Law

Car Accident Claims And The Permanent Injury Threshold  

 

It is important to know the permanent injury threshold in Florida if you’re considering filing a Naples car crash claim for injury damages.

Because Florida is a no-fault state in regards to car accident injuries, all registered vehicles must have personal Injury Protection insurance. The insured is entitled to up to $10,000 in medical bills and lost wages, regardless of the cause of the accident. Most people who are seriously injured in a car crash can sue negligent drivers for non-economic damages such as pain, suffering, and inconvenience.

Our car accident lawyers in Southwest Florida can explain that the threshold for serious injury is set out in F.S. 627.737(2), and requires evidence that the crash was caused by:

  • A significant and permanent loss in an important bodily function.
  • Permanent injury (within a reasonable medical probability).
  • Permanent scarring and disfigurement.

These injuries must directly relate to the accident caused by the defendant.

Broken bones, traumatic brain injury, internal organ damage, and significant facial fractures or scarring are all examples of injuries that will generally fit the criteria. This isn’t an exhaustive list and the insurance company doesn’t have final say on what constitutes “permanent” or “significant.” Their goal is to minimize your losses and reduce their liability. Before you agree to any payout by an insurance adjuster, it is a good idea to consult an experienced attorney.

Is It Mandatory That Everyone Meets The Permanent Injury Threshold?

To file a claim against an at-fault driver, not everyone must reach the threshold for permanent injury. This is because not all people are required to have PIP coverage.

For example, motorcyclists are excluded from PIP coverage for Florida. PIP doesn’t cover you for a motorcycle crash, even if you have PIP coverage on your other vehicle. You can sue the at-fault driver for damages without first filing for PIP.

Bicyclists who are injured by negligent drivers will generally be covered under PIP (if not the cyclist’s coverage then the driver’s). This covers up to $10,000 in medical bills, lost wages and other expenses. If the driver does not have PIP then the driver can be sued directly.

It depends on the situation for out-of-state drivers. In the 2003 case of Meyer, Florida’s 5th District Court of Appeal noted that if an out-of state driver has vehicle insurance policies that include similar no-fault language, it is sufficient to apply the serious injury threshold for economic damages. The rental company might extend your PIP coverage if you are driving a rental car at a time when there is a crash. If you own a car that is registered in a state with no Medpay or PIP insurance requirements, you may be able to file a claim against the at-fault driver. However, you can’t expect the insurance companies to explain the law to you. It is important to speak to an experienced Florida attorney before you decide on a course.

How can I prove serious injury in a Naples car accident lawsuit?

When it comes to determining what is considered permanent injury, there isn’t much statutory guidance. It’s case-specific. Depending on the person, the same injury could be more serious or less severe. A fractured wrist will be more serious for someone in their 60s and 70s than it is for a young healthy person. An octogenarian will have a whiplash injury that is more severe than a young athlete.

However, it is important to discuss your injury with an attorney before making any decisions about whether or not your injury qualifies. A lot of cases require an expert witness to help the court/jury to determine if the injury meets the threshold for non-economic damages. These experts are able to help us connect the severity of the injury to Florida’s qualifying legal standards. Garvin Injury Law’s dedicated legal team is meticulous in gathering complex technical evidence to support our clients’ claims.

This post was written by Kelly-Ann Jenkins of Jenkins Law P.L. Kelly-Ann is an insurance claims attorney. The information on this site is not intended to and does not offer legal advice, legal recommendations or legal representation on any matter. Hiring an attorney is an important decision, which should not be based on advertising. You need to consult an attorney for legal advice regarding your individual situation.

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