When you’ve been involved in a car accident, you will usually file a claim against the insurance policy of the driver who was at fault in your wreck. However, a handful of states, including New York and Florida, operate using no-fault rules. In no-fault states, you are only allowed to file a claim against your own insurance policy, regardless of who was actually responsible for your accident.
The one exception to the no-fault rule is if the damage you’ve suffered as a result of your wreck passes the ‘serious injury’ threshold. If you’ve never heard of the serious injury threshold, it’s important that you learn more about this legal concept. Learn about how the serious injury threshold affects your ability to file an injury lawsuit and why you should get help from a car accident lawyer.
The Basics of the “Serious Injury” Threshold
The serious threshold is a legal concept that allows you to step outside of the typical compensation rules established in no-fault states. If your injuries are determined to qualify under this threshold, you’ll be able to pursue additional compensation to what you would usually receive under no-fault rules. For example, if you are allowed to pursue a claim outside the no-fault system, you may be able to receive damages for pain and suffering.
However, proving serious injury can be difficult, and the rules for breaking this threshold can be different depending on which state your accident took place in.
The easiest way to get an idea of how the serious injury threshold works is by examining the rules in two of the states that use this system, Florida and New York.
Florida drivers are required to carry a minimum $10,000 worth of personal injury protection coverage (PIP). When you’ve been in a car accident, your PIP coverage will be used to pay for your damages. However, Florida limits the amount one person can receive up to $10,000. If your damages exceed this amount, you’ll need to step outside the no-fault system by proving serious injury.
To break the threshold in Florida, your injury needs to have either resulted in permanent loss of a bodily function, a permanent injury other than scarring or disfigurement, major scarring/disfigurement or death.
New York uses similar no-fault rules to Florida but has an increased maximum compensation level of $50,000. The serious injury threshold has many of the same qualifications as Florida but includes other results like loss of a fetus, loss of use of an organ or member, and injuries that prevent you from living your normal life for more than ninety days during the 180 days following your wreck.
If you don’t meet the requirements for serious injury, you won’t be able to receive compensation for pain and suffering and the amount you can receive for your injuries and property will be limited.
The obstacle in proving your injury exceeds the serious injury is threshold is that many states use vague language to describe these injuries. Because of this, insurance companies and attorneys for the other drive will often contend that your injury doesn’t qualify and that your injuries should be compensated using standard no-fault rules.
If you believe your injuries are serious enough to allow you to step outside of the no-fault system, you should consider hiring a car accident lawyer to review your case and help with your claim. A car accident lawyer familiar with no-fault rules will be better able to prove the extent of your injuries than you would yourself and can improve your likelihood of a successful claim.
Consult a Car Accident Lawyer
If you’re looking for more information about no-fault rules, or are looking for legal advice after you’ve been involved in a serious wreck, you need to consult with a car accident lawyer from Harris & Graves, Personal Injury Attorneys.
At Harris and Graves, we understand the complications of car accident cases, including no-fault rules, and we are ready to assist with your claim. Learn more about our services today.