It is unlikely you will have to go to court after a car accident in Florida; however, there are a few exceptions. If your injuries qualify as serious per Florida Statutes § 627.737, you may need to file a lawsuit against the responsible driver, which can lead to a trial. If you were involved in an auto accident and cited for a traffic violation you may receive a court summons. However, you could still qualify for compensation.
Florida is a no-fault insurance state that recognizes pure comparative negligence. Car accident claims can quickly become complex from a legal standpoint. Further, fault is disputed in many cases, so it is important to understand the legal process and how comparative negligence laws can impact your claim before speaking to an insurer.
How Long Do You Have to File a Car Accident Claim in Florida?
After a car accident in Florida, you will first need to file a claim with your insurance company. Because Florida is a no-fault state, this applies to all parties involved in an accident regardless of who was responsible. This insurance claim will cover typical expenses associated with a car accident, such as medical expenses, lost wages, or property damage.
By law, all parties involved in a car accident in Florida that results in any damages are required to report the accident to the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Department within 10 days. Despite this, it is best to notify the police immediately as any accident resulting in an injury or more than $500 worth of damage must be reported to the police before leaving the scene of the accident.
The same applies to notifying your insurance company about the accident. The actual amount of time you must legally file a claim will vary from one policy to the next, but it is always best to file as soon as possible.
If your case meets one of the exceptions to the no-fault rule, you have 4 years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit.
To consult with an experienced car accidents lawyer today, call 855-686-6752
Should You Always Seek Advice from a Lawyer Before Filing an Insurance Claim?
If you were injured, it could be beneficial to seek advice from a car accident attorney before discussing anything with an insurance company. Of course, you will need to report the accident within a specific time frame according to your policy, but you need only provide basic details of the where and when.
Insurers always seek to limit their liability, which translates to how much they are willing to pay in an accident claim. Having a lawyer on our team manage communication with all involved parties helps you avoid common mistakes that could harm your case, and ultimately, your settlement.
Which Factors Add Complexity to Car Accident Claims?
While many claims are relatively straightforward to resolve, it may be prudent to discuss your situation with a lawyer in cases where:
- Liability for the accident is unclear.
- An accident involves multiple parties.
- An accident leaves you with injuries that affect your life or ability to work.
- Insurance companies are delaying or denying your claim.
- You have concerns about accepting a settlement offer before the extent of your injuries, or the time you need to recover is fully known.
The list above is not comprehensive. However, our law firm is happy to provide a free, no-obligation consultation if you have questions or concerns to find out about your legal options.
Are All Losses Covered Under No-Fault Insurance Coverage?
While no-fault insurance is intended to lower the cost of auto insurance by settling small claims out of court, it does have several limitations to the amount of compensation you can recover compared to damages available in a civil action case, namely:
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) is Capped to Your Policy Limits
The Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) mandates all drivers to have PIP. It will cover 80 percent of your medical costs up to $10,000. If your medical bills exceed the PIP threshold, you may be able to file a personal injury case against the other driver or their insurer.
PIP Does Not Cover All of Your Lost Wages
PIP covers 60% of your lost wages up to $10,000 and shares the pool you have to cover your medical expenses. If your injuries prevent you from working for a while or your ability to work is permanently affected, a personal injury lawsuit may be necessary to recover these damages.
In cases of severe injuries or permanent disabilities, it is easy to exceed the amount allocated for lost wages and medical expenses through PIP. To learn if you must go to court after a car accident in Florida to recover lost wages, be sure to consider both the short and long-term effects of your injury. Speaking with a car accident lawyer in Florida may be helpful in determining the total amount of lost wages incurred.
PIP Does Not Cover Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering damages compensate injured parties for the distress caused after an accident. They are awarded for physical pain and emotional distress such as loss of enjoyment of life or anxiety following the collision.
PIP does not cover pain and suffering damages. However, you may be able to recover these damages in certain situations. There is no cap on pain and suffering in the state of Florida when it comes to car accidents, but to receive any compensation the pain and suffering experienced must be substantial. For example, a traumatic accident that results in a mental disorder such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a permanent disability, severe injury, or the loss of a loved one.
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What Are Your Options If Your Injuries Exceed the Maximum Coverage of PIP?
If you exhausted your PIP limit, you might be entitled to seek additional compensation by filing a personal injury lawsuit. Your injuries will need to meet specific criteria, which can include (although not limited to) the following:
- Traumatic head injury
- Permanent scarring or disfigurement
- Broken bones
- Severe burns
- Spinal cord injuries
- Loss of a limb
While filing a lawsuit could mean you will need to go to court after a car accident, most cases are settled without a trial. In these cases, both parties involved agree to a settlement. When both parties fail to come to an agreement on their own, the case is taken to court where a judge will determine a fair settlement instead.
A personal injury attorney with our firm can help you gather the evidence to support your case and establish the severity and extent of your injuries. This way, you could be entitled to further compensation beyond the benefits covered under PIP through a settlement or by taking the other party to court
Discuss Your Situation for Free with Bogin, Munns & Munns Today
We understand being injured through no fault of your own can be highly stressful and frustrating. Having represented injured parties for over 40 years, we have encountered and sought compensation in most types of car accident cases in Florida.
Our experience is the foundation of our track record of success when pursuing fair compensation for our clients. To find out how we can help you, too, call Bogin, Munns & Munns, and get a free consultation.