Can You Sue For Bodily Injury in Florida?
The short answer is yes, you can sue for bodily injury in Florida.
The At-Fault Driver In Your Accident May Not Have Bodily Injury Insurance Coverage
People often get confused because Florida is a “no-fault” car insurance state. That means that, if you are injured in an accident, and you have a Florida insurance policy, your own insurance will cover the first part of your medical expenses & lost income (up to $10,000.00), without you having to prove that anyone caused the accident. This is known as PIP (personal injury protection). That’s the good news.
The bad news, for accident victims, is that the minimum auto insurance requirement in Florida is $10,000 in PIP coverage (which is pathetic and outrageous, but that’s another story).
(Side note / warning: you must receive medical care within 14 days of the accident to collect under your PIP policy.)
The confusion arises because, although you theoretically can sue for bodily injury in Florida, the defendant driver who caused your accident may not have bodily injury coverage on their insurance policy. As a practical matter, if the defendant driver who caused your accident has no bodily injury (aka “BI”) coverage, then you can’t sue in the vast majority of cases because there would be no money to recover (unless you get hit by an uninsured wealthy doctor — most people do not have sufficient collectible assets to justify a lawsuit if they don’t have BI coverage).
You Can Also Sue Your Own Insurance Company IF You Have Uninsured Motorist (UM) Coverage
While technically you can sue for BI in Florida, as a practical matter, you can’t sue for BI unless the defendant driver had BI coverage. If he or she didn’t have BI coverage, then you are left with your own PIP coverage, and any uninsured or underinsured (UM or UIM) coverage you may have purchased.
The short version is that you can sue for BI, if the defendant has that coverage, or you can sue your own carrier for UM. Those are usually the only two options.
You should check your policy, to determine if you have UM coverage. If you do, then you definitely do not want to talk to your insurance company before you call us. That would be a BIG mistake!! Your insurance company will twist and turn and do everything possible either not to pay anything, or at least not to pay as much as you deserve, under any UM policy. Your own insurance company definitely becomes your adversary if you are trying to collect from them, even though you paid them for the policy.
Other (Less Common) Sources Of Insurance Coverage
If you were seriously injured in an auto crash, then you hope that the driver of the other vehicle carried BI coverage. If they did not, then we cannot recover any money from their BI policy (in limited scenarios, we can find other coverage, such as through their employer, or from a third party, like a construction company who might have contributed to your accident).
To Sue For Bodily Injury Coverage, You Must Have A Serious Injury From The Accident
Florida law also requires that you prove that you suffered a serious injury, to sue and recover money from a defendant driver, under their BI policy. We have extensive experience proving that you suffered a serious injury. But “serious injury” technically (by statute) means that we have evidence that you suffered a permanent impairment. So, for example, if you hurt your neck or back during an auto accident, we would need medical records (or testifying doctors) to prove that your doctor believes that you will not get any better. (Note that serious injury, as defined by law in Florida, doesn’t need to be a severe injury — you can have a mild but permanent impairment, such as lingering pain in your neck or back.) Serious injury also includes “significant and permanent” disfigurement, scarring, or loss of bodily function. In those cases, your “serious injury” must also be “significant.” Meaning — you can’t just have a minor scar and nothing else. Of course, wrongful death is also included.
Please do not try to untangle the laws yourself. Just yesterday, I received an email from a woman who had suffered significant injuries. Her email was full of legal terms although she isn’t a lawyer. She said (and I could tell) that she had spent thousands of hours researching the legal issues. She was sure that she had a legal case. Unfortunately, the law is extremely complex. She was using some of the right phrases, but she completely misunderstood other applicable concepts or laws — which meant that her legal conclusion (that she had a case) was incorrect. She wasn’t even in the right ballpark.
We can help you sort out the mess of your insurance coverage, from accidents that caused moderate to the most severe injuries and death. We have recovered millions for our clients and defended million and multi-million dollar cases, too. We have a small number of highly experienced and award winning lawyers. We strongly believe that, whether you hire our firm or not, you absolutely should not ever consider hiring the biggest law firms (we never would, if we were in another state and needed a PI lawyer). The case loads per lawyer, at the biggest firms, mean that your case will not get the attention it requires to maximize your case value.
Call us today to get your free case evaluation — we will fight like crazy for you, if we think we can help. Call or text anytime, day or night (407) 803-2139 (note: if you text, we can only give preliminary information — you will need to call for us to evaluate your case properly. We have a call center but all lawyers in the firm quickly review the case facts to determine if we can help).
We consider all cases, and fight hard for all of our clients. But those with the most serious injuries and death require more time for case preparation and evaluation.