Personal injury litigation arising out of a car crash is among the most common forms of civil litigation in the state of Florida. Many years ago, the State of Florida enacted laws that were intended to encourage smaller claims to be resolved without a lawsuit. In general, the laws sought to provide quick and hassle-free payment of minor medical bills in exchange for a threshold for personal injury claims that were allowed to go to a lawsuit. The threshold is a permanent injury, which can be a broken bone, significant scarring or a severe sprain that will be permanent. If the injury does not meet this threshold, you cannot claim pain and suffering damages for your car accident injury.
Under Florida’s motor vehicle laws, you are not liable for another person’s personal injuries, even if you’re at fault for the accident, unless those injuries meet the required medical threshold. For example, a simple knee bruise would not qualify, but permanent damage to the tendons in your knee that require extensive physical therapy are something the courts would consider.
Part of this legal arrangement is that drivers are required to carry $10,000 in personal injury coverage to pay for those minor medical expenses as a result of an accident. This coverage pays no matter who is at fault. As a result, the laws and the coverage are often called No-Fault laws or No-Fault coverage.
However, one of the downsides of a no-fault system is that your recovery for injuries is often limited. If your injury takes months to resolve, but it resolves, then you only get compensated for medical expenses and lost time for work, you receive nothing for the pain you endured, nor the inconvenience associated with months of rehabilitation.
The four categories of serious injury in Florida
If you intend to seek compensation above what can be paid out by your no-fault carrier, then the four standards you need to meet are the following:
• Significant and permanent loss of important bodily function
• Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability
• Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement
So how do you know if your injury is serious enough?
The law does not go into further detail beyond these simple four points, but previous case results do provide some insight into what would typically be considered by the courts. For example, broken bones will usually push you over the threshold, but a sprained wrist may not, even if you’re in a lot of pain.
However, the same injury in two different people may affect them in different ways and Florida takes that into consideration. For example, a severe back sprain in a young and athletic 22-year-old may heal completely. That same back sprain in a 56-year-old may result in a permanent impairment.
Contact a South Florida or Southwest Florida personal injury attorney with the experience of arguing that your injury exceeds the threshold.
If you or someone you care about has been injured or involved in an accident across South Florida and Southwest Florida, contact the accident lawyers and personal injury attorneys at Weinstein & Cohen at 239-793-3331 or 305-374-1011, or visit fairnessforall, for an absolutely free and confidential legal consultation to learn more about your options.