Every state has laws that will affect personal injury claims. The type of claim you have will determine which statutes apply to your case. While some laws will affect all types of personal injury claims, others will be more specific.
Understanding such laws is sometimes challenging and can get confusing. That’s when it would be helpful to consult an experienced Florida Personal Injury lawyer. They can help you understand the law and how it affects your personal injury claim.
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What is a Florida Statute?
A statute is a law written and passed by the Florida Legislature. All Florida statutes must be approved and signed off by the governor.
Florida Statutes cover numerous areas of law, including:
- Personal injury claims
- Real estate law
- Criminal Procedures and Corrections
- Car accidents
- Natural resources
- Public health
- Social welfare
- Alcohol and tobacco
- Military Affairs
- And More
If another party is negligent and causes your injuries, you might be entitled to seek compensation for financial losses, medical bills, and other damages. In addition, many statutes will affect your personal injury claim and the outcome of your case.
We will discuss a few Florida statutes that might be relevant to your personal injury claim, including:
- The statute of limitations
- Sovereign immunity
- Comparative Fault
- No-fault insurance laws
Statutes of Limitation (Time Limit to File a Claim)
There is a deadline for filing a personal injury claim or lawsuit to seek damages from another party. This time limit is known as the statute of limitations. How much time you have will depend on the type of case you have.
For example, the statute of limitations for a Florida personal injury claim founded on negligence is four years. That includes motorcycle accidents, auto accidents, premises liability, dog bites, and wrongful death cases. The time limit is two years for personal injury cases not based on negligence. If the injured party, or plaintiff, fails to file a claim within the statute of limitations, they may forfeit their right to seek damage compensation.
There are a few exceptions to the statute of limitations. For instance, if a wrongful death case comes about due to medical malpractice, there is a two-year rather than a four-year deadline. In other cases, the injury victim might have longer to file a claim if they did not discover their injuries until some time after the accident. For example, if you get into a car accident and have a delayed onset of injury symptoms, you would have four years from the date of discovering your injury rather than the date of the accident. Lastly, minors might have longer to file a claim depending on the case circumstances.
The best way to protect your rights is to speak with a Florida personal injury attorney who is well-versed in the law. You should contact them as soon as possible following the accident. You don’t want to assume you have plenty of time only to miss your chance to file a claim because you missed the deadline.
Statutes Protecting Government Entities from Lawsuits (Sovereign Immunity)
Under sovereign immunity, the government is protected from lawsuits unless they consent. As such, you cannot file a claim against the government unless they permit you to do so. So, let’s say you are involved in a car accident for which a government entity is somehow liable. For example, if they failed to properly maintain the roadways and that caused your accident, or a government vehicle’s negligence caused your accident, how would you go about filing a claim?
Under Florida statutes, there is a waiver of sovereign immunity for certain tort actions. In other words, if your injuries result from someone’s negligence, you can file a claim against the government. However, there are special rules governing how to proceed with a claim against the government.
Florida law requires injury victims to provide notice of their claim to the appropriate government entities before filing. There is also a specific statute of limitations for government personal injury claims. Rather than four years, the injury victim has three years to file a claim.
Furthermore, there is a limit on the compensation you can receive for a personal injury claim against a government agency. The damage cap for compensation per person is $200,000, with the total for any claim being $300,000. So, if a jury awards you more than $300,000, you won’t be eligible for the full amount due to the statute.
Even if a jury awards you 1 million dollars for a car accident claim involving a governmental agency, the most you can receive is $200,000. Injury victims do, however, have a chance to petition the legislature and pursue the remainder of the judgment award. Receiving the full judgment value would require an official legislative act to pay the full value.
Finally, under sovereign immunity, there is also a cap for recovering punitive damages. Such damages are relevant when the defendant committed gross negligence.
Assigning Fault and Damages (Comparative Fault)
Under Florida’s comparative fault statute, there is a limit on the amount of money you can receive from your claim. That is, if you are found to be partially at fault for the accident, the court can reduce your compensation. The amount of your percentage of fault usually reduces the compensation amount.
For example, let‘s say you were involved in a motorcycle crash caused by another negligent driver. If the other driver is 100% at fault for causing the accident, you would be entitled to recover the full value of all economic and non-economic damages you suffered. However, if the court assigned you 30% of fault in contributing to the accident, they could reduce your compensation award by 30%.
Often insurance companies try to use comparative fault to limit their liability for injury claims. As a result, they can pay you a lower settlement by purporting that you contributed to causing the accident and being partially at fault for your injuries. In such cases, it’s best to consult an experienced personal injury attorney for legal advice.
Filing a Claim for Damages (and No-Fault Insurance Laws)
Florida is one of the few states that follow no-fault insurance laws in the event of a car accident. No-fault states require each driver to file a claim with their insurance regardless of who is at fault. So, after an accident, you file a claim with your insurance company to get coverage for medical bills, lost wages, and death benefits. You would get coverage through your Personal Injury Protection (PIP).
However, PIP does not cover all damages in car accidents. For example, you cannot recover from pain and suffering through your PIP insurance coverage. You can, however, recover for pain and suffering by pursuing the at-fault driver.
Under Florida’s no-fault insurance laws, injury victims must have limited circumstances to file a personal injury lawsuit. If you sustain permanent or serious injuries in the accident, you can pursue the other driver for compensation. Under Florida statutes, “serious injuries” are:
- Significant scarring and bodily disfigurement
- Permanent and severe loss of bodily function
- Wrongful death
- Permanent disability from an injury needing long-term medical care
If your injuries are severe enough, you can seek additional compensation from the at-fault driver. You would then be able to recover for damages not covered by Florida’s no-fault insurance laws.
Additional Statutes and Laws that Can Affect a Personal Injury Claim in Florida
While many statutes are broad and apply to the majority of injury claims, other statutes are more specific. For example, the Florida Wrongful Death Act is only applicable in a wrongful death case.
The safest and smartest to ensure you comply with all of Florida’s statutes is to hire an experienced personal injury lawyer. An attorney who has dealt with such cases understands the laws and how they can impact your case. They also know what evidence you need to meet all legal requirements and how to use the law in your favor.
Contact a Florida Personal Injury Lawyer Today
Our legal team has extensive experience handling all types of personal injury cases. We will do everything in our power to get the best outcome for you.
We offer free initial consultations, so contact us today. Once we review your case, we can answer all of your questions and explore your legal options.