Florida Car Accident Damages & Compensation
Obtaining Compensation For The Injured Since 1982
Car Crash? What Kind of Damages Can You Recover?
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a car accident involving a negligent driver, Florida law provides that you can recover damages, including financial compensation for such things as:
reimbursement for medical costs and expenses (care, therapy, equipment);
your lost wages from your job;
money for your pain and suffering;
money for your mental anguish;
financial coverage for any physical impairment;
financial coverage for any permanent disfigurement.
Even if your injuries are relatively minor, damages may still be available to you. You may also be able to recoup your property losses for things like your totaled or wrecked car (or truck or van or SUV, etc.).
What are “damages” in Florida law?
Under Florida law, money that is paid to compensate someone for their injuries from a car accident are called “damages” and they are either awarded to the plaintiff in court or they are provided to the injured person via a claim settlement.
The Florida Legislature has written laws that attempt to compensate people who have been hurt in a car accident. For example, Chapter 768 of the Florida Statutes is dedicated to money damages available to car accident victims.
In addition to those items mentioned above, there are other specific claims that are considered as damages in Florida (which means the law allows recovery of these losses), including:
Additionally, if the accident victim has tragically died as a result of injuries sustained in the accident, the accident victim’s family as well as the victim’s estate can file a wrongful death lawsuit against those who are responsible for the accident. Under Florida’s Wrongful Death Act, (Chapter 768.16 et seq of the Florida Statutes) certain family members are legally allowed to file the lawsuit after their loved one has passed away due to an accident: parents and spouses are able to file a Wrongful Death Lawsuit, for example, while cousins cannot.
Further, Florida law provides for punitive damages when a serious accident has permanently injured or killed a person anywhere within the Florida borders (including waterways and Florida ocean waters as well as Florida skies). Punitive damages are available only in certain situations – there must be a finding of gross negligence or intentional conduct before damages can be assessed as punishment upon the party or parties responsible for the accident.
Read our Articles About (From our injury and accident blog): Injury Compensation and Damages
Punitive Damages - What about those huge, multi-million dollar damage awards covered in the media?
Periodically, the television, print, and internet media announce that an accident injury victim has been awarded millions in a jury verdict or claims settlement. While there may be times when the long term care and medical expenses alone will tally to a very large, six-figure amount; however, oftentimes the multi-million dollar injury damages are large amounts because of punitive, or punishment, damages.
Punitive damages are used in American and English courts as a way of serving justice where the defendant has done an act so unacceptable that it will be legally allowed in order to discourage and dissuade this defendant and others similarly situated as that defendant from doing this action again in the future. Punitive damages are awarded not to provide justice to the plaintiff alone but also as a means of protecting the interests of society as a whole.
According to Florida Statute 768.72:
(2) A defendant may be held liable for punitive damages only if the trier of fact, based on clear and convincing evidence, finds that the defendant was personally guilty of intentional misconduct or gross negligence. As used in this section, the term:
(a) “Intentional misconduct” means that the defendant had actual knowledge of the wrongfulness of the conduct and the high probability that injury or damage to the claimant would result and, despite that knowledge, intentionally pursued that course of conduct, resulting in injury or damage.
(b) “Gross negligence” means that the defendant’s conduct was so reckless or wanting in care that it constituted a conscious disregard or indifference to the life, safety, or rights of persons exposed to such conduct.
(3) In the case of an employer, principal, corporation, or other legal entity, punitive damages may be imposed for the conduct of an employee or agent only if the conduct of the employee or agent meets the criteria specified in subsection (2) and:
(a) The employer, principal, corporation, or other legal entity actively and knowingly participated in such conduct;
(b) The officers, directors, or managers of the employer, principal, corporation, or other legal entity knowingly condoned, ratified, or consented to such conduct; or
(c) The employer, principal, corporation, or other legal entity engaged in conduct that constituted gross negligence and that contributed to the loss, damages, or injury suffered by the claimant.
(4) The provisions of this section shall be applied to all causes of action arising after the effective date of this act.
In 2011, the Florida Legislature passed legislation that limits the amount of punitive damages that can be awarded in a Florida lawsuit and unlimited punitive damages awards will not be allowed in the State of Florida under current law unless “… the fact finder determines that at the time of injury the defendant had a specific intent to harm the claimant and determines that the defendant’s conduct did in fact harm the claimant, there shall be no cap on punitive damages.” (Florida Statute 768.73(1)(c).)
Recent examples of Florida punitive damages awards include the tobacco litigation where tobacco companies were ordered to pay large amounts of money not only in justice to those injury victims who had filed claims against the companies, but also as a punishment damage for the benefit of society as a whole. Tobacco victims have been pursuing punitive damages in lawsuits after the State Supreme Court ruled that plaintiffs could be awarded punitive damages in these actions. You can read the Florida Supreme Court opinion, Engle v. Liggett, in its entirety here.
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Alan Sackrin is a Board Certified civil trial specialist with an emphasis in car and truck accident matters. If you or a loved one has been injured due to the negligence of another person, contact Alan Sackrin, an experienced Broward County Auto Injury Attorney, today for a free consultation.
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To find out more about whether or not Alan Sackrin can help you or your loved one, you can contact him by phone at 954-458-8655 or by e-mail through this web site to schedule an appointment and learn more about your rights in a South Florida car or truck accident.
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