How Serious Does an Injury Have To Be To File a Claim in Florida?
Gregg Hollander | November 10, 2022 | Personal Injury
There is no lower limit on the value of an injury claim (with a major exception being car accidents, which we will discuss in detail below). Theoretically, you could file a claim against someone for only $1.The real question is whether it is worth bothering with. To answer that question, you might need to weigh several factors.
Questions You Should Ask Yourself
Before you decide whether to file a personal injury claim, either against an insurance company or in the form of a lawsuit, ask yourself the following questions:
- Did your injuries require medical treatment?
- Was the accident that injured you someone else’s fault?
- Can you afford to pay your medical bills without compensation from the at-fault party?
- Did you miss work because of your injuries? If so, how much time did you miss?
- Are you suffering constant pain?
An answer of “yes” to any question except the first is a red flag that you might need to file a personal injury claim.
Evaluating Your Claim
The true value of your claim could be a lot more than you imagine. Following is a list of factors to consider when calculating its value:
- Your medical expenses. Include anything you are billed for plus out-of-pocket expenses such as deductibles, copays, OTC medicines, bandages, and parking fees at the hospital.
- Your lost earnings. Include vacation time and sick leave you used, even if your employer paid you for the time off.
- Any incidental expenses such as child care and the like, as long as they arose directly from your accident.
- Pain and suffering and other intangible losses such as emotional distress. These damages can equal three to five times the amount of your medical expenses.
Adding up all of these items should give you a rough estimate of the value of your claim, at least if you don’t take comparative fault into account.
If the accident was partly your fault, comparative negligence applies. A court will assign you a percentage of fault and subtract that same percentage from the value of your claim. If you were 25% at fault, for example, the court will deduct 25% from your damages. In settlement negotiations, the parties usually settle for an amount they believe that a court might award.
Filing a Lawsuit Over a Car Accident: Florida’s No-Fault Regime
Florida applies a “no-fault” auto insurance system for car accidents. This system erects barriers to receiving fair compensation for car accident injuries. PIP insurance is mandatory, and it will pay:
- 80% of your medical bills (up to $10,000);
- 60% of your lost earnings (up to $10,000); and
- $5,000 in funeral expenses if the victim dies in the accident.
Under PIP, you cannot claim perhaps the most important element of compensation–pain and suffering. There is a loophole, however–you can escape the no-fault system and file for full compensation in court if your injuries are “serious.” Under Florida law, “serious” means you suffered:
- Loss of “an important bodily function”; such as your sense of smell;
- A long-term or permanent injury;
- Disfigurement or scarring; or
If this loophole applies, you can sue for pain and suffering. The problem is that since Florida doesn’t require drivers to purchase liability insurance, the at-fault driver might lack the financial resources to pay your claim. If so, there might be no point in filing a claim. Speak with a lawyer if your claim is based on a car accident. If your claim is based on a truck accident, by contrast, keep in mind that truck drivers are almost always very well insured.
The Right West Palm Beach Personal Injury Lawyer Can Multiply the Value of Your Claim
If you are considering whether to file a claim, it might be because you doubt whether you will receive enough compensation to make the effort worth it. The good news is that, according to the Insurance Research Council, personal injury victims who retain lawyers receive an average of 250% more compensation than unrepresented claimants do.
Since personal injury lawyers charge their legal fees as a percentage of the amount you win, you have very little to lose by scheduling a free consultation with a reputable West Palm Beach personal injury lawyer.
Contact Our Personal Injury Law Firm in South Florida
Hollander Law Firm Accident Injury Lawyers – Boca Raton Law Office
7000 W Palmetto Park Rd #500
Boca Raton, FL 33433
Hollander Law Firm Accident Injury Lawyers – Fort Lauderdale Law Office
200 S.E. 6th Street #203
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
Hollander Law Firm Accident Injury Lawyers – West Palm Beach Law Office
319 Clematis St #203
West Palm Beach, FL 33401