Car accidents are an everyday occurrence in Florida, with nearly 400,000 crashes occurring across the state each year. Nearly 250,000 car accidents result in injuries and 3,300 in deaths.
Car accident victims often face a long recovery with extensive medical treatment and missed days from work. Their lives may change forever.
When a person suffers injuries in a car accident due to someone else’s negligence, they deserve compensation for their medical bills, lost income, and other damages. But how do car accident lawyers determine how much your car accident claim is worth?
Determining the exact worth can be challenging as it depends on various factors specific to the case. The following elements typically influence the value of a claim:
Establishing fault will determine legal responsibility for the accident. The other driver’s clear fault for the accident strengthens the injured party’s claim in several ways.
To establish negligence in a Florida car accident, you typically need to demonstrate four key elements:
Duty of Care
You must show that the other driver owed you a duty of care. In Florida, all drivers must operate their vehicles responsibly and in accordance with traffic laws.
Breach of Duty
You need to prove that the other driver breached their duty of care. This means showing that they failed to act reasonably under the circumstances. For example, if the other driver texted while driving or ran a red light, they breached their duty to care.
You must establish a causal connection between the other driver’s breach of duty and the accident. This means demonstrating that their actions or negligence directly led to the collision and resulting damages.
You need to show that you suffered actual damages in the accident. These damages can include medical expenses, property damage, lost income, pain and suffering, and any other losses directly related to the accident.
Modified Comparative Negligence
Modified comparative negligence determines compensation in personal injury cases when both parties in an accident share some degree of fault. Under modified comparative negligence, the injured party’s compensation decreases by their percentage of fault, as long as their fault does not exceed a certain threshold.
Under Florida’s modified comparative negligence, the injured party can still seek compensation if they were 50 percent or less at fault for the accident. However, the court will reduce their compensation by their percentage of fault. There are two variations of modified comparative negligence. If they contributed more than 50 percent to the accident, they cannot recover any compensation.
Determining the percentage of fault entails a complex process that often involves investigation, evidence gathering, and legal arguments. Insurance companies, lawyers, or courts typically assess the evidence and determine fault based on the circumstances of the accident, witness statements, expert opinions, and applicable laws.
Consult a personal injury attorney knowledgeable about the laws in your jurisdiction. They can provide guidance on how modified comparative negligence applies to your situation and protect your right to pursue fair compensation for your damages.
Florida law requires all drivers to carry auto insurance with minimum no-fault coverage of $10,000. Under this system, drivers in an accident must seek compensation from their own insurance companies regardless of fault.
Personal Injury Protection
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage is a key component of Florida’s at-fault system. PIP insurance provides coverage for medical expenses, lost income, and other related costs, regardless of fault for the accident.
Property Damage Liability
Property Damage Liability (PDL) insurance covers the costs of property damage caused by the insured driver. It compensates for repairs or replacement of the other party’s vehicle or any other damaged property. The minimum required PDL coverage in Florida is $10,000.
Bodily Injury Liability
While not mandatory in Florida, Bodily Injury Liability (BIL) insurance can provide financial protection if you cause an accident that injures others. It covers medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and other damages for the injured party. If the at-fault driver carries BIL coverage, it can compensate the injured party beyond their PIP coverage.
Policy limits refer to the maximum coverage provided by an insurance policy. For example, if a driver’s policy has a PIP limit of $10,000, the insurance company will cover up to that amount for medical expenses and other eligible costs. Similarly, property damage and bodily injury liability coverage have specific limits defined in the insurance policy.
The impact of insurance coverage on potential compensation depends on the severity of the injuries, the at-fault party’s insurance policy limits, and any additional coverage held by the injured party. If the damages exceed the at-fault driver’s policy limits, the injured party may pursue additional compensation through other means, such as their own underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage or by filing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
Insurance companies limit their coverage. If the at-fault driver’s policy limits won’t cover the full extent of the damages, the injured party may face challenges in recovering the remaining compensation. In such cases, a personal injury attorney can explore all available options for pursuing fair compensation, establish your damages, negotiate with the insurance company, and file a lawsuit in civil court if the circumstances of your case warrant doing so.
