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9 Feb

What is a Permanent Injury in Florida?

You need a permanent injury to be entitled to compensation for most (not all) car accident cases in Florida. This is stated in Florida's law as follows:

“In order to recover damages in tort against the owner or operator of a motor vehicle (with respect to which security has been provided as required by Florida Statutes ss 627.730-670.7405), the plaintiff may recover damages for pain, suffering, mental anguish, and inconvenience because of bodily injury, only if the injury consists of:

  • Significant or permanent loss of an important bodily function
  • Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability
  • Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement
  • Death."

You Must Prove the Defendant’s Negligence

To receive any compensation for any losses or damages, you must first prove that the driver responsible for the accident was negligent. While you may have to sue other parties involved, roughly 95% of car crashes result from careless driving.

Requirement of a Permanent Injury to Receive Compensation

Compensation for suffering, mental anguish, inconvenience, and pain are known as non-economic damages. Unfortunately, in Florida, most motor vehicle accidents will only provide the plaintiff money if they suffer a permanent injury (or another injury listed above). This permanent injury requirement is also known as the tort threshold.

Fortunately, there are exceptions to the tort threshold. Whether you qualify for compensation may depend on the specific types of vehicles involved in the accident. More specifically, you may or may not get compensation depending on whether:

  • You were driving a “motor vehicle” when the accident occurred; and/or
  • The person-at-fault was carelessly driving a "motor vehicle" when the accident occurred.

Other Exceptions That Do NOT Require a Permanent Injury

You will never need a permanent injury to receive compensation for pain and suffering in a Florida crash if, at the time, you were occupying a:

  • Motorcycle
  • Moped (depending on size)
  • Mobile Home
  • Taxicab
  • Farm Tractor or Farm Trailer (subject to licensing exception)
  • Government-owned vehicle used for five or more passengers (mass transit, e.g., Miami-Dade County public bus)
  • Golf Carts
  • Recreational vehicles, Dune Buggies, or Go-carts that are not typically used on the road
  • Vehicles on tracts (e.g., railroad)
  • Off-road construction machines (bulldozers, rollers, or graders)
  • Car, and you are a resident of another state without a no-fault law, and an uninsured driver has hit you
  • An Uber as a passenger (if you are not entitled to PIP on your car insurance policy (Uber does not pay PIP benefits to passengers)
  • You may also receive compensation for pain and suffering if you were hit by a motor vehicle as a non-resident pedestrian and you do not live in a no-fault state

What Is Considered a Permanent Injury?

If you are involved in an accident and obtain "a permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability," you would have the most common injury meeting the tort threshold requirement. No law in Florida defines a "permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability." Instead, it is defined and established by testimony given by medical experts.

Therefore, you should see a treating doctor to determine whether your injuries would be considered permanent. In Florida, they will be able to present and explain their conclusions about your supposed "permanent injury" to a jury. If your auto accident requires that you have a permanent injury for compensation, then the jury will be granted the opportunity to award you any damages for pain and suffering once a medical expert confirms so. Also, chiropractors are qualified and allowed to determine whether an injury is permanent or not.

Insurance Companies Can Hire Their Own Doctors

If you are trying to sue a driver in a Florida car collision, their insurance company may want to have your medical records reviewed by their medical expert. However, make sure to give your medical records to the claims adjuster immediately following so that they can set the appropriate reserve. Doing so will help the case settle sooner.

In most cases, the insurance company's chosen doctor will conclude that your injury is not permanent. This scenario is especially true in cases where the soft tissues, bulging discs, or herniated discs are the injuries at hand following a car accident. Unfortunately, this will decrease the value of your injury claim and may result in less compensation. In the end, the jury will have to decide whether they believe your doctor or the insurance company's doctor.

You Can Receive Other Compensation Without a Permanent Injury

You do not need a permanent injury to qualify for or receive the following:

  • Rental car
  • Diminished value of your vehicle
  • Future lost income reduced to present value
  • Past lost income
  • Past or upcoming medical expenses
  • Replacement of valuables and lost personal property (e.g., watch, broken glasses, car damage)
  • Reimbursement for mileage required to visit a doctor
  • Punitive Damages
  • Funeral expenses

Do You Need a Permanent Injury in a Florida Lyft Accident?

Because Lyft's insurance policy has PIP coverage for both its passengers and drivers, you will most likely need a permanent injury to get money for pain and suffering if you are a Lyft passenger and the Lyft driver was at fault in the accident.

As a Lyft driver, you will most likely need a permanent injury in your claim against the other driver to receive compensation for pain and suffering (unless the driver was not required to have PIP coverage).

As a driver who was hit by a Lyft driver, you will likely need a permanent injury to receive compensation for pain and suffering (unless the other vehicle was not required to have PIP coverage).

If you would like to discuss your permanent injury lawsuit with an experienced attorney, call The Injury Assistance Law Firm at (321) 234-2900 today.

Injury Assistance Law Firm is a personal injury claims lawyer in Orlando. As an Orlando personal injury lawyer, we know what it takes to win a case against an insurance company, and we can provide you with all the help you need to feel confident in your case. If you are interested in learning more, contact us today.