In 2021 there were almost 400,000 motor vehicle crashes in the State of Florida, according to the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle’s (FHSMV) Crash Dashboard. Those collisions caused over 250,000 injuries and 3,629 deaths. In Orange County alone, almost 23,000 people were injured, 212 of them fatally, in a car crash that year. A car accident often leaves the victim physically injured, emotionally traumatized, and financially vulnerable.
Knowing your legal options when injured in an Orlando car accident is crucial to a full recovery. Because Florida is a no-fault state it is imperative to understand when you are limited to no-fault recovery and when you can file a traditional lawsuit against another driver.
Understanding Florida’s No-Fault Insurance Law
Florida is one of an increasing number of “no-fault insurance” states. Florida’s no-fault insurance law is intended to provide a simplified and quick way for car accident victims to recover compensation when the accident and injuries were not serious. Florida’s no-fault insurance law requires all drivers have to have a minimum of $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and $10,000 in Property Damage Liability (PDL) insurance.
No-fault insurance works by requiring your own PIP insurance to cover necessary and reasonable medical expenses, such as medical treatment, hospital costs, rehabilitative care, and physical and occupational therapy, up to $10,000 no matter who was at fault in the accident. In other words, there is no need to prove negligence on the part of another driver to be entitled to compensation which can be a major advantage when you only suffered minor injuries. PDL coverage will also pay for property damage to your vehicle and contents, up to the limit of the coverage.
A major disadvantage to the no-fault insurance law is that PIP insurance does not cover non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. PIP coverage also only covers 60 percent of lost wages and may not fully compensate you for all your economic damages. The good news is that if your injuries were more extensive, you may be able to pursue a traditional lawsuit against a negligent driver.
When Can I File a Traditional Personal Injury Lawsuit for an Orlando Car Accident?
If you meet the “serious injury” threshold that applies to the Florida no-fault insurance law, you can effectively exist that system and file a lawsuit against the other driver if that driver’s negligence caused or contributed to the accident. You meet the threshold if the accident caused any of the following:
- Significant permanent loss of a bodily function
- Permanent injury to a reasonable degree of medical probability
- Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement
Understanding Comparative Negligence in a Florida Car Accident
Along with meeting the serious injury threshold, the other driver must have been negligent to pursue a lawsuit against the driver. Negligence is the legal term used to describe fault or responsibility in a personal injury lawsuit. Florida law recognizes a pure comparative negligence system that allows the injured party to collect damages that are proportional to their percentage of fault. For example, imagine that you were injured in a car accident and suffered damages totaling $200,000. Ultimately, fault in the collision is apportioned 70-30, meaning the other driver’s negligence was 70 percent responsible for the crash and your negligence was 30 percent responsible. You would be entitled to recover 70 percent of your total damages, or $140,000, from the other driver in a personal injury lawsuit.
What Damages Might I Be Entitled to in an Orlando Car Accident Lawsuit?
If you were injured in an Orlando car accident, and you are entitled to pursue a traditional lawsuit, you may be entitled to damages for both your physical and emotional injuries, including compensation for things such as:
- Medical expenses
- Rehabilitation and other care costs
- Lost income
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Physical and emotional pain and suffering
- Diminished qualify of life
If you are the surviving family member of someone who was fatally injured in an Orlando car accident, you may be able to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit against the other driver. If the fatally injured victim was a spouse or parent, you may be entitled to compensation for the loss of companionship, care, and support they provided to you prior to the accident.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Sue the Other Driver in an Orlando Car Accident?
Given the complexity of Florida’s car accident laws, it is in your best interest to retain an experienced Orlando car accident attorney if you plan to pursue a lawsuit against the other driver. An experienced car accident lawyer can help in several important ways, including:
- Ensuring that you receive the medical treatment you need
- Evaluating the circumstances of the collision to determine who was at fault
- Communicating with insurance companies and medical providers
- Gathering evidence and documenting injuries
- Navigating the legal system
- Negotiating with the at-fault party’s insurance company
- Advocating on your behalf in court
Get Help from Experienced Orlando Car Accident Attorney
If you were injured in an Orlando car accident or a family member was killed in a fatal collision, you need an experienced Orlando car accident attorney on your side. At Bailey Fisher Law we are committed to holding at-fault drivers responsible and ensuring that victims are fully and fairly compensated for all the injuries they suffered.
Call us at 407-628-2929 or submit our online form today. One of our experienced Orlando car accident attorneys will evaluate your case for free. For viable personal injury cases, we will follow up with the necessary legal action to hold the responsible party accountable for their negligence and recover the financial compensation you deserve for your pain, suffering, and losses.