Have you suffered bodily injury because of an accident that was caused by the negligent or reckless actions of another party?
If so, you may be entitled to compensation under Florida law.
But how does a bodily injury claim work in Florida? How do you know if you qualify for a claim? What damages can a claim include?
Car and motorcycle accidents, boating accidents, drowning accidents, medical malpractice… the list of potential situations that can cause serious bodily injury in Florida is a long one. Most people will need to deal with an accident that causes injury of some description at some point in their lives.
Here, we look at the bodily injury claims thresholds, what the claims process entails, and the types of damages you can claim in a bodily injury case.
How does a Florida bodily injury claim work?
Bodily injuries can range from minor soft tissue injuries, such as sprains and abrasions, to extremely serious life-threatening injuries like traumatic brain injuries and permanent paralysis.
Regardless of the type of injury, if you decide to pursue a claim against the at-fault party, you will likely need to deal with an insurance company at some point. This can be an intimidating and challenging process in itself as your interests (claiming the maximum compensation) will conflict directly with those of the insurance company (minimizing the claim).
You may encounter a lengthy, drawn-out process and many injured parties decide to engage legal assistance to handle a claim so that they can focus on recovery.
Experienced personal injury lawyers will handle the bodily injury claim process from start to finish, liaising with the loss adjusters at the insurance company, filing the paperwork and following up for settlement.
The vast majority of bodily injury claims are settled without the need for a trial but your personal injury lawyers should be prepared to litigate and defend your interests in court if necessary. Sometimes, you must show the insurance company that you are prepared to do this to progress a claim.
Without legal assistance, the insurance company is likely to play hardball and, sensing that you need financial support, may offer you an early settlement that is far less than what you are entitled to.
What are the insurance laws in Florida?
For accidents on the roads in Florida, it’s useful to be aware of the insurance laws here. All drivers must be insured with a minimum of $10,000 of Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and an additional $10,000 for liability for property damage.
It is considered a type of “no-fault” insurance because benefits are paid to an injured driver or passenger regardless of who caused the accident.
The insurance company can cover only 80 percent of your medical expenses up to your PIP insurance limit and drivers are insured against:
- Up to 60 percent of your lost wages
- Other incidental costs related to seeking medical treatment
Generally, with car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, etc. where drivers are not too seriously hurt, they approach their own PIP insurance policy to cover accident-related medical expenses.
Florida law also permits parties who have been seriously injured in car accidents to file a personal injury claim against the at-fault party.
The laws also allow for personal injury claims in other types of accidents, such as slip and falls, aviation or boating accidents, medical malpractice and so on. Claims may be made against a premises owner, parts manufacturer, medical facility or another at-fault party.
What is Florida’s injury threshold?
The Florida Statutes Chapter 627 states a minimum threshold for a bodily injury lawsuit that claimants should be aware of. The minimum threshold is considered one of the following:
- A permanent injury
- Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement
- Significant and permanent loss of a bodily function
You must be able to prove that the negligent or reckless actions of the defendant directly caused one of the above for the lawsuit to be successful.
How can you prove you meet the injury threshold?
Proving that a claimant meets Florida’s injury threshold for a lawsuit is where the skills and experience of your personal injury lawyer come in.
A lawsuit of this nature requires a lot of supporting evidence, including witness statements, video or pictorial evidence, medical and police reports, bills and receipts, and often the input of other professionals, such as doctors and automotive authorities.
Keeping a detailed personal journal of your injuries may also help your case. Try to note the following:
- The date of your injury
- Your prognosis and length of treatment
- Required medications
- Scarring or disability resulting from your injury
- Ongoing pain management
- Emotional distress
- Rehabilitation requirements
A considerable amount of documentation is required because your lawyer needs to show that your bodily injuries qualify for the lawsuit AND that another party’s negligence was to blame for the accident.
It will help your lawyer if you can prepare copies of any medical bills for your bodily injury, photographs of your injury, prescription receipts, and so on.
What does a bodily injury settlement cover?
No two personal injury cases are the same in Florida but most bodily injury settlements cover more than just medical costs.
After gathering all of the details, your lawyer will provide an estimate of the expected compensation. It usually covers some or all of the following:
- Ambulance costs
- All related hospital expenses including emergency room/diagnostic/treatment/surgery
- Ongoing medical expenses (follow-up doctor’s visits, etc.)
- Ongoing rehabilitation and nursing costs
- Long-term care costs (if necessary)
- Pain and suffering including emotional distress, depression, PTSD, anxiety, etc.
- Diminished quality of life
- Lost earnings or diminished earning capacity
- Loss of consortium
- Permanent disfigurement
- Property damage
- Wrongful death
How do you file a bodily injury claim in Florida?
After an accident in Florida, you will either file an insurance claim with your PIP insurance provider or the at-fault party’s insurance company.
The process can be challenging and laborious, which is why many people’s first step in making a compensation claim is to consult a seasoned personal injury lawyer.
From there, your lawyer will issue a demand letter, which informs the insurance company of the details of the accident and what damages you are pursuing.
Then, your lawyer will conduct all necessary communications with the insurance company loss adjusters, gather the necessary supporting evidence to bolster your claim and prove negligence/liability, and file the necessary paperwork. Most settlements are negotiated before a court trial.
If you have suffered a bodily injury that was the fault of a negligent or reckless party, speak to us before signing any paperwork. Start by calling (941) 304-5003 for a free case evaluation with a personal injury lawyer from Gerber Law in Florida.
If you’re injured, we will come to the medical facility or your home for the initial consultation.