Automobile accidents can cause severe, debilitating injuries, or worse, but Florida law treats auto accident injury claims differently than most other personal injury claims. Usually, a person who has suffered injuries because of someone else’s negligent or wrongful actions makes a claim on that person’s insurance. If that does not lead to a settlement, they may take that person to court. Florida’s “no fault” insurance law requires people injured in car accidents to make a claim on their own insurance, which must include “personal injury protection” (PIP) coverage. This covers some damages, including medical expenses and sometimes lost income, but not other damages, regardless of who was at fault in the accident.
At Cordova Law Firm PLLC, our team of personal injury attorneys have experience with both the insurance business and the Florida court system. We can prepare your claim for auto accident injuries, and represent your interests in negotiations with the insurance company and in the courtroom, if needed. Give us a call or contact us online to learn more about how we can help you. Your first consultation with us is free and confidential.
Automobile accidents are one of the leading causes of injuries and death in Florida. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, 2017 saw a total of 402,385 auto accidents. Fatal car accidents numbered 2,924, with 3,116 fatalities, and 20,380 “incapacitating” injuries occurred in 16,574 accidents. The department defines “incapacitating” as “disabling injuries, such as broken bones [or] severed limbs.”
Florida law allows people injured in accidents to recover damages for expenses arising from their injuries, as well as damages for non-economic losses like pain, suffering, and emotional anguish. Economic damages could include:
Non-economic damages may include:
The no-fault law is intended to reduce the number of lawsuits resulting from auto accidents. People who are injured must first make a claim on their own insurance policy’s PIP coverage. This will pay for a person’s own economic damages, such as medical bills and lost wages, no matter who was at fault in the accident.
Florida law requires anyone intending to make a PIP claim to seek medical treatment within fourteen days of the accident. This is known as the “14-day rule.” If a person does not seek treatment in that time period, their insurance company might not be obligated to pay their claim.
PIP coverage does not cover non-economic damages like pain and suffering. Most car accident injuries are not severe enough to cause lasting pain or anguish, or at least that is the hope behind limiting injured people’s ability to recover such damages. When injuries are particularly severe, the no-fault insurance law does not prevent claims on other drivers’ insurance or lawsuits. This means the possibility of both economic and non-economic damages.
Serious injuries that do not preclude an insurance claim or lawsuit under the no-fault insurance law include:
If an injured person meets the threshold of “seriousness” established by the no-fault insurance law, they must still prove that another driver was legally at fault for their injuries. This requires proof of “negligence,” which consists of four elements:
The Florida no-fault insurance law directly addresses the rights and obligations of drivers involved in car accidents, but what about passengers who are injured? In most cases, passengers are blameless for car accidents, but they can be injured just as badly as drivers.
Passengers are subject to the 14-day rule, and should therefore seek prompt medical treatment. If an injured passenger has their own car, and therefore their own car insurance policy, they can make a claim on their own PIP coverage. If not, they may be able to submit a claim on one of the drivers’ insurance policies, or a family member’s policy.
If you have been injured in an automobile accident, you need an advocate who can help you understand your rights and options. The Orlando auto accident attorneys at Cordova Law Firm are available to help you. Please call us at (321) 267-3682 (CORDOVA) or contact us online today to speak to a member of our team about your case. As always, your first consultation with us is 100% free.