Can I File Suit After Minor Car Accident Injuries In Florida?
Most of the time, the average person will only contemplate filing a personal injury lawsuit if they have been severely injured. Despite that, it is possible, in some cases, to file suit against a negligent person even if the harm you suffered is “minor.” The distinction between “major” and “minor” injuries is often not well defined, so in some situations it is a good idea to try and file simply because you are not prevented from doing so. However, in Florida, auto accident law is somewhat different, requiring that a “serious injury threshold” be met before one can file a lawsuit in district court.
A Specific “Serious Injury Threshold”
The first thing to keep in mind in these types of situations is that ‘minor’ and ‘major’ have more specific meanings in personal injury law than they do in normal, day-to-day speech. In terms of injuries, a minor injury is one that will not usually take more than a short period of time to heal, and will not leave any long-lasting complications. Some types of broken bones may be considered ‘minor’ – but other breaks may be considered ‘major’ or ‘serious’ because they may require much longer healing time or leave a person with a limp, a scar, or other ‘souvenir’ from their accident.
That said, specifically in Florida auto accident law, there is a ‘serious injury threshold’ that an injury must meet in order to qualify as major. The relevant law states that an injury generally has to be “permanent … within a reasonable degree of medical probability” (in other words, with no real hope of continued improvement). This includes (but is not limited to) the loss of an important bodily function, a limb, or the loss of one’s life. If an injury does not meet at least one of these metrics, it will be classified as minor under Florida law.
No-Fault Laws Complicate Matters
In cases that do not involve car accidents, filing an insurance claim for minor injuries instead of filing suit may be a better option for many, but some may find it necessary to file suit against the person who allegedly caused them harm. But Florida is a no-fault state when it comes to auto insurance, which means it has hard and fast rules about which cases may go to trial, and which cases must be handled by filing insurance claims. Most cases that do not involve major injuries (usually those with over $10,000 in medical bills) will be shunted toward filing insurance claims to recover expenses.
Florida’s no-fault statute requires that every driver in the state who wants to license a four-wheeled vehicle must carry at least $10,000 in personal injury protection coverage, and $10,000 in property damage liability coverage. If someone sustains injuries in an auto accident that do not fit the criteria to meet the serious injury threshold, they are required to seek any compensation through filing a claim with their (or the other driver’s) insurer, rather than taking anyone to trial. Keep in mind that PIP coverage will not pay for intangible damages – that is, those damages that are difficult to quantify, such as loss of quality of life or mental anguish.
Call A Tampa Auto Accident Lawyer Today
If you are injured in a car accident, it is a good idea to try and recover compensation for what you have been through, even if the injuries are minor. However, Florida’s no-fault laws can make recovering for car accident injuries somewhat confusing. Contacting a Tampa car accident lawyer from the Rinaldo Law Group can help to clear the air. Call us today at (813) 831-9999 for a free consultation.