Filing a Personal Injury Claim with a Spinal Cord Injury

by Deanna Power

About half a million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year, often due to car accidents. If you have sustained a spinal cord injury due to a traffic accident, you may be entitled to compensation through an auto insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit.

Personal Injury Claims and Recoverable Damages

Your claim or lawsuit may cover everything from medical costs and property damage expenses to things like pain and suffering, loss of life enjoyment, and loss of future earnings ability. If your injuries are severe and require you to use a mobility assistance device, then a claim may additionally cover costs associated with home modification, among other expenses.

Fault Determinations and Car Accident Claims

With personal injury lawsuits, the determination of fault or negligence is essential. With a car insurance claim however, eligibility for a claim depends on the state in which you live. Some states have a “no-fault” insurance standard, which means that it will not matter who was fault in your accident.

You will file a claim with your own insurance company rather than with the insurance provider of the other driver, and you will automatically be insured to a certain dollar value for your medical bills, depending on which state you live in. Florida is a no-fault state and requires that drivers be insured for at least $10,000 in medical bills, plus an additional $10,000 in property damage.

In no fault states, there is typically a cap on insurance claims and you can only file a lawsuit under particular circumstances. These include:

  • When resulting injuries are catastrophic in nature

AND

  • When damages exceed a particular dollar figure

The only way that someone can step outside of Florida’s no-fault system is if he/she suffers from a “permanent injury,” is scarred or disfigured permanently, or permanently looses a body function or use of limbs from the crash.

A spinal cord injury could meet these thresholds if it leaves your permanently disabled, such as paralyzed. The terminology used in Florida’s no-fault auto insurance law is vague, so it could be possible to qualify due to numerous spinal cord injuries. In cases like these, even while filing in Florida, you can often take your claim to court if necessary.

Filing Your Personal Injury Claim

In a no-fault state like Florida, a demand letter for damages is the first step in a personal injury claim. The letter is submitted to the claims adjuster for the insurance company responsible for paying damages. The letter should outline details of:

  • the accident and your injuries,
  • the costs and financial losses associated with your injuries,
  • and your specific demands for compensation.

This letter may be sufficient for receiving an insurance settlement offer, or you may need an attorney to negotiate your claim and a fair settlement. If you cannot reach a settlement with the insurance adjuster and you meet Florida’s serious injury threshold, you can file a personal injury claim.

Personal injury suits are typically filed and heard in the county in which the traffic accident occurred. The county courthouse is the appropriate location for filing a petition, but if you have an attorney on your side, he or she will handle all of the administrative details in addition to representing you in court.

 

*This article was not written by an attorney, and the accuracy of the content is not warranted or guaranteed. If you wish to receive legal advice about a specific problem, you should contact a licensed attorney in your area.

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