Millions of people suffer non-fatal injuries in traffic accidents every year in the United States. Because car accidents occur so frequently, chances are that you will be involved in at least one crash at some point in your life. If it happens to you, it’s important to understand your legal right to compensation for your injuries.
What types of compensation can you recover for your injuries after a crash? Whose insurance policy will cover your damages? Every claim is unique, so it’s best to discuss the details of your case a Tampa personal injury attorney. But for now, keep reading to learn the answers to these questions.
What Types of Compensation Can Car Accident Victims Recover?
There are three categories of compensation that may be awarded to car accident victims in Florida: special damages, general damages, and punitive damages.
Special damages are awarded to victims who have incurred monetary expenses or suffered monetary losses due to their car accident injuries. For example, special damages may compensate a victim for medical expenses, lost wages, loss of future earning capacity, and more.
General damages are awarded to victims who have suffered non-monetary losses due to their car accident injuries. This type of compensation may cover non-monetary losses such as the loss of enjoyment of life, mental anguish, emotional distress, pain and suffering, and more.
Punitive damages are not awarded in many personal injury cases. These damages are not meant to compensate victims for losses they have suffered or expenses they have incurred. Instead, the court will award punitive damages in order to punish the at-fault party for acting egregiously. To recover this type of compensation, the plaintiff must show that the defendant acted with gross negligence or intentionally caused the plaintiff’s injuries.
There are no limits on the amount of special damages or general damages that can be awarded to a car accident victim. If the victim can prove that the defendant intentionally caused them harm, there is no limit on punitive damages either.
But if the plaintiff is awarded punitive damages because of the defendant’s gross negligence and not because they acted intentionally, there is a limit on punitive damages. This limit is $500,000 or three times the amount of special and general damages awarded to the victim, whichever is greater. If the defendant was motivated to act negligently for their own financial gain, the cap on punitive damages is $2 million or four times the amount of special and general damages awarded to the victim, whichever is greater.
Determining the value of your car accident claim is not easy. For this reason, it’s best to speak to an experienced car accident attorney to find out how much your case is worth. Knowing the value of your claim will ensure that you don’t settle for less than what you actually deserve.
Will Your No-Fault Car Insurance Cover Your Damages?
Florida is a no-fault state. Because of this, every driver in the state of Florida is legally required to carry a minimum of $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) insurance coverage. If you are ever involved in a car accident, your PIP insurance will cover certain damages regardless of whether or not you were at fault for the accident.
PIP insurance does provide coverage after a car accident, but it will not cover all of your damages. If you suffer an “emergency medical condition,” your PIP insurance will cover 80% of all reasonable and necessary expenses up to your policy limit. But if you suffer an injury that is not classified as an emergency medical condition, your PIP insurance will only cover up to $2,500 in medical expenses.
If you are temporarily or permanently unable to work due to your injuries, your PIP insurance will cover some of your lost wages. Your PIP insurance will cover 60% of your lost wages, up to policy limits.
To put it simply, PIP insurance will compensate you for your injuries after a car accident. But the coverage that PIP provides will typically not be enough to cover all of your damages, especially if you have sustained serious injuries.
Can You File A Claim With the At-Fault Driver’s Insurance Company?
As previously mentioned, Florida is a no-fault state. But the issue of who was at fault for the accident can still arise in some cases. If your damages exceed your PIP insurance policy limit, you may be able to recover compensation from the at-fault party. But you cannot hold the at-fault party liable for your injuries unless you have suffered serious and permanent injuries. Examples of these injuries include traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord damage, and paralysis.
If you meet these conditions, you may recover additional compensation from the at-fault party with the help of an attorney. Your attorney will handle the process of filing a claim, calculating the value of your case, and negotiating a settlement. Most cases are resolved through settlements, but if an agreement cannot be reached, your attorney can file a lawsuit and take your case to court. Either way, your attorney will aggressively fight to ensure you are fully compensated for your current and future medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
Take the First Step Toward Recovering Compensation Today
If you’ve been injured in a car accident in Tampa, it’s in your best interest to seek legal representation from the experienced auto accident attorneys at Carlson Meissner Hart & Hayslett right away. Let us handle your personal injury claim while you focus solely on making a full recovery from your injuries. With our help, you can secure the full amount of compensation you are entitled to by law.
To learn more about your legal options, schedule a free consultation with our team of car accident attorneys today. Let us review your case, explain your rights, and help you fight for the compensation you deserve.