Car Accidents

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If you find yourself the victim of a personal injury car accident at some point in your life chances are that the accident will cause more than physical injuries. For most victims, a personal injury accident also causes emotional trauma as well as financial hardship. In Florida, all victims are entitled to compensation for direct, out of pocket expenses; however, compensation for pain and suffering is only available to victims who have suffered a “serious” injury.

Compensation in car accident cases is broadly divided into two categories – economic and non-economic damages. In rare circumstances, a third category—punitive damages--also applies. Economic damages are things that can be easily quantified such as a medical bill, an ambulance bill, or lost wages. Because Florida is a no fault insurance state, economic damages (up to a point) will be covered by the victim’s own personal injury protection, or PIP, insurance. Your PIP coverage will pay for these expenses regardless of who was at fault in the collision.

For a victim to be entitled to non-economic damages, the victim must have suffered a “serious” injury. Though not a complete list, examples of serious injuries include:

  • Paralysis

  • Spinal injuries

  • Traumatic brain injury

  • Scarring or disfigurement

  • Loss of a limb

Non-economic damages are what people commonly refer to as “pain and suffering”. This compensation is much more difficult to quantify because it encompasses the emotional trauma suffered by the victim as a result of the physical injuries. Along with compensation for the pain a victim suffers, non-economic damages may also include compensation for things such as fright, embarrassment, nervousness, worry, grief, mental anguish, and loss of consortium.

The value of the non-economic portion of a personal injury case depends on many factors; such as the extent of the injuries suffered by the victim, the age and general health of the victim prior to the accident, and the length of time the victim has suffered, or is expected to suffer, as a result of the injuries. Contrary to popular belief, there is no “magic formula” used to arrive at the non-economic portion of a damages award or verdict.

Punitive damages are only awarded in cases where the at-fault party’s actions were extremely egregious or intentionally malicious.

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