What Is Serious Injury in Auto Accident Cases?
Florida is among the few states in the country that utilizes a no-fault system to resolve auto accident claims. This means that in Florida, all drivers must purchase insurance that covers their own damages in the event of a wreck, including medical bills and lost wages, regardless of who is at fault.
You may step out of the no-fault system to bring a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver if you sustained a “serious injury” in a crash. If you were hurt in a wreck, the experienced auto accident lawyers at Colling Gilbert Wright & Carter can determine whether your injury meets the standards of Florida’s serious injury threshold, and help you pursue the justice and compensation you deserve.
What Is the Serious Injury Threshold?
The serious injury threshold is a crucial factor in insurance claims filed in no-fault states, such as Florida. The standards of the serious injury threshold must be met in order for an injury victim to file a claim against the at-fault driver for damages that are non-economic, such as pain and suffering.
Florida’s no-fault system requires every driver to carry personal injury protection coverage (PIP). With certain limitations, the mandatory coverage pays up to $10,000 for any injury caused in the crash. Payout amounts will cover 80% of medical care, and 60% of lost wages for most cases in which the injury prevents the victim from working.
PIP coverage pays for losses, no matter who was responsible for the wreck. While the most you can recover under Florida’s mandatory no-fault system is $10,000, you can buy more PIP coverage to extend that amount.
What Constitutes a Serious Injury Under Florida’s No-Fault Law?
Under Florida’s no-fault serious injury threshold, you may seek damages outside of the no-fault system if your injury involved:
- Significant permanent loss of a bodily function
- Permanent injury (to a reasonable degree of medical probability)
- Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement
In order to bring a claim for non-economic damages, only one of the above criteria must be met. Our experienced car accident attorneys will help you through every step of your legal process, and help you seek the maximum compensation you deserve for your serious injury.
How Do You Prove the Serious Injury Threshold?
When it comes to determining if an injury meets the threshold, answers aren’t always cut and dried. The same injury can affect different people in different ways. For example, an elderly person may experience different limitations than a young athlete following a whiplash injury.
In most cases, proving serious injury in a car accident case requires the skill and knowledge of an experienced auto accident lawyer and the testimony of an expert medical witness. A medical expert can demonstrate that the injury meets the qualifying standards, and your attorney can use this evidence to build your case.
After suffering an injury in a car wreck, your choice of legal representation will be one of the most important decisions you make. Insurance companies have their own legal teams working to minimize or outright deny your claim. The seasoned auto accident lawyers at Colling Gilbert Wright & Carter have decades of experience protecting the rights of accident victims. When pursuing an accident claim, we will give you the edge you need through:
- Personalized care: We know success is not achieved with cookie-cutter tactics. We’ll take the time to learn about you and your case, and develop a customized strategy that addresses your unique needs. Your lawyer will be available to answer your questions at any time, and a team of medical experts, investigators, paralegals and legal assistants will be working diligently on your behalf to reach a successful outcome in your case.
- Higher compensation: Insurance companies are notorious for making low settlement offers that undervalue the true extent of your damages. Our lawyers will consider both your current and future needs when determining the value of your claim to ensure you receive the full and fair compensation you deserve.
- Experienced representation: Auto accident cases can be extremely complex, and the experience of your legal representation can mean the difference between a fair settlement and one that does not cover your needs. Our attorneys understand the complexities of Florida laws, and know how to build your most compelling case.
What If My Injuries Don’t Meet the Serious Injury Threshold?
Under Florida’s no-fault rules, you cannot recover compensation for damages, such as pain and suffering. The cost of vehicle repairs after a crash does not fall under Florida’s PIP protection. In the event that your vehicle sustained damage in a collision, you may file a third-party claim with the other driver’s insurance policy. Or, if the accident was your fault, you can file a claim with your own collision policy, if you have it.
Additionally, if your injuries occurred while you were racing, driving a stolen car, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or as the result of an otherwise intentional or unlawful act, they will likely not be covered.
Call Our Florida Auto Accident Lawyers Today
If you’ve been hurt in a car wreck, you need an experienced legal team on your side. Our auto accident lawyers have the knowledge, resources, and experience you need in these complex cases.
Call (407) 712-7300 today for a free consultation with an auto accident lawyer in Florida. Colling Gilbert Wright & Carter helps clients in Orlando, Tampa, Miami, and other areas throughout the state.