If you are involved in a car crash in Florida and wish to file a claim against the person you believe responsible for the incident in a Florida court, you should know the basic laws in Florida determining liability and awarding damages to plaintiffs (those seeking a recovery).
The State of Florida has a "No-Fault" law, which requires your own personal auto insurer to pay for your lost wages due to injury and related medical expenses up to $10,000.00, regardless of fault in the accident. If you have purchased collision coverage, that will also cover your car regardless of fault. However your insurer will not have to give you a replacement car while your car is being repaired unless you have purchased specific rental car coverage.
If the at fault driver's insurer is paying for your property damages, it will have to get you a rental car, or pay some amount to you for loss of use of the car during the repair period.
Every person operating a motor vehicle in Florida has the duty to exercise reasonable care in the operation of that motor vehicle. This burden makes drivers accountable for acts which they knew would likely result in personal or property injury and for acts which they should have known would likely result in personal or property injury. Florida state law identifies a driver's failure to use reasonable care as negligence. Negligence represents the first requirement for a successful lawsuit. Typically mechanical fault of the vehicle does not alleviate responsibility of the driver for an accident.
Once you have established negligence of a driver, you must show that their negligence caused the accident that resulted in your lawsuit. "Causation," in a legal sense, can be complex, but if the negligence of the other driver resulted in the injury to person or property for which you have sued, causation exists.
Finally, you must prove that you have suffered damages. Damages include economic injury, such as lost income or wages, medical and funeral expenses, lost support and services, and replacement value or repair costs of personal property damaged in the accident. In addition damages may include non-economic injuries such pain, suffering, mental anguish, and inconvenience as a result of bodily injury that result for the accident. There is no set formula for the amount of these "non-economic damages", although an experienced trial lawyer can give a good professional judgment on the range involved.
To recover for a personal injury from a car accident, you must have a physician give an opinion that you have suffered a permanent injury from the accident. The physician may be a medical doctor, osteopath or a chiropractor.
Fault for an accident is apportioned out according to the facts as a jury sees them. A driver could be mostly at fault and the other driver could be partly at fault. A person or company not even part of the lawsuit could be given some degree of fault by the jury, if the facts support it. However the non-party could not be held actually liable, as they were not part of the case.
We hope this information is helpful and we want to help you. Contact us immediately or call Florida Bar Board Certified Civil Trial Expert Tom Thompson at 386-5777 for more answers to your questions.