Sanford, FL asked in Car Accidents and Personal Injury for Florida

Q: How do I sue someone in county court for medical bills and car loss value?

The individual did not have bodily injury coverage and I understand the reason attorneys not willing to take the case because of this. However, I have medical bills and car loss value I would like to claim. I understand Florida law of not being able to garnish wages, apply liens to assets, and/or garnish retirement savings. Although, I am hoping to get medical bills responsibility transferred to the at fault party.

3 Lawyer Answers
David Tapalian
David Tapalian
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Personal Injury Lawyer
  • Providence, RI
  • Licensed in Florida

A: I'm sorry to hear about your situation. We often encounter cases where there's no insurance on the other side. Do you by any chance have UIM coverage? That may be another way to approach this. Please feel free to email me directly. Thank you.

Charles M. Baron agrees with this answer

Charles M.  Baron
Charles M. Baron
Answered
  • Personal Injury Lawyer
  • Hollywood, FL
  • Licensed in Florida

A: First, just because they have no bodily liability coverage does not mean that there is no liability coverage for your vehicle damage/loss. Separate property liability coverage (min. $10,000) is REQUIRED by law. If that coverage exists, you set up a claim with the insurance company.

If the wrongdoer was driving illegally without coverage, he/she must be cited, and the driver's license will be suspended until they get coverage and pay a fine. In that case, you would look to your collision coverage (often called comp/collision), and if you don't have that coverage, then you would look at suing for the vehicle damage/loss.

Regarding your medical bills, your own PIP insurance should cover that, and then any health insurance you have kicks in. Are you saying you have medical bills over and above the PIP amount, with no health insurance? Or instead that you were illegally driving without PIP coverage?

Assuming you have no uninsured/underinsured motorist "UM" coverage (which would cover your bodily pain and suffering and medical bills that are not covered by PIP), and assuming that, for whatever reason, you have outstanding medical bills not covered by either PIP or health insurance), and you wish to sue the wrongdoer, the "how" part depends on the amount you are suing for.

If the suit is for 5 grand or less, it goes to small claims court, where the procedures are very simplified and likely on-line on your local Court Clerk's website - plus the deputy clerks can help you to an extent.

Above 5K, it must be filed in either County Court or Circuit Court depending on the amount - but either way, you would need the help of an attorney, even if just to write up documents and give advice for self-representation; otherwise, your case may be dismissed due to technical defects, as all cases above 5K come under the Fla. Rules of Civil Procedure. If you need to sue for the vehicle damage/loss as well (due to the wrongdoer illegally not having any insurance at all, and you having no collision coverage). you would include that in the same suit.

If your damages are only a little above 5K (say, 6, 7, or 8K), you best option may be to sue in small claims court for only 5K and eat the rest.

Also, once you obtain a judgment, you certainly CAN garnish wages in Fla., UNLESS the defendant comes under one of the statutory exemptions from garnishment.

Terrence H Thorgaard
Terrence H Thorgaard
Answered
  • Freeeport, FL
  • Licensed in Florida

A: And your statement that "... I understand Florida law of not being able to … apply liens to assets …" appears to be incorrect. If you recover a judgment, that judgment will, when recorded, constitute a lien on any real property owned by the judgment debtor.

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