Gainesville Car Accident Lawyers
Automobile Accidents in Florida
If you have been involved in a car accident, no matter how minor or major the crash, you are likely experiencing considerable physical, emotional, and financial challenges. A serious accident-related injury results in extensive, ongoing medical care and may put you out of work for weeks, months, or even longer. On top of managing your medical bills and everyday expenses, you have new and unexpected costs to deal with, such as paying for prescription medications or repairing the damage to your vehicle.
Give us a call today at (352) 261-6767 or contact us online using our secure submission form to request a free initial consultation with a member of our legal team.
At Schackow & Mercadante, we want you to know that you do not have to deal with these challenges on your own. Depending on the details of your situation, our legal team can help you file an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit against the responsible driver. This allows you to seek financial compensation for your “damages,” or the losses you have endured as a result of the accident.
Florida car accident and insurance laws are complex. We strongly recommend that you work with an attorney from our firm when filing your claim. Our Gainesville car accident lawyers can assist you with every aspect of your case and are ready to tirelessly advocate for you and your full recovery.
Some states follow a no-fault auto insurance system that allows injured motorists to recover compensation for certain covered damages after an accident, regardless of who was at fault. These states are known as “no-fault states,” and Florida is one of them.
This means that anyone who registers a motor vehicle in Florida must have minimum insurance coverage in the following amounts:
- $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP)
- $10,000 in property damage liability (PDL)
PIP covers a percentage of your medical expenses and lost wages if you are injured in an auto accident, regardless of who caused it. PDL, on the other hand, only covers the other driver’s property damage (i.e., vehicle repair costs) after an accident that you caused.
What does this mean for you?
Simply put, if you are injured in a motor vehicle accident in Florida, you can receive compensation for most of your medical expenses and lost wages—even if you were partly or entirely at fault for the collision. However, the amount you can recover is limited, both by your coverage limits and state law.
What Does PIP Cover?
Personal injury protection, or PIP, does not cover all of your accident-related losses. Specifically, it does not cover any non-economic damages, like pain and suffering. Additionally, if you only have the minimum required amount ($10,000), you could find that your accident-related medical expenses and lost wages quickly exceed this limit. If that is the case, you may be left without the monetary resources you need to manage these and other related expenses.
In Florida, PIP covers the following:
- 80% of your accident-related medical expenses (for “emergency” injuries)
- 60% of your lost wages, up to $100,000, if you are disabled due to the accident
- Death benefits, including funeral or burial costs up to $5,000
Note that, if your injuries are not considered an “emergency,” you can only recover $2,500 in PIP benefits. Generally speaking, the state defines an “emergency medical condition” (EMC) as one that occurs with acute and severe symptoms that require immediate medical attention to prevent serious impairment, health complications, or death.
Can You Go Outside the No-Fault System & Seek Additional Damages?
In many cases, PIP is simply not enough to fully cover the literal and figurative costs of an accident. The good news is that it is possible to step outside the no-fault system and file a personal injury lawsuit directly against the at-fault party.
To do this, there are several things you must prove:
- Duty of Care: You will first need to prove that the defendant owed you a “duty of care,” meaning they had a legal responsibility to take reasonable measures to prevent you from being harmed. In most cases, all motorists have an implied duty of care to others.
- Breach: You will also need to prove that the defendant breached the duty of care, typically by acting negligently or wrongfully. Examples include driving while distracted, failing to obey applicable traffic laws, or driving drunk.
- Injury: To go outside the no-fault system, you must not only prove that you were injured but also that your injuries meet the state’s definition of a “serious injury.” If your injuries do not meet the serious injury threshold, you cannot bring a personal injury claim.
- Causation: Lastly, you must prove that the defendant’s conduct was the cause of your injuries. Under Florida’s pure comparative fault rule, you do not need to prove that they were entirely at fault for the accident, only that they were partly to blame.
If you are found partly at fault for the accident, you can still file a personal injury claim (if you meet all other eligibility requirements). However, your total recovery will be reduced by your percentage of fault, as determined by the insurance adjuster and/or court.
What Is Considered a “Serious Injury” in Florida?
You may only bring a personal injury claim directly against an at-fault driver in Florida if your injury meets the “serious injury threshold.” The criteria used by the state of Florida to determine whether an injury is “serious” is specific and must be met in order for you to bring your claim.
In Florida, an injury is considered “serious” if it results in any of the following:
- Permanent injury (within a reasonable degree of medical probability)
- Permanent and significant scarring or disfigurement
- Permanent and significant impairment or loss of function of a bodily system, function, or member
If you suffered a catastrophic injury in a car accident, or if your loved one tragically passed away after an automobile collision, contact our Gainesville car accident lawyers at Schackow & Mercadante for help filing your personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.
Personalized Advice & Concierge Level Experience
Direct Communication With Your Attorney
Over 125 Years of Combined Experience
Practicing in The Gainesville Area 55+ Years
Navigating Florida’s complex car accident laws and insurance requirements can be extremely difficult, especially when you are already trying to get back on your feet after a serious accident. When you trust your recovery to the team at Schackow & Mercadante, you can focus on healing and moving forward with your life while we take care of all the legal details.
Together, our attorneys have more than 126 years of experience, along with a long and proven track record of success. We work hard for our clients and are always willing to take cases to trial whenever necessary. As your legal team, we will work efficiently with the goal of settling your case as quickly and favorably as possible. We understand the importance of getting you the compensation you are owed so that you can manage unexpected accident-related expenses and get back on your feet.
We proudly provide highly personalized legal representation with a caring and compassionate touch. At Schackow & Mercadante, we treat our clients like family, always keeping in mind their unique needs, concerns, and goals throughout every stage of the legal process.
We do everything we can to help our clients move forward after serious accidents, from working to reduce their medical bills to protecting their rights in the courtroom. If you or someone you love has been involved in a serious automobile accident, we encourage you to reach out to our team right away to learn how we can help.
“I am a UF student who got injured on campus and Schackhow and Mercadante handled my case extremely well. Everything was settled in about a year and I highly recommend them for any personal injury case in which you are a victim in any capacity.”