There will be many life changes after a serious car accident, especially when it results in catastrophic injuries or fatalities. While everyone else continues living their lives, you are left picking up the pieces of a disaster that you never expected to happen and were probably not prepared for. Whether it is your own personal injuries you are dealing with or those of a loved one, it is difficult to accept this new reality, especially if those injuries or grievances were due to the negligence of another driver.
There are a wide variety of injuries that can occur after a car accident and we will review what Florida classifies as a permanent injury in this article. We will also be covering injury-related changes to your mental health, personal situations, ability to work, and general lifestyle. Your quality of life is important and we would like to help guide you through the necessary steps to get you the compensation that you will need to continue living the best possible life that you can live after your accident.
Catastrophic Injuries Claims
Claims for any injury sustained in a car accident in Florida must follow Florida Motor Vehicle No-Fault Law and are covered under your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) policy. Some of the most common types of car accident injuries that are covered under PIP include:
- Minor fractures
- Soft tissue injuries
- Minor Whiplash
- Minor lacerations
- Medical treatments that have started within 14 days of the accident.
The types of treatment and medical care covered under PIP include:
- Medical services and medication
- Surgery and other hospital bills
- Diagnostic Services
Catastrophic injuries that happen after a car accident are considered “permanent injuries” and are set forth in Florida Motor Vehicle No-Fault Law. These are the types of life-altering injuries or fatalities that will require a much greater amount of money to cover all losses than what PIP can cover with $10,000 maximum benefits. When the injuries are severe and meet certain criteria, you can make a claim against the negligent driver or drivers for compensation.
In order to go after the negligent driver to recover compensation for economic and non-economic damages, the injuries must have resulted in one or more of the following:
- Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function
- Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, other than scarring or disfigurement
- Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement
If you can prove any of the above conditions, then you can bring a claim for damages against negligent parties. Proving that one or more of these conditions is applicable to you is often done through testimony given by a doctor who states that you have some degree of permanency with regard to your injuries. If you cannot prove any of these items, then your claims are limited to the 20% that is not paid by your PIP insurance coverage, medical expenses which exceed your PIP insurance policy limit, and future medical expenses that are reasonably certain to occur.
There are numerous types of injuries that can be defined as permanent injuries or catastrophic. Here are some of the most common injury types:
- Injury that impacts your life permanently
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Limb loss or amputation
- Chest injuries
- Loss of central body funcion
- Injuries that affect your daily routine
- Total or partial disability for 90+ days
The first step to recovering compensation after a catastrophic or fatal car accident is to notify the at-fault driver’s insurance company of your claim. Any other parties involved will also need to be notified, such as the at-fault driver’s employer, if the driver was working at the time of the accident. This will establish the requirement that evidence pertaining to the driver must be preserved. If you do not feel comfortable doing this on your own, then a lawyer can help.
You should expect the insurance company to contact anyone involved in the accident or witnessed the accident. You should refer the insurance company’s representative to your attorney if they have any questions, and refrain from making any statement or answering any questions without your attorney. You are not required to answer any questions just because they reached out to you. And while it may seem harmless, quicker, or simpler to answer their questions on your own, it could severely impact your ability to recover the compensation you are entitled to receive.
You should also begin to collect the necessary evidence needed to support your claim.
Necessary Evidence for Claims
- Police Reports
- Receipts for any damages
- Witnesses’ testimony
- Photographs taken after the accident
- Medical records and treatments
- Doctor’s statement
- Proof of any missed work or lost income
The evidence you collect should be brought to a lawyer. Before agreeing to a settlement that you do not properly understand, talk with an experienced personal injury attorney. Your attorney will not only handle your claim but also any disputes that may arise from it. They will guide you on whether any settlement offer by the insurance company is fair, or if pursuing legal action is appropriate for your specific case. For more complicated cases, your lawyer will be there to guide you through the litigation process.
Your life’s routine will change after a serious car accident with catastrophic injuries, and you may not have thought through thoroughly how this may affect you, your loved ones, or the impact it may have on your future income. In addition to the cost of medical care, a person suffering with serious injuries will also have new long-lasting consequential damages as a result of their disabilities. In Florida, those who meet the standards of serious injury due to car accident, can also be entitled to pain and suffering damages. These types of damages are called “non-economic” damages. Below are just a few examples.
- Sleep Loss
- Pain and Suffering
- Depression – a loss of enjoyment of life due to inability to engage in previous activities
- Grief for your injuries or for loss of loved ones
- Loss of job or ability to work
- Loss of Consortium – consequences that the accident has on the victim’s relationship with their partner or parent
Disability Benefits After a Serious Accident Injury
Your PIP policy provides coverage for disability. Disability benefits provide coverage to’ eligible persons’ who are unable to work due to injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident. Benefits pay:
- 60% of any loss wages and loss of earning capacity
- Reasonable expenses for hiring services to perform functions the injured person would have performed
Additionally, when a serious injury results in a permanent disability, the victim may be eligible to receive other benefits, such as Social Security Disability Insurance. If you are unable to return to any type of job or if your injury has prevented you from working for at least a year, you may be entitled to collect SSDI benefits. However, these benefits are often difficult to get. Seventy percent of all SSDI claims are denied on the first try. It is a good idea to find a talk with your attorney to help you apply.
Fatal Injuries After a Car Accident
What if you were not physically injured but were traumatized by the loss of someone close to you as a result of a fatal car accident in Florida? Fatal injuries that occured after a car accident will affect the whole family.
Types of Coverage Family Members May Receive After a Fatal Accident
PIP Insurance – Your PIP insurance includes death benefits in the amount of $5,000 per individual. The death benefit is in addition to the medical and disability benefits. The insurance company may pay death benefits to the executor or administrator of the deceased’s estate, to any of the deceased’s relatives by blood, legal adoption, or marriage, or to any person appearing to the insurer to be equitably entitled to such benefits.
Wrongful Death Claim – After a fatal car accident, a wrongful death claim can be brought against the negligent driver by the surviving family members or dependents, such as the deceased’s:
- Dependent blood relatives
- Dependent adoptive siblings
Family members can hold the at-fault party responsible for their actions and traumas caused to the victim’s family. A wrongful death attorney will review your case to decide if pursuing a wrongful death claim is appropriate.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney Today
After a catastrophic or fatal injury accident, it is normal to feel overwhelmed. Going through the trauma and pain of a serious injury after an accident is stressful enough, but sorting out your life after the accident is a whole other story. Without prior experience, it is difficult to understand what may happen in your specific case and what you should do.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of a car accident which resulted in catastrophic or fatal injuries, you should take the appropriate steps to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. Contact a trusted, respectable personal injury attorney today.
When considering whether you should hire an attorney, know that we:
- have the resources to collect evidence that is necessary to win the case.
- will minimize your stress and worry about legal matters, giving you the time and ability to focus on taking care of your family and mourning the loss of your loved one.
- will answer your questions about the civil judicial process and procedural requirements.
- will maximize the amount of the recovery.
We never charge a fee unless we win. Contact us today so that we may answer your questions and help you begin to recover.