If you’ve recently been injured in an accident in Florida, you may be able to file an insurance claim or lawsuit and recover compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and suffering. However, as you’re faced with a personal injury case, you might have many questions. Kibbey Wagner, PLLC is here to answer them.
Here are some of the questions personal injury victims in Florida often tend to have and the answers you need. If you have additional questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to a Stuart personal injury attorney to schedule a free consultation to discuss the specifics of your individual case.
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Do I Have a Personal Injury Case?
You may have a personal injury case if you have been injured through little-to-no fault of your own.
Some examples include:
- Getting rear-ended at a red light
- Slipping and falling on someone else’s property
- Suffering injuries in a criminal attack or assault
- Getting hurt while working
- Suffering injuries because of a medical mistake
In these situations, you’d argue that you got hurt because of someone else’s negligent or intentional actions. As a result, you’ve suffered verifiable damages – like medical bills, a loss of income, and emotional distress.
If you can prove that another person’s unreasonable actions caused you to get hurt, you may have a legitimate claim for damages.
Is Negligence the Only Grounds For Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
Negligence is the primary ground for personal injury cases in Florida. However, it’s not the only one. You can also file a personal injury lawsuit if you’ve been injured because of someone’s intentionally harmful actions or if strict liability applies.
Strict liability refers to liability that attaches regardless of how careful a person (or company) is. The most common uses of strict liability in personal injury lawsuits involve product liability and dog bites. If you are injured while using a dangerous or defective product, the company responsible for it can be strictly liable for the resulting injuries. Similarly, a dog’s owner can be strictly liable for your injuries if the animal attacks you.
What Does No-Fault Auto Insurance Mean?
When it comes to car insurance, Florida is a no-fault state. Drivers are required to purchase Personal Injury Protection coverage (PIP), which covers a portion of your medical bills and lost wages (80 percent and 60 percent, respectively).
If you’re in a car accident in Stuart, Florida, you’re required to file a claim with your car insurance company to recover PIP benefits (and other types of auto insurance coverage you may have purchased) – regardless of who’s at fault.
If your injuries are classified as severe, you can proceed with a third-party claim against a negligent party and/or their insurance carrier.
Who Will Pay My Medical Bills After an Accident in Florida?
Insurance will typically be the primary source of compensation after an accident. This can include your health insurance policy, PIP benefits (80 percent of your medical bills up to your policy limits), a homeowners insurance company, or a corporate insurance policy.
You may also have to pay out of pocket at the start. However, by filing a personal injury claim or lawsuit, you can seek reimbursement for costs paid and future medical expenses. Your insurance company will likely file a subrogation claim and seek reimbursement for damages from a responsible third party.
Can I Still Get Compensation If I’m Blamed For an Accident in Florida?
Possibly. You can share some of the blame for an accident and still recover compensation – just not all of it. Florida is one of many states to adopt a pure comparative negligence rule. Under the law, damages are not prohibited if you share responsibility for an accident. However, they are reduced based on your degree of fault.
The more fault you’re assigned, the less money you’ll be able to get when your case is resolved.
Imagine that you’re in a truck accident in Florida and suffer damages totaling $500,000. You’re assigned 10 percent of the blame for the wreck because you were speeding. When your comparative fault is factored into the equation, your financial award will total $450,000.
Are There Caps on Damages in Florida Personal Injury Cases?
Compensatory damages are typically unlimited in Florida. In other words, there’s no limit on the amount of economic and non-economic damages that can be awarded in a Florida personal injury case. One exception is medical malpractice cases, where non-economic damages are capped.
Florida limits how much you can receive in punitive awards. Under the current law, punitive damages are capped at three times the value of your compensatory damages or $500,000, whichever is greater.
Is There a Time Limit For Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Florida?
Yes. A statute of limitations will apply to your personal injury case. The standard statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits is four years – and the clock begins to run on the date of an accident.
There are situations when a different timetable could apply to your personal injury case, including:
- Wrongful death: two years from the date of a victim’s death
- Medical malpractice: two years (but no later than four years from the date of injury)
- Government claims: three years for claims involving personal injury (two years for wrongful death)
Sometimes the statute of limitations can be paused – or tolled – if a factor prevents a victim from bringing a timely claim. This might happen if there’s a reasonable delay in discovering an injury, a defendant leaves the state or can’t be located, or a child suffers injuries. Once the tolling factor is no longer an issue, the statute of limitations resumes.
Once the deadline that applies to your specific case expires, so will your opportunity to assert your rights and demand compensation.
Will My Personal Injury Case Go to Trial?
Most personal injury cases don’t go to trial. Only about 4-5 percent end up being resolved by a judge and jury. However, that doesn’t mean that your case won’t go to trial. Ultimately, that’s up to you and the other parties.
Many factors can influence whether or not your case goes to trial:
- How clear is liability?
- Do you share responsibility for your accident?
- How much is your case worth?
- How willing are the parties to settle?
The attorney you hire to represent you can also influence whether or not your case goes to trial. If you hire an experienced litigator with a demonstrated ability to win at trial, insurance companies and other parties may be more inclined to offer a fair settlement to avoid a showdown at trial.
When Should I Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?
Right away. In fact, the sooner you enlist the help of a qualified personal injury attorney near you in Florida, the better.
First, you’ll be able to rest easy that your claim will be filed within the appropriate statute of limitations. This will safeguard your rights and prevent you from missing out on a valuable financial recovery.
Second, hiring a lawyer right away can help you build a better case. A prompt and thorough investigation can be critical to the success of your claim. Evidence can get damaged, lost, or disappear as time goes by. Witness memories and recollections of an accident begin to fade almost immediately. Your attorney will begin to work on your case as soon as you ask for their help, working to ensure that these critical pieces of information are preserved.
When Will I Get Paid If My Personal Injury Case Settles?
In Florida, an insurance company is legally required to tender payment within 20 days of a written settlement agreement.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll have a check in your hands less than three weeks after your personal injury case is settled.
Your check is mailed to your attorney, who will hold it in trust. During this time, medical liens, case-related costs, attorney fees, and other expenses will be deducted. This process can take a few days.
Once that process is complete, the remaining settlement funds go directly to you.
Kibbey Wagner, PLLC is Ready to Answer Your Personal Injury Frequently Asked Questions
Getting into an accident can change your life forever. If someone else is responsible, you may have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit. If you have questions, speaking with an experienced Stuart personal injury attorney is the best way to get answers.
Kibbey Wagner, PLLC has been a leader in personal injury litigation in South Florida for years. Our attorneys have more than 40 years of combined experience and have won over $60 million for clients like you. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our law firm, with offices serving Stuart, Port St. Lucie, and West Palm Beach, to discuss your case today. Your first consultation is free, so call now.