After a Florida car accident, there can be substantial medical bills, lost wages and the general hassles and inconvenience of being involved in a crash. However, if there is no permanent injury, there can be no award for pain and suffering damages.
Florida’s Law on Pain and Suffering Damages/Permanent Injuries
Florida’s law on the need for a permanent injury for pain and suffering damages can be found at Florida Statutes 627.727(2) which states:
(2) In any action of tort brought against the owner, registrant, operator, or occupant of a motor vehicle with respect to which security has been provided as required by ss. 627.730-627.7405, or against any person or organization legally responsible for her or his acts or omissions, a plaintiff may recover damages in tort for pain, suffering, mental anguish, and inconvenience because of bodily injury, sickness, or disease arising out of the ownership, maintenance, operation, or use of such motor vehicle only in the event that the injury or disease 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.
I know, that can even be confusing for personal injury attorneys. In essence, the law states that if there is no evidence of one of these categories, there cannot be an award for pain and suffering.
What is the definition of a permanent injury?
Florida law does not provide a true definition of a permanent injury. Instead, Florida law leaves it up to the physicians and the doctors to define what a permanent injury is. They are required to have their opinion based on a reasonable degree of medical certainty. Because the existence of a permanent injury is based on medical opinion, sometimes there will be conflicting testimony between the doctor who has treated the patient for months or years and the doctor who the insurance company sends them to and sees them for 15 minutes.
Florida case law is pretty clear on what to do if there is a conflict in the opinions regarding a permanent injury. In Kwader v. Pandolfo, 711 So. 2d 1382, 1383 (Fla. 5th DCA 1998), the appellate court held that the trial court erred in directing a verdict on permanency in favor of the defendant where there was conflicting evidence on that issue. In situations where there is a conflicting opinion about the existence of a permanent injury, the jury is to decide.
Many automobile accidents don’t result in damages for pain and suffering because there is no permanent injury. After a car accident, it is important to see a doctor that you trust and who will spend sufficient time with you to appreciate the magnitude of your injuries – whether they be temporary or permanent.
Personal Injury Attorney Matthew Noyes represents those injured in car accidents, motorcycle crashes, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents and other types of personal injury matters. He is a named partner at the Tampa Bay law firm of Perenich Caulfield Avril Noyes – one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Pinellas County. Call Attorney Matthew Noyes now at 727-796-8282 or complete the form on this page or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.