"How much is my Florida car accident worth?"
Palm Beach County auto accident attorneys break down how system works
We hear this question a lot at our Florida law firm. And you're right to ask us as soon as possible. That's because obtaining the compensation you rightfully deserve after a serious car accident can be a very complicated process.
Our attorneys at Gonzalez & Cartwright, P.A. know how the system works in Florida. That's because we have been working with accident victims in South Florida for decades. We know what types of compensation are available to accident victims and how to obtain them. That's why we want to meet with you as soon as possible.
Common car accident-related expenses
If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident caused by someone else, you should be compensated for the following accident-related expenses depending on the circumstances of your crash:
- Medical bills
- Vehicle repairs (or replacement)
- Lost income
- Lost future income (if you cannot work)
- Pain and suffering
The exact value of such expenses can vary widely depending on the severity of your accident. If a loved one died in a crash, those figures could climb even higher. As a result, the value of an accident can vary from a few thousand to millions of dollars.
Factors that can affect value of accident claim
Such figures might seem large to some people. But it's important to remember that accident-related expenses aren't just the expenses immediately after an accident. Your costs can continue to add up for months or even years after an accident.
This is especially true if you sustained a permanent injury in your accident or a loved one died in the crash. When these situations occur, you or a loved one might not be able to work ever again. As a result, any settlement or verdict you receive should reflect lost future earnings for the rest of your life.
Other factors that can affect the value for your car-accident claim can include:
- Your insurance coverage
- If other driver has insurance
- Severity of injuries
- Your ability to work
- Car defects or defective car parts
The last factor may entitle you to take legal action against the company that manufactured the defective auto part that resulted in your accident. In such cases, you may be able to participate in a class-action lawsuit if other drivers had accidents due to similar defects.
Understanding Florida's 'no fault' insurance system
The biggest factor that can affect your car accident claim involves Florida's "no fault" car insurance system. Under this system, accident victims normally file a claim with their own insurance company, no matter who was at fault in the accident.
This system differs from many other states, where the at-fault driver's insurance company must compensate everyone injured in the accident, including other drivers, passengers, pedestrians and cyclists hurt in the crash.
Under Florida's "no fault" system, your own insurance follows you around in most cases. As a result, if you were a passenger in someone else's car and you sustained a serious injury, you would still file a claim with your own insurance company. The same applies if you are involved in a car accident as a pedestrian or bicyclist.
The exception to this rule concerns whether your injury exceeds the "injury threshold" as defined by Florida's insurance system. In particular, you may be able to take legal action against the at-fault driver if your accident-related injury qualifies as a permanent, significant injury.
Mandatory car insurance coverage
All drivers in Florida are required to have two kinds of car insurance:
- Personal injury protection (PIP) benefits
- Property damage liability (PDL) benefits
PIP benefits cover your medical expenses and lost wages. PDL benefits cover the cost of repairing damage to someone else's vehicle in an accident you cause.
In both cases, Florida drivers must have at least $10,000 each of PIP and PDL coverage. If drivers do not, they can be fined $500 for violating Florida's mandatory auto insurance requirements. Uninsured drivers who cause an accident could also face additional penalties depending on the circumstances of their accident.
Optional car insurance coverage
Along with the two types of mandatory auto insurance listed above, Florida drivers can obtain several other types of optional insurance coverage, including:
- Additional PIP coverage over $10,000
- Additional PDL coverage over $10,000
- Bodily injury liability (BIL) benefits
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) benefits
BIL benefits normally pay for medical expenses, wage loss and other costs due to injuries to other people hurt in an accident you cause. UIM benefits stand in for the other motorist's liability coverage if you're involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver.
How we can help you
Even though Florida has a "no fault" insurance system, insurance investigators often try to blame one driver. And if that's you, you could have a hard time getting additional money for your accident, especially if your accident-related expenses exceed your insurance coverage and you want to pursue compensation from the other driver's insurance company.
Our experienced accident attorneys can help you get the money you deserve. We know how the legal system works and we can explain all the options available to you. Don't simply settle for whatever insurance companies offer you after your crash. Demand justice. Contact Gonzalez & Cartwright, P.A. and find out how we can help you.