Florida Personal Injury Law Is a Specialty, Due to No-Fault Insurance Provisions
Florida personal injury law is a specialty, because Florida is one of the few states in the U.S. with a no-fault insurance provision. This means that Florida drivers must carry no less than $10,000 worth of Property Damage Liability, or PDL (covers victim’s car if policy owner at fault), no less than $10,000 worth of Personal Injury Protection, or PIP (covers policy owner no matter who is at fault), but do not have to purchase any Bodily Injury Liability (BIL) insurance, which would take care of the medical and funeral bills of policy owner and passengers who were injured/killed in a serious accident caused by the policy owner.
Florida allows drivers to forgo bodily injury liability to keep insurance rates low, in fact Florida has some of the lowest car insurance minimums in the United States. The idea behind Florida’s no-fault insurance is to reduce the number of costly lawsuits (or torts) since that there is less chance of being sued by another driver following a car accident, because there is no need to prove fault.
However, those who’ve received injuries in serious car/truck accidents definitely have recourse in Florida courts. The American Bar Association’s website describes the chain of events which occur whenever an accident-injured party (the plaintiff) files a lawsuit because he/she has secured an expert attorney and has decided not to accept the monetary settlement offered by an insurance company (defendant).
First of all, the lawyers for each side exchange information about the crash and about the nature and extent of the victim’s bodily/mental injuries. This exchange is called discovery, and often consists of the defendant’s/plaintiff’s responding to written questions known as interrogatories, and of both parties giving depositions, or sworn statements (under oath).
At any point in this lawsuit process–even right before the jury reaches a verdict–the plaintiff may decide, with the guidance of his/her attorneys, to settle the case, accept the damages monies the insurance company offers, and sign a release, which absolves the company from further liability.
In civil–not criminal–lawsuits such as those for personal injury, a court does not give defendants (i.e, insurance companies) jail time or fines. Plaintiffs who win their cases, however, will be granted restitution, or damages, for their injuries. These damages often cover plaintiffs’ medical bills, wages lost during time spent recovering, and/or future wages, if the injuries have been very disfiguring or disabling. Compensation can also be granted for physical pain and suffering.
Each state has a particular statute of limitations during which an injured person must file his/her lawsuit in order for a court to consider it. Quickly securing the services of an attorney following a severe accident is very important, especially since Florida’s no-fault provisions make handling such cases difficult to navigate on your own.