When you are injured in a car accident in Florida, your required no-fault insurance will help cover some costs of medical bills and lost wages (up to 80% of your plan’s policy limits for medical expenses and 60% of lost wages). However, serious accidents may cause serious injuries that go above and beyond what your PIP insurance will cover. When this happens, you may be able to file a personal injury claim to help recover damages for the non-economic costs associated with the accident. to receive these types of settlements, however, your injury must be considered a “threshold injury.” These stipulations define the meaning of a permanent injury, as stated in Florida Statute 627.737.
The first “threshold” for a court to determine your eligibility for non-economic damages due to your injuries is that your injury must have caused permanent loss of function or disability. Evidence of significant loss of function can be seen in the ongoing need for medical care, injuries that caused a limb to be amputated, or the need for special equipment to live daily life. It is also defined as injuries that require you to seek assistance for everyday tasks you can no longer perform. These claims seek damages for equipment or accessible vehicle purchases, the cost of ongoing care, and other costs related to the injury.
Another definition of a serious injury is one defined as permanent by a medical professional. Many factors determine the permanent effects of an injury, including the victim’s age. For instance, a whiplash injury may affect someone in their 20s differently than someone in their 70s who receives the same injury. Examples of permanent injuries include traumatic brain injuries, back injuries, and sensory losses. Broken bones may also qualify as a threshold injury, as function often differs after the bone heals.
A threshold injury claim may seek damages caused by permanent scarring or disfigurement from injuries such as cuts, surgeries, and burns. Injuries like bruises or cuts that heal completely may not qualify as a threshold injury.
Pain and suffering claims are often rewarded to family members if an accident caused the death of a loved one, as is the case when filing a wrongful death lawsuit. This could also include compensation for the mental trauma of witnessing a violent crash that involved the death of others. For wrongful death claims, the negligent actions of another must be the direct cause of death or the injuries that led to it.
Threshold injuries are eligible for non-economic compensation for costs related to the accident, such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, and inconvenience damages. Past and future economic damages are collectible even if you have not suffered a permanent injury. To file a claim for these types of damages, your injury must have been caused by the negligence of someone who was responsible for your care (such as a medical practitioner or a driver who is expected to drive a vehicle safely).
To qualify for compensation for non-economic damages after an accident, you only need to meet one of the qualifications listed above. If you have been involved in an accident in Ocala or Marion County, call our office at 352-269-1814 or contact us for a free consultation to discuss your case.