AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENTS

The state of Florida has a “No-Fault” law, which requires your auto insurer to pay for certain non-economic damages, regardless of who caused the accident. Florida enacted this law as a way to reduce auto-injury fraud, thereby keeping insurance costs down.

However, the law provides a threshold requirement. In order to collect non-economic damages from the at-fault party, you must establish that your injury resulted in any of the following:

1) a significant and permanent loss of important bodily function;
2) a permanent injury;
3) significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement; or
4) death.

A court may reduce your damages, if the defendant can establish that actions on your part contributed to the accident. This principle, known as “comparative negligence,” holds that a court can reduce your damage award by the percentage for which a jury found you responsible for the accident.

For example, if you establish damages in the amount of $10,000, but the jury finds that your negligence constituted thirty percent of the reason the accident occurred, then your damage award would be reduced by thirty percent, to $7,000.

Florida law also allows the reduction of damage awards by any amounts you might have received from public or private insurance to compensate you for your losses. Under this rule, known as the “Collateral Source Rule,” if you received $1,000 from your auto insurer to cover your medical expenses after an accident, a court may reduce your damage award, if it includes medical expenses, by $1,000.

You should note that you must file your lawsuit for injuries within 4 years of the date of the accident. Florida law prohibits any suit filed after the
4-year period. Lawsuits for wrongful death must be filed within 2 years of the date of the accident that caused the death.

There are other time limits that apply to governmental agencies that require you to put the agency on notice of your claim within 3 years of the accident. If you do not provide the required notice, you are barred from filing a lawsuit. These time limitations are enforced strictly by the courts.

If you have been injured or a loved one has died as a result of a car accident, you should consult with a lawyer immediately to learn your legal rights. If you have questions or concerns about injuries suffered as the result of a car accident, contact our offices at (305) 895-7547 or toll free at (866) 895-7217 to discuss your case for free. We offer free initial consultations and work on a contingent fee basis, which means that there is never a fee unless we successfully resolve your case.