If you have been injured in a St. Lucie County car accident, you might be entitled to compensation for the harm you suffered. However, recovering compensation under Florida’s insurance rules can be challenging.
Fortunately, our car accident lawyers can help you determine what compensation could be available in your case. Florida law has undergone some important changes in the last few months that will significantly impact car accident victims’ ability to recover damages. One critical change in the law is that you now only have two years to file a lawsuit after being injured in a car accident.
Contact the Law Offices of David I. Fuchs, Injury & Accident Lawyer, P.A. today at (954) 751-4258 for a free case assessment with our car accident attorneys.
Common Causes of Car Accidents in St. Lucie County
Drivers have a legal obligation to drive safely and obey road rules. When they fail to do so, the people around them are put at risk of injury or death. The following are some common causes of car accident lawsuits:
Driving too fast for the conditions is one of the most common causes of car accidents in St. Lucie County. It is also one of the most preventable. Speeding increases the chances of a negligent driver losing control of their vehicle and hitting another driver or pedestrian.
Traffic violations are another common cause of car accident injuries. Common traffic violations include running red lights and stop signs, driving on the wrong side of the road, and passing on the shoulder or in a no-passing zone.
Distracted driving has become an epidemic on our roads, with many drivers paying more attention to their phones than their surroundings. Some examples of distracted driving include texting or talking on a cell while driving, eating and drinking, and reading or writing notes while driving.
How to Recover Damages for a Car Accident in St. Lucie County
In Florida, drivers are subject to “no-fault” insurance rules in accordance with Florida Statute § 627.736(1). This law requires that all drivers in St. Lucie County and throughout Florida must have personal injury protection (PIP) insurance to cover injuries to themselves or their passengers. This system is referred to as “no-fault” because regardless of who caused the accident, victims file for damages with their own insurance and are compensated from their PIP coverage. However, evidence must be provided to your insurance company to recover compensation. It is worth noting that other states have “at-fault” insurance rules, where victims must file a claim with the insurance company of the negligent driver.
Florida’s No-Fault Insurance Rules
Florida’s no-fault regulations aim to provide compensation to victims without the need for a legal battle in court. However, no-fault insurance has several limitations that our car accident attorneys can help determine if you can overcome. The most important limitation is that PIP insurance will not cover all of your damages but only 80% of medical bills and 60% of lost wages. Additionally, benefits are only provided up to the policy limit. $10,000 is the minimum coverage limit in Florida, which many drivers have. This means that the percentages of your financial losses will only be covered up to policy limits. If you have minimum coverage, you could be responsible for damages that go beyond $10,000, which is a very low amount when considering the cost of healthcare today.
However, no-fault insurance is not designed to cover non-economic losses, also known as “pain and suffering.” These damages are based on your subjective experiences and the psychological impact of your car accident and resulting injuries. Unlike financial losses that can be easily added up, it is much more challenging assigning a value to your pain and suffering. Because this is often a place of great contention among injured parties and insurance companies, Florida law only allows recovery of non-economic damages in a car accident lawsuit.
The Insurance Company’s Right of Subrogation
When seeking compensation after a car accident in St. Lucie County, it is crucial to take note of your insurance company’s subrogation rights. “Subrogation” is the practice by which insurance providers must be reimbursed for coverage that was paid out for your injuries in the event you recover more in damages in a lawsuit than what was given. This means that if you are awarded $50,000 at trial, but your PIP covered $25,000 in damages, you must pay back the $25,000 to your insurance company, leaving you with the remaining $25,000. This rule is intended to bar victims from receiving double compensation for the same incident.
When You Can Recover Compensation in a St. Lucie County Car Accident Lawsuit
To file a lawsuit in St. Lucie County for pain and suffering damages, you must show that your injuries meet Florida’s “serious injury” threshold. The intent behind this regulation is to prevent the courts from being overwhelmed with car accident lawsuits that involve minor injuries. Sometimes it is clear an injury is serious, and the threshold will not be too difficult to overcome. In other cases, however, it might not be clear that an injury is serious with corroborating evidence to show the injury’s impact on the victim’s life.
Florida’s Serious Injury Threshold
In order to file a car accident lawsuit in St. Lucie County, it is necessary to demonstrate that your injuries fall under one of the categories of “serious injuries” listed in Florida Statute § 627.737(2). As per this statute, you are eligible to file a lawsuit if you have experienced considerable and long-lasting loss of bodily functions or have suffered a permanent injury. In addition, death, significant scarring, and disfigurement can qualify as serious injuries for the purposes of filing a lawsuit. Keep in mind, though, that insurance companies will try to argue that your injuries are not that serious and that your case should be dismissed.
New Deadline to File a Lawsuit
Earlier in 2023, Florida’s governor signed a new law that went into immediate effect, which made critical changes to Florida’s personal injury process. One of the major changes was to Florida’s “statute of limitations,” which is the time limit to file a lawsuit. Before this new law was passed, car accident victims had up to four years to file a lawsuit. That time limit has now been halved, allowing only two years for car accident victims to file their lawsuits in St. Lucie County.
This means that time is of the essence, and you should not delay in initiating your car accident case. You might not need to file a lawsuit for your injuries, but if you do, two years is not much time to gather the necessary evidence and track down witnesses before filing your lawsuit. If your lawsuit has not been filed within two years, the defense attorney will motion for the court to dismiss your case, which it will grant.
Our St. Lucie County Car Accident Lawyers Can Help
For a free case assessment with our skilled car accident attorneys, contact the Law Offices of David I. Fuchs, Injury & Accident Lawyer, P.A. at (954) 751-4258 today.