Like most areas of the law, the rules and regulations regarding personal injury lawsuits vary from state to state. If you’re considering a personal injury or insurance claim in Florida, it’s a good idea to be familiar with the statutes or laws that might affect your case, or your ability to file a lawsuit in Florida.
While these are the basic laws regulating personal injury in Florida, in nearly all cases it’s best to work with an experienced Florida personal injury attorney who understands the state and federal laws in depth.
Filing deadlines for Florida personal injury lawsuits
A statute of limitations is a law that determines how long you have to file a lawsuit after an accident or injury occurs. Each state sets a statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits, with possible variations according to the type or details of the lawsuit being filed.
In the state of Florida, the statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits is 4 years from the date of the accident. This is the time by which your lawsuit must be filed in a Florida civil court, so you would need to consult with an attorney prior to the 4-year time frame.
There are few exceptions to this rule, such as when an injury is not discovered until long after the incident that caused it occurred. In this case, the time limit may be extended. Another exception is for personal injury lawsuits filed against a city, county, or state government. These cases have a statute of limitations of three years.
Florida law and comparative negligence
In the state of Florida, there is a “pure comparative negligence rule” that can affect your compensation in a personal injury lawsuit, if the defendant (the person or entity you’re holding liable for your injury) claims that you are partially at fault for the accident. This rule states that if you’re proven liable, your compensation will be reduced by the percentage of the accident that you were at fault for.
As a brief example, if you were involved in a car accident where the other driver ran a stop sign, but you were speeding, you could be held partially responsible for the accident and you would receive a reduced settlement.
Car insurance laws in Florida
Florida is one of only nine states with a no-fault system for car insurance. This means in most cases, the insurance company is responsible for the damages and medical expenses of an insured driver involved in an accident, regardless of who was responsible, or at fault, for the accident.
The exception to this rule is in the case of “serious injury,” which may entitle you to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver and/or their insurance company. In Florida, serious injury is generally defined as:
- Permanent injuries
- Significant and permanent scarring
A death caused in an auto accident would fall under the laws that govern wrongful death, rather than personal injury.
Damage caps for Florida personal injury lawsuits
Most states have a set of laws that limit the amount of money you can receive in compensation for a personal injury lawsuit. The majority of laws in this category are limits to non-economic damages such as pain and suffering that can be recovered through a lawsuit.
Florida does not place damage caps on economic or non-economic damages for common personal injury cases like car accidents, defective products, or slip and fall injuries. However, there is a damage cap in Florida on punitive damages, which are only applicable to a small number of personal injury lawsuits.
Punitive damages are penalties intended to punish the defendant in cases of reprehensible or dangerous behavior that led to injury. Florida law limits the amount of punitive damages to either three times the amount of compensatory (economic and non-economic) damages, or $500,000, whichever amount is greater.
One notable exception is medical malpractice lawsuits, which have a separate set of complex rules and regulations regarding damage caps in the state of Florida.
Are you considering a Florida personal injury lawsuit?
The experienced Miami trial lawyers at Baron & Herskowitz have successfully represented many clients in all types of personal injury lawsuits and helped them receive the compensation they deserve. Contact us today to discuss the details of your case.