Being injured in a car accident can happen to virtually any motorist in the state of Florida. Even if you're a responsible driver, it's possible you'll be injured in an accident resulting from someone else's actions or negligence.
In Florida, you would not file a claim with the insurance of the negligent driver who caused your accident. You would instead begin pursuing compensation by filing a claim with your own insurance. This is because Florida is one of the few no-fault states in the country.
Florida Is a No-Fault State: What Does That Mean?
Florida is currently a no-fault state regarding car accidents. What does a no-fault state mean?
It means it doesn't matter if someone else caused your accident. In a no-fault state such as Florida, drivers must purchase a certain amount of minimum insurance. When involved in car accidents, they can file claims with their insurance providers to seek compensation for medical bills and related losses/damages.
This is the key difference between no-fault states and at-fault or "tort" states. In an at-fault state, someone pursuing financial compensation after a car accident would file a claim with the insurance of the party who caused the accident. As such, they must gather evidence proving an accident was another party's fault to demonstrate why they may be eligible for compensation.
The Benefits of Florida's No-Fault Law
There is no consensus regarding whether the at-fault or no-fault system is superior. However, there are certain advantages the no-fault system arguably offers to car accident victims in Florida.
Not having to prove negligence after an accident dramatically simplifies the process of seeking compensation for someone involved in an accident. Even when someone else causes a collision, gathering evidence to prove that person was careless can be a complex task. A person filing a claim for compensation in a no-fault state doesn't need to collect such evidence.
Other potential benefits of Florida's no-fault insurance law include the following:
- An insurance company may pay out a claim more quickly in a no-fault state. This is because no one needs to provide an insurer with evidence proving fault.
- In an at-fault state, a victim might have to file a lawsuit to pursue damages in court. This may be necessary if the negligent party who caused the accident is not insured. It might also be the only way to seek fair compensation if a negligent party's insurance company doesn't offer a fair settlement. In a no-fault state, it may be less likely that a victim will need to go through the trouble of filing a lawsuit.
- There is no guarantee a victim will be able to successfully prove someone else caused their accident in an at-fault state. As such, there is no guarantee they will receive compensation. In a no-fault state, a car accident victim enjoys the peace of mind that comes from knowing their insurance will cover them up to their policy limits.
That last point highlights a potential disadvantage of the no-fault system. In some cases, the amount of coverage a driver's own insurance offers isn't enough to fully compensate them for their medical bills and related losses in Florida.
A victim may have additional options in these circumstances. Even though Florida is technically a no-fault state, there are instances in which a car accident victim can also seek compensation from the negligent party who caused the accident.
What You Need to Know About Florida's Serious Injury Threshold
Under Florida law, the party responsible for causing an accident may be held liable if a victim's injuries are particularly severe. Specifically, a victim might be able to file a claim or lawsuit against a negligent party if an accident resulted in:
- Permanent and/or substantial loss of an "important bodily function."
- An injury that is medically likely to be permanent.
- Major scarring or disfigurement.
Knowing whether your injuries are severe enough to meet this threshold can be challenging. This is one of many reasons to consider reviewing your case with a Florida car accident lawyer. They can evaluate the extent of your injuries and determine if they meet the criteria to justify filing a separate claim or lawsuit against a negligent party.
The Role of a Car Accident Lawyer in a No-Fault State
You will need to prove your accident resulted from another party's negligence or carelessness if you wish to file a claim or lawsuit against them. This may require investigating your accident to gather evidence.
A Florida car accident attorney may conduct such an investigation on your behalf. Hiring a lawyer may be a wise decision even if you will only be seeking compensation through your own insurance.
An attorney may assist you by:
- Handling all paperwork and correspondence with your insurance company. This allows you to focus on your recovery after an accident.
- Gathering documentation of your compensable losses. Although a lawyer can't promise a specific outcome, they can determine approximately how much compensation you may deserve.
- Coordinating with your doctors and others who may be involved in your case.
Typically, a lawyer will review your case for free. You won't lose any money if you meet with an attorney and decide not to hire them. Instead, you'll gain the chance to learn more about your legal options.
Many car accident attorneys in Florida also use the contingency fee model when they accept new clients. With this model, a lawyer doesn't charge any upfront fees for their services. They only charge a percentage of the compensation they secure for a client.
This system prevents you from taking a financial risk if you hire a lawyer. If you don't get paid, neither does your attorney.
Speak With a Florida Car Accident Lawyer
Have you been hurt in a Florida car accident? If so, a lawyer may help you pursue compensation. Get started by seeking a lawyer in your area through Accident.com.