Receiving compensation after a car accident can be confusing. Your own auto insurance typically covers your injuries in Florida, but the medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering after a spinal injury may be too severe for your insurance policy to cover in full. Filing a lawsuit for compensation may be the best way to get damages covered after facing a serious, life-changing injury like this. Miami car accident lawyer Prosper Shaked explains what to do to file a lawsuit for spinal injuries after a car accident in Florida.
When Can You Sue for Back and Spine Injuries After a Car Crash in FL?
Florida is a “no-fault” state for car insurance. This means that your insurance is supposed to pay for damages after a car accident and that Florida law prevents injury lawsuits for car accidents under many circumstances. However, spinal cord injuries and other serious back and neck injuries typically work as exceptions to these no-fault rules and allow you to take your case straight to court.
In Florida, you can only file car accident lawsuits for “serious” injuries. Every car insurance policy in Florida has “personal injury protection” (PIP) coverage. This covers injuries to the insured driver, no matter who is at fault for the crash. This allows instant coverage and supplemental payments to help you with minor injuries with the trade-off that you cannot file a lawsuit. However, if your injuries are serious enough, you are allowed to sue despite the rules.
If injuries qualify as “permanent” or total more than $10,000 in damages, you should be able to file a car accident lawsuit. By definition, many spinal injuries are “permanent.” While the bones and soft tissue in your spine might be able to heal, any injuries to the spinal cord itself involve nerve damage. Nerve tissue does not heal the same way that bone or muscle tissue does, and any injury to the spinal cord is usually permanent. Things like paralysis, including quadriplegia or paraplegia, should qualify as “permanent” injuries that would entitle you to file a lawsuit after a car crash.
Less severe injuries, like a slipped disc or impingement on a nerve from misalignment, may still allow you to sue for your injuries. Sometimes, back and spine injuries require serious medical intervention, surgeries, and rehabilitation, even if there is no damage to the spinal cord. If the damages for medical expenses and lost wages total $10,000 or more, you can also file a lawsuit. This includes situations where the injuries may not be permanent, but they are sufficiently serious and expensive that the law does not force you to file through insurance.
Suing for Spinal Injuries and Paralysis After a Car Crash
When you file a lawsuit for a car crash, you must prove that the other driver was at fault before the court can award you compensation. This begins with proving the at-fault driver owed you a duty, the driver breached that duty, and that breach of duty caused your injuries. If you can prove this, you can prove that the at-fault driver was “negligent,” and the court may award you damages.
Before receiving damages, you must also prove what damages you suffered. With spinal cord injuries, the damages often involve the expense of medical care, like emergency medical treatment, surgeries, rehabilitation, physical therapy, and medical devices like wheelchairs and crutches. These injuries can also be incredibly painful, so damages for pain and suffering would be in order. Damages should also include any lost wages or reduced earning capacity you suffer because of the injury, which could be quite high if you become paralyzed.
The at-fault driver may try to defend against your accusations by claiming that you were, in fact, at fault for the crash. However, this defense does not always stop your claim. Florida uses what are known as “pure comparative fault” rules. These rules allow a victim to recover damages for an accident even if they are partially at fault. Their damages will be reduced by the percentage of fault that they shared, but they will still be able to recover partial damages for whatever portion of the harm the at-fault driver caused. For instance, a victim who was 10% liable and wins $100,000 in damages would receive only $90,000. This 10% partial fault should not force the victim to lose the case; it only reduces damages.
Contact Our Miami Car Accident Lawyer for Back and Spine Injuries Today
After a serious car accident, you may suffer back and spine injuries. Potentially catastrophic injuries like paralysis may change your life, and you should be entitled to file a lawsuit for these injuries. For help understanding your right to sue and the potential damages you may be entitled to, contact car accident lawyer Prosper Shaked today to schedule a free consultation. Our number is (305) 694-2676.