Considering how often people need to drive or ride in vehicles, the odds of being in a car accident at some point are significant. When injuries are severe, you should speak to a lawyer about getting fair compensation from the negligent driver.
Since Florida is a no-fault auto insurance state, insurance companies typically cover damages for car accidents. However, if insurance coverage is insufficient or your claim is denied, you can sue the driver who hit you and make them or their insurance company pay. To file a lawsuit, you must show you experienced a serious injury as defined by law. Otherwise, your case will be rejected. In a lawsuit, your damages should reflect the economic and non-economic injuries and losses you incurred, and accurate calculations are crucial. It is a good idea to hire a lawyer as soon as possible after an accident to handle much of the legal legwork of your case while you spend time recovering and resting.
Schedule a free case review with our car accident lawyers by calling The Law Offices of David I. Fuchs, Injury & Accident Lawyer, P.A. at (954) 751-4258.
Who Pays for Damages in a Car Accident in Orange County, FL?
Florida is a no-fault insurance state, meaning all drivers are legally required to have personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. According to Florida Statute § 627.736(1), drivers must file claims with their PIP insurance policies rather than third-party claims with the other driver’s insurance.
Generally, fault is not an issue in PIP claims, and drivers may be covered regardless of who is to blame for the crash. This often benefits drivers with minor damages easily covered by their insurance policies. However, coverage is limited to the policy terms, and your insurance company will only cover you up to the maximum coverage set by the policy.
If your damages exceed your insurance coverage, you can file a lawsuit against the other driver to get compensation for your remaining damages. In a car accident lawsuit, the defendant’s insurance company usually pays the bill for your damages. However, if the defendant is uninsured, they might have to pay out of pocket or find other sources for compensation. In cases where defendants are insolvent and cannot pay, courts might garnish the defendant’s wages or place a lien on properties or assets to get payment.
How to File a Lawsuit for a Car Accident in Orange County, FL
Before you can file a lawsuit against the other driver, our car accident attorneys must check that your injuries are considered “serious injuries” under the law. The serious injury rule is a legal threshold that prevents people with minor injuries from filing lawsuits. If your PIP insurance claim completely covers your damages, you likely cannot file a lawsuit for the accident.
Under Florida Statute § 627.737(2), serious injuries must meet the following criteria for drivers to file lawsuits:
- Significant and permanent loss of bodily functions
- A medically determined permanent injury other than disfigurement or scarring
- Significant disfigurement or scarring
While some criteria are somewhat specific about the nature of a serious injury, others are more vague and might encompass various injuries. For example, being permanently unable to walk without mobility aids after an accident may be considered a serious injury as it is a permanent injury that does not consist of scarring or disfigurement.
It is important that our car accident attorneys include evidence of your serious injuries in your initial complaint when we file the lawsuit. The defendant may question whether you have met this legal threshold and file a motion with the court for a hearing. The court will review your submitted evidence and determine whether it proves you have a serious injury. Only the evidence we submit is reviewed by the court, so it is crucial that we include the strongest evidence of your injuries we can gather.
Recovering Damages in Orange County, FL Car Accident Cases
Perhaps the most prominent of your damages are medical bills. Not only are medical bills extremely costly, but they may also demonstrate the severity of your injuries. Serious injuries tend to be met with more extensive treatment and higher bills.
Often, insurance does not cover the full cost of a new vehicle or repairs, and a lawsuit is necessary to cover the remaining expenses. You should also add the income you miss out on because you are injured and cannot return to work for a while. The longer you are out of work, the greater your damages should be.
Not all damages can be measured in money, but that does not mean compensation is unavailable. You may claim damages for pain, suffering, humiliation, the loss of enjoyment of your life, and other painful personal experiences. Since these damages do not normally come with a price tag, their value is determined by juries.
The damages you recover in a lawsuit might have already been paid for by insurance. Since plaintiffs cannot recover damages for the same injuries twice, you may not keep excess damages. Generally, insurance companies have a right of subrogation and may demand reimbursement. For example, if your PIP insurance covered $25,000 of your damages, and a civil court awarded you $60,000, you would reimburse the insurance company and keep the remaining $35,000.
Why You Should Hire a Lawyer in Orange County, FL for Your Car Accident Case
Car accidents are so frequent that many wonder if attorneys are necessary to navigate such common legal processes. The truth is that you should hire an attorney for your car accident case as soon as you can.
Perhaps the biggest reason to hire a lawyer is because you are badly injured and unable to handle the legal work alone. Communicating with insurance adjusters, defendants, and other attorneys is difficult and requires much effort. Your primary should be on recovering from your injuries while your lawyer handles the heavy lifting, legally speaking.
Your lawyer should also help you accurately calculate your damages to get the maximum compensation possible. Injured plaintiffs tend to zero in on bigger damages like medical bills and totaled vehicles while overlooking numerous smaller damages. Your attorney should know how to account for all your losses so you get full and fair compensation.
Call Our Orange County, FL Car Accident Lawyers
Schedule a free case evaluation with our car accident attorneys by calling The Law Offices of David I. Fuchs, Injury & Accident Lawyer, P.A. at (954) 751-4258.