West Palm Beach Car Wreck Lawyer
Getting into a car accident can be a traumatic experience. Even if everyone walks away unharmed, there can still be significant damage to your vehicle. And if you or someone you care about is injured, you are no doubt concerned about how you will pay for any medical bills and other out-of-pocket costs.
The laws governing compensation for car accidents in Florida can get quite complicated, especially if you have never been through the system before. A skilled West Palm Beach car wreck lawyer can walk you through the process. Smith, Ball, Báez & Prather is a team of experienced Florida personal injury lawyers who can represent you in dealing with an insurance company or filing a lawsuit against a reckless driver.
Florida’s No-Fault System and Your Car Accident
Florida is one of just a handful of states that use a “no-fault” car insurance system. In a fault-based system, a negligent driver can always be held responsible for injuries caused to other people in a car wreck. But in a no-fault system like that in Florida, the victims normally need to turn to their own insurance coverage first.
Florida’s no-fault insurance is known as “Personal Injury Protection” (or PIP). Under PIP, your insurer must pay up to 80 percent of any “reasonable medical expenses” up to $10,000 that you or another covered individual incur as the result of a car wreck. PIP also provides limited wage replacement benefits, up to 60 percent of any income lost while you are unable to work due to your injuries. PIP does not, however, provide any compensation for “non-economic” damages such as your pain and suffering.
In order to go beyond the limits of your PIP coverage and sue a negligent driver directly, you must sustain a “serious injury,” which Florida law defines as any of the following:
- the significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function;
- a permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability;
- significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement; or
In these cases, you can not only sue the negligent driver. You can also seek compensation for the full measure of your economic and non-economic damages. This includes all of your medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering, among other categories.
It is important to note, however, that if you do pursue a personal injury claim your case will be assessed under Florida’s comparative fault rules. Comparative fault allows a defendant to argue that the plaintiff was partly (or largely) responsible for the car accident that injured them. So if you file a personal injury lawsuit and are found partially responsible, the court will reduce your award of damages to account for that fault.
Contact Smith, Ball, Báez & Prather Today
Walking away from a car wreck does not mean you have not suffered serious and potentially life-threatening injuries. A qualified West Palm Beach car wreck lawyer can review your accident and advise you of legal rights regarding compensation. Contact Smith, Ball, Báez & Prather today to schedule a consultation.