How Serious Does an Injury Have to Be to File a Car Accident Lawsuit In Florida?
Bill Allen | June 13, 2022 | Car Accidents
Personal injury claims cover a broad range of injuries and accidents. Negligence claims may involve a motor vehicle accident, slip and fall accident, or medical malpractice. Intentional torts could include assault injuries.
Injury claims are heard in civil courts. However, most personal injury cases settle without going to trial. The purpose of filing a personal injury claim is to recover compensation for your damages from the party who caused your injury.
You can sue another party for damages for a personal injury. However, if your injuries were caused by a motor vehicle accident, you must meet a serious injury threshold to sue the at-fault driver.
Florida’s No-Fault Insurance Laws Can Prevent You From Suing for Damages
Florida is a no-fault insurance state for automobile accident claims.
Drivers must purchase PIP (Personal Injury Protection) insurance coverage. PIP coverage is no-fault car insurance. Therefore, insured individuals could receive PIP benefits even if they cause a car accident.
After a car accident in Florida, each driver files an insurance claim with their PIP provider. No-fault insurance covers up to 80% of your medical bills and 60% of your lost wages. However, if you sustain minor injuries, the benefits are limited to $2,500.
No-fault insurance does not compensate accident victims for all damages. It does not compensate you for your pain, suffering, or other non-economic damages.
However, there is an exception to the no-fault insurance laws for serious injuries.
What Is Florida’s Serious Injury Threshold for Car Accident Lawsuits?
Serious injuries significantly impact a person’s life. Florida Statute §627.737 defines serious injuries as:
- Permanent and substantial loss of a bodily function
- Permanent and significant scarring
- A permanent injury, with a reasonable degree of medical certainty
If your injury meets the serious injury threshold, you can sue the driver who caused the car accident. Suing the other driver is an important right when you sustain serious injuries.
What Types of Damages Can I Recover for Serious Injuries After an Ocala Car Accident?
Serious injuries can result in substantial economic damages, including:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Long-term nursing care
- Loss of income and benefits
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Diminished earning potential
- Cost of rehabilitative therapies
- Future lost wages
Accident victims who sustain serious injuries need compensation for ongoing care and expenses. In many cases, a person with a serious injury may not be able to work, or their ability to earn income decreases significantly.
In addition to suing for economic damages, sustaining a serious injury gives you the right to sue for non-economic damages. These damages include:
- Permanent impairments, disabling conditions, scarring, and disfigurement
- Emotional distress and mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental anguish and trauma
- Decreased quality of life
In specific cases, an injured person could also receive punitive damages. These damages are rare but available in cases involving gross negligence and intentional misconduct. Fatal DUI accidents are cases that might justify the award of punitive damages.
Proving Fault and Serious Injuries for an Ocala Car Accident Lawsuit
Recovering compensation for a car accident from an at-fault driver in Florida requires you to prove fault and that you’ve suffered a serious injury.
Proving fault generally requires proving the elements of negligence. You would need to prove:
- Duty – The motorist who caused your accident owed you a duty of care to operate the vehicle with reasonable care
- Breach of Duty – The motorist breached the duty of care by failing to use reasonable care
- Causation – The motorist’s breach of duty was the proximate and direct cause of the automobile accident and your injuries
- Damages – You sustained damages because of the breach of duty by the other motorist
However, proving causation and fault is not sufficient to create liability. You must also prove you sustained serious injuries. Evidence that your car accident lawyer may use to prove the severity of your injuries includes:
- Medical records
- Test results
- X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, and other imagining tests
- Photographs and videos of your injuries
- Statements from your physicians
- Opinions from medical experts and specialists
The insurance company for the other driver may aggressively fight the lawsuit. For example, it may claim that your injuries are not severe enough to meet the serious injury threshold.
If you sustained serious injuries in a car crash, it is crucial to seek medical treatment and follow your doctor’s treatment plan. Your medical records will be a crucial piece of evidence in your case.
You may also consider consulting a personal injury lawyer. An accident lawyer understands the requirements of Florida’s no-fault insurance laws and the serious injury threshold. An attorney can help you obtain the evidence you need to prove that your injuries meet the requirements to hold the at-fault driver liable for your damages.
Contact Our Ocala Car Accident Law Firm in North Central Florida
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