If you’ve been seriously injured in a car accident in a no-fault state, you may be able to operate outside the no-fault system and file a lawsuit against the negligent driver. Known as the “serious injury,” “limited tort” or “lawsuit threshold,” this system allows you to make a claim for compensation from the at-fault driver to cover your damages. Let’s look at this threshold in a little more detail and see how a car accident lawyer can help you fight for compensation.
No Fault States and the “Serious Injury” Threshold
There are currently only about a dozen states that maintain a no-fault policy when it comes to car accidents including Florida, Kentucky, Utah, Kansas, Hawaii, Michigan, New Jersey, Minnesota, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, North Dakota and Pennsylvania. When you get into a car accident in these states, you make your insurance claim against your own insurer, regardless of who was at fault for the accident.
However, if you sustained a “serious injury,” you may be entitled to step outside of the typical regulations for no fault policies and file an accident lawsuit or liability claim against the negligent party. In addition to receiving payment for your economic damages like medical bills and lost wages resulting from your injury, you’ll also be able to recover compensation for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering.
How the “Serious Injury” Threshold Works
Laws for serious injury thresholds and the definition of a “serious injury” vary by state. Let’s take a look at Florida’s no-fault policies to get a better understanding of how the threshold works. As a no-fault state, Florida requires all of its drivers to have personal injury protection coverage (PIP). Florida’s PIP coverage will pay up to $10,000 for the injuries you sustained in a car accident. But they stipulate that your insurer pays no more than 60% of your lost income and no more than 80% of your medical bills.
If your injuries require an amount greater than $10,000, or if your injuries meet the qualifications for a serious injury, you may be able to step outside of the no-fault laws and file a lawsuit against the negligent party for compensation. According to the statute Fla. Stat. Ann. section 627.737, serious injuries include:
- Permanent or significant disfigurement or scarring
- A medically probable permanent injury aside from disfigurement or scarring
- Permanent or significant loss of a major bodily function
As you can see, the definitions for a serious injury are still somewhat vague. If you’re considering whether or not your injuries qualify as serious injuries in your no-fault state, contact a car accident lawyer to help you understand your legal options.
Consult a Car Accident Lawyer
Lewis & Keller proudly represents accident victims in the Winston-Salem and Greensboro, N.C. regions. Whether you’ve been injured in a no-fault state like Florida or a fault state like North Carolina, consulting a car accident lawyer can greatly benefit your case. Contact us today for more information.