Generally, the insurance company that represents the at fault party will be responsible for paying the cost of damages in a winning case.
Winning isn’t everything. Even if a court finds another person is responsible for your damages, there is still a question as to who will actually pay the damages. Furthermore, some plaintiffs are surprised to find that some of their money goes to the government through taxes. This blog will attempt to briefly shed some light on some of these issues.
Who Pays The Fees and Damages?
One of the biggest surprises that plaintiffs have in car accident cases is generally who will pay for their damages if they win or successfully settle their case. Indeed, some plaintiffs are hesitant to file a suit, fearing they could put the likely middle class person who caused the accident in dire financial straits. In almost every situation, this is not the case. In Florida, drivers are required to carry car insurance. And in an auto accident case, it is the insurance company that represents the defendant that ends up bearing the cost of the victim’s damages. In fact, it is the insurance company’s lawyers that usually defend the case, and it is the insurance company who pays for these lawyers.
So, for those who have moral qualms about suing the person responsible for the accident, don’t worry. For all practical purposes you are essentially suing a multibillion dollar corporation, who can undoubtedly afford to pay out your damages.
Who Else Could be Held Accountable?
As mentioned above, the primary payer of your damages in a car accident case will usually be the insurance company that covers the driver of the at fault driver. Still though, there could be other parties responsible as well.
Can The Plaintiff be Responsible?
Florida is a comparative negligence state, meaning that all parties responsible for the crash must pay their fair share equal to how responsible they were for the accident. For example, a jury could find that two separate vehicles were responsible for the crash. In that case, they could find that one vehicle responsibility lies at 60%, and the other parties responsibility lies at 40%. The parties are only responsible for the percentage of damages up to their responsibility percentage. Generally, the insurance companies still pay out these damages.
More commonly, in car accidents involving two vehicles, the jury will assign a small percentage of responsibility to the plaintiff, say 10% to the Plaintiff, and 90% to the party truly responsible. In these cases, the damages will be reduced by 10% before being provided to the Plaintiff’s lawyer, and, eventually, the Plaintiff. In this case, the Plaintiff is technically responsible for a portion of their own damages.
What About in More Complex Cases?
In certain cases, who has to pay is a bit more complicated. For example, in cases of design or manufacturing defects relating to vehicles or products that injury you, the creator of that product may be responsible for any damages. In medical malpractice suits, the doctor, in certain cases, the hospital may be liable. In dog bite cases, the owner of the animal may face liability.
The common factor in all of these cases, is that the negligence caused is still likely covered by insurance. Most manufacturers and designs have insurance on their products in case of injuries. All legal doctors and hospitals carry malpractice insurance. And homeowner’s insurance usually covers dog bites. So, even in these cases, your money will likely come from a multibillion-dollar insurance company, not a single individual.
How Fast Do You Get The Funds?
Generally, insurance companies are relatively quick about getting the money to your attorney once a case settles or ends (unless they wish to appeal). Once a judgment is entered, you attorney will have the right to collect judgment, and companies would normally just rather pay then be hounded by collectors or the police department.
When an attorney gets a check from the insurance company in question that they will deposit into a client trust account. They will inform you when this happens, and work with you to get you the money from that account. The attorney will also collect his or her percentage of the fees when transferring the money to you.
Are My Damages Taxed?
Taxes are (unfortunately) still a part of the picture when it comes to settlements. When collecting your settlement money, you will have to pay taxes on the portion of your damages provided to you for lost income and punitive damages (damages given to punish the other party for malicious intent).
However, damages awarded for property damage, medical care, and physical pain and suffering are tax exempt. Damages awarded for emotional distress originating from a physical injury are not taxable, while damages awarded from emotional distress originating from no physical injuries are taxable. Learn more about taxes in relation to car accident payouts in our blog.
Knowing who is financially responsible after a lawsuit is helpful when it comes to collecting damages or fighting against your own nervous spirit. Still, it can be difficult to determine exactly who is responsible for payment, and it may be difficult to find the best way to collect payment.
That’s why having a reputable personal injury lawyer on your side is important.
Bulluck Law Group has the experience necessary to get the justice you deserve for your case. Contact us for a free consultation today.