Understanding Damages in Florida Automobile Accident Personal Injury Cases
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As personal injury and accident lawyers, we at the Doan Law Firm of Tallahassee know that Florida has more than its fair share of auto accidents involving both Florida residents and out-of-state visitors. We also know that many of these accidents result in injuries that are often catastrophic in their impact on both the accident victim and the victim’s family.
In this section, the personal injury lawyer at the Doan Law Firm of Tallahassee will explain an accident victim’s right to receive compensation for their injuries and how a personal injury lawyer can assist clients in recovering the full amount of damages to which they are legally entitled. But first, a few definitions are in order.
What are “damages” and how do I “recover” them?
In law, damages are the compensation that is owed to someone that has suffered an injury or a loss due to the wrongful actions of another. If you file a lawsuit after an injury or loss, that lawsuit is said to be seeking damages for the consequences of an injury. If the lawsuit is resolved in your favor, you have recovered damages for your injury. Unfortunately, there is often a disagreement on the amount of damages that should be awarded. If such a disagreement cannot be resolved through negotiation, it may become necessary for a trial and to have the decision regarding damages placed in the hands of a judge or a jury.
Types of damages that can be recovered
Florida civil law, as does the law in other states, recognizes two broad categories of damages that can be claimed after an accidental injury: economic damages and non-economic damages.
In general terms, economic or actual damages are those to which a dollar value can be assigned. Examples of economic damages include:
- The cost of repairing or replacing a damaged automobile or motorcycle;
- medical expenses that are directly related to the accident such as Emergency Room charges, doctors’ fees, and the costs of medications and/or medical assistive devices such as splints, crutches, or wheel chairs;
- the value of any wages or other income that were lost due to an inability to work caused by an injury in an accident, and
- any other expenses that can be measured in dollars and cents so long as those expenses are directly related to the accident.
On the other hand, non-economic damages are those that, although real, cannot be measured against a fixed standard. Non-economic damages, sometimes called “compensatory” damages, can include:
- “Pain and suffering” experienced by the victim of an accident;
- loss of an individual’s contribution to, or participation in, routine family life including disruption of the victim’s routine family life in areas such as education, religious observances, or social activities, and
- “punitive” damages that are awarded to “punish” negligence or gross disregard for the safety of others.
Auto Accident Injury Lawsuits in a “No-fault” State
As mentioned in other pages on this web site, Florida is a “no-fault” state. This means that, under Florida law, an auto accident victim must first file a claim with their own insurance carrier regardless of who is determined to have caused the accident. It is only after an accident victim’s expenses have exceeded the maximum benefits allowed by their insurance policy that an accident victim can file a claim against any other parties that may have contributed to the accident.
Following an auto accident, Florida law prevents you from filing a lawsuit against another party until after you have “used up” the accident benefits provided by your own auto accident policy and your damages have thus exceeded the state-mandated minimum accident injury insurance coverage of $10,000. The matter of recovering damages that exceed $10,000 then becomes a matter between you, the other driver, and the other driver’s insurance company.
Why you need a Tallahassee auto accident lawyer
From the information presented here, and on other pages of our web site, you can understand that the Florida laws regarding law suits after an automobile accident resulting in an injury are complex and, as you might also imagine, a matter that should not be left to someone without extensive training and experience in the management of personal injury lawsuits. This is why anyone injured in an automobile accident in the greater Tallahassee are should contact the Doan Law Firm to discuss the facts surrounding your accident and the legal options that may be available to accident victims.
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