When you are in an accident, costly medical bills and missed work during recovery can put a strain on your finances. Florida is a no-fault auto insurance state, which requires every driver to carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage to reimburse them for outlays like medical expenses and other out-of-pocket costs. But if you suffer a serious injury that exceeds PIP limits, you may be able to sue another driver for damages that can include pain and suffering.
Under Florida law, serious injuries are defined to include:
- Significant disfigurement
- Broken bones
- Permanent limitations on use of body parts or organs
- Significant limitations on bodily functions or systems
- Full disability for 90 days or more
You can bring a lawsuit for your economic damages resulting from such injuries. You can also sue for pain and suffering, which are considered noneconomic damages because they are based on other factors besides financial costs. They cover not only persistent physical pain but also mental anguish and loss of quality of life.
In Florida, there is no exact standard for calculating pain and suffering damages but two methods are commonly used. One is the multiplier method and the other is the per diem method. Using either one involves looking at such factors as:
- The economic cost of the injury over the claimant’s lifetime
- The age of the claimant
- The health of the claimant
- The severity of the injury
The multiplier method takes the economic damages awarded and multiplies them by a factor of 1 to 5 depending on the severity of the injury. For example, if the economic damages add up to $50,000 and the injury is very severe, the damages would be $250,000 ($50,000 x 5).
The per diem method assigns a dollar amount of damages for each day of recovery until a plaintiff reaches maximum medical improvement. For example, if a plaintiff earns $200 per day and is expected to be out of work for one year, the award of damages would be $73,000 ($200 x 365).
Either method can be used by the plaintiff’s counsel, depending on which one will yield the most favorable award. Medical records and expert opinions may also be introduced to support claims of physical pain and mental anguish. The decision on what amount should be awarded is ultimately reserved for the court. A skilled personal injury attorney can evaluate your case and determine the best way to substantiate your pain and suffering damages. Unlike other states, there is no cap on such damages in Florida.
If you have been seriously injured in an accident, the experienced attorneys at Largey Law Firm are here to help. We have been fighting for the rights of personal injury clients for 27 years. To schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced lawyer, contact us online. We have offices in Tavares, Clermont and Inverness.