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Understanding the “Serious Injury” Threshold in Florida Personal Injury Cases

Accidents happen on a daily basis—some are more serious than others, but when they cause serious, lifelong injuries, the at-fault party can and should be held responsible. In Florida, however, whether a potential plaintiff is able to receive the full extent of the compensation they seek depends on the severity of their injuries and the circumstances of the accident.

According to a recent news report, the family attorney of the five-year-old girl who was injured in a car accident involving a former NFL assistant coach has suffered permanent brain damage as a result of the collision. Earlier this year, the coach’s truck collided with two cars on the side of a highway entrance ramp, which severely injured the five-year-old girl, her mother, her aunt, and a four-year-old cousin. The family was pulled over to help another relative whose car had run out of gas. The NFL coach was driving “at highway speeds” when his pickup truck struck the two vehicles. The two cars he crashed into were flattened, and his truck was totaled. According to a search warrant from the crash, the coach was reportedly slightly inebriated when the accident took place.

In Florida, potential plaintiffs who are severely injured in car accidents can file personal injury lawsuits to obtain financial compensation for their injuries and other losses. Although many of these claims are settled before they make it to trial, they often remain on the court’s calendar and can cause significant congestion in state judicial dockets. To remedy this issue, the Florida government enacted the “serious injury threshold law,” which establishes standards that potential plaintiffs must satisfy in order to sue an at-fault party for causing an accident.

The serious injury threshold means that at-fault parties are not liable for the injuries resulting from an accident unless there is substantial medical evidence indicating the severity and extent of the injury.

To meet the severe injury threshold in Florida, the injury must be so severe that it affects your day-to-day activities. If you suffer significant or permanent loss of a central body function, disfigurement or scarring, or experience total or partial disability for 90 days or more, you may meet the requirements. In addition, injuries that lead to death can also lead to claims under this statute in Florida. The injuries suffered by the potential plaintiff must also be directly caused by the at-fault party’s actions and stem from the accident.

Although there is no bright-line rule establishing how severe an injury must be for a court to grant a potential plaintiff as having met the threshold, previous cases have indicated that while a bruised or sprained limb may not push you over the threshold, a broken bone usually does. This is attributed to the fact that broken bones will typically result in an impairment in daily function and even without significant or permanent damage, could significantly alter how you go through your day-to-day activities.

Do You Need a Florida Personal Injury Attorney?

If you or someone you know has been recently injured in a Florida car accident, contact the Law Offices of Robert Dixon. The attorneys at our firm have represented all types of clients in personal injury claims such as car and motorcycle accidents, wrongful death claims, and instances of medical malpractice. Contact our office today at 800-488-4878 for a free initial consultation.

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