Does My Case Meet Florida’s Tort Threshold?
Florida personal injury law recognizes something called the ‘tort threshold,’ which affects the amount of damages that an injured person may be able to recover in a civil lawsuit. Intended to keep costs down in personal injury suits – especially auto accident suits – sometimes it can be unclear as to whether or not a person’s injuries meet this metric. If you have been injured in an accident, but your injuries are relatively minor, you need legal help that can advise you properly about your options.
The Threshold Restricts Intangible Damages
In the event of an accident that was allegedly caused by one party’s negligence, Florida will generally allow victims to collect what are known as economic damages (tangible, quantifiable damages like medical bills), as long as the plaintiff establishes that their injuries were directly caused by the defendant’s actions, with no other intervening cause. This is true even if your injuries are minor, for the most part, though an attorney may decline to take a case of that type because the fees required to prevail would outweigh the money damages received.
The tort threshold exists to regulate the amount of non-economic damages that a plaintiff can receive in a successful lawsuit, because sometimes, a settlement or jury award will wind up being disproportionate to the actual harm suffered (or otherwise inappropriate). Non-economic damages, as one might imagine, are the inverse of economic damages, meaning the less tangible harm that still deserves compensation, such as mental anguish, loss of consortium, or lost future earning potential. Essentially, unless a person has sustained a particular type of injury, they cannot recover non-economic damages at all.
One Of Four Types of Injuries Required
Florida state law holds that an injured person must have one (or more) of four tangible types of injury, in order to recover non-economic damages. The types are:
- “Significant and permanent” loss of an “important bodily function” such as walking;
- Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement;
- Permanent injury “within a reasonable degree of medical probability” – in other words, an injury that a reasonable medical professional would believe to be permanent; and
In most cases, this does not mean that someone with a more minor injury cannot recover damages at trial – they just cannot recover non-economic damages. However, the exception to this is if your injuries were sustained in a Florida car accident. Florida has a no-fault system of auto insurance, and every driver is required to carry at least a cumulative $20,000 worth of insurance. In car accident cases, this required insurance is intended to cover medical bills and lost wages in cases of minor injury, instead of the injured plaintiff clogging up Florida’s court dockets to mount a case they only have a slim shot at winning.
Contact A Florida Minor Injury Attorney
Any injury sustained as a result of another person’s negligence, however minor, can be an unpleasant experience, and the requirements of Florida law that an injured person must follow in order to seek compensation can be quite overwhelming. If you have been injured in a personal injury accident, calling a Tampa personal injury attorney from the Rinaldo Law Group may be your first step toward getting the compensation you deserve. Call our office today at (813) 831-9999 for a free consultation.