Because Florida is a "no-fault" state when it comes to personal injuries suffered in motor vehicle accidents, a driver's own insurance company is the first place to turn when compensation is required for injuries and lost income. However, if injuries suffered are deemed to be permanent, the insurer of the at-fault motorist can become responsible for paying the claim.
The legal definition of "permanent" can vary from the common sense definition, so input from an attorney may be helpful. Injuries are often considered permanent when there is scarring or other disfigurement that is considered to be "significant." Also, the significant and permanent loss of what is considered an "important" bodily function can be grounds for the injured party to step outside of the normal parameters of the no-fault system.
Now, it is possible that a minor claim routinely handled under Florida's no-fault statute may be successfully concluded between the driver and his or her own insurance company. However, it is not always clear when the "serious injury" threshold is met under state law. There are also cases in which an accident is exempted from the limitations of the no-fault statute.
Injury Damages vs. Property Damages
Also, under Florida law, there is an important distinction to be made between injury damages and property damages. When it comes to property claims, the no-fault standard does not apply. That is, one can pursue a vehicle damage claim against the at-fault driver, and seek to collect under that motorist's property damage liability coverage.
Statute of Limitations
If it is believed that your claim meets the statutory requirements for seeking damages from the motorist who is at fault, you have four years from the date of the incident to file an initial complaint with the court. It is imperative that the complaint be filed with the correct civil court branch in the state of Florida.
An attorney that focuses on this area of the law may be helpful in analyzing your situation. A Stuart, FL car accident attorney that is familiar with the settlement negotiations that may become necessary with one's insurer can be helpful. Certain obstacles can be anticipated and more readily overcome, and the rights of the injured party can be protected.
Finally, if the filing of a lawsuit in Florida's courts is ultimately warranted, an attorney familiar with car accident injuries will be in a position to file the required documents in the correct manner.
For a complimentary review of your accident and its aftermath, please contact us.