How Much Can Someone Sue for a Car Accident in Florida?
Car accidents can be incredibly costly. If you have been injured in an accident, you could be facing a mountain of medical bills, and you could be out of work for an extended period of time. Then, there is the damage to your car, and you will need to figure out some way to get around while you and your car are on the mend.
Serious collisions can also have non-financial costs. Many car accident victims experience pain, emotional trauma, and post-traumatic stress. While these can go away (with appropriate treatment), they can also last a lifetime. Physical injuries can have other emotional and psychological effects from which car accident victims may or may not fully recover.
Due to the substantial costs of auto wrecks, it is important to talk to an experienced car accident lawyer at Colling Gilbert Wright & Carter about your rights and legal options. We have extensive experience in these matters and can help you with every aspect of your case.
How Florida’s No-Fault Insurance Law Impacts Your Right to Sue
When discussing how much someone can sue for after a car accident in Florida, it is first important to discuss Florida’s no-fault insurance law. Under this law, when you get injured in a car accident, your first option is typically to file a claim with your own insurance company. This is known as a personal injury protection (PIP) claim, and your PIP policy provides coverage for out-of-pocket expenses and loss of income regardless of who was at fault in your accident. Florida law requires all drivers to carry at least $10,000 in PIP coverage.
In order to seek coverage outside of PIP, you need to be able to prove that you suffered a significant or permanent injury. If you can prove that you suffered a significant and permanent injury, then you can sue for additional coverage—if there is additional coverage available. In most cases, this involves filing a claim under the other driver’s bodily injury liability (BIL) policy or under your own uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) policy. Both of these are optional coverage in Florida.
Importantly, filing a claim with your insurance company might not be your only option after a serious car accident. Depending on exactly what happened, you may be able to sue other companies as well.
For example, in some cases it is also possible to sue for:
- Vehicle defects (a lawsuit against the vehicle manufacturer or dealership)
- Faulty vehicle repairs (a lawsuit against the repair shop or dealership)
- Road hazards (a lawsuit against a government agency or contractor)
Calculating Your Losses After a Car Accident in Florida
Once you determine who you can sue after a car accident, then you can focus on how much to seek in your lawsuit. The amount you can recover will depend entirely on the facts of your case.
In the vast majority of cases, car accident victims are limited to recovering compensatory (as opposed to punitive) damages. These are damages that are designed to replace what you have lost—the economic and non-economic costs we discussed above.
In order to calculate your financial losses, you will need copies of your medical and employment records since the date of the accident. You will also need to know your future medical needs and how long you are likely to be out of work. This requires expert advice, and your car accident attorney may need to work with multiple experts in order to calculate the long-term financial costs of your injuries.
When it comes to calculating non-financial losses, there are two primary options. The first is known as the “per diem” method. With this method, your financial losses are calculated based on a daily rate (i.e. $200/day for 365 days). The second option is the “multiplier” method. With this method, once you calculate your financial losses, you then multiply the total by a number, usually between 1.5 and 5. This “multiplier” is determined based on the severity of the crash and its impacts on your life.
When Can You Sue for Punitive Damages in Florida?
In some cases, it is possible to sue for punitive damages in addition to suing for compensatory damages. These damages are intended to punish the defendant and are only available in cases involving “gross negligence” or “malicious” conduct.
Punitive damages awards are not always available; but, when they are, they can significantly increase the amount that you can recover. Here, too, the amount you can sue for after a car accident in Florida depends on the specific circumstances involved.
Talk to an Orlando Car Accident Lawyer About Your Legal Rights
Were you seriously injured in a car accident, and do you want to know how much you can recover for your losses? If so, we encourage you to speak with one of our Orlando car accident lawyers promptly. Call (407) 712-7300 or contact us online for a free consultation. Colling Gilbert Wright & Carter proudly serves clients across Florida, including Orlando, Tampa, Miami, and other nearby areas.