Have you ever been in an auto accident due to the sheer stupidity of another driver? We see bad drivers all the time: they don’t use their turn signals, they’re texting, or maybe not even paying attention to stop signs or red lights.
It can be extremely frustrating if you get into an accident because of a run-in with one of these people. Especially if you get hurt. Florida’s PIP laws ignore fault, but why should you have to pay when the accident was clearly caused by the other driver? The good news is you can sue a driver for negligence in certain situations.
When Can You Sue a Driver for Negligence?
Let’s back up a minute. After a car accident, it’s normal to want to take the most aggressive action against another driver. However, a personal injury lawsuit should be your tactic of last resort because it can take a lot of time and effort and may not even end up getting you want you want and need in the end.
If your insurance covers the full costs of your accident, use that first. This process is more reliable and will go more quickly than filing a lawsuit. If you get into an accident with an uninsured driver, you have options as well.
On top of that, your bodily injury liability (BIL) benefits may cover costs for bodily injury and the resulting damages. Not everyone has BIL benefits, but if you do, now is the time to take advantage of them.
What if your insurance doesn’t cover the full extent of the damages you’ve suffered? If your injuries are severe, permanent, or disabling, then it’s time to file that lawsuit.
So You Need to Sue
If you are suing a driver for negligence, you will need to prove the following:
That the driver had a duty to be careful on the road: All drivers must follow the rules of the road and drive with the safety of other passengers in mind.
That the driver was not reasonably careful, or was driving negligently: Say, for example, the driver was speeding, or ran a red light. In that case, the driver was clearly not driving carefully, and his or her actions put others at risk.
That the driver’s negligence caused your injuries: It’s not enough to say that the driver has a history of driving carelessly, or that the driver ran a red light a few minutes prior to your accident. You and your auto accident lawyer will have to prove that the driver’s carelessness directly caused your accident.
That the plaintiff (you) suffered losses or injuries due to the accident: When you go to court, you will have to provide thorough documentation of your hospital bills and other losses that were a direct result of your accident.
Understand That the Defendant Will Fight Back
Remember the no-fault laws regarding personal injury protection? They go out the window when you sue another driver for negligence.
If, for example, a defendant can prove that your behavior contributed to the accident (for example, you weren’t wearing a seatbelt or were using a smartphone app while you were driving), you may not receive full the compensation you asked for. Before you begin to file a lawsuit, make sure you carefully go over the details with a Florida car crash attorney and discuss your options and likely outcomes.
About the Author:
Steven Slootsky is a 1985 graduate of Nova Law School, which means he’s been a practicing Fort Lauderdale injury lawyer for more than 2 decades. He founded the The Injury Law Firm of South Florida in 1991. The Fort Lauderdale-based accident attorney is a member of the Florida Bar, as well as the Federal Bar for the Southern District for the U.S. District Court. During his career as a personal injury lawyer/auto accident compensation attorney, Steven has served as the co-chair of the Workers’ Compensation section for Broward County, Florida. He is also a Bronze member of the Florida Workers Advocates, a former member of the board, and serves as an “Eagle” member of the Florida Academy of Trial Lawyers.