Legal Guide

What Is Considered a Serious Injury in an Accident?

If you're hurt in a car accident and the incident occurred in a no-fault state, there's a chance you can go above the no-fault system to file a lawsuit. The lawsuit allows you to sue for damages that you wouldn't be able to claim otherwise. Here is some helpful information that will help you determine the outcome of your case if you sustained a serious injury.

What Is a No-Fault State?

If you're the passenger or driver in an automobile accident in one of about 12 states that adhere to the no-fault automobile insurance system, you should be able to rely on your insurance coverage to pay for your medical bills. Your insurance should also provide reimbursement if you lost income while healing from your injuries.

Do you live in a no-fault state? No-fault laws are in effect in the following states:

  • Florida
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Hawaii
  • Michigan
  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • New York
  • New Jersey
  • North Dakota
  • Utah
  • Pennsylvania
  • District of Columbia

If your accident resulted in what are classified as "serious injuries," you can file a liability lawsuit or claim against the driver who was at fault. It's important to know which injuries are considered critical and could fall into the serious injury threshold, which is also known as the limited tort threshold. This allows you to go after compensation from the driver at fault beyond the compensation awarded in a no-fault claim.

More About the Limited Tort Threshold

If you have a serious injury because of the car accident, you'll probably be able to go beyond the no-fault system to file a car accident lawsuit or liability claim. If you're filing a no-fault claim, you may also get compensation for pain and suffering.

Every no-fault state has a different definition of a serious injury. The definitions indicate which type of lawsuit you can file against the driver who was at fault in the accident. For example, here are the no-fault regulations for drivers in the state of Florida.

In Florida, the plaintiff can recover damages for mental anguish, inconvenience due to injury, pain and suffering, disease as a result of operating said automobile, and sickness. This includes: permanent loss of an essential physical function, scarring, disfigurement, permanent injury, or death.

What to Do If Your Injuries Don't Qualify

If you can only file a no-fault claim, there are certain drawbacks you should be aware of. You can not collect for pain and suffering, and the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle likely won't be covered. In these cases, you can file a third-party insurance claim with the insurance carrier of the at-fault driver using the driver's liability coverage. You can also file your claim through the collision coverage of your insurance company if you were at fault for the accident.

There's also a chance that your injuries won't be covered if they happened while you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs or you were driving distracted. If you were driving a stolen car, racing, or committing any other crime while driving, you'll have to pay for your own medical care.

It's easy to get confused and frustrated when you're trying to determine if you suffered a serious injury from a car accident. If you feel that your case meets the terms of a "serious injury" according to the no-fault rules in your state, you'll probably get pushback from the attorney and insurance company representing the at-fault driver. That's why it's important that you have a lawyer on your side as well so you have a fair chance at winning your case.

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