How Serious Does an Injury Have to Be to File an Injury Claim in Florida?
October 31, 2023 | Sagi Shaked | Car Accidents
Car accidents are among the most common types of personal injury claims in Florida. There were 397,500 reported traffic crashes in 2022. If everyone filed an injury claim through the court, the courts could not handle the volume of cases.
Therefore, Florida law sets an injury threshold victims must meet before they can sue the other driver in a car accident. A minor injury will not be sufficient to sue the other driver for an injury claim.
However, you can file for PIP benefits, but your benefits may be limited if you did not sustain an injury requiring emergency treatment.
What Is the Serious Injury Threshold for Florida Car Accident Injury Claims?
Even if the other driver caused the car accident, you cannot file a lawsuit unless your injuries meet the threshold set by statute.
Four categories of injuries meet the injury threshold to file an injury claim against the other driver in a car crash.
The following are injuries that meet the threshold:
- Significant and permanent disfigurement or scarring
- Permanent injury based on a reasonable degree of medical probability
- Permanent and significant loss of an important bodily function
A sprain or strain might not meet the serious injury threshold, but a broken bone might. Likewise, a small scar on your arm might not meet the threshold, but scarring to your face could qualify as a serious injury. Being paralyzed or losing a limb would also qualify as a serious injury.
How Do I Know if My Injury Meets the Serious Injury Threshold to File an Injury Claim in Florida?
Proving that your injuries meet the serious injury threshold can be challenging. The insurance company and the driver will likely argue that your injuries are not severe enough to qualify as a “serious injury” under the law.
Therefore, you may need to hire expert witnesses and medical specialists to testify about the nature and extent of your injuries. Experts can testify about how severely the injuries impact your life and your ability to perform activities of daily living.
An experienced Florida personal injury lawyer may present enough evidence to prove that your injuries caused a significant impairment. Your medical records may be sufficient to establish the severity of your injuries. Catastrophic injuries often meet the injury threshold because of the nature of the injuries and the likelihood of permanent impairments.
What Should I Do if I Sustained a Serious Injury in a Florida Car Accident?
Regardless of whether you believe your injuries are serious, you should see a doctor as soon as possible after a car accident. You might feel okay but could have sustained an injury with hidden symptoms.
You might not realize you sustained a severe injury immediately following the accident. A physician can perform diagnostic tests and a complete exam to identify all injuries caused by the car crash.
You also need to speak to an experienced Florida car accident lawyer for a free consultation. An attorney understands the laws related to injury claims after car accidents. A lawyer can advise you of your legal options and whether you might have an injury claim against the other driver.
Filing a Car Accident Claim Florida
If you sustained serious injuries, your attorney files a claim with the liability insurance company for the other driver. Your lawyer gathers evidence supporting your claim. Your attorney then sends a settlement demand letter to the insurance company.
The demand letter outlines the facts of the case. The letter explains how your injuries meet the threshold, discusses the legal basis for an injury claim, and explains your injuries and damages. The letter also includes an amount you will accept to settle the claim.
Most claims are settled through negotiations with the insurance provider. If negotiations fail, your attorney may advise you to proceed with a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
Why Should I File an Injury Claim After a Car Accident?
PIP benefits are limited to $10,000. Your economic and non-economic damages may far exceed those limits. Furthermore, PIP insurance does not compensate victims for other damages, including pain and suffering.
Filing an injury claim can result in compensation for all damages. Do not accept the insurance company’s decision because it might be trying to avoid paying a claim. If you are unsure whether you have a claim against the other driver in a car accident, talk to a Florida car accident attorney.