In 2018, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, there were 403,626 motor vehicle crashes, which resulted in 236,157 injuries. For those involved, these injuries can be physically and financially life-changing.
If you experience an accident in Florida, whether vehicular or not, you need to know what comes next. You need to know your rights and how they can be protected. Here at Tonya Stewart Law, I am dedicated to seeking justice. I serve clients in Lake Wales and Lakeland, Florida, as well as in Winter Haven, Davenport, and Haines City. Call Tonya Stewart Law today for experienced legal support with your personal injury claim.
Personal Injury in Florida
In Florida, a personal injury is an injury that happens physically to you. This means that while there can be property damage, there must also be physical harm to the person involved.
Here are some examples of what constitutes a personal injury in Florida:
- Dog bites and other animal attacks
- Slip-and-fall accidents
- Medical malpractice
- Faulty products that cause physical injury when using them
Florida Laws Addressing Personal Injury
There are several laws in Florida that address personal injury. It’s best to understand these laws prior to filing your personal injury lawsuit.
The first law that is advantageous to look at is “no-fault insurance.” No-fault insurance, which corresponds to car accidents only, is when the insurance company representing the injured party helps cover certain expenses resulting from the crash, such as medical bills and lost income. The no-fault insurance does not take into account who was at fault in an accident. Unless a “serious injury” occurs in an accident, no one is found liable. Therefore, most minor car accidents use the no-fault insurance rule.
A second law to remember is the “pure comparative negligence” law. This law dictates that the damages you receive in a personal injury lawsuit can be reduced by your culpability, i.e. “fault,” in the accident. For example, if you were found 15% at fault, then the total damages would be reduced by 15%.
In Florida, there is a statute of limitations regarding when you can file your personal injury claim. From the time of the accident, you have four years to file a claim. If you fail to file the claim within this time, your case most likely will not be heard. There are only rare exceptions to this rule.
The Claims Process
When filing a personal injury claim, the process may look something like this:
- Hire a personal injury attorney. Assuming you have lost time at work, have medical bills that are expensive, or have an injury like a broken bone, it is important to hire and consult with a personal injury attorney.
- Notify the other party. You will begin the claims process with your attorney and notify the other party that you are intending to file a claim. You would then submit the claim.
- Discovery stage. Assuming the case was not dismissed, you would then enter the discovery stage. This is where you gather documentation about the accident, including medical papers, insurance information, and more.
- Negotiate. After the discovery stage, you can try to settle the claim without going to trial.
- Trial. If you cannot negotiate a settlement, the claim would then go to trial. The trial would then result in a verdict, which can be appealed.
The claims process can take, in total, upward of three years. Of course, it can take shorter if the case is not too complex.
Damages That May Be Recovered
Several damages can be recovered in a personal injury lawsuit in Florida. These include:
- Economic damages. This includes medical bills and lost wages due to missed work.
- Non-economic damages. This includes pain and suffering damages.
- Punitive damages. This includes damages that are used to punish those responsible for your injury. In Florida, punitive damages have a cap, which is three times the amount of the economic damages, or $500,000. It will depend on which number is greater.
Getting the Experienced Legal Help You Need
When navigating a personal injury claim process, it is important to get the experienced legal help you need. Sometimes these cases become more complex than you would have thought. It pays to have an experienced attorney on your side helping you through the entire process.
If you reside in or around Lake Wales or Lakeland, Florida, call Tonya Stewart Law today to see how I will strive to seek justice for your claim.