‘Catastrophic’ Injuries in Auto Accidents
When it comes to auto insurance, Florida is a no-fault state, meaning that instead of bringing most car accident cases to court, claims are filed using personal injury protection (PIP) insurance that every Florida driver is required to carry. However, this is not the case when an injury is catastrophic. In some cases, an injured plaintiff in an auto accident case can bypass the no-fault insurance structure, provided that the injury is serious enough. Enlisting the help of an experienced attorney can help to clarify your options in this type of case.
‘Significant and Permanent’
While there is no specific definition of “catastrophic injury” under Florida law, injuries that cause “significant and permanent” consequences that one will have to manage for the rest of their lives are seen as more serious than those that will eventually heal. Examples include traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), loss of a limb, or loss of one of your senses. This ‘significant and permanent’ distinction is important, because of Florida’s no-fault rules – those whose injuries do not meet that threshold must seek compensation through the no-fault system.
While the no-fault rules can be efficient and practical for some, they are not helpful for most cases involving serious injuries. Instead of filing suit in court over an auto accident, Florida requires each driver to carry at least $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) insurance and $10,000 in property damage liability (PDL) insurance, but if your injuries are serious enough where your medical bills wind up eclipsing that amount, you have few options unless you have the option to sue.
In auto accident cases, most causes of action will be rooted in negligence; if your car was struck by another driver, you can make your claim for compensation based on the fact that motorists usually owe each other a duty to exercise reasonable care on the roads. Since you know the duty of care exists, you can then make a showing in court that the duty was breached, and that the injuries you suffered happened as a direct result of the defendant’s actions.
If you do decide to file suit, be advised that you have a set amount of time in which to do it. Florida law has a four-year statute of limitations on this type of case, meaning that you must file suit within four years of the date of your injuries. However, it can be difficult to determine exactly when your injuries occurred in some cases – for example, soft tissue injuries to one’s neck or back may not manifest until days or even weeks after an accident – so consulting an attorney as quickly as possible is generally a good idea.
Contact A Tampa Catastrophic Injury Attorney
When you are injured through no fault of your own, and it becomes a permanent disability, it is very easy to feel like you have nowhere to turn. Calling a Tampa catastrophic injury attorney from the Rinaldo Law Group can be your first step toward compassionate and knowledgeable representation, hopefully leading to you receiving the compensation you need to get back on your feet. Call our offices today for a free consultation.