After sustaining an injury because of intentional acts or negligence of another person, the injured party may wonder, “Does my injury qualify for a personal injury claim in Florida?” and “Am I entitled to financial compensation?”
Generally speaking, in Florida, you may be eligible to pursue a personal injury claim if you suffered any bodily injury or emotional harm due to someone else’s intentional act or negligence.
Intentional Act vs. Negligence When Pursuing a Personal Injury Claim
Under Florida’s personal injury law, everyone has a legal obligation to exercise due care to avoid causing harm to others. For example, a driver owes other motorists, pedestrians, bicyclists, and other people around them a duty to take all reasonable precautions to drive in a safe manner at all times. If the driver breaches the duty of care, the injured victim may be entitled to financial compensation through a personal injury claim.
Also, the Florida Statutes Section 772.104 provides that a victim of a criminal act such as assault can pursue civil damages against the attacker even though the offender intended to cause harm.
When Are You Eligible to File a Personal Injury Claim in Florida?
Common situations in which an individual may sustain an injury and qualify for a personal injury claim in Florida are:
- Automobile accidents on the road involving cars, trucks, motorcycles, pedestrians, or bicycles
- Boat accidents
- Assault and battery
- Workplace injuries caused by third parties
- Medical malpractice
- Slip and fall accidents
- Amusement park accidents
Your injury may qualify for a personal injury claim in Florida if the person or entity that caused your injury intended to commit harm or was merely negligent or careless. Since Florida is known as a no-fault auto insurance state, the other party’s intent or fault for a car accident does not always matter when it comes to seeking compensation for a minor injury. However, things are a bit different if you suffered a serious injury.
What Happens if Your Injury is Serious?
Under the Florida Statutes Section 627.737, your injury must meet certain criteria in order to qualify for a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party. Suing the motorist who caused your injury may be the only option to receive compensation when you have exhausted your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage.
Since your PIP policy may only cover your medical expenses and lost wages, you have to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party to recover additional damages, including emotional distress, diminished qualify of life, pain and suffering, and others. However, your injury must qualify as “serious” in order to sue the negligent motorist who caused you harm.
The Florida Statutes Section 627.737 defines a serious injury as any of the following:
- Significant/permanent loss of a vital bodily function
- Permanent injury or trauma within a reasonable degree of medical probability
- Permanent or significant scarring or disfigurement
What if Your Damages Exceed the PIP Insurance Policy Limits?
In Florida, motorists are required to purchase Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance to cover their own medical expenses, lost wages, and certain other damages in the event of a car crash. Regardless of fault, PIP insurance is primary, which means an injured individual must first file a claim with their own insurance company.
However, if your injury is serious and your damages exceed the policy limits, you may be able to pursue additional compensation beyond your PIP coverage by filing a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault motorist. However, if you want to seek additional compensation or wish to recover damages beyond your medical expenses and lost wages, your injury has to be serious to be able to step outside of the state’s no-fault insurance system.
What Can Affect the Value of Your Personal Injury Claim?
In Florida, an injured victim may be entitled to recover three types of damages:
The value of your personal injury case may depend on a multitude of factors, including:
- The type and severity of your injury
- Your overall health and age
- The effect of your injury on your daily life and ability to work
- Whether your injury or its effects are permanent
- Past and future expenses associated with medical treatment
These are just a few factors that must be considered to calculate how much your personal injury claim in Florida is worth. It is advised to consult with an experienced attorney to help you determine whether your injury qualifies for a personal injury claim, protect your legal rights, and make sure that you are getting the compensation you deserve.