If you were seriously or permanently injured in a vehicle accident and another party was at fault, you will be able to file a claim against the driver who caused the accident. What you won’t be able to claim, however, are lost wages and property damage. You’ll have to cover those expenses on your own.
There are over 400,000 car crashes in Florida every year [source]. Luckily, fewer than 3,000 of these are fatal. But of those 397,000+ annual car crashes in Florida, the chances are that some damage or injury is involved. Although you should never get behind the wheel if you don’t have insurance, forgetting payments or being in-between insurance plans does happen.
So, what are your options if you don’t currently have insurance coverage and you get into an accident? Can you still sue in Florida? Let’s start with the basics and cover what you need to know.
What to Do if You’ve Been Involved in a Car Accident in Florida
If you’ve gotten into a car crash in Florida involving other vehicles, you absolutely must collect the other driver’s license and insurance information. If you have any doubts about the veracity of the information, or if you require medical attention, or if you feel threatened by the other driver or the driver flees the scene, don’t hesitate to call 911.
Florida Is a “No-Fault” State, What Does That Mean?
Florida’s “no-fault” insurance law means that regardless of who is at fault for an accident, the individual’s car insurance will pay for their own damages. If you are at fault and the other driver’s insurance plan isn’t adequate or they are uninsured, it actually works to your advantage, as their insurance will have to cover your damages and even personal injury. If they are uninsured, they will be personally liable.
This works both ways. If you are at fault and don’t have auto insurance, you’re in trouble. This is a problem because without automobile insurance, you become personally liable for all damages, and you will have to pay out of pocket. You are also likely to be hit with a penalty for driving without insurance.
If you are a Florida resident, your license might be suspended. Getting it reinstated will cost you $150 the first time and $500 each subsequent time. On top of that, any damage to your vehicle will be your responsibility to pay for.
When Can You Sue in Florida?
Although you should always drive with insurance (it’s illegal not to), if you are in a serious accident and not at fault, you still have some options, even if you don’t have insurance coverage. Civil court claims are an option for uninsured drivers who were not at fault and suffered a severe or permanent injury in the car accident.
How much you can gain through damages in court will depend on the degree to which you were at fault. Even if the accident was only 10% your fault, according to Florida’s comparative negligence law, that 10% will be deducted from any claim you win in court.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Filing a Lawsuit in Florida?
Perhaps you don’t have car insurance and you do get into a car accident and sustain some injuries. Let’s say the damage to your car is minor and you get whiplash, but it doesn’t seem so bad at the time. You may find six months or a couple years down the road, that neck injury turned out to be more severe than you initially thought. Can you still sue the other driver for damages? The answer is yes. In Florida, you can sue up to four years from the day of the accident, even if you didn’t have insurance at the time.
With that in mind, the longer you wait, the harder it may be to push forward a successful case. Once you’ve hired an attorney, they are going to need to collect as much information, medical bills, documentation, and police reports as possible to make sure you can gain the most compensation. This gets harder over time, as bills get lost, witnesses may move, etc. Therefore, the sooner you contact an attorney and go over your options, the better.