In no-fault states like Florida, knowing when to file a personal injury claim can be tricky. Below, the Florida car accident lawyers from Heintz & Becker shed some light on this confusing question: how serious does a car accident have to be to file a personal injury claim in Florida?
Florida’s No-Fault System Explained
Florida’s no-fault system makes it easy for accident victims to obtain relief through mandatory coverage called Personal Injury Protection (PIP).
PIP allows drivers to collect damages from their own insurance provider, but it prohibits victims from suing other drivers—even if the other driver caused the accident. In theory, this helps reduce the state’s judicial caseload and speeds along recovery.
In Florida, minimum PIP coverage is $10,000; in the event a driver doesn’t have medical insurance, this coverage will function similarly to cover lost wages and other injury-related expenses.
To step outside the no-fault system and file a personal injury claim, there are specific criteria an injury must meet. The medical thresholds outlined in Florida’s statutes.
To file a personal injury claim, an injury must meet one of four broad categorizations:
- Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function
- The permanent injury is within a reasonable degree of medical probability
- Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement
- The injury or accident resulted in death
Minor injuries such as sprains, bumps, and bruises typically won’t meet the medical threshold; however, broken bones generally qualify. To simplify, any injury that seriously impairs an important function (e.g., walking, typing, lifting) generally meets the medical threshold. Pain or discomfort, however, generally does not.
Medical thresholds can be applied differently to the same injury. For example, a person recovering from a recent surgery will likely suffer an accident differently than a healthy driver. It’s best to consider the injury on a case-by-case basis.
Personal Injury Claim VS. Personal Injury Protection
You might wonder why any driver would file a personal injury claim if they can collect damages directly from their insurance company.
PIP covers economic damages (medical expenses, lost wages, etc.), but it does not extend to noneconomic damages like pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of consortium, etc.
Victims unable to work a preferred profession or enjoy activities they once loved may benefit from additional financial compensation. This is when a victim may file an injury claim.
In the event of death, surviving family members might struggle to compensate a lifetime of lost wages. Families may also need time away from work to grieve or prepare a funeral.
These things matter to victims and their families and are why personal injury claims exist.
At Heintz & Becker, we’ve been providing compassionate, ethical, and effective legal representation for more than 30 years. If you’ve got questions about a personal injury claim, we’ve got the answers.