A Quick Refresher: Florida Car Accident Injuries, the No-Fault System, and Tort Suits
Sometimes it is important to get back to basics, the fundamental legal concepts that underlie much of our work. In this post, we take a quick look at a major accident in our area. We'll then discuss the basics of no-fault and negligence as they apply to injuries incurred in an auto accident between/among Florida drivers. Understanding these concepts and having a lawyer who knows the ins and outs of the system is critical to recovering due compensation after a Florida car accident.
Speeding Destin Driver Sparks Nine Vehicle Pile-Up
On Friday night, a single car hit six other vehicles, sparking a nine-vehicle pileup. According to the Northwest Florida Daily News, at around 6:50 PM, a 38 year-old Destin man was speeding through the westbound lanes of U.S. 98 near Sandestin Boulevard in a Ford SW. He swerved to avoid a car stopped in a turning lane and then collided with a car in the left-most eastbound lane. This, and multiple subsequent collisions, failed to stop the Ford driver.
The Ford collided directly with several other vehicles. Debris from the collisions and the movement of the directly impacted autos brought additional vehicles into the messy fray. At least four vehicles were totaled. The Ford's driver was taken to Baptist Hospital with critical injuries and at least one other person suffered serious injuries. A witness reported the Ford driver had been "driving like a maniac" and "it seemed he had rage on his face."
Compensating Injury Victims, Step One: No-Fault Insurance llawbooks.jpg
The first place the law directs Floridians injured in car accidents is their own "No Fault" coverage. All Florida drivers must carry a form of auto insurance known as Personal Injury Protection ("PIP"). PIP coverage pays 80% of the injured person's reasonable medical costs and applies to the first $10,000 of damages. A critical wrinkle is that the injured must seek medical treatment within 14 days in order to assure coverage. Damages for "pain and suffering" are not covered by PIP insurance. We recommend all injury victims seek medical care and legal counsel as soon as possible.
Compensating Injury Victims, Step Two: Tort Law and Negligence Claims
Under certain conditions, an injured party can look beyond PIP to a more traditional tort claim against an at-fault driver. The tort system is available to someone who sustains a "serious" injury. "Serious" is a question of law and medicine that typically involves permanent injury or major scarring/disfigurement. Suing via the tort system also opens up the possibility of recovering damages for pain and suffering. Usually the family of a deceased victim can also sue in tort.
The accident we discussed at the start of this post notes that at least one person other than the Ford driver suffered serious injuries. Assuming she is a properly insured Florida driver, her initial recourse for injury compensation will be her own PIP coverage (she appears to have met the 14 day medical appointment requirement).
However, if her injuries are extensive, she will likely be able to seek additional compensation via a negligence suit against the Ford driver and anyone else whose behavior contributed to the incident (ex. a car company if her air bag did not properly deploy and that caused further injury).
If you are injured in a Florida car accident, please contact our car accident attorney, Wes Pitman. His education and experience ensure he can help you get the compensation you need and deserve.
See Related Posts:
Your PIP Insurance Has Changed
Understanding No-Fault Law and Florida Car Accidents