7 Things to Know About Florida Personal Injury Laws
Personal injuries have the potential to adversely affect your quality of life, which is why they should not be ignored! If you or a loved one has sustained significant physical and mental injuries due to someone else’s negligence, you should immediately contact a personal injury attorney. You may be entitled to compensation that you can use to pay for the cost of recovering from any injuries sustained during your accident.
Here are 7 things you should know about Florida personal injury laws.
1. Car-Related Accidents Are the Top Cause of Personal Injuries in Florida
Car crashes and other car-related accidents are still the top cause of personal injuries in Florida. In fact, according to the latest data from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, there were 403,626 recorded crashes in 2018. These crashes resulted in 236,157 recorded injuries, 19,196 of which were incapacitating.
Because of Florida’s no-fault laws, car drivers are mandated to carry at least $10,000 worth of Personal Injury Protection (PIP). This means that regardless of whose fault it is, insurance providers are required to pay the costs of hospitalization.
2. Florida’s No-Fault Laws Do Not Absolve Liability
No-fault policies only serve the purpose of ensuring that participants in the car crash are given adequate medical care. It does not prevent anybody from proving fault towards another party or suing for damages—especially if they incur serious injuries.
Florida’s personal injury laws define serious injuries as bodily injuries that are characterized as any of the following:
- Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement
- Significant and permanent loss of a bodily function
- Caused death
3. Florida’s Statute of Limitations
Statutes of limitations act as deadlines from when any court can reasonably hear your case with evidence—whether physical documents or through eyewitness statements—that are still intact and have not deteriorated over time. Therefore, contacting your personal injury lawyer immediately after the accident is a good idea, as your case needs to build up evidence as soon as possible.
Florida’s statute of limitations for most personal injury cases is limited to four years from the date of the injury. While this seems straightforward, the limitations do, in fact, have a few exceptions. In some rare circumstances, it can extend for a longer period. This is true if certain injuries can be directly attributed to the accident, but may not have surfaced immediately. This situation is usually prevalent in medical malpractice cases, where there is a far shorter 2-year statute of limitations.
4. Compensation for Pain & Suffering
The most obvious cost rising from personal injuries are economic damages, such as medical costs and lost wages. These damages are easily determined by looking at your medical bills or by calculating how much money you lost for the duration you were not able to work. However, Florida personal injury law also recognizes non-economic damages, which include pain and suffering.
When calculating pain and suffering damages, you are suing for both physical and mental injuries. Four of the most common factors that are considered are:
- Severity and type of injury
- Required medical treatment
- Recovery period
- Effect of injury on your life
5. Evidence is Key to Proving Your Claim for Pain & Suffering
Once you and your personal injury lawyer have deemed that your pain and suffering claim is great enough to hold value in court, it’s time to start gathering evidence. Suing for non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, is much more complex than it is for economic damages, like lost wages and hospital bills.
This is because pain and suffering may not directly correspond to monetary values. This means that aside from documents, you will also have to gather some eyewitness testimony. The following people’s testimony will be of great value to your pain and suffering claim in court:
- Your doctor
- A mental health professional
- Spouse or close family members
6. Florida Uses Comparative Negligence Rules
Comparative negligence states that negligence is often shared by each party involved in an accident. Florida uses the pure comparative negligence rule, where the amount of compensation can be reduced based on the degree of fault you had in the accident.
For example, if your collision was at night and the other driver had been driving a vehicle with non-working headlights, then that could be sufficient grounds for proving fault. However, if you were also speeding or texting while driving, you would have also contributed to the accident.
In this scenario, it will be up to a jury, in a trial, or an insurance adjuster, in a settlement, to determine how much fault you had contributed. For example, if you were determined to be 20% at fault, then your claim of $300,000 would be reduced to $240,000.
7. Florida Has a Punitive Damage Cap
As far as personal injury cases are concerned, punitive damages are rare in Florida. Punitive damages are usually reserved for defendants whose acts are considered gross negligence, malicious, and intentional. Aside from determining intent, the court will also look at similar cases to see if these were also awarded to the plaintiff.
In this case, the court awards punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages—both economic and non-economic—in hopes of deterring the defendant from repeating the same acts in the future.
If you or a loved one suffers injuries in an accident, Miller Trial Law can help you.
Please call us today at (305) 697-8312 for a free, no-risk consultation. We look forward to serving you!