Serious accidents can leave victims with devastating injuries and permanent loss, which can lead to out-of-pocket expenses that aren’t possible for victims to pay. However, when it comes to pursuing compensation and justice for injuries in the State of Florida, what you may be entitled to will depend on whether or not you meet the serious injury threshold.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident or through someone else’s negligence and want to know what compensation may be available, get in touch with us here at The Law Place. We can help you to understand your options and advise you about whether or not your injuries meet the serious injury threshold.
Depending on your case, we can also help you to pursue compensation for economic damages such as medical expenses and lost income in addition to non-economic damages such as pain and suffering for any mental anguish or trauma caused by your accident.
We’re currently offering a free consultation to all of our clients. So, call our office today to book your free case evaluation on (941) 444-4444.
The Serious Injury Threshold in Florida
In order to have a viable personal injury case in Florida, you will need to prove that you sustained a serious injury that meets certain criteria. These criteria are often referred to as the ‘serious injury threshold’ or the ‘tort threshold.’
According to Florida Statute 627.737, a serious bodily injury is one that causes:
- Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function.
- Permanent injuries.
- Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement.
- A reasonable degree of medical probability of death.
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What If My Injuries Do Not Meet the Serious Injury Threshold?
If your injuries are not severe and do not qualify for the tort threshold, you’ll be able to use your own insurance to recover initial damages through Florida’s no-fault system.
According to Florida Statute 672.7407, Florida’s no-fault law means that every driver in the state is legally required to possess a minimum cover of $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection insurance. This is designed to cover damages for individuals who get into more minor accidents regardless of whether or not they were at fault.
Some drivers choose to take out a more extensive cover. However, with the legal minimum Personal Injury Protection insurance, you can recover:
- 80% of medical bills capped at $8,000.
- 60% of lost wages.
- $5,000 in death benefits, such as funeral expenses and burial costs if the policyholder is a victim of wrongful death.
- Up to $2,500 for more minor injuries.
What Compensation Could I Get for a Serious or Permanent Injury?
If your injuries meet or surpass the serious injury threshold, your case will fall outside of the no-fault system. This means that in addition to economic damages such as medical bills, you’ll also be able to receive non-economic damages.
By making a claim or suing the individual at fault for your accident, you could recover damages such as:
- Medical bills for immediate medical care such as short-term hospital stays following your accident.
- Longer-term medical expenses, such as ongoing check-ups, medication, rehabilitation, and physiotherapy services, as well as operations and general medical care.
- Pain and suffering damages such as mental anguish and emotional trauma caused by accidents, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Loss of consortium for partners of accident victims whose physical or romantic relationship has been negatively affected by injuries or disability.
Proving a Serious Injury in Florida
If you have suffered a serious or permanent injury, you’ll need to work with an attorney to prove that your conditions have met the serious injury threshold. In order to do this, you’ll need to:
Get a Medical Opinion or Diagnosis
The main way that you’ll be able to prove serious injuries will be through a diagnosis or opinion from a medical professional. You should acquire this information both for physical injuries as well as any mental trauma.
The criteria for meeting the serious injury threshold are vague. It does not go into detail about specific types of injuries that may qualify and ones that do not. No two injuries are alike, and the same injury could have devastating consequences for one person but not another. Therefore, a medical diagnosis will be essential when it comes to demonstrating the extent of any damages as well as how your quality of life has been affected.
In addition, you’ll need to keep any medical records that detail your expenses in order for an appropriate total of compensatory damages to be calculated. This includes doctors’ reports, medical testing, X-rays, surgeries, and ongoing medication.
Visit a Medical Professional Within 14 Days
According to Florida Statute 627.736, if you intend to pursue compensation for a serious injury in the State of Florida, you will need to be seen by a medical professional within 14 days of your motor vehicle accident. This is because it could be argued that if you did not need to seek immediate or short-term medical treatment, your injuries were likely not severe enough to meet the serious injury threshold.
For this reason, you should always visit a hospital or make an appointment with a medical professional as soon as you are able after a car accident. Occasionally, injuries can take a few days to become apparent. They could also be masked by the adrenaline in your system or the fact that you may still be in shock. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to receive medical attention even if you feel well if you have been involved in a car accident.
Keep a Record of Your Injuries and Expenses
Whilst you will need a statement from a medical professional to confirm the severity of your injuries, you should always make sure to take further documentation into your own hands.
It may take a number of months or even years to reach a conclusion to your case. Therefore, you should take ongoing photos and videos of your injuries, particularly any physical damage such as bruising and scarring. These will be helpful when it comes to proving the severity of your injuries.
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How Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Help Me?
In order to prove that you sustained a serious injury in a negligence case, you’ll need to work with an experienced personal injury attorney.
Communicating With Insurance Companies
Insurance companies can often make it difficult for you to claim compensation. They can use tactics to try to get you to downplay your injuries in order to claim that you do not meet the personal injury threshold.
Therefore, whether you are dealing with your own insurance company or the provider of the individual responsible for your accident, a personal injury attorney can handle all communications and negotiations. They can also complete all paperwork on your behalf.
Determining Fault and Proving Negligence
You may be able to prove that your injuries are severe enough to meet the injury threshold. However, you’ll need to prove that someone else was liable for your accident in order to pursue a claim or a lawsuit against them.
Your lawyer will need to prove that another individual owed you a duty of care, that they breached this duty of care, and that this negligence directly caused you to sustain damages.
Helping You Understand Your Legal Options
If you are looking to pursue compensation for damages and injuries, you’ll have the choice of filing a personal injury claim to achieve a settlement agreement with the at-fault party or filing a lawsuit to take your case to court. Both of these options have benefits and drawbacks, and the most suitable choice depends on exact case circumstances. So, you’ll need a reputable personal injury attorney to help you consider your options.
Filing a personal injury lawsuit can be incredibly expensive as it is a much more complex legal process that takes more time and work. In addition, an attorney will need to be able to represent you in court in order to prove that another individual’s negligence caused your injuries and build a legal defense against any liability claims directed at you. This means that they will also need to be trained in litigation. However, the amount of compensation you could receive is likely to be much higher in a lawsuit vs. a settlement.
Therefore, you should only work with law firms who work on a contingency fee basis (often called no-win, no-fee.) This will make sure you aren’t required to pay a fee unless your case is successful.
In addition, when trying to find personal injury lawyers, you should always look out for law firms who offer you a free consultation. This is a clear sign of a reputable firm that wants to make sure you find the right attorney for your case.
Contact The Law Place – Personal Injury Lawyers
For legal advice contact The Law Place. Our team of personal injury attorneys is waiting to support you through this difficult time by taking on the stress of all legal matters and helping you to achieve the level of compensation you deserve. We work on a no-win-no-fee basis, so you can be confident we’re working day and night to achieve the best possible case outcome for you.
Book your free consultation and free case evaluation today. Call our office on (941) 444-4444.