Lawmakers Reconsider Florida’s No-Fault Law
A year ago, a proposal to reform Florida’s no-fault insurance law died in the Senate. Now, since auto insurance rates have reached a dizzying height, lawmakers may take another look at this issue.
According to a recent study, Florida has the third-highest auto insurance rates in the country. Many people blame the outdated PIP requirement. Advocates say that if Florida shifts to an at-fault insurance law, drivers could see substantial savings.
Lawmakers are expected to take up the question during a 60-day session which begins in March 2019.
Damages Available in a Florida Car Crash Claim
The no-fault law applies in “fender bender” crashes which only cause property damage. In these cases, victims are only entitled to economic damages. These damages include money for things like lost wages, medical bills, and property losses. Victims are only entitled to noneconomic damages if they sustain a serious injury. Some such injuries include:
- Broken Bones: These injuries normally do not heal 100 percent. There is almost always some lingering discomfort of loss of motion, even years after the injury. Moreover, recovery is often a difficult road. After mist car wrecks, doctors must use metal parts to set the bone. As a result, progress in post-injury physical therapy is painstakingly slow.
- Head Injuries: All head injuries are permanent. Once brain cells die, they never regenerate, unlike bone or skin cells. Physical therapy, and possibly surgery, can address the symptoms, but not “cure” the injury.
- Internal Bleeding: External bleeding is fairly easy to stop. But internal bleeding is much more difficult to stop 100 percent. Organs often continue leaking tiny amounts of fluid for months or even longer. Primarily, that’s because these organs have no protective skin layer.
Typically, if your vehicle is not in a drivable condition after the crash, you probably sustained a serious injury. In these cases, it’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible. Many car crash injuries, such as head injuries, get much worse if they are not treated promptly. Moreover, if you put off going to the doctor, the insurance company may later argue that your wounds must not have been very severe.
The noneconomic damages in car crash claims include money for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment in life, emotional distress, loss of consortium (companionship), and other intangible losses.
Establishing Liability in Port St. Lucie
Although substantial damages are available in these cases, the insurance company does not simply give this money away. Victim/plaintiffs have the burden of proof. They must establish negligence, or a lack of care, by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not).
The police accident report is often the starting point in terms of evidence. But the police report is often inaccurate. Even the most experienced emergency responder is not a professional accident reconstructionist. Furthermore, if the victim was seriously injured or killed, the report may only contain one side of the story.
So, a Port St. Lucie personal injury attorney must often obtain additional evidence. Some examples include:
- Witness Statements: Some people do not like to talk to police officers, so they do not voluntarily come forward at the scene. An attorney must seek these people out independently.
- Surveillance Video: There is at least one red-light camera, security camera, or other camera at pretty much every intersection in Port St. Lucie. Even if the camera only caught part of the incident on tape, the footage could be very valuable.
- Event Data Recorder: All new vehicles have EDRs. These gadgets are like the black boxes in commercial jets. EDRs capture and record things like vehicle speed, steering angle, and other important items related to car crashes.
Third party liability may apply in many car crashes as well. For example, under the respondeat superior doctrine, employers are responsible for the negligence of their employees. Respondeat superior usually applies in taxi, Uber, bus, and truck crash cases.
Reach Out to Aggressive Lawyers
Car crash victims may be entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Port St. Lucie, contact Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. Home and hospital visits are available.