Can I File A Lawsuit After An Auto Accident In Florida?
If you have been in a car accident in Florida, it is understandable to think that seeking compensation is as simple as filing suit against the person who allegedly caused the accident. However, in Florida, you may have to pursue a more roundabout method of getting your medical bills paid. Florida is a no-fault auto insurance state, which means that in some situations, you may not file suit; rather, your insurance coverage must be the first place you turn to file a claim. Consulting a knowledgeable attorney on the topic can be a help in terms of getting through the process.
Filing A PIP Claim
Florida’s no-fault insurance system requires that every driver who registers a four-wheeled vehicle in the state is required to carry at least $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) insurance, and $10,000 in property damage liability (PDL) coverage. PIP coverage is then used to cover medical bills in accident cases where they do not exceed a given amount, usually $10,000. At least in theory, this is intended to minimize the pressure on court dockets and to encourage quicker settlement of accident cases, which can be beneficial to both an injured plaintiff and their insurer.
This does not, however, guarantee that your PIP insurer will simply pay your claim. It can be a struggle to provide enough information for your insurer to consent, and very often, an attorney must get involved to compel the appropriate result. However, in Florida, even if your PIP insurer agrees to pay your claim, they are only required by law to cover “80 percent of all reasonable expenses” for medically necessary care – and while a doctor may deem something ‘reasonable,’ your insurer may disagree.
Filing Suit In Court
If your medical bills total under a certain threshold, or if your injuries are deemed relatively minor, you will generally be stuck filing a claim with your PIP insurer for any expenses you run up. However, if your injuries are severe, the tort immunity imposed by Florida’s PIP laws is lifted. If someone’s injuries or scarring are “significant and permanent,” or if they have experienced permanent injury “within a reasonable degree of medical probability,” they are permitted to file suit against the person who allegedly caused their accident in court.
If you are allowed to file suit against an allegedly negligent defendant, you will likely do so under a legal theory of negligence. A negligence case requires that the plaintiff establish that the harm they suffered was a direct result of the defendant’s actions, with no other intervening cause. The plaintiff must show that the defendant had a duty to exercise reasonable care toward the plaintiff (as motorists do with everyone else on the road), and that their breach of that duty with their actions led to your injuries.
Contact An Orlando Auto Accident Attorney
Auto accidents are sadly far too common in Florida roads, and if you are injured, it can feel overwhelming just trying to get your medical bills covered. The Orlando car accident lawyers at the Hornsby Law Group can help get you through the complex process of filing a claim or filing a suit, and we are ready to try and assist you. Call our offices today at (407) 499-8887 for a free consultation.