Can You Get Paid for Pain Suffering in a Florida Auto Crash?

Car Accident Pain Suffering Florida  MiamiA driver’s negligence causes your car accident.  Maybe you were partially at fault. Perhaps your were not. You are in pain.  Can you get money for your pain, suffering, mental anguish, and inconvenience? Maybe. Let me explain.

You may be able to recover many types of damages other than pain, suffering, mental anguish, and inconvenience but that is outside the scope of this article.

In any claim of tort brought against the owner, registrant, operator, or occupant of a motor vehicle, with respect to which security is required by ss. 627.730-627.7405, or against any person or organization legally responsible for her or his acts or omissions an injured person may recover damages in tort for pain, suffering, mental anguish, and inconvenience arising out of the ownership, maintenance, operation or use of a motor vehicle only if the injury consists in whole or in part of:

(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 627.737(2)

This law uses the word “motor vehicle” with respect to which security has been provided as required by ss. 627.730-627.7405. So you must have a good understanding of ss. 627.730-627.7405 to know what constitutes a “motor vehicle” with respect to those statutes. This is because different Florida Statutes define “motor vehicle” differently.  

Florida Statute 627.732 defines a “Motor vehicle” as:

any self-propelled vehicle with four or more wheels which is of a type both designed and required to be licensed for use on the highways of this state and any trailer or semitrailer designed for use with such vehicle and includes:

(a) A “private passenger motor vehicle,” which is any motor vehicle which is a sedan, station wagon, or jeep-type vehicle and, if not used primarily for occupational, professional, or business purposes, a motor vehicle of the pickup, panel, van, camper, or motor home type.
(b) A “commercial motor vehicle,” which is any motor vehicle which is not a private passenger motor vehicle.
In order to recover damages in tort pain, suffering, mental anguish, and inconvenience in the above scenarios, your injury does not have fall into more than one of the categories above. It just has to meet one of them.
Example - My Actual Case – Negligent Operator Driving a “Motor Vehicle” – Permanent Injury Required

Michelle was driving her car in Miami when she ran a red light and hit Sara.  Sara suffered a wrist fracture and had surgery days later. Sara had a scar on her wrist.  Sara claimed that the Michelle’s negligence caused Sara’s injury.  We sent a letter to USAA requesting a disclosure of certain information required pursuant to Florida Statute 627.4137.  USAA sent us the required information which stated that Michelle had a liability insurance coverage with USAA in the amount of $100,000/$300,000.

Since Maria brought a tort claim against the Michelle, the driver of a motor vehicle (in this case a car) and against an organization legally responsible for her (in this case Michelle’s employer), Maria (the injured person) may recover damages for pain, suffering, mental anguish, and inconvenience arising out of the operation or use of a motor vehicle only if her injury consists in whole or in part of:

(b) Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, other than scarring or disfigurement.
(c) Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement.

We hired investigator Elena Dyer to speak with the police officer who witnessed the crash.  We also submitted Maria’s medical bills, records and pictures of her scar to USAA.  Sara’s medical bills were significantly less than $100,000.  USAA sent us the check for the $100,000 limits of bodily injury along with a release.  Although USAA did not have a document from Sara’s doctor stating that she had a Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, they still paid the limits.  They paid the limits because they knew that:

1. There was a strong likelihood that a doctor will state that her wrist surgery with the insertion of hardware (plate and screws) is permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability.  This is usually the case when an injured person has hardware inserted into their body.

2. Her scarring could be considered significant and permanent scarring.

The insurance adjuster knew that if our Sara’s injury consisted of either one of those or both she may recover damages for pain, suffering, mental anguish, and inconvenience because of bodily injury.

We did not deposit the check or have our client sign the release.  We then sent a financial affidavit and resident relative affidavit and vicarious liability affidavit and it was only then that USAA told us that Michelle was working for her employer, who was insured with Old Dominion Insurance Group (Main Street America).

We sent a letter to Old Dominion Insurance Group requesting a disclosure of certain information.  They responded in writing by stating that their insured carried $1,000,000 in liability insurance coverage.  Under the doctrine of respondeat superior, if at the time of the occurrence the employee’s conduct was within the scope of his or her employment, the employer will be liable for the employee’s negligence even if the employee was operating his or her own automobile. See, e.g., Merwin v. Kellems, 78 So.2d 865 (Fla. 1955); Standley v. Johnson, 276 So.2d 77 (Fla. 1st DCA 1973). An employer can be one of the many potential defendants in an auto accident case.

