So you are injured in a car accident and you were not at fault. A driver of another car was at fault. The accident happened hours ago. Your adrenaline is pumping. You are angry at the car that hit you. Your day is ruined. There is no guarantee that you can get money for your pain and suffering. How can this be? After all, you did nothing wrong and therefore are have no comparative fault. Your friends tell you that they got a lot of money after they were in a car crash. Let me explain.
In most situations where someone is injured and the accident was caused by a car, in order to get pain and suffering you would need to be able to show that your injury falls into 1 of the categories below:
(a) Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function.
(b) Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, other than scarring or disfigurement.
(c) Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement.
(d) Death. [You have rights if your family member is killed in an accident in Florida.]
Florida Statute 672.737(2)
Now, in order to have the right to get money for pain and suffering, your injury does not have fall into more than 1 of the categories above. It just has to meet 1 of them. I said that in “most” situations you would have to meet one of the criteria in a-d above. This includes if you are a non-resident of Florida and you are injured as a passenger in a Florida automobile in crash with another Florida automobile. Johnson v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., 297 So.2d 858 (Fla. 4th DCA 1974).
If you are in a rental car that is rented in Florida, you need to show that you have a permanent injury in order to have a chance at getting money for pain and suffering. There are situations where you do not need to meet criteria a-d above. Those situations where you do not to have to show one the injuries described in “a-d” – in order to try to get money for pain and suffering – above are that if your accident was caused by a:
- Mobile Home
- Government-owned vehicle used for 5 or more passengers (mass transit) (e.g. Miami-Dade county public bus)
- Farm Tractor or Farm Trailer (subjecting to licensing exception)
- Vehicles used only on private property
- Dune Buggies, Go-Carts, recreational vehicles that are not used on roads
- Golf Carts
- Off-road construction machines (rollers, graders, bulldozers)
- Vehicles on tracts (e.g. railroad)
You also do not to have show that you have one the injuries described in “a-d” – in order to try to get money for pain and suffering – above are that if you are:
11. In a car that was hit by a taxi.
12. In a taxi and the driver caused the accident. Check out how to get your medical bills paid after a taxi accident in Florida.
13. In a car that was hit by a public bus.
14. Driving or a passenger of a motorcycle. You can learn how to get your medical bills paid after a motorcycle crash in Florida.
15. A nonresident of Florida who is a pedestrian.
16. In a public bus that was struck by a car, truck or other vehicle.
17. A driver or passenger of a scooter than was more similar to a motorcycle than a scooter.
So if you were involved in any of the situations in #1-#8, you do not have to prove that your injuries fall into categories a-d above to get money for pain and suffering. For example, if you were in a car and a taxi ran a red light and struck your car, a jury could give you money for pain and suffering even if all you did was go to the hospital for one visit for neck pain and never followed up with the doctor again.
Situations Where Permanent Injury Is Required – category “b” above
Now the reality is that in most car accidents, there are 2 cars involved. So if you were a passenger in a car and the crash was caused another car, your injury would have to generally meet 1 of the criteria in categories a-d above. Just going to the hospital for 1 visit complaining of neck pain will not get you any money for pain and suffering. Now, if you treat with a doctor for a few months and your pain does not go away, the doctor may believe that you have a permanent injury and you may be entitled to money for pain and suffering.
Other categories (a,b,d) Scarring, Death, Loss of a body function
If you were a passenger in a car and the car was hit by another car, you may be able to get money for pain and suffering if you have significant and permanent scarring. You may also be able to get money for pain and suffering if you lose an important bodily function, such as the loss of your spleen. And of course, your survivors are entitled to pain and suffering damages if you are killed in an accident. Obviously, a car accident qualifies as an accident.
Now that you know the law, you have to hope that the person – or possibly owner of the car or motor vehicle – that caused your car accident purchased bodily injury liability insurance. If he or she did not, maybe he or she was working at the time of the crash and you can make a claim with their employer’s business liability insurance policy – or perhaps they work for a big company like Walmart that is self-insured.
If you simply can’t find any insurance that may pay for your pain and suffering and other damages, hopefully you purchased uninsured motorist insurance – or lived with a relative who did – which may pay for your pain and suffering and other damages. You can check out some of my car accident settlements for people injured in Florida where I was able to get my clients money for pain and suffering and other damages.
In Florida, there is no limit (cap) on the amount of money that you can get for pain and suffering damages in a car accident case. But you obviously have to prove that you have damages that justify getting money for pain and suffering.
Did you get money for pain and suffering from a car accident? If so, what injury did you have and what type of accident was it?