What Constitutes A “Serious Bodily Injury” Under Florida Law?
While the Florida legislature continues its annual review of Florida’s “no-fault” system for car accidents, the rule remains on the books until that change has been made. In the meantime, most injuries are covered by your personal injury protection coverage which pays out regardless of whether or not you are to blame for the collision. However, you can file lawsuits in Florida if you are seriously injured by a driver. So what does the law consider a “serious” injury, and what threshold must you cross before filing a lawsuit? In this article, we’ll answer those questions.
PIP shifts the threshold
In other states, you can file a lawsuit over a lacerated pinky. It doesn’t matter how serious your injuries are. In the interests of judicial economy, Florida wants to prevent such suits from going into litigation. Hence, in Florida, you must show that your injuries are serious enough to warrant an actual lawsuit. In other words, Florida’s PIP statute prevents you from filing suits over “non-serious” injuries. The tradeoff, however, is that you get reimbursement regardless of who is at fault. The tradeoff to that is that you can never recover pain and suffering damages.
The threshold for “serious bodily injury”
Florida requires that there be some form of permanent injury in order to file a lawsuit over a car accident. You should also be reasonably certain that the other driver was at fault. Injuries that may qualify as “serious” under Florida’s statute include:
- Permanent loss of an important bodily function
- Injury that is likely to place permanent limitations on the plaintiff
- Permanent scarring or disfigurement
Death also qualifies under the statute.
To establish “permanent injury” the use of a medical expert would be required. In most cases, the medical expert would testify that it’s reasonably certain that you will suffer extenuated nerve damage due to a car accident. The nerve damage reduces the strength in your hand and arm and makes it more difficult for you to do your job. You can no longer enjoy activities you once enjoyed like tennis and bowling. Treatment cannot remedy the situation. That would be an example of one of the least injurious forms of personal injury that would trigger the right to file a lawsuit under the Florida statute.
Unlike anywhere else except New Hampshire, which does not require auto insurance at all, Florida does not require insurance for motorcyclists. This means that motorcyclists are not subject to PIP exclusions and can always file lawsuits to recover damages against a negligent driver. The same can be said for other recreational vehicles like mopeds.
Talk to a Florida Traffic Accident Attorney Today
If you’ve been injured due to the negligence of another driver, you can have an attorney review your claim to see if you meet the threshold to file a lawsuit. Lawsuits are more lucrative than PIP payouts, and when your injuries are serious, the stakes are high. Call the Coral Gables tire defect attorneys at Halpern, Santos & Pinkert today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.