Old Dominion paid $100,000.  Thus the case settled for $200,000.  The settlement is before deduction for attorney’s fees and expenses. Most cases result in a lower recovery. It should not be assumed that your case will have as beneficial a result.  Although USAA and Old Dominion sent us their releases, we properly drafted the settlement release so that our client’s rights were protected. 

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.

Situations Where Permanent Injury Is Required – category “b” above

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.

Vehicular Accidents where Permanent Injuries are not required to recover for pain and suffering

On the other hand, there are some vehicular accidents where you do not to have to show one of the injuries described in Florida Statute 627.737(2) in order to recover damages for pain, suffering, mental anguish, and inconvenience in a tort action brought against the owner, registrant, operator, or occupant of a vehicle.  This is because these vehicles don’t do not meet the definition of motor vehicle.  

So if you have a tort claim brought against the owner, registrant, operator, or occupant of one of those vehicles below, or against any person or organization legally responsible for her or his acts or omissions, an injured person may recover damages in tort for pain, suffering, mental anguish, and inconvenience arising out of the ownership, maintenance, operation or use of that vehicle even if the injury does NOT consists in whole or in part of:

(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.]

The following vehicles do not constitute a “motor vehicle” with respect to which security has been provided as required by ss. 627.730-627.7405:

  • Motorcycle
  • Moped
  • 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 to show that you have one the injuries listed in Florida Statute 627.737(2) – in order to recover money for pain and suffering 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.

For example, if a taxi ran a red light and struck you, a jury could give you money for pain and suffering even if your entire medical treatment consists of one hospital visit.

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 have to prove that you have damages that justify getting money for pain and suffering.

Now that you know when you can recover damages for pain and suffering in a Florida vehicular accident case, you may want to know how much your pain and suffering is worth.

Were you injured in an accident? 

I have settled many personal injury cases in Florida, including car accidentsslip and falls, and cruise ships accidentsI want to represent you if you were injured in an accident in Florida, on a cruise ship or boat. Call me now at (888) 594-3577 to Get a Free Consultation.

There are No Fees or Costs Unless We Recover Money. Call us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. We speak Spanish. We invite you to learn more about us.

I will not become your attorney by you leaving a comment. There is a time limit to file a lawsuit. All comments are posted anonymously but will be public.   I only can represent you if your injury happened in Florida or on a cruise ship; or if the injured person lives in Florida or a family member (in the case of a death) lives in Florida. This is because I am only licensed in Florida.

Comments

  1. Person who is from Georgia says:

    I was rearend in Florida i am from Georgia while there on vacation my wreck happened in 2011 case is still open i was out of work 6 months and even was on short term disability i am seeking a good attorney from flordia

    • Justin Ziegler, Miami Injury Lawyer says:

      Hi Person who is from Georgia,

      I am sorry to hear that you were rear ended. Thank you for your comment. I have sent you a private email so that we can discuss any claim privately.

      TIME LIMITS ON FILING A LAWSUIT (STATUTES OF LIMITATIONS). There is a time limit to file any lawsuit. These time limits under the law are called statutes of limitations. These time limits are different for different types of claims, and how they are applied may depend on a number of factors. Also, more than one of these time limits may apply to your claim. If you do not file a complaint on your claim or potential claim within a certain period of time, you will be forever barred or prohibited from filing any complaint ever. You would then be unable ever to make a claim for your injuries or damages.

  2. Person Hit by Car While on Motorcycle says:

    I hired a lawyer that was recommended to me by one of his previous clients. I was told he did a great job, but I am disappointed with his work so far. In October, I was hit by a car while riding my motorcycle. The accident was the other driver’s fault, and she is on her grandparent’s $100,000 insurance policy. i immediately hired a lawyer. I have waited patiently, and an initial offer finally came in for only $7,000. That doesn’t even cover my medical bills! My lawyer says he would like to come up with a counter offer. I am trying to be patient, but I feel I must guard myself. I suffered injuries to my back (a herniated disc that will never completely heal) and an injury in my foot resulting in (possibly permanent) nerve damage. Also, I have suffered 17 weeks of lost wages and my motorcycle was totaled. I have received $1,800 so far for the supposed value of my bike, and I used that to replace the bike as it was indeed my only form of transportation. I expected to hear a settlement number in the range of $50,000-$60,000. If my lawyer and I disagree about the amount of justifiable compensation, is it advisable to switch legal representation 4 months after the accident?

