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22 Mar 2019

Seeking Damages for Pain and Suffering after a Car Accident

by James Holliday, posted in Florida Auto Accident

I’m often asked by people who have been involved in car wrecks whether they can seek restitution for pain and suffering. It is important to understand your legal rights if you have been seriously injured in a crash. Florida imposes a legal hurdle that car accident victims have to get over in order to seek pain and suffering after a car crash.

To claim compensation for pain and suffering after an auto accident in Florida, the accident victims have to prove they have disabling or permanent injuries. The following is a general overview. For information regarding your specific accident and how the law applies to you, please contact our motor vehicle accident lawyers at the Holliday Karatinos Law Firm, PLLC for a free consultation.

Florida’s No Fault Car Crash Law and Pain and Suffering Damages

Florida law requires vehicle owners to carry a minimum of $10,000 of Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage and $10,000 of property damage liability coverage as long as they have a valid Florida license plate.  After a car wreck, each driver turns initially to their own insurance company for medical benefits and payment of car repairs, rather than filing a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.

Each driver has the right to receive compensation for medical expenses through their own no fault insurance policy. Your no fault insurance will cover your child, members of your household and certain passengers who do not own a vehicle and have their own PIP insurance. Your PIP coverage also protects you if you are injured in a pedestrian accident or while riding a bicycle.

What Is Florida’s Injury Threshold?

While Florida allows drivers to receive compensation for injuries and property damage through Personal Injury Protection coverage, it limits car collision victim’ rights to claim compensation for pain and suffering to serious accidents that result in permanent injuries. If you are injured in a car accident in Florida and do not have a permanent injury, unfortunately, you are not entitled to restitution for pain and suffering.

In Florida, Chapter 627 of the Florida Code explains that to seek compensation for pain and mental anguish through a personal injury lawsuit, a car crash victim must have suffered:

  • Significant and permanent loss of a bodily function;
  • Permanent injury;
  • Permanent scarring or/and disfigurement; or
  • Death.

When our law firm represents an auto accident victim in court, much of the trial often focuses on proving that an accident victim’s injuries are permanent and qualify for compensation pain and suffering, which can represent a significant portion of an overall damages award.

How to Prove an Injury Threshold and Pain and Suffering after a Car Accident

There are three primary elements to a civil action after a motor vehicle accident that seeks damages for pain and suffering. These three elements are:

  1. Proving the negligence and liability of the defendant;
  2. Proving that injuries meet the statutory definitions provided above; and
  3. Proving that injuries actually resulted in pain and suffering.

To prove that your injuries entitle you to seek compensation for pain and suffering, it is necessary to present medical evidence and documentation related to your treatment.

In many cases, we rely on physicians who can provide expert testimony regarding the extent of your injuries and whether they are expected with reasonable certainty to be permanent. Even if you experienced pain and suffering for months after a car crash, you cannot recover compensation for noneconomic losses such as pain and suffering without establishing the permanence of your injuries.

If you have kept a daily journal documenting your injuries and your recovery following the accident, that may provide persuasive evidence to support your claim for pain and suffering damages. A journal can serve as important documentation of your discomfort, disability, mental anguish and diminished quality of life.

How an Experienced Auto Accident Attorney Can Help

If you have sustained lasting injuries to the extent that Florida’s law allows you to seek compensation for your pain and suffering through a civil action, you need an experienced car accident lawyer to represent you.

At the Holliday Karatinos Law Firm, PLLC, our knowledgeable car crash attorneys will answer your questions and investigate all aspects of your case. If medical evidence shows that you have suffered a permanent and disabling injury that meets Florida’s injury threshold, we will help you to prove the extent of this injury and the liability of the other driver. We work with experts of all types, including medical and accident reconstruction experts, have the resources necessary to fund your case, and have trial experience.

If you are injured in a car accident, do not wait until evidence has been destroyed or the statute of limitations has expired to take action. It is important to reach out for legal guidance right away after an accident. Call our Florida accident attorneys as soon as possible after a car crash to learn your rights under the law, and your legal options for making a claim for restitution for your pain and suffering.

Reach us now by phone, or contact us online. A consultation with our law firm is completely free, and we work on a contingency fee basis.

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