When Can You Sue An At-Fault Driver After A Car Accident In Florida?
As you may know, Florida is an at-fault auto insurance state, which means drivers need to turn to their own insurance company to obtain compensation for medical bills, property damage, and lost wages, regardless of fault.
Generally, injured parties cannot file a lawsuit against other drivers unless the car crash resulted in a serious injury. Suing an at-fault driver may allow you to increase the value of your personal injury claim because you could seek compensation for your non-economic and other damages not covered by auto insurance.
Speak with a Miami car accident attorney to determine if your injury meets the “serious injury” threshold to sue the at-fault driver in your particular case.
Can You Sue Another Driver for Your Car Accident Injury in Florida?
All motorists in Florida are legally required to carry personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, which pays up to $10,000 for injuries regardless of fault. PIP coverage pays up to 80% of the injured party’s reasonable medical expenses and up to 60% of their lost wages stemming from their inability to work after the crash.
Because Florida is a no-fault state, the injured party does not need to pursue a third-party insurance claim against the driver whose negligence caused the accident. Instead, they need to bring a claim with their own insurance company to get compensated for the covered losses.
Under Florida law, you are allowed to step outside the state’s no-fault auto insurance system if your injury meets the definition of a “serious injury.” In other words, you can file a lawsuit against the driver who caused your accident if you suffered a severe or catastrophic injury.
Alternatively, you can file a lawsuit against the at-fault motorist if your damages exceed the PIP limit of $10,000. Suing a negligent driver following a car accident may allow you to maximize your recoverable damages because you can seek compensation for damages such as pain and suffering.
What is Considered a Serious Injury in Florida?
Thus, your ability to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver who caused your car accident is dependent on the severity of your injury. Under Fla. Stat. § 627.737, your injury meets the “serious injury” threshold to step outside the no-fault system if it can be described as:
- Permanent and significant scarring/disfigurement
- Permanent and significant loss of a vital bodily function (e.g., loss of hearing)
- Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability
If you are not sure whether or not your injury qualifies as a serious injury to step outside the no-fault system and sue the at-fault driver, speak with a knowledgeable attorney.
If your injury does not meet the “serious injury” threshold (as outlined above), you may not be able to file a lawsuit against the driver who caused the crash. When you are limited to the no-fault option, you cannot seek compensation for your non-economic losses.
Discuss your particular case with our car accident lawyers at Pita Weber Del Prado. You can schedule a free consultation by calling 305-670-2889.