    • Justin Ziegler, Injury Lawyer says:

      Dear Person Hit by Car While on Motorcycle,

      I am sorry that you were hit by a car and have back injuries and a foot injury. My answer assumes that you were injured in Florida, which is where I am licensed to practice. I am not your attorney.

      If you fire you attorney, then most likely he will be entitled to a lien (for the time that he spent working) on the case. I don’t know whether you should fire your attorney because I do not know his name and/or reputation. For all I know you have an amazing attorney.

      Did the other driver receive a ticket? If so, for what and how did the accident happen (e.g. hit an intersection making left hand turn, rear ended, etc.)? How much are the medical bills that you currently owe? When did you first begin getting medical treatment after the accident.

      When evaluating the settlement value of a herniated disc, it is important to consider arguments that the liability insurer may make in an attempt to deny the existence of a herniated disc or minimize the severity and/or cause of the herniated disc.

      Have you ever had neck pain and medical treatment on your neck before this incident? If so, how long before the incident?

      One thing that I like about cases where someone is injured while on a motorcycle and hit by someone else in Florida is that you do not need to prove that you have a permanent injury in order to have the possibility of getting money for pain and suffering.

      What type of foot injury to you have? Is it a tear or do you have any broken bones? Have you had an MRI?

      As you can see by my questions, a lot goes into determining whether an offer is reasonable. I need much more information to give an opinion. My initial client questionnaire is 12 or so pages long, because there are so many questions that I want to know to properly evaluate a claim.

      There is a time limit to file a lawsuit. Please feel free to ask me any more questions.

  3. Person who has had L4-L5 disectomy surgery says:

    Hi,

    I was backed into in a parking lot in deltona florida which bent the main frame of my veh in 2011. The case is still open I have had a L4 and L5 endoscopic disectomy surgery and currently I’m still in alot of pain the other party has 100/300 and I have uninsured 100/300. What’s the maximum I have on the table when it has to do with policy limits to sue? Also, in Florida does pain and suffering come from the policy limits? I have an attorney but it seems that he wants to mediate than take it to trial. But I know I have a life time injury and if the policy limits max by both policies is 200k then when they pay everything out basically whats left for me!!! Thats why I want to take it to trial thats why I want to know if the jury awards me for pain and suffering an example of 300k where does the rest of that money come from? Thank you for your time.

    • Justin Ziegler, Injury Lawyer says:

      Hi Roy,

      Thank you for asking a question! I am sorry that you have had to have surgery as a result of this accident. I am not your lawyer. There is a time limit to file a lawsuit.

      Your attorney is responsible for discovering all available insurance policies and should know the facts of your case much better than I do. Therefore, your attorney is the best person to ask this question to. There are so many exceptions and nuances when it comes to analyzing insurance coverage and my answer just covers some basics.

      Assuming that the other party had 100/300 of bodily injury (BI) liability coverage under his or her 1 and only policy, then generally speaking the most that their insurer under that BI coverage would have to pay you is 100k, absent bad faith. However, there may be other available insurance policies that may provide coverage. Again, you should speak with your lawyer.

      If the only underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage that you have on your auto insurance policy is 100/300, I would need to know whether it is stacking or non-stacking, as this can affect the total amount that may be owed from UM coverage. My answer assumes that your policy was a Florida auto insurance policy.

      In Florida, any amounts that a car insurance company pays you for pain and suffering generally “comes from” the limits of coverage under the bodily injury liability coverage or UM/UIM coverage in the auto policy.

      If a jury awards you an amount above the applicable insurance policy limits, then the insurance companies may have to pay above all available policy limits in certain situations, including but necessarily limited to, if you can show that they acted in bad faith.

      You should also see whether there is PIP coverage or Medical Payments coverage available. Since you have a lawyer, he or she should know the answers to your specific matter much better than me so you should ask him these questions and he should give you answers.

      You should note that there may be exceptions to what I have said. That is why it is so important to speak with your lawyer. I suggest you speak with him immediately. Good luck.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *