There is one law that is the most crucial for you to understand. It is what we call the THRESHOLD. Florida car accident cases fall under the no-fault law also known as the PIP law. And as part of this law, there are protections for the person that injured you.
These protections, which we call the threshold, are like minimum requirements that you must meet, in order to have a case against the person that hurt you.
Think of the threshold this way. The courthouse is locked but there are four keys. If you have one of these keys, you can unlock the courthouse doors and make your case. If you don’t have one of these keys, you’re locked out.
The Four Keys to the Courthouse:
- Loss of important bodily function;
- Permanent scarring or disfigurement; or
- A permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability.
If one of these four things did not occur from the car accident, you will be unable to recover money damages for pain, suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, inconvenience, and mental anguish.
The law still lets you bring a case, if someone died. Generally, an estate is set up for the person that dies and the estate brings a claim along with the surviving spouse or children.
2. Loss of an Important Bodily Function
The second threshold, or key, is loss of important bodily function. This would be something like, loosing you sense of smell or sight.
3. Permanent Scarring or Disfigurement
The third key, permanent scarring or disfigurement. Your scarring must be significant to qualify for this threshold. If you do have any scarring, it is important that it is documented immediately. Taking pictures with your cell phone is helpful. However, we prefer to have any scars photographed by a professional photographer.
4. Permanent Injury
Most car accident cases, turn on key #4. Whether or not you have a permanent injury. That permanent injury has to be within a reasonable degree of medical probability. Which means a doctor has to state you have a permanent injury that was caused by the car crash. It is not enough for you to just say you have a permanent injury or for your lawyer to just argue it. The opinion has to come from a doctor.
If you do not have a permanent injury, your medical bills should still be paid by your PIP insurance – up to the maximum coverage amount which is usually $10,000.00. Any outstanding medical bills or health insurance liens, that are related to the car accident, should be covered by the at-fault party. But that is it.
Without a permanent injury or one of the other keys, you cannot recover any money for your pain, suffering, or other damages.
Medical Evidence is Required
It is critical that you keep your appointments with your doctors and follow their recommendations so that you have the best chance of recovering. It is also critical so that your doctor can determine whether you have suffered a permanent injury. When treating with your doctors, do not be shy when it comes to describing your pain and complaints. It is common for people to downplay their problems. Let your doctor know every pain and complaint that you are presently having. If you fail to do this, it is difficult for your doctor to make appropriate treatment recommendations. But also, your doctors will not make your symptoms part of your records and that will be detrimental to your case.
I think it is also helpful for you to get a notebook and keep a diary. Track out-of-pocket expenses like co-pays and prescriptions. Also note days that you are having problems, and write down details on those problems. This diary can be very helpful to us in advocating for you.
The laws that apply to your car accident case can be overwhelming and confusing. Which is one of the reasons you hire our law firm.
Make sure you do the following:
- Keep your doctors’ appointments
- Make your complaints known to your doctors
- Follow your doctors’ instructions
If you don’t understand something, please reach out to us.