Average Neck and Back Injury Results from Car Accidents in Gainesville, FL
Bill Allen | April 7, 2023 | Car Accidents
Florida uses no-fault auto insurance. Under Florida law, car accident victims can only sue at-fault drivers when they exceed their policy limits or suffer a “serious injury” as defined by state law. This generally means that only high-value claims get asserted against at-fault drivers and their liability insurers.
But the value of a neck or back injury claim will depend on the nature of the injury. Different injuries have different prognoses and limit your abilities in different ways. As a result, the losses you incur will vary widely.
Compensation for Car Accident Injuries in Florida
Under Florida’s no-fault system, every registered car owner must purchase personal injury protection (PIP) coverage in their auto insurance policy. After a car accident, you usually start by filing a claim with your insurer under your PIP coverage.
Florida law requires your auto insurer to pay up to $10,000 in PIP benefits, including:
- 80% of your medical bills
- 60% of your income losses due to an inability to work
- 60% of your costs to obtain replacement services for tasks you cannot perform due to your injuries, like childcare, housecleaning, and driving
These benefits will cover your losses for a minor accident. In fact, Florida law prohibits you from pursuing a claim against the at-fault driver in many situations.
But your PIP benefits may fall short if you were involved in a serious crash. As a result, Florida law provides two exceptions to its ban on claims against the other driver.
Losses Over the Policy Limits
You can file a claim against the other driver if you used up all of your PIP benefits and have additional losses.
For example, if you injured your back in a car accident and require two surgeries that cost $10,000 each, you might use your PIP benefits to cover one of the surgeries. Additionally, you will miss several weeks of work.
But your benefits will not cover the other surgery or the time you will miss from work. As a result, Florida would allow you to pursue a claim for your unreimbursed medical expenses and income losses.
Suppose that your medical bills and missed paychecks total $25,000. You were reimbursed for $10,000 of those losses through your PIP coverage, and you can pursue a claim against the at-fault driver for the unreimbursed $15,000 in losses.
However, with this sort of claim, you cannot recover non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering.
Significant, Permanent Injury
Accident victims can also pursue claims against at-fault drivers when they suffer a significant and permanent:
- Bodily injury
- Scarring or disfigurement
- Impairment of an important body function
The family of a deceased accident victim can also sue for wrongful death.
As noted above, the difference between a claim for unreimbursed losses and a claim for a significant, permanent injury is pain and suffering damages. When you base a claim on unreimbursed losses, you cannot pursue losses due to pain and suffering. But you can get pain and suffering damages for a significant, permanent injury.
Average Losses for Neck and Back Injuries
Average neck and back injuries range in severity, and, therefore, in what they cost you. If you suffer a minor, temporary injury, your PIP benefits only cover 80% of your medical bills and 60% of your income losses.
Even if your expenses exceed your policy limits, you will only recover compensation for your financial losses. You will be made whole in your finances but not in your quality of life since you cannot get compensation for pain and suffering.
On the other hand, when you suffer a permanent neck or back injury, you can pursue all of your economic and non-economic losses.
Calculating Economic Losses
Everyone excepted from the no-fault system can pursue economic losses. You should not settle for anything less than full and fair compensation based on the money you spent or lost due to your injuries.
These economic losses include:
- Future diminished earning capacity
- Past medical expenses
- Future medical costs
- Lost wages
You will calculate your economic losses by adding up all these costs as documented on medical bills, wage statements, and other financial documents.
Calculating Non-Economic Losses
Non-economic losses do not come with a price tag. Instead, these represent all the ways your quality of life has suffered due to your injuries.
Examples of non-economic losses include:
- Physical pain
- Mental suffering
Suppose that you suffer a herniated disc in your neck. Your economic losses include the medical bills to treat your herniated disc and the wages you lost when you missed work.
Your non-economic losses represent the sleep you lost due to pain and the worry you felt over the expenses you faced. They also cover the inconvenience you experienced when you could not go grocery shopping or pick up your child due to your neck injury.
Accountants use two methods to value your non-economic losses. One method, the multiplier method, assigns a multiplier based on the severity and duration of your injury. You multiply your economic losses by the multiplier to calculate your total damages.
The other method, the per diem method, assigns a daily value to your losses based on the severity of your injury. You multiply the daily value by the number of days you have suffered to calculate your non-economic losses.
Total Estimated Results for Neck and Back Injuries
When an accident victim suffers a non-permanent injury, their average results for a neck or back injury will be equal to their unreimbursed losses. Insurance adjusters and jurors simply cannot award anything other than those economic losses.
When an accident victim suffers a significant, permanent injury, their average results for a neck or back injury will include:
- Non-economic losses
- Past economic losses
- Future economic losses
These losses will depend on your injury. For example, a herniated disc and a spinal cord injury are both significant, permanent injuries. But as serious as it is, the pain and numbness from a herniated disc may command much lower compensation than the paralysis caused by a spinal cord injury.
Getting Compensation for Neck and Back Injuries With Help From a Lawyer
To get compensation for any kind of car accident injury in Florida, you must prove negligence. This means that the at-fault driver failed to exercise reasonable care while driving, and, as a result, caused your injury.
An experienced car accident lawyer can handle your negligence claim from start to finish while you focus on your medical recovery. As most attorneys offer free consultations to discuss your case, it’s likely worth your time to reach out and find out how much your claim might be worth.
Contact Our Gainesville Car Accident Law Firm in North Central Florida
We have three convenient locations in North Central Florida: