Tampa Car Accidents Attorneys
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, accidental injury is the leading cause of death for individuals in the U.S. aged 1-44, and motor vehicle/traffic accidents are the number one or number two type of accident among different groups in those age ranges.
In Florida alone, the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles reported over 400,000 traffic crashes in 2019 involving nearly 700,000 drivers. That’s more than 1,000 crashes every day of the year. These motor vehicle accidents caused 3,000 deaths and nearly a quarter of a million injuries, and that’s just in one year.
The law in Florida regarding car accident injury claims is complicated, and it can be difficult for accident victims to know what to do when they’ve been injured in a crash. Greco & Wozniak, P.A. is one of Tampa’s most trusted and experienced law firms when it comes to handling auto accident cases. If you or a loved one has been injured in a Tampa car accident, call our office at 813-223-7849 for a no-cost discussion of your claim.
No-Fault and Fault Claims Under Florida Car Insurance Laws
Florida is one of about a dozen states that still have no-fault car insurance. In Florida, this is called Personal Injury Protection, or PIP insurance. All drivers are required to carry PIP insurance. If a driver gets into an accident, they can file a claim under the PIP coverage regardless of who was at fault for the collision. They don’t have to prove that the other driver was negligent, and they don’t have to prove that they were driving with care and attention and didn’t cause the accident. The benefits provided by PIP coverage, however, are limited.
PIP insurance provides the following benefits to persons injured in a Florida car accident:
- 80% of medical expenses
- 60% of lost income for time missed from work due to the injury
These benefits are limited to a $10,000 maximum on a basic policy. Also, car accident injury victims only have 14 days to seek treatment for their injuries. If their injuries are not considered to be an “emergency medical condition,” then their benefits are limited to a maximum of $2,500 instead of $10,000.
Florida law does allow injury victims to step outside of the no-fault law and sue the negligent driver for their injuries if they suffered a serious injury. In Florida, fault-based claims are limited to injuries involving one of the following:
- Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function
- Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement
- Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, other than scarring or disfigurement
If you were unfortunate enough to suffer a serious injury in the accident, you can sue the other driver for your damages, presuming they were at fault for causing the crash. The burden is on you as the plaintiff to prove they were negligent and that their negligence caused the accident and your resulting injuries. For instance, the other driver might have been speeding, drinking and driving, texting while driving, following too close, made an unsafe lane change, failed to signal, ran a red light or stop sign, or otherwise failed to drive with reasonable care.
As experienced auto accident lawyers, the attorneys at Greco & Wozniak, P.A. understand how to build a case that proves the other driver’s fault and liability to you for the full extent of your damages. In a tort claim, as opposed to a no-fault claim, you can recover the full amount of present and future medical expenses, lost income, and compensation for pain and suffering and other legal damages. You are also not limited in the amount of damages you can recover.
Tampa Car Accident FAQs
Q. What are the most important steps to take if I am injured in a vehicular accident?
A. Immediately seek medical attention and contact an attorney to represent your interests and deal with the insurance company. Do not give a recorded statement to an insurance company without contacting a lawyer first. If you delay seeking medical attention, the insurance company will use the delay to undermine your case.
Q. Am I entitled to recover compensation for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, loss of capacity of the enjoyment of life, disfigurement, mental anguish, and inconvenience?
A. To recover non-economic losses under Florida law, the claimant must meet the burden of proof for the “permanency threshold.” This means a qualified medical professional must testify that the accident caused a permanent impairment or disfigurement. In a small percentage of cases, usually those involving school buses or taxis, it is not necessary to meet the permanency threshold. Florida does not limit the amount of non-economic damages that can be recovered.
Q. How long will it take to settle my case?
A. Since Florida law requires the claimant to prove that the injury was permanent to recover non-economic damages, you must receive medical treatment for at least four months after the accident. Once you reach maximum medical improvement as indicated by your doctor, we will usually try to reach a pre-suit settlement with the insurance company. If we are unable to reach a pre-suit settlement, a lawsuit will be promptly filed. Should it be necessary to take the case all the way to trial, it usually takes approximately 12-18 months from the date the lawsuit is filed.
Q. Why do we have to use my insurance company if I did nothing wrong to cause this accident?
A. Since Florida is a no-fault state, your insurance company is primarily responsible for a portion of your medical expenses and lost wages under your PIP benefits. That’s why it’s necessary to file a claim with your insurance policy even if you were not at fault for the accident.
Q. How much am I entitled to receive in PIP or no-fault benefits after an accident?
A. In 2013, the Florida Legislature made changes to the PIP statute that now require injured parties to seek medical treatment within 14 days from the date of the accident. If you do not seek prompt treatment within this timeframe, you are not entitled to any PIP benefits. If you receive treatment within 14 days from the accident and it is determined that you have an emergency medical condition, you are entitled to $10,000 of PIP benefits which pay 80 percent of medical expenses and 60 percent of lost wages. If you seek treatment within the first 14 days and do not have an emergency medical condition, PIP benefits are limited to $2,500. It is also important to review the provisions of your policy to determine if you have medical payment coverage in addition to your PIP benefits.
Q. What do we do if the person who caused the accident was not carrying sufficient bodily injury liability coverage to compensate me for my injuries and losses?
A. Florida law requires every insurance company to offer uninsured motorist coverage (UM) to anyone purchasing a policy. UM coverage should be carried by everyone who can afford it. If you have UM coverage under your policy, your insurance company will stand in the shoes of the at-fault party up to the limits of your selected UM coverage. This type of policy can be used when the person who caused the accident was not insured or did not have enough insurance to pay for your damages. Simply put, UM coverage is the only safeguard to protect you and your family if you are ever injured by someone who was not carrying adequate bodily injury liability coverage.
The only way an insurance company in Florida can sell a policy without UM coverage is if you sign a rejection of UM coverage. If no rejection is signed, the carrier must provide UM coverage equal to your bodily injury policy limits. Also, if your policy does not include bodily injury liability coverage, the insurance company does not have to offer UM coverage.
Q. If my case goes to trial, why can’t we sue the at-fault party’s insurance company in addition to the at-fault party?
A. Florida has a non-joinder statute that prohibits you from suing an at-fault party’s insurance company. Unless you are suing your own insurance carrier or you are claiming that the at-fault party’s insurance carrier acted in bad faith, you can only sue the party who caused the accident. The Florida Legislature passed this statute at the behest of the insurance industry under the rationale that a jury would be inclined to award more money and be less sympathetic with an insurance company than with a human defendant.
Get Immediate Help After a Tampa Car Accident Injury
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a Tampa car accident, call Greco & Wozniak, P.A. at 813-223-7849 for a free consultation with a skilled and experienced Tampa auto accident attorney. Our fees are based on the amount we recover for you, and we don’t collect a fee if we don’t win for you.