine that the other driver’s insurance company will be even more focused on finding anything they can use against you. For this reason, you must have a seasoned Miami car accident lawyer by your side during the entire process.
How Auto Insurance Works in Florida
Florida is one of the few no-fault US states in personal injury matters. For this reason, all drivers must carry their own insurance coverage to pay for injuries and property damage.
At the present, the minimum insurance requirements for Florida drivers are:
- $10,000 for Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
- $10,000 for property damage.
It is important to note that, by contrast to other states that use the at-fault principle, auto insurance coverage in Florida does not allow non-economic damages. The PIP policy will cover your medical care costs and lost wages – up to the limit of $10,000.
When Miami Car Accident Lawyers Recommend Suing the At-Fault Driver
A Miami car accident lawyer will explain to you that Florida law on auto insurance does not prevent injured persons from seeking full compensation. Indeed, once their own insurance coverage is used up, many people still have unpaid medical care bills, as well as lost wages they did not recover.
This is why legislators defined two specific situations in which you can sue the other driver for damages.
1. If Your Damages Exceed the PIP Coverage
Some car accidents result in severe and catastrophic damages for drivers and their passengers. Injured people can suffer:
- Multiple fractures
- Internal bleeding
- Internal organ damage
- Spine injuries
- Traumatic brain injury.
Doctors need to perform one or several surgeries and resort to the latest therapies and drugs to help people stay alive and make a full or partial recovery. All these treatments and the days spent in the hospital under close monitoring will generate very high medical care bills.
Therefore, the $10,000 available through the PIP coverage is just a fraction of the total amount of damages for medical care alone. In such a car accident case, your Miami car accident lawyer will definitely recommend you file a lawsuit.
2. If You Suffered Severe Injuries
Florida Statutes 637.737 establishes a clear exception for suing the other driver in a car accident case. The condition is that you suffered severe injuries in the crash.
What Counts as Severe Injuries?
Of course, there are clear guidelines as to what is considered a severe injury. Florida legislators specify four different instances.
Significant and Permanent Loss of an Important Bodily Function
Car accident victims can suffer life-changing injuries that leave them without the use of an important function, such as:
- Loss of eyesight
- Loss of limb
- Loss of hearing.
Together with your doctor, your Miami car accident lawyer will put together a solid case, proving your loss of bodily function and its negative impact on your life.
Permanent Injury Within a Reasonable Degree of Medical Probability
Some injuries do not lead to loss of bodily function but still cause permanent impairment. Some accident victims are left with reduced mobility, chronic pain, and internal organ damage.
These are serious injuries that impact the person’s life, the ability to do their job, and to enjoy doing their favorite hobbies and activities. As such, they give you the right to sue the at-fault driver for damages.
Significant and Permanent Scarring or Disfigurement
In some of the worst car accident cases, victims are left with a permanent reminder of the tragic moments: extensive scars and disfigurement. These severe injuries can have a major negative impact on the person’s mental and emotional health.
Many accident victims suffer from social anxiety and depression as a result of the scars they carry as a result of a car accident.
In the worst-case scenario, a car accident victim loses their life from the catastrophic injuries they suffered. In this terrible car accident case, the bereaved family has the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the other driver.
What You Need to Know about a Car Accident Lawsuit in Florida
Now we have reached the point when it is useful to know a few specific issues about filing a lawsuit in a car accident case. These are the most important things to know.
1. Fault Must Be Determined
Once you stopped dealing with your insurance company, you have to prove that the other driver was at fault for your accident. This is the basic prerequisite of any personal injury lawsuit, including a car accident case.
For this reason, it is important to follow these best practices starting with the first moments after the accident:
- Exchange contact details with the other driver
- Report the accident and wait at the scene until the police arrive to investigate it
- Collect your own evidence at the accident scene – photos and videos
- Seek medical care as soon as possible after the crash.
2. You Can Seek Non-Economic Damages
If you file a personal injury lawsuit, you are entitled to seek non-economic damages for pain and suffering, loss of consortium, loss of quality of life, and emotional trauma. These damages are not available if you file a claim against your PIP policy.
3. You May Qualify for Punitive Damages As Well
If your Miami car accident lawyer can prove that the at-fault driver acted with malice, wantonness, or recklessness in causing your accident, you may also seek punitive damages in a lawsuit.
However, you must bring clear and convincing evidence to support your claim. There are instances, such as drunk driving, where there is little doubt as to the driver’s reckless behavior.
Rely on an Experienced Miami Car Accident Lawyer!
The entire legal team at Miami Lawyers 360 has extensive experience in all kinds of car accident cases. We know when you have the right to file a lawsuit and when you may seek punitive damages.
The goal of any Miami car accident lawyer is to help you recover the maximum compensation you are entitled to. So, do not wait too long after your accident, but schedule a free case review and give our lawyers the time to prepare your case effectively.
Call us today at 786-686-2857!