Can You Sue For A Car Accident if You Are Not Hurt in Florida?
Bill Allen | May 29, 2021 | Car Accidents
If you were not hurt in a car accident in Florida, it is unlikely that you have the standing to sue the other driver, even if that driver caused the car accident. Florida is a no-fault state for automobile insurance. The state’s no-fault insurance laws typically require individuals to have a “serious injury” before they can pursue a personal injury or negligence claim against the driver who caused the car crash.
How Does Florida’s No-Fault Insurance Work?
Each driver in Florida must have a minimum amount of PIP or Personal Injury Protection insurance. PIP is no-fault insurance coverage. The minimum requirement for PIP insurance is $10,000. Drivers must also have $10,000 in PDL or Property Damage Liability insurance coverage. You can purchase higher coverage amounts if you desire.
PIP insurance covers up to 80 percent of your medical bills and up to 60 percent of your lost wages if you are injured in a traffic accident. The coverage applies regardless of who caused the accident.
Therefore, if you are at fault for the collision, you file a claim with your PIP carrier. If the other driver caused the crash, you would still file a claim with your PIP carrier. Typically, you must seek medical treatment within 14 days of the car wreck, and your insurance provider is only liable for medical bills and lost wages up to the policy limits.
Drivers are not required to carry liability insurance coverage, which is different from PIP coverage. Liability insurance compensates accident victims in crashes that are your fault. Many drivers in Florida carry liability insurance in case they are sued after a car accident.
Unfortunately, PIP insurance does not compensate you for all your damages and losses after a car accident. If you were not seriously injured in a car accident, you might not receive all of the money you deserve.
However, if your injuries meet the serious injury threshold, you could sue the at-fault driver for the damages not covered by your PIP insurance.
What is the Serious Injury Threshold in Florida?
Florida Statute §316.027 defines “serious bodily injury” as:
- Extensive disfigurement or scarring
- A physical condition that has a substantial risk for long-term impairment or disability
- Loss of bodily function or mobility
- A physical condition that has a substantial risk of wrongful death
Individuals who sustain serious injuries may proceed with a lawsuit against the party or parties responsible for causing the car accident.
What Damages Could I Receive for a Car Accident Claim?
If you sue the other driver, you could recover compensation for your economic damages (financial losses) and non-economic damages (pain and suffering).
Examples of damages in a car accident claim include:
- Cost and expenses related to medical care and treatment
- Loss of income, benefits, and future earning potential
- Permanent impairments and disabilities
- Cost of personal care and household services
- Pain and suffering caused by physical injuries, emotional distress, and mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life and decreased quality of life
- Psychological injuries, including PTSD
The types of damages and the value of those damages depend on several factors. Cases involving catastrophic injuries and permanent impairments usually have higher values. The cost of care, future damages, and suffering are more significant with some types of injuries such as paralysis, amputations, severe burns, and other traumatic injuries.
How Long Do I Have to Sue Someone for a Car Accident?
If your injuries meet the serious injury threshold, you must file a lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires. The court can dismiss lawsuits filed after the deadline.
In most cases, car accident victims have up to four years after the car crash to file a lawsuit. Some exceptions change that deadline.
Four years sounds like a long time, but you do not want to wait until the deadline to contact a lawyer. A lawyer needs time to investigate the accident, gather evidence, interview witnesses, and prepare the case for a lawsuit.
Also, the longer you wait to contact a lawyer, the greater the chance that critical evidence could be lost or destroyed. Investigating the accident soon after the crash means that witnesses remember details clearly. There is a greater chance of finding evidence that could prove the other driver caused the accident.
Each Car Accident Case is Unique – Seek Legal Advice
There are exceptions to most Florida laws. Therefore, it is always best to seek legal advice about your car accident case from an experienced car accident lawyer. Before you accept a settlement agreement or give a statement to the insurance provider, talk with a lawyer to ensure you understand your rights and options for recovering compensation for a Florida car accident.
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