The data doesn’t lie: Florida is home to the most injuries, and thus, the most injury lawsuits in America. But why is this? Are people filing lawsuits for unnecessary reasons? Or do accidents happen at an alarming rate in Florida, leading to civil litigation?
Florida sees thousands more personal injury lawsuits per year than any other state in the country. Possible reasons for this could include Florida’s large population and the fact that it is a popular tourist destination. In response to the high volume of civil injury claims, the Florida Legislature recently passed a law that reduced the statute of limitations for victims to bring lawsuits and changed the rules regarding comparative negligence. Still, Florida is a red zone for accidents and injuries, making it crucial for victims to contact a Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyer if they require compensatory damages.
Proof that Florida is America’s Most Injured State
Injuries seem to happen more frequently in Florida than in any other state in America. Injuries, when caused by negligence, often lead to lawsuits, making Florida one of the top states for personal injury claims in the country.
Personal injury claims are aplenty in Florida. According to data compiled by a local Florida law firm, there were a total of 28,342 personal injury cases filed in Florida over a year-long period from March 2022 to March 2023. Florida had nearly 25,000 more personal injury claims than the state with the next highest number of cases, which was Ohio, with 3,572 cases during the same period.
One of the top causes of injury claims in Florida is motor vehicle accidents. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, there were 401,540 auto accidents in Florida in 2021 alone. Of those incidents, 3,454 resulted in fatalities. Car accidents caused 16,826 incapacitating injuries to victims and 236,145 non-incapacitating injuries. Because car accidents often result in significant expenses for victims, they are a leading cause of personal injury claims in Florida.
However, car accidents are not the only reason why personal injury claims are filed in the Sunshine State. Personal injury is a legal umbrella term encompassing a wide variety of lawsuits. Physical assaults, sexual assaults, and domestic violence, are also reason to bring personal injury claims. Slip and fall accidents, workplace accidents, and defective product accidents may also contribute to the high number of injury lawsuits in Florida.
Why is Florida America’s Most Injured State?
So, what makes Florida unique, or possibly dangerous, to the degree that it generates so many injury lawsuits? Why is Florida currently America’s most injured state?
There may be a few reasons for this. Before March of 2023, Florida had a four-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims. Most states impose a one to three-year limit on such lawsuits. Because Floridians used to have longer to sue, they also had more time to weigh the pros and cons of seeking compensation via a lawsuit and consult with attorneys. When victims can take more time to understand their options, they can make more informed decisions regarding their cases.
Florida is also a very large state. In fact, it has the third highest population of states in America, with just under 22 million residents. On top of its high population, Florida is a tourist destination. It is home to large cities like Miami and Tampa, where travelers come for vacation. The high foot traffic in these cities and the sheer number of people may boost the risk of injury in certain areas of Florida. Out-of-state drivers might be unfamiliar with the roads, increasing the chances of accidents occurring. Vacationers who go to beach towns for fun might be caught up in the moment and drive drunk or otherwise act negligently, causing injury to those around them.
What Has Been Done to Reduce Injury Claims in Florida?
A high number of injury claims are filed in Florida every year. In response to this, the Florida Legislature recently passed the Tort Reform Act, which changed how personal injury claims are handled.
Perhaps one of the biggest alterations to Florida’s rules regarding injury cases was its change to the statute of limitations. As previously stated, victims in Florida used to have four years to file a lawsuit. Now, they only have two years to sue. This change could cut down on the number of injury lawsuits filed in Florida. However, since the Tort Reform Act was only passed in March of 2023, its full effects have yet to be seen.
In addition to amending the filing deadline for injury cases, the Florida legislature also changed its stance on comparative negligence. Previously, victims who shared substantial fault for their injuries could still file a lawsuit and recover compensation. Now, the rules are different. Any victim who is found to be more than 50% to blame for their injuries cannot recover compensation of any kind. Similar to the change in filing deadline, Florida’s new contributory negligence mandate could also reduce the frequency of personal injury claims filed by victims.
The changes to civil action made in early 2023 could somewhat explain the high volume of personal injury lawsuits during the preceding year. As plaintiffs’ attorneys in the area became aware of the new law and what it might mean for their clients, they might have had a greater incentive to move cases along to ensure their clients could recover compensation before the bill officially passed and was signed into law.