One of the most important aspects of filing a personal injury lawsuit in Florida is that you’re doing so in the correct jurisdiction and that the correct laws get applied to your case. It may come as a shock that litigating a car accident case in Florida doesn’t automatically mean its state laws should be applied. This may seem like a strange suggestion, and typically, accident cases in Florida are subject to state law. But, there are times when a plaintiff or defendant asks the court to apply the laws of another state. The court would make such a decision through a choice of law analysis of the circumstances of the suit.
The decision from such action could significantly impact your personal injury case, especially regarding the burden of proof and the damages you would be entitled to receive. Every state has its own standards and laws for litigating accidents, and you may find that federal law should be applied, not that of the state. This is why anyone who has been the victim of a negligent driver causing a car accident should first speak with a knowledgeable attorney.
How Choice of Law in Car Accidents Gets Applied
As mentioned earlier, most auto accident suits in Central Florida will be conducted according to state laws and guidelines. Still, it’s possible that out-of-state rules could apply to your case like you’re being a resident of Texas or using a vehicle belonging to someone from Illinois.
To better understand how the Choice of Law doctrine came to be, the case history of Benson v. Hinton explains it all. In 2005, the Florida Supreme Court had a car accident suit brought before it involved this complex legal argument. The parties involved were all from North Carolina and had come to South Florida on vacation. The vehicle they drove was also rented in their home state from a rental agency.
At some point during their time in the Sunshine State, the lessee (person who rented the vehicle) allowed one of the others in the group to drive. Unfortunately, an accident occurred which resulted in one of their passengers being ejected and dying because a seat belt was either missing or malfunctioning. This factor led the decedent’s surviving family to sue both the rental company and the lessee in Florida because the accident occurred there. The plaintiffs felt the state’s liability laws should also be applied.
However, the defendants disagreed with this assertion since everyone involved, including the car company, was located in North Carolina. In addition, the defense likely wanted the liability laws of their home state applied because they are not as lenient, and it would be difficult for the plaintiffs to recover compensation for the harm caused.
Why State Liability Laws Influence Choice of Doctrine Arguments
As mentioned in the earlier example, a party may push to apply another state’s liability laws under the Choice of Doctrine if it will be more favorable to their case. For instance, in the suit involving Benson v. Hinton, the defendants preferred North Carolina’s pure contributory negligence laws of Florida’s pure comparative negligence. The difference is that should you have any liability for any accident you are involved in, you cannot recover damages in North Carolina. Whereas Florida allows injured victims to collect damages regardless of how much at fault they might be, the award would be reduced by their liability.
These situations often occur in Florida because they are popular destinations for residents in other states and countries. If you were injured in a Central Florida car accident while on vacation, be sure to speak with a highly qualified attorney as soon as possible. They can better inform you of your rights and advise you on circumstances where the Choice of Law Doctrine might be beneficial or present a challenge.
Unsure if Choice of Doctrine Applies to Your Central Florida Car Accident?
If you or a loved one sustained severe injuries after a car accident in Central Florida, know that you have the right to be compensated for your damages. At Jordan Law, we are here to act as your legal counsel and advocate to ensure you receive the maximum compensation possible for your injuries.
Trust us to thoroughly investigate your claim and build a solid case by using evidence and expert testimony to show how another driver was reckless and/or negligent in causing you harm. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation and learn more about what rights you have to compensation.