How To Recover Full Compensation After a Car Accident
If you need to seek financial compensation after a car accident in Florida, you must contend with Florida’s “no fault” auto insurance law. Under this law, car accident victims are limited to seeking personal injury protection (PIP) coverage under their own insurance policies in many cases. The insurance companies use this to their advantage, and they routinely deny coverage outside of PIP by claiming that Florida’s “no fault” law applies.
Does Florida’s “no fault” law apply in your case? Or, are you entitled to full compensation for your car accident?
If you are facing medical bills and other costs, this is an important question to answer. While filing a “no fault” PIP claim can help you manage your expenses, the financial and non-financial costs of a car accident can far exceed your PIP coverage after a serious injury. So, when can you seek compensation outside of PIP? Injured drivers and passengers can seek to recover full compensation after a car accident in two primary scenarios:
Scenario 1: You Suffered a “Significant” or “Permanent” Injury in the Crash
The first, and most common, scenario involves filing an auto insurance claim outside of PIP. Even though Florida has a “no fault” auto insurance law, accident victims can still file fault-based auto insurance claims in some cases. To file an auto insurance claim outside of PIP, Florida law requires you to prove that you suffered a “significant” or “permanent” injury in the crash. This can involve:
- “Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function;”
- “Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, other than scarring or disfigurement;” or,
- “Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement.”
Proving that you suffered a significant or permanent injury in a car accident requires medical documentation. As a result, it is important to see a doctor as soon after your accident as possible—and it is important to tell your doctor that your injury is the result of a collision.
If you can prove that you suffered a “significant” or “permanent” injury in your car accident, the question then becomes: What fault-based auto insurance coverage is available? When it comes to seeking full compensation for the financial and non-financial costs of your injury, there are two main options:
- Bodily Injury Liability (BIL) Insurance – This would be coverage under the at-fault driver’s insurance policy that covers other motorists’ financial and non-financial costs resulting from the driver’s negligence.
- Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UIM) Insurance – This would be coverage that you have under your policy that protects you in the event of a serious accident.
Both of these are optional forms of coverage under Florida’s “no fault” auto insurance law. Unfortunately, Florida has one of the highest rates of uninsured drivers in the country. But, if the driver who hit you has BIL insurance and/or you have UIM coverage, then you can—and should—hire a car accident lawyer to seek the maximum coverage available to you.
Scenario 2: You Have a Claim Outside of Auto Insurance
The second scenario involves filing a claim outside of auto insurance altogether. If you aren’t filing an auto insurance claim, then Florida’s “no fault” auto insurance law doesn’t apply.
When might you have a claim outside of auto insurance? There are several possibilities. For example, you may be able to recover full compensation after your car accident based on:
- A Vehicle Defect – If your car (or another driver’s car) was defective, you may have a claim against the manufacturer. To file an automotive defect claim, you must have evidence to prove that the defect caused, or at least contributed to causing, the accident.
- A Road Defect – If an issue with the road played a role in your car accident (i.e., if you lost control because of a pothole or low shoulder), then you may have a claim for a road defect. This will typically involve filing a claim against a government agency or road construction contractor.
- Employer Liability – If the driver who caused your accident was working at the time of the crash, his or her employer could be liable for the full cost of the accident. This is true regardless of whether the driver has BIL insurance.
- Rideshare Company Liability – Likewise, if you were involved in a car accident involving an Uber or Lyft driver and you cannot fully recover your losses through BIL and UIM insurance, you may be able to hire a lawyer to pursue a claim under the rideshare company’s insurance policy.
You may have other options for recovering full compensation after your car accident in Florida as well. To discuss all of your options with an Orlando car accident lawyer in confidence, contact Colling Gilbert Wright today.
Call (800) 766-1000 or request a FREE consultation online now.