Strength of Evidence
You need strong evidence to support a car accident claim in Florida. It plays a significant role in establishing liability, demonstrating the extent of injuries and damages, and affecting the value of the claim. Here are some key types of evidence commonly used in car accident claims.
Police reports are official documents generated by law enforcement officers who respond to the accident scene. They contain valuable information such as the date, time, and location of the accident, statements from involved parties and witnesses, observations of the scene, and any citations issued. Police reports provide an objective account of the accident and can serve as critical evidence when establishing liability.
Medical records document the injuries sustained by the injured party in a car accident. They include essential evidence like diagnostic tests, treatment plans, medication prescriptions, therapy notes, and any other medical documentation related to the accident. Medical records establish the severity of injuries, the required medical interventions, and the associated costs, you need to determine the value of the claim.
Statements from those who witnessed the accident can provide valuable testimony. Witness statements corroborate the injured party’s account of the events, provide additional details about the accident, and support the assessment of fault. Gather contact information from witnesses at the accident scene so your lawyer can reach out to them later for their statements.
Photographs and Videos
Powerful visual evidence such as photographs and videos can document the accident scene, vehicle damage, injuries, road conditions, skid marks, traffic signals, and other relevant information.
Expert opinions can carry significant weight in car accident claims. Experts such as accident reconstruction specialists, medical professionals, or engineers can analyze the evidence, reconstruct the accident, assess the severity of injuries, or evaluate the impact of road conditions on the accident. Their opinions can provide valuable insights and strengthen the injured party’s claim.
Strong evidence can establish liability and demonstrate the extent of damages, which are key factors in determining your compensation. Insurance companies, opposing legal teams, or courts rely on evidence to assess the credibility of the claim and calculate the appropriate compensation. The more compelling and comprehensive the evidence, the stronger the injured party’s position in negotiations or at trial, which can lead to a higher value of the claim.
Gather and preserve evidence as soon as possible after the accident. This includes taking photographs, obtaining contact information from witnesses, seeking medical attention, and reporting the accident to the appropriate authorities. Work with an experienced personal injury attorney who can guide the process, collect relevant evidence, and build a robust case to support your claim effectively.
Statute of Limitations
In Florida, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims, including those arising from car accidents, is generally two years from the date the injury occurred. If the injured party does not file a lawsuit within this timeframe, they may lose their right to seek compensation in court.
Given the complexities involved in personal injury claims and the importance of adhering to the appropriate deadlines, consult a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after an accident. An attorney can guide you through the legal process, ensure compliance with the statute of limitations, and protect your right to seek fair compensation for your injuries and damages.
Car accident victims in Florida can recover damages, which will depend on the circumstances of the case, the severity of the injuries, and the resulting impact on the individual.
Here are some common damages that an injured person can pursue in a car accident claim in Florida:
This includes the cost of medical treatment related to the accident, such as hospital bills, surgeries, medication, rehabilitation, physical therapy, and future medical expenses if the injuries require ongoing care.
Compensation for the repair or replacement of your vehicle or other damaged property, including personal items within the vehicle that were damaged or destroyed in the accident.
Lost Income and Benefits
If the accident causes you to miss work, you may recover compensation for the income you would have earned during that time. This includes the income lost during the recovery period and potential future income if the injuries result in a long-term or permanent disability.
Pain and Suffering
You may seek non-economic damages for physical pain, emotional distress, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and other similar subjective damages resulting from the accident and injuries.
Loss of Consortium
If the injuries significantly affect the injured party’s relationship with their spouse or partner, they may pursue a claim for loss of consortium. This compensates for the loss of companionship, intimacy, and support in the relationship.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer Today
If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a car accident and need legal support, contact an experienced personal injury attorney in Tampa, Florida today. Your legal team should work tirelessly to get the justice and compensation you deserve. With a personal injury lawyer, you have peace of mind knowing legal professionals are handling your case so you can focus on your own recovery.
Contact a car accident lawyer today for your free consultation and case evaluation.