Under Florida law, it is possible to sue for pain and suffering damages after a truck accident. That said, there are strict limitations on the right to file a personal injury lawsuit following a motor vehicle accident.
Florida has adopted a “no-fault” insurance scheme that bars many truck accident victims from pursuing a civil lawsuit for their injuries. Our firm could evaluate your case and advise you on whether you meet the grounds for an exception to the ban on personal injury lawsuits.
For a free legal consultation, call (800) 747-3733
When Can You Sue for Pain and Suffering Damages?
Florida—along with 11 other states—has adopted a legal system known as “no-fault insurance.” Under this no-fault scheme, drivers are required to carry personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. This coverage pays for some of the insured’s damages no matter who was at fault for the accident.
The trade-off is that an injured party is generally barred from suing another person for their accident—even if that person was at fault.
This is especially problematic when it comes to pain and suffering compensation. While PIP benefits will cover part of your medical bills and lost wages, these benefits will not provide for your pain and suffering. In some cases, you are simply out of luck.
Possible Exceptions to Know
The good news is that state law does provide for some situations that allow a driver to side-step the no-fault insurance system and file a lawsuit against the negligent party. In these cases, the plaintiff could pursue the full amount of damages they suffered, including compensation for pain and suffering.
One of the exceptions where a lawsuit could be an option is if the total damages suffered by the plaintiff were more than $10,000. The second option requires the injured party to establish that they have suffered a “serious injury” in the accident.
Meeting the Serious Injury Threshold
An individual that has suffered a serious injury during a truck accident could have the right to avoid the no-fault insurance system and file a lawsuit against the negligent party. Proving the existence of the serious injury is referred to as meeting the “serious injury threshold.”
The serious injury threshold is governed by Florida Statute 627.737. The statute sets out a specific list of factors that could qualify an injury as being serious. An injury is serious if it leads to:
- Significant and permanent disfigurement or scarring
- Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function
- Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability
What each of these conditions has in common is that they involve permanent or fatal consequences. In other words, an injury that is likely to heal will not result in a viable claim for pain and suffering damages. It is impossible to know in some cases whether an injury will eventually clear up or if it will last forever.
Establishing the Injury’s Permanence
In those situations, the plaintiff must establish that the injury is permanent through a reasonable degree of medical probability. This usually requires the assistance of a medical expert.
How do You Prove You Met the Injury Threshold?
There are different forms of evidence you could rely on in an effort to prove you meet the serious injury threshold. Typically, this is done through the use of documentary evidence that establishes the severity of your injury. Some of that evidence could include:
- Medical records
- Prescription drug records
- Testimony of the impact on your life
- Photos of your injuries
- Employment records
The testimony of a medical expert could be the most important evidence in your case. An expert could provide insight to the judge or jury on how the records reflect the amount of pain you have experienced. They could also highlight with a degree of medical certainty that these injuries are permanent.
How do I Determine the Value of Pain and Suffering Damages?
It is not enough to meet the serious injury threshold. In order to recover monetary compensation for your pain and suffering, you must also establish the value of your pain and suffering claim. There are different ways you and your attorney could establish the extent of your pain. Some examples include:
- The severity of the injuries
- The need for future medical treatment
- Limitations your pain has placed on your life
- Your need for medication to alleviate the pain
- The number of treatments you have had to address the pain
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Discuss Your Case with One of Our Attorneys Right Away
You should never assume that you do not have the right to pursue a civil lawsuit following a truck accident. The question of whether or not you can sue for pain and suffering after a truck accident is a legal issue that should be left to your attorney.
The Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine could evaluate your injuries and advise you on your legal options. To learn more about your case, call 1-800-747-3733 for a free consultation.