What is The “Serious Injury” Threshold in Florida Auto Accident Cases?
Serious auto accidents occur daily in Florida. Unfortunately, some people sustain very severe injuries that affect them permanently. Injured parties may be able to recover compensation for a variety of different damages they sustained in their accident case, which may include, but are not limited to:
- Medical bills
- Loss of income and future ability to earn
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of companionship
- And more
In some states, punitive damages may even be available where one party intentionally injured another party or because the party’s behavior was grossly negligent or reckless.
However, in Florida, what an injured party is able to recover depends on the specific circumstances of their case including the severity of their injuries. Florida law allows an injured party to hold a negligent party legally and financially responsible for the injuries sustained by the injured party in an auto accident. In some situations, an injured party may file a personal injury lawsuit in court to pursue financial compensation from the responsible party. Most cases settle and do not go to trial. However, the cases that remain and do not settle can cause a backlog of cases on the court’s docket. Because of this issue, Florida enacted what is known as the “serious injury threshold law.” This law establishes certain standards that an injured party must satisfy first in order to file a lawsuit against an at-fault party for causing an auto accident.
If you suffered serious injuries from an accident and have questions about whether you may file a lawsuit against the responsible party in Florida, contact the Florida personal injury lawyers at Searcy Denney for help. Our legal team has decades of experience in personal injury cases and is trained to help clients recover the compensation they are entitled to for the injuries they sustained in an accident caused by a negligent party. At our firm, we fight for our clients. Call us today for a free consultation. Our attorneys will evaluate your case and help you determine whether your case satisfies Florida’s “serious injury” threshold.
How Does the Serious Injury Threshold Limit an Injured Party’s Ability to Recover Damages?
To satisfy the serious injury threshold in Florida, an injured party must suffer an injury that is so severe that daily activities are affected. If the injured party cannot offer substantial medical evidence to prove the severity of their injuries, they may not be able to fully satisfy the threshold. Examples of cases that potentially could satisfy the threshold may include, but are not limited to:
- Severe and permanent scarring or disfigurement
- Total or partial disability
- Severe and permanent loss of a central body function
- Other permanent injuries
In addition to showing serious injuries evidence by records to document severity, the injured party must also prove that the alleged injuries were caused by the at-fault party’s negligent actions.
How Do You Prove an Auto Accident Injury is “Serious?”
In order to proceed with an auto accident lawsuit, an injured party must prove that their injuries satisfy the serious injury threshold in Florida. To prove a serious injury, a plaintiff must produce sufficient medical documentation to substantiate the injury to the court and directly link the injury to an action of the at-fault party. In Florida, an injured party must undergo a medical examination or receive medical care from a primary care doctor or other health care provider such as an emergency room or urgent care provider. If the court determines that the plaintiff’s injuries are serious enough after listening to all of the evidence and testimony from both sides, the case may continue to trial. However, if a plaintiff cannot convince the court injuries are severe enough to satisfy the threshold, then the court will dismiss the case.
How a Florida Accident Lawyer Can Help
Accident cases in Florida can be complex. Florida is a no-fault insurance state which means that an injured party may only file a lawsuit in limited situations and must initially make a claim to the injured party’s own auto insurance carrier under what is referred to as personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. PIP typically will cover an injured party’s economic damages such as medical bills, lost income, and other financial losses that resulted from an accident caused by another party up to the policy limits of the injured party’s PIP coverage. However, PIP does not compensate an injured party for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering.
Where an injured party suffers from a serious injury, the injured party may be able to file a lawsuit for both economic damages and non-economic damages for pain, suffering, mental anguish, and more. However, proving that an injury is serious enough to satisfy the serious injury threshold requires skilled courtroom advocacy. Additionally, you need to make sure certain legal and statutory requirements are met such as filing the lawsuit within the applicable statute of limitations.
If you were in an accident, the Florida accident lawyers at Searcy Denney can help you navigate through the complex litigation process to pursue the economic and non-economic damages you are entitled to recover. If you have questions about the legal remedies available for the injuries you sustained, call Searcy Denney today for a free consultation. Our attorneys are standing by to answer your questions.
Have Questions? If So, Call A Florida Accident Lawyer At Searcy Denney Today for a Free Consultation
If you were seriously injured in an auto accident in Florida and have questions about the “serious injury” threshold, a Florida accident lawyer at Searcy Denney can help and answer your questions and advise you what damages you may be owed for your injuries. The attorneys at our firm know how courts and juries often look at these cases and we understand the strategies that insurance companies often employ to try to reduce or avoid payouts. Our track record of success speaks for itself. Call us toll-free at 800-780-8607 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation with a Florida accident lawyer. We have offices conveniently located in Tampa, West Palm Beach and Tallahassee.