What Are Your Legal Rights When You are Injured in a car accident?

Motor vehicle accidents are one of the most common causes of serious injuries and fatalities in Florida.  According to The Florida Department of Motor Vehicles, there were 402, 385 crashes on the state’s roads in 2017.  As Florida’s population continues to grow, the number of crashes each year has risen. 

Motor vehicle accident cases are a type of personal injury law. Most motor vehicle accident cases are grounded in the negligence theory of liability. John Clarke is an experienced personal injury attorney in Fort Lauderdale who handles motor vehicle accident cases.

 Recovering for Your Injuries

           For those injured in a Florida automobile accident there are several ways of recovering damages.  Florida’s personal injury protection scheme requires each driver’s insurer to provide a personal injury protection policy to pay up to $10,000 for personal injuries caused by other drivers.   An injured party must claim against this policy first as a source of payment for treatment of his injuries and lost wages.  He may collect from the at-fault driver’s insurance company for damage sustained by his vehicle in the accident.  Many cautious consumers have also purchased uninsured motorist coverage from their own insurer, which pays for their property damage when the at-fault motorist lacks insurance.

In a personal injury lawsuit, a successful plaintiff may collect economic damages as well as non-economic damages.  Economic damages include costs of medical treatment of his injuries,  lost wages, loss of future income, and property damage.   Non-economic damages include pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and, loss of consortium for the injured party’s spouse.  If the accident was the result of egregious or intentional behavior of the at-fault party, the court may also award the plaintiff punitive damages.  


Limitation on Damages for Motor Vehicle Accidents

           The seriously injured party’s biggest potential source of recovery, however, is to sue the at-fault party for negligence.   In Florida, however, an injured motorists right to sue are quite limited.  In exchange for the personal injury protection policy guarantee of payment for medical claims, Florida law allows injured drivers and passengers to sue for only the most serious personal injuries.  The permanency requirement of F.S. section 627.737 provides that a driver may sue to recover damages sustained in a car accident (both economic and non-economic) only if the plaintiff has suffered death or serious bodily injury (such as significant scarring and permanent physical impairment). 


Proving Your Case


A plaintiff injured in a car accident has the burden to show by the greater weight of the evidence that the defendant was negligent in order to recover for his injuries.    In order to prove his case, the negligence plaintiff must show that:

A.   The defendant driver owed him a duty of care.

B.    The defendant driver breached this duty of care.

C.    The defendant driver’s breach caused the plaintiff to suffer injury.

D.   The plaintiff’s injuries resulted in compensable damages (in Florida, this means a significant injury or death).  


Comparative Negligence

 Florida law provides for the apportionment of damages between the defendant and plaintiff in a personal injury case based on the fault of each party.  If you sue another driver for your injuries and the court finds that you played some role in causing those injuries, the court will  reduce the damages you recover from the defendant by the percentage of fault that is attributed to you.

As you can see, getting compensation for  Florida motor vehicle accident injuries can be challenging.  For this reason it is important that you consult with a personal injury attorney if you have been injured in a car accident. 

John Clarke is an experienced Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorney who handles car accident cases.  Contact John Clarke today at (954) 556-8952 if you have been injured in an accident for a free consultation!