Being injured in a car accident is often a serious and stressful event for the victim. Unfortunately, car accidents are common in Orlando.
With millions of tourists coming to the city each year to visit nearby Disney World and other attractions, the chances of being involved in a car accident are high. Increased tourism also leads to increased congestion on Orlando’s roads, already known for heavy congestion. However, Florida has made some recent changes to it laws that affect car accident lawsuits, but our firm can help you understand how these changes will impact your case.
For a free case evaluation with our car accident lawyers, call The Law Offices of David I. Fuchs, Injury & Accident Lawyer today at (954) 751-4258.
How Compensation Works in Orlando Car Accident Cases
Getting into a car accident in Orlando is almost always stressful, but it is made even more so by the complexities of recovering compensation under Florida’s insurance rules. Florida practices “no-fault” insurance rules. Under Florida Statute § 627.736(1), all drivers must carry personal injury protection (PIP) insurance to cover them in the event they or their passengers are injured.
It is termed “no-fault” because car accident victims file for damages with their own insurance and are compensated from their PIP coverage no matter who was responsible for causing the accident. Evidence of the accident and proof of damages must still be submitted to recover compensation, which our car accident lawyers can help you obtain and organize. Other states use “at-fault” insurance rules, which require victims to file a third-party claim with the negligent driver’s insurance. However, No-fault rules prevent victims from filing a lawsuit unless they suffered serious injuries in their Orlando car accident.
What PIP Insurance Covers
While Florida’s no-fault rules are intended to get compensation to victims without an adversarial process, there are important limitations that victims need to be aware of. Most importantly, PIP insurance will not cover all of your damages. PIP insurance will only cover 80% of your medical expenses and 60% of your lost wages from missed time at work. Further, benefits will only be provided up to your policy limit. The minimum coverage drivers must carry in PIP insurance is $10,000. This means that your PIP insurance will cover 80% of your medical bills and 60% of your lost income up to $10,000 if you select the minimum coverage.
Unfortunately, you will be liable for any expenses beyond the minimum coverage unless a lawsuit can be filed against the driver that injured you. This includes non-economic “pain and suffering” damages. PIP insurance will not cover emotional distress, loss of enjoyment, and other pain and suffering damages that cannot be measured in dollars. These damages can only be recovered in a lawsuit.
The Right of Subrogation
Another important caveat when pursuing compensation after a car accident is the insurance company’s right of subrogation. Through this policy, insurance companies can demand payment to be reimbursed for damages that were paid out if you recover damages in a lawsuit beyond what was paid. For example, if your insurance paid $10,000 to cover your financial losses and a court later awarded you $20,000 in a lawsuit, you will have to pay the $10,000 back, allowing you to keep the remaining $10,000. Essentially, the rule is to prevent victims from getting paid twice for the same injuries.
When You Can File a Lawsuit for a Car Accident in Orlando
As mentioned, you will have to overcome Florida’s “serious injury” threshold in order to file a lawsuit in Orlando for the damages that your PIP insurance would not cover. The purpose of this rule is to prevent the civil courts from getting backed up with personal injury lawsuits over minor car accident injuries. Thus, if your PIP insurance covered all of your damages after an accident, it might be difficult overcoming this threshold in order to file a lawsuit.
Unfortunately, it takes more than just making a claim that your injuries are serious. You will need to show that your injuries meet one of the definitions of “serious injuries” contained in Florida Statute § 627.737(2). According to this law, victims can file a lawsuit if they have sustained significant and permanent loss of bodily functions or have a permanent injury diagnosed by a medical professional. Death is also grounds for filing a car accident lawsuit in Orlando, as well as significant scarring and disfigurement.
There is quite a bit of room for arguing under these definitions, so it is important to have your case evaluated by our firm to determine if your injuries qualify as serious. You will want to make it clear from the moment you file your lawsuit that your injuries are serious. If the defendant’s lawyer or insurance company does not think you have met the threshold, they can challenge the legitimacy of your claim by filing a motion for a hearing to determine if your injuries are, in fact, serious.
What Happens When a Driver Contributes to Causing a Car Accident in Florida
Florida has gone through some recent changes with regard to its contributory negligence laws. Previously, victims could still recover compensation if they were partially to blame for causing their accident, but their award would be reduced by the percentage they were found at fault, without any cutoff. Now, however, victims will be prevented from recovering compensation if they are found more than 50% at fault. For example, if you are found 51% at fault, and the other driver is found 49% at fault, you will not be able to recover even a percentage of your damages. If both drivers are found equally at fault, or a 50/50 split, you can recover compensation for half the damages you sustained.
The Time Limit to File a Car Accident Lawsuit in Orlando
Florida’s statute of limitations to file a lawsuit for a car accident has also been changed under new laws. The statute of limitations is the legal term for the time limit to file a lawsuit in Orlando. Previously, car accident victims had four years from the date of their accident to file a lawsuit. As of early 2023, the law now only allows victims two years from the accident date to file a lawsuit.
With half the time allowed, it is more important than ever to get your car accident lawsuit started as quickly as possible. That way, our firm will have time to gather evidence, interview witnesses, and draft your complaint to file before the deadline passes. If your lawsuit is not filed within the two-year window, you will be barred from pursuing compensation.
Our Orlando Car Accident Attorneys Can Help
Contact The Law Offices of David I. Fuchs, Injury & Accident Lawyer, P.A. at (954) 751-4258 for a free review of your case with our car accident attorneys.