Florida personal injury law when applied to car accident claims can be complex. Understanding negligence and liability issues with the help of a Fort Lauderdale, Florida car accident lawyer can help untangle this web.
Negligence and Fort Lauderdale Car Accident Lawsuits
The basis of most car accident claims is negligence on the part of another party. Negligence is defined as the failure to use reasonable care. In a car crash, this can refer to another driver running a stop sign, speeding, texting while driving, driving while intoxicated, or engaging in other reckless behavior that causes an accident.
What Type of Damages Can I Recover After a Car Accident?
Under Florida personal injury laws, damages are the money provided to accident victims to compensate for their losses that result from the other party’s negligence. Damages are awarded in two different categories: economic and non-economic.
Economic damages are easier to determine. These include compensation for actual financial losses, such as property damage, medical bills, and lost income.
Non-economic damages can be more difficult to calculate because they compensate for losses that are not based on an out-of-pocket expense. These damages include compensation for pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment.
To be awarded pain and suffering damages in a Florida car accident lawsuit, one of the following factors must be present:
- 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
If your claim meets these qualifications as outlined in Florida Statute § 627.737, the recovery of compensation is not automatically guaranteed. It’s important to have the assistance of an experienced Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyer to help you pursue the maximum compensation available.
Fort Lauderdale Car Accident Lawsuits by Passengers
If you are a passenger in a vehicle involved in a car accident, you are entitled to file a claim against the driver of the car you were riding in, or the driver of other vehicles involved.
Passengers may be able to file claims under:
- The liability insurance coverage of the driver of any vehicle responsible for the crash.
- The liability insurance coverage of the owner of any vehicle responsible for the crash.
- The liability insurance coverage of the driver of the vehicle you were riding in, if that driver was partially responsible for the crash.
- The liability insurance coverage of the owner of the car you were riding in, if your driver was in part responsible for the crash.
If the damages you suffered exceed the above insurance coverages, you may also be entitled to claims under uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
You may be entitled to compensation from one or more of the above listed parties, but it’s important to note that you cannot collect an overall amount that is greater than the total value of your claim. For example, if you collect damages from the insurance company of both the driver of your car and the driver of another car involved, the total amount you collect cannot exceed your total damages.
Seat Belt Laws and Car Accident Claims in Florida
Time and time again, research has shown that drivers and passengers are significantly more likely to survive a car accident if properly wearing a seat belt. In Florida, the law requires that anyone driving or riding in the front passenger seat of a car, pickup truck or van wear a seat belt.
Failure to adhere to this law can result in a non-moving violation punishable by up to $30.00 plus $6.00 in court fees. There are some exceptions to this rule for drivers and passengers who suffer from a medical condition that would make a seat belt dangerous or inappropriate. This medical condition must be certified by a doctor.
Since the law requires a seat belt, what happens to an accident victim who was not wearing one? Can he or she still file a Fort Lauderdale car accident claim?
The simple answer is yes. However, not wearing your seat belt at the time of the impact can demonstrate comparative negligence even if you were not at fault for the accident. This means that a jury will be asked to decide to what extent your injury was due to not wearing a seat belt, compared to the fault of the negligent party. This could result in a reduced amount of compensation for your damages.
If you need assistance with a Fort Lauderdale car accident lawsuit, Lisa S. Levine, P.A., can help. Call (954) 256-1820 today to schedule a free consultation with an experienced car accident lawyer in South Florida.