The State of Florida, contrary to some opinions, doesn’t encourage lawsuits over personal injuries. Nonetheless, these are still the most common type of lawsuit in Florida, by far. Even though about 95% of personal injury claims settle out of court, the courts’ caseloads are heavy. They’d be even heavier without personal injury thresholds.
Florida’s so-called “no-fault” law is part of the State’s effort to control the backlog of court cases. Florida car insurance must, by law, include a Personal Injury Protection feature. This PIP provides up to $10,000 for medical expenses and other financial losses due to a car crash. PIP payouts don’t depend on who was at fault in the accident. The claims and benefits process is meant to provide quick and certain financial relief.
This is what’s meant by calling Florida as a “no-fault” state. It’s not that crashes are nobody’s fault. Rather, Florida law sets aside the issue of fault in cases in which the financial damages are relatively low. The intent of the law, overall, is to get money to victims quickly and to relieve the burden on the courts.
FLORIDA PERSONAL INJURY THRESHOLDS
The other side of the “no-fault” coin is that victims seeking damages in excess of $10,000 face a legal hurdle. In order to pursue a claim beyond the PIP amount, an injury must be serious. What is “serious” in the eyes of the law? The statute lists four standards:
- Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function.
- Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, other than scarring or disfigurement.
- Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement.
That’s all the law on the books has to say about it. You obviously don’t need a law degree to see that this language isn’t very specific. What does “significant” mean? What’s the definition of “disfigurement”? What, in fact, are the personal injury thresholds?
The lawmakers left these questions to the courts. The rulings and verdicts in actual cases “fill out” the language of the law. This flexibility recognizes that people and cases are unique. It allows for justice where too-specific laws might not. However, it also means that personal injury lawyers must be familiar with the legal precedents set by the history of rulings and verdicts. And, of course, be up-to-date. It’s not enough for a lawyer to know the law. It’s no less critical to know how courts have applied the law. How to clear the personal injury thresholds. That’s why it’s crucial to contact a highly experienced Boca Raton personal injury attorney.