Receiving Non-Economic Damages after a Car Accident
Car accident victims suffer from more than lost income and sky-high medical bills. Victims also can suffer from intense pain, both physical and mental. Unfortunately, Florida law makes it difficult for injured motorists to receive compensation for these non-economic harms. Instead, the state’s no-fault insurance scheme allows you to receive a paltry sum of benefits from your own insurer in the form of personal injury protection benefits. Fortunately, the law has exceptions for serious injuries that leave you with a permanent injury.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Benefits
After a car accident, state law requires that you first turn to your own insurer to receive compensation for medical care and lost wages. Every motorist must carry PIP benefits up to $10,000. Because Florida is a no-fault state, you don’t need to show that the other driver injured you negligently to access the benefits. However, you do need to see a medical provider within 14 days of the accident.
PIP benefits are skimpy. At most, they cover up to 80% of your medical care and 60% of lost wages. In a particularly serious accident, medical care alone will eat up the $10,000, leaving you without the necessary funds to continue to pay bills. And it is not uncommon for injured motorists to receive almost no reimbursement of lost wages, since there is no money left once medical expenses are paid.
You also will not receive any compensation for non-economic harms like:
- Physical pain
- Emotional distress
- Negative changes to your marriage, such as a loss of sexual intimacy
These non-economic injuries can be substantial. For example, someone suffering from a head or spinal cord injury might be in an incredible amount of physical pain and distress, yet PIP benefits do not provide any compensation.
All is not lost if you suffer devastating injuries in a car accident. Florida’s law provides a big exception for people who suffer a permanent injury, such as:
- Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function.
- Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement.
- An injury that within a reasonable degree of medical certainty will be permanent, other than scarring or disfigurement.
In these situations, you can sue the motorist for non-economic damages, as well as for full reimbursement of any medical bills and lost wages not covered by your PIP benefits. The key will be to show that your injury qualifies as permanent under the statute.
For example, you might break bones which require the insertion of a permanent steel plate or pin. This injury might qualify as “permanent” under the statute, whereas suffering some temporary neck pain likely will not.
Speak with a Daytona Beach Car Accident Lawyer Today
Injured motorists need compensation to cover expenses and provide for their families. At Bundza & Rodriguez, our team will carefully review your medical history and analyze whether you can bring a lawsuit for non-economic damages under Florida’s statute. We also will help you negotiate with insurance carriers—whether your own or the other driver’s. Contact us today for a free consultation at 866-785-5470 or send a message online.