An Introduction to Auto Accident Laws in the State of Florida
Knowing the laws that a Florida court will apply in your car accident crash case can be extremely useful to you. You should be familiar with the overall claim process including how your claim should be initiated and what is required to advance your claim through each step of the process. It is also important that you know what sort of persuasive burden you have in your case and what steps must be completed prior to being able to file a car crash lawsuit in Florida. These legal concepts can also help you make better legal decisions in the immediate aftermath of a car wreck. Unless you know where to look, however, discovering and understanding the important state laws that are pertinent to a car wreck lawsuit can be a difficult challenge. Luckily, an experienced Florida car accident law office such as Parker Waichman LLP can provide you with the guidance and knowledge you require during this difficult time.
Crucial Florida Laws About Car Accidents for Drivers to Understand
Some of the more important Florida laws pertaining to car crashes include:
- 627.733, Fla. Stat.: This statute is part of the Florida Motor Vehicle No-Fault Law and requires motorists to maintain a personal injury protection (PIP) policy in force so long as they intend to drive. Florida is a “no-fault” insurance state which means a Florida motorist who is injured in a car wreck must generally first seek compensation for his or her losses from his or her own insurance carrier.
- 627.737, Fla. Stat.: You may recover damages for pain, suffering, mental anguish, and inconvenience from the at fault party if you prove you suffered a: (a) significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function; (b) permanent injury (other than scarring or disfigurement); (c) significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement; and/or (d) death. If you file a civil lawsuit because you believe one of these situations has occurred, the allegedly at-fault driver/defendant is entitled to file an appropriate motion with the court to have the judge overseeing the case determine whether the evidence supports a finding that one or more of the above-mentioned circumstances apply. If the judge does make such a finding, your case will proceed to trial.
- 95.11, Fla. Stat.: Once your car wreck has happened, you will only have a limited amount of time within which you are able to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party). Lawmakers enact “statutes of limitations” whose purpose is to inform injured parties how quickly they must file their lawsuit. For those hurt in Florida motor vehicle wrecks, the statute of limitations is four years. This means that if you are seriously hurt in a wreck, you will have four years from that date to initiate a lawsuit. While there are some limited exclusions to this general rule, they are very fact-specific and will not apply in every circumstance. The better practice is to give yourself plenty of time and file your Florida car crash lawsuit sooner rather than later.
- 768.81, Fla. Stat.: What happens if you file a lawsuit alleging someone else carelessly drove their car and in so doing caused a crash that injured you, but you yourself were also careless? This statute answers that question. Florida is a “pure comparative negligence” state. This means that you are still entitled to recover compensation for your injuries and losses after a car wreck even if you yourself are partly to blame. The amount you recover will simply be reduced in proportion to the amount of fault you yourself bear for causing or contributing to the crash.
For example, you may find yourself with permanent paralysis after being rear-ended by a driver who was traveling too fast and talking on his or her cell phone. You might be able to recover money to assist you in paying your hospital bills and ongoing medical and personal expenses even if you were partly to blame for the crash by failing to signal or stopping suddenly without reason to do so.
In these sorts of cases, the judge or jury deciding your case will assign a “percentage of fault” to each of the involved parties, representing how much of the crash each party is responsible for. Your compensation award is reduced in proportion to the amount of fault attributable to you. So, for example, if your motor vehicle crash results in you now incurring $500,000 in past and future medical expenses, but you are determined to be 25 percent responsible for causing the crash, you would still be able to recover up to $375,000 in compensation.
Taken together, these statutes tell Florida motorists that while in “ordinary” cases (as if there is anything ordinary about a car wreck that hurts you or your loved one) your own PIP policy will pay for your losses, if you suffer significant, permanent injuries, disfigurement, or scarring – or if your loved one is killed – you may be entitled to file a civil lawsuit against the at-fault motorist. You will have two years from the day of the crash in which to file your lawsuit. Your civil lawsuit can succeed, and you can recover compensation even if you are partly at fault for causing the crash (your award will simply be reduced to account for the amount of fault attributable to you and your actions).
Get Informed with Help from Parker Waichman LLP
The car wreck law firm of Parker Waichman LLP takes its role as your legal advisor and counselor seriously: we want you to be informed about your legal rights so that you can make the most educated decisions for you and your loved ones following an injury accident. Contact Parker Waichman LLP today and take your next steps toward obtaining your recovery by dialing 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).
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