Have You Suffered An Auto Accident In Florida? Find Out Whether You Qualify To File A Personal Injury Suit
If you've been injured in an auto accident in Florida, you may be dealing with more medical bills than you can handle. If your insurance company refuses to pay any more, you may need to consider a compensation suit to get the money you need from the party responsible for your accident. However, before you talk to a lawyer about building a case, you have to understand a few things about Florida's unique accident compensation laws.
What Does "No-Fault" Mean?
Each state has its own laws governing how the compensation for accident costs is recovered. Florida has a "no-fault" policy for recovering damages, which means that no one person in an accident is held responsible for all of the damage caused, even if it can be demonstrated that their actions caused the accident itself. Instead, drivers must look to their own insurance policies to cover repair and hospital bills.
Even if your hospital bills are extensive, there are still strict rules regarding when you are permitted to sue the other driver for additional compensation. Namely, you must be able to demonstrate that you've suffered a permanent injury.
What Counts As A Permanent Injury?
Extensive scarring, especially scarring which disfigures or discolors the face, is considered a form of permanent injury that allows for seeking additional compensation. Depending on the scars, compensation may be calculated based on the cost of restorative plastic surgery or, if surgery is not an option, based on the value of the pain and suffering experienced by a permanently scarred person.
Physical disabilities that develop as a result of an accident are also classified as an injury eligible for a compensation suit. The inability to stand for long periods, walk unassisted, and lift heavy items are just a few potential disabilities that you can have as a result of auto accident injuries. Loss of limbs or the loss of their function also qualifies, provided that there is no way to regain function with treatment.
You also are entitled to seek compensation if you have lost your sight or your hearing as a result of the accident. Even if you retain some sight or hearing, if the damage is too significant to be corrected with the use of glasses or hearing aids, you will still be able to sue the other driver.
Depending on the circumstances of the car accident, permanent injuries to your mental health may also qualify. If you suffer brain damage, for example, which reduces your ability to function in daily life, you will be able to sue for compensation. Depression and PTSD suffered after a car accident may also qualify, but proving the permanence of both conditions can be a challenge.
What Is Comparative Negligence?
In Florida, determining the amount of compensation for a person injured in an accident usually involves first determining how much of the accident is the other party's fault. For example, if you are struck by a moving vehicle and injured, you are entitled to compensation. However, if you were jaywalking, wearing low-visibility clothing at night, or you moved suddenly into the crosswalk, the court may determine that a percentage of the responsibility for the accident is on your shoulders.
While negligence is quantified in percentages, the amounts are decided purely by the judge after he or she has been informed by doctors and other expert witnesses, eye witnesses, and the testimony of both you and the defendant. Therefore, it is very possible to have your percentage of responsibility reduced by a competent attorney, who can rhetorically convince the judge to assign more blame to the other party.
Once percentages of negligence are determined, you will receive compensation equal to what you need minus your percentage of responsibility. For example, if the court finds you 20% responsible for your accident and you are suing for $100,000, a ruling in your favor will mean the other party must pay you $80,000.
Dealing with permanent injuries can be emotional and stressful at the best of times, but when you're swamped with bills, it can be a far heavier burden. Contact your local auto accident attorney and find out whether you have a case for an additional compensation suit. What do you have to lose?