How Florida Statutes Affect Personal Injury Claims
If you were hurt in an accident, you might have the right to financial compensation if someone else caused that accident. It’s understandable that you might not know how Florida statutes affect personal injury claims.
At Roman & Gaynor, our experienced Clearwater personal injury lawyers are here to help. Whether you were hurt in a car accident, slip and fall accident, or even lost a loved one to wrongful death, don’t hesitate to call our law firm for a free consultation.
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How Our Personal Injury Lawyers Can Help if You’ve Been Hurt in an Accident
The legal system is complex to say the least. If you’ve been hurt in an accident, you probably have a number of questions. An experienced personal injury attorney in Clearwater can provide the answers you need.
After you or a loved one were injured, you might wonder:
- How much is my personal injury claim worth?
- How do I file an insurance claim for compensation?
- How will I pay my bills while I’m waiting for a settlement check?
- How long does the legal process take?
- Do I really need a personal injury lawyer?
- Could workers’ compensation affect my rights?
Our Clearwater personal injury lawyers at Roman & Gaynor have more than 65 years of combined experience. Our founding attorneys are Board Certified in Civil Law, so can help you through every stage of the personal injury process. If you have questions about how we can use the law to your advantage, call our law offices to schedule your free consultation today.
What is a Statute?
A statute is a written law that has been passed by a government legislature. Every state has its own set of written laws. These statutes are arranged by general topic–in Florida, each section is called a “title”.
The Florida statutes are arranged into 48 titles, including:
- Civil Practice and Procedure
- Motor Vehicles
- Taxation and Finance
- Civil practice and procedure
When you’re hurt in an accident, you might not know how these Florida statutes can impact your injury claim. At Roman & Gaynor, our lawyers can review your case and determine how Florida law might impact your rights.
Important Statutes in Personal Injury Cases
The primary Florida laws that might impact your right to compensation via the personal injury process include:
- The statute of limitations (time limits on filing your lawsuit)
- Contributory fault rules that dictate how liability is divided when multiple parties share the blame
- No-fault car insurance laws
- Whether injuries satisfy Florida’s serious injury threshold to file a personal injury lawsuit
Read on to learn more about these and other statutes that are relevant in most personal injury lawsuits.
What is the Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Lawsuits in Florida?
If you’re hurt in an accident, you only have a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit. This time limit is called the statute of limitations. Title VIII of the Florida Code provides the limitations period for taking various types of legal action.
The law gives the injured party four years to file a personal injury lawsuit based on negligence. Once the four-year period expires, you lose your right to financial compensation.
The statute of limitations for wrongful death claims is much shorter. If your loved one’s personal injury turns out to be fatal, you only have two years to file a claim for compensation.
Florida Statutes that Allocate Fault Between Negligent Parties
Contributory negligence is another important concept in every personal injury case. The concept of contributory negligence, or comparative fault, comes into play when multiple parties share responsibility for an accident.
Florida has adopted a pure contributory negligence law. Under Florida Code Section 768.81, liability is apportioned between parties based on each party’s percentage of fault.
In other words, plaintiffs in a personal injury case can recover partial damages even if they were partially to blame for the accident.
The final compensation award is reduced based upon their degree of fault.
This law is important because insurance companies often try to use it to their advantage. They might claim that:
- A pedestrian accident was caused by a pedestrian darting into the road
- A bicycle accident victim’s injuries were made worse by failure to wear a helmet
- The injured person in a truck accident was driving in the truck’s blind spot
Don’t let these tactics fool you into accepting a lowball settlement. Call our experienced Clearwater personal injury attorneys to get legal advice about how these statutes might impact your injury claim.
Florida No-Fault Insurance Laws
Florida is a no-fault insurance state. That means every driver is required to purchase their own car insurance. The insurance must provide at least $10,000 in personal injury protection coverage. Before taking any other legal action after a car accident, the victim must first file a claim with their own insurance company.
The no-fault insurance statute is important because it impacts the basic process for pursuing your right to compensation for medical bills and lost wages after a motor vehicle accident. It can also limit your right to file a personal injury lawsuit.
Serious Injury Threshold in Florida
Florida statutes contain a serious injury threshold. In order to file a lawsuit for damages against the at-fault driver in a motor vehicle accident, your injuries must be “serious.”
Florida Code Section 627.737 defines serious injury to include:
- Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function
- Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, other than scarring or disfigurement
- Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement
Our lawyers at Roman & Gaynor are here to provide more information about how the no-fault laws in Florida might impact your right to compensation.
Cap on Non-Economic Damages for Injury Claims Based on Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice and negligent health care are significant causes of personal injury in Florida.
Many states put caps on the value of noneconomic or punitive damages.
Florida Code Section 766.118 has historically capped the value of non-economic damages that a plaintiff can recover in a medical malpractice lawsuit.
However, these damage caps on compensation for things like pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and emotional distress was ruled unconstitutional by the Florida Supreme Court. Therefore, medical malpractice victims in Florida can currently recover the full value of their noneconomic damages under Florida personal injury law.
Wrongful Death Act
Florida Code Section 768.16 is known as the Wrongful Death Act. This statute governs your right to sue for compensation if your loved one’s injuries are fatal. Surviving family members can sue for compensation if the accident victim would have had the right to file a personal injury lawsuit.
Surviving family members who can file an action for wrongful death include surviving spouses, children, parents, and certain family members.
Roman & Gaynor Can Help You Understand How Florida Statutes Affect Personal Injury Claims
Interested in learning more about how Florida statutes affect personal injury claims? Just call Roman & Gaynor to set up a free consultation with an experienced Clearwater personal injury lawyer today.