Most people assume that if they're injured by a drunk driver, they can sue for damages. But Florida is considered a no-fault state, meaning getting compensation from the person at fault might be a little challenging. This doesn't mean your medical bills won't get paid or that you can't be awarded for pain and suffering. What it does mean is that you'll have to take a few extra steps and meet certain criteria. An attorney that specializes in DUI injuries, such as one from a place like the Chichester Law Office, can help you navigate the waters, but here is what you generally need to do.
Document all Physical Injuries and Damage to Property
Hopefully it goes without saying, but getting medical treatment is your first priority. Your medical records should indicate any and all injuries, whether or not those injuries are permanent, and what kind of treatment you will need to have in order to recover.
You should also list any damages to your vehicle, if you were in your own car. Be sure to get plenty of pictures and names of any witnesses.
Seek Compensation from Your Insurance Company
Living in a no-fault state simply means that, at the outset, it doesn't matter who is at fault in an auto accident; you will still be compensated by your insurance company for certain economic losses. So if you miss work because of the accident, accumulate medical bills, or need to pay for rehabilitation or therapy, they'll take care of the bills. This portion of your auto insurance is known as PIP (Personal Injury Protection).
There are limits to how much you can get, however. The PIP portion of your policy will pay 80% of your medical bills and 60% of any lost wages, up to $10,000. Plus, if you have a deductible, you'll have to pay that out of pocket initially. Taking money from your insurance company to pay for these bills can sometimes eliminate the need to go after the driver for more money.
If your car is damaged, you can sue the drunk driver in a civil case. These types of insurance claims are based on fault, and you can seek compensation for the car and anything inside the car that gets damaged.
Meet the Tort-Threshold Test
In some situations, the injuries sustained in an accident caused by a drunk driver can exceed that $10,000 limitation. But what can you do if you live in a no-fault state like Florida?
Fortunately, you can file a lawsuit if your injuries are considered severe enough. This is called a tort threshold, and according to Florida law, if you meet at least one of the following criteria, you are eligible to seek compensation from the person who was driving drunk, beyond what PIP pays:
In a tort case like this, you are suing for pain and suffering, emotional distress, or inconveniences that have arisen from damage to your vehicle, physical injuries, or having to miss work.
Before the court will even hear your case, you'll need to provide sufficient evidence that you meet one of the above criteria, usually with medical records or your doctor's statements. That's why it's so important to seek medical treatment immediately after the accident and get a doctor's assessment of your injuries and whether they are permanent.
There are a few situations in which you don't have meet the threshold in order to sue for pain and suffering. If you were on a motorcycle or moped, a passenger in a taxi cab or city bus, or riding a lawnmower or tractor, you can sue the driver at fault.
Punitive damages can also be sought regardless of the severity of injury, and the good news is that you can sue even if your insurance pays and you win a civil case.
These are all special circumstances that require the guidance of an attorney who can represent you and fight for your rights.Share
16 February 2017
I was blessed to have grown up in a home with loving supportive parents. They both worked extremely hard in order for me and my sister to enjoy a better life than they had. Financially, they bought me a new car when I was sixteen. They also paid for my college expenses. Many parents do the same for their kids. They want to provide for them in the present while safeguarding their futures. One way parents can invest in their kids’ futures is by placing money in trusts that their children can utilize when they reach a certain age. A reputable attorney can establish beneficial trusts for your kids. On this blog, you will learn about the benefits of consulting with an attorney about setting up trusts for your children.