If you’ve been injured in a car crash in Florida and you haven’t spoken with an attorney yet, it’s a good idea to do so quickly. This is especially true when you’re new to the state.
In Florida, car insurance works a bit differently than other states. If you grew up locally, you probably already know how it works. However, if you’re new to the area it can be a bit confusing.
Having an attorney will help you navigate the confusing responsibilities you have after being injured in a car accident. For instance, if you’re not originally from Florida, your first instinct might be to sue the at-fault driver.
However, that may not be possible.
Florida is a no-fault car insurance state
In Florida, you can’t usually sue the driver at fault for the crash that caused your injuries. Most accidents require each driver to file a claim with their own insurance policy.
Here’s how that works.
Florida law requires all drivers to carry a minimum of $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. Unlike other states where you file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company, in Florida you use your own PIP policy.
There is an exception, however. For instance, if your injuries are considered serious under Florida law, you might be able to recover damages for permanent injury, disfigurement, scarring, or permanent/significant loss of a vital bodily function.
Normally, without serious injuries, you’d only be able to recover certain damages. For example, Tragos Law explains the common damages you can recover through a personal injury lawsuit:
- Medical bills, including medications, therapy, and rehab
- Future medical bills for ongoing treatment
- Lost wages
- Future lost wages
- Property damage
- Wrongful death cases can generate burial and funeral expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of quality/enjoyment of life
- Emotional distress, like anger, depression, anxiety, and problems sleeping
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of reputation
It’s also possible to recover punitive damages if your case meets the right criteria. For example, if your accident was caused by gross negligence or was intentionally malicious, you might be awarded punitive damages.
Punitive damages are usually quite large and serve as a deterrent to ensure the at-fault party never repeats the same mistake again. If you end up recovering punitive damages after a car accident, that portion will probably be bigger than the rest of your settlement.
Are your injuries considered catastrophic or severe?
To know if your injuries are severe enough to sue the driver who caused your injuries, you’ll need to consult with an attorney. They’ll assess the details of your situation and let you know if you have a case according to the legal requirements of Florida state law.
If you can sue, you can expect the other driver to dispute your claim. For this reason, it’s imperative that you keep legal counsel through the entire process. It doesn’t matter how catastrophic your injuries are – the other party’s attorneys will be using every possible trick to get your case dismissed and diminish your payout.
An attorney will negotiate a good settlement
Perhaps the best reason to connect with an attorney is to ensure you get the best possible settlement for your injuries. You don’t want to represent yourself in court for a personal injury case. No matter how obvious your injuries are, the at-fault party’s lawyer will do everything possible to reduce or eliminate your compensation.
Negotiating settlement money is a big deal that requires plenty of skill, experience, and patience. Chances are, if you go to court, your case will settle before going to trial. Most personal injury cases are settled this way. This is actually a blessing because trials can be long and expensive in terms of attorneys’ fees.
A good attorney will negotiate a fair amount of compensation and you won’t have to go through the cost and inconvenience of going to trial. Settlement negotiations do take time, and you will have to wait a bit to get your settlement money. However, it’s worth the wait.
An attorney will give you the best chance at getting compensated
If you’re considering filing a lawsuit after a personal injury, don’t do it alone. An experienced attorney will be a valuable asset to you during your case. While you might be able to win your case alone, you won’t be able to recover the full amount of compensation you deserve.