You've been injured in a crash that was the direct result of someone else's negligence - it's understandable that you want to hold that person accountable for their actions. But do you know how to file a claim for compensation? Do you know what types of damages you're entitled to and how much those damages will cover? Do you even know who you can hold liable for your injuries?
Because most people assume they will never be involved in a major collision during their lifetime, few people have the answers to a number of pressing and important questions like those above. We do, however, and we want to share with you the top five questions to ask after an accident that causes injuries.
1.) Who can I sue for damages?
Even though most accident claims can be handled by the insurance company, cases that involve negligence, such as those involving drunk drivers, or instances in which an insurance company is negotiating in bad faith, may require a civil lawsuit.
In such instances, an accident victim may hold a single person or multiple parties responsible for negligence such as in cases of multi-vehicle pile ups or when a vehicle defect causes an accident to occur.
2.) What damages can I seek?
There are two types of damages that may be sought in a personal injury lawsuit: economic damages, also referred to as compensatory damages, and non-economic damages, also referred to as punitive damages.
Economic damages are meant to cover calculable damages including: present and future lost income, present and future medical expenses, funeral expenses and loss of personal property among other things.
Non-economic damages, on the other hand, are meant to punish an at-fault party for "intentional misconduct or gross negligence." (Florida Statute Title XLV §768.72) Under Florida law, it's not always possible to seek punitive damages.
3.) Is there a limit on damages in Florida?
Because economic damages are awarded based on expenses associated with an accident and injury, the limit is simply the cost of everything. Noneconomic damages, on the other hand, have a cap of $500,000 or an amount three times greater than compensatory damages awarded to the victim. (Florida Statute Title XLV §768.73)
4.) What is comparative fault?
In Florida, comparative fault is a tool used in personal injury claims to determine the proportion of fault across all involved parties. Regardless of a victim's level of fault, Florida Statute Title XLV §768.81 does not bar someone from recovering damages, it merely diminishes the economic and noneconomic damages by the percentage for which they were at fault.
5.) Can having an attorney help my claim?
Yes. Insurance companies are in business to make money, not pay out on a claim. Additionally, few people are willing to accept guilt in an accident or pay punitive damages without a fight. Having an attorney at your side can ensure your rights and best interests are being protected and that you are getting the compensation you need to fully recover after an accident.