What Happens if You Are Sued After Causing a Collision in Florida?
Car accident claims in Florida are handled differently from cases in other states. That is because Florida is a no-fault insurance state for automobile accidents. You begin by filing a claim with your PIP provider.
However, you could be sued after causing a collision in Florida if the victim sustains a serious injury. If that is the case, you could be personally liable for the accident victim’s damages.
Serious Injury Threshold for Suing Someone After a Car Wreck in Florida
After a car accident in Florida, you can file a no-fault insurance claim with your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance provider. You can recover up to 80% of your medical bills and 60% of your lost wages, regardless of who caused the accident. In most cases, neither driver can sue the other driver for damages.
However, there is an exception to the no-fault insurance law. If a person sustains “serious” injuries, the person can file a lawsuit against the other driver. Serious injuries are defined in Florida Statute §627.737 as:
- Permanent and significant disfigurement or scarring
- Significant and permanent loss of an important body function
- Permanent injury other than disfigurement or scarring within a reasonable degree of medical probability
The accident victim could sue you after a car accident in Florida if their injuries meet the serious injury threshold. However, filing a lawsuit does not guarantee that you will be financially liable for the person’s damages.
Proving Fault for a Florida Car Accident
The plaintiff (injured party) has the burden of proving the legal elements required to hold you responsible for their damages. In most car accident cases, the legal ground for liability is negligence.
Proving negligence requires the victim to provide evidence that shows:
- Duty – You owed the person a duty of care
- Breach of Duty – You breached the duty of care
- Causation – Your breach of duty was the direct and proximate cause of the car accident
- Damages – The person sustained damages because of your breach of duty
Proving duty merely requires the victim to prove you were driving the vehicle. All drivers owe a duty of care to others using the road to use reasonable care to avoid causing a car crash. However, proving breach of duty and causation could be more challenging.
You breach a duty by failing to use the same level of care that a reasonable person would have used in the same situation. For example, suppose you were texting while driving and ran a red light. A jury might find that you breached the duty of care because a reasonable person would not text while driving.
Causation requires that the plaintiff prove your conduct caused the crash. They may use video of the collision, eyewitness testimony, and other evidence to prove causation. In some cases, the plaintiff might hire an accident reconstructionist and other expert witnesses to assist in proving causation.
- Physical injuries
- Pain and suffering
- Medical bills
- Therapy costs
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Nursing care
- Loss of income, including future lost wages and diminished earning potential
- Emotional distress and mental anguish
- Permanent impairments and disabilities
- Decrease in quality of life
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Cost of personal care and household services
If the jury finds you are responsible for causing the crash, it determines the amount of damages to award the plaintiff. However, contributory fault could decrease the amount of money you owe the plaintiff for damages.
How Does Contributory Fault Impact My Ponte Vedra Beach Car Accident Case?
Florida adopted a pure contributory fault standard for personal injury cases. If the injured party contributed to the cause of their injury, they are not entitled to recover the entire amount of their damages.
Instead, their compensation is reduced by the percentage of fault they have for causing the accident. Therefore, if the jury finds that the plaintiff contributed to the cause of the crash by 20 percent, the plaintiff’s compensation is reduced by 20 percent.
Does Having Liability Car Insurance Help if I Am Sued After a Car Accident?
Florida does not require drivers to have liability insurance for car accidents. However, many drivers purchase liability insurance to protect themselves if they cause a car accident. Liability insurance compensates the accident victim for their damages if you cause an auto accident up to your policy limits.
After a traffic accident, avoid admitting fault for the car crash at the accident scene. Always take photographs and make a video of the crash site. In addition, it helps to consult with a car accident lawyer before discussing the accident with an insurance company, insurance investigator, or claims adjuster.
Contact the Jacksonville Car Accident Law Firm of Baggett Law Personal Injury Lawyers Today For Help
Baggett Law Personal Injury Lawyers – Jacksonville
9471 Baymeadows Rd #105,
Jacksonville, FL 32256, United States