What is a Permanent Injury, and What is the Tort Threshold in Florida?

Hi, I’m Nick Ortiz. I'm a personal injury attorney in Pensacola, Florida. Today, I'm going to answer the question, what is a permanent injury, and how does it relate to the tort threshold in Florida auto accident cases. So, the first thing I'm going to do is, I'm going to read to you how Florida law defines the term permanent injury. Under Florida's no-fault law, which is §627.737, subsection two, a permanent injury is: 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; or d) death.

Let me give you an example of a permanent injury. SIf you were in an accident, and a piece of glass or metal cuts into your arm, and that arm wound ultimately heals, and you have a major scar, then that would qualify as a permanent injury. Another example, let's say that you were hit from behind, and you suffer a whiplash injury, and ultimately that whiplash caused a disk to herniate in your neck, and you had to have a major surgery, like a fusion. There's hardware put into your neck. Then, obviously, that's something that you're going to have to live with permanently, and that's considered a permanent injury. On the other side, what is not a permanent injury? You may not have had a permanent injury if you had only soft tissue injuries, for example, and you ultimately healed 100% from those soft tissue injuries, and you have no more ongoing pain. Then, you do not have a permanent injury.

Why is this important? It's really important because if you do not have a permanent injury, then you cannot bring a claim against the at-fault driver for pain and suffering. All of this is important, because if you have suffered a permanent injury, then you are deemed to have satisfied what is called the tort threshold under Florida law. Again, having that injury, that permanent injury means that you have passed the minimum threshold requirement under Florida no-fault law to qualify for non-economic damages. What are non-economic damages? Those are things like pain and suffering and mental anguish. If you have suffered a permanent injury and therefore satisfied that tort threshold, then under Florida law, you're allowed to recover damages for pain, suffering, mental anguish, and inconvenience because of bodily injury, sickness, or disease. This allows you to collect more than just your medical bills. It allows you to be compensated for having gone through all the pain and suffering from the accident. Again, even if you've not suffered a permanent injury, then the most you could collect is your outstanding medical bills that were not paid for out of your Personal Injury Protection under your own insurance, just medical bills that are outstanding.

If you'd like to learn more about your legal rights after an accident then I encourage you to download a free resource guide that I wrote called The Top 10 Mistakes That Will Destroy Your Florida Car Accident Claim. You can download a copy today at www.freecarcrashbook.com. But if you'd like to talk to someone immediately then I encourage you to give our office a call at 850-308-7833. We look forward to hearing from you.