Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Sep 9, 2019

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Damages are generally defined as the amount of money that is provided to compensate someone who has been harmed by another’s wrongdoing or negligence. In the context of auto accidents in a no-fault insurance state like Florida, there is a no fault component to damages. Each driver generally seeks compensation from his or her own insurer in the event of a car accident, unless there are serious personal injuries involved.

There are two broad categories of damages available: Economic and Non-Economic. Damages for pain and suffering fall into the non-economic category. Following is a break-down of the types of harm covered under economic and non-economic damages:

In auto accident cases, economic damages may include:

Medical expenses – past and future
Past lost income
Future lost income, reduced to present value
Lost support and services
Loss of appraised fair market value of real property
Cost of construction repairs, including labor, overhead and profit
Replacement value of lost personal property
Any other economic loss that would not have occurred but for the injury

Non-economic damages may include (Click on link and scroll down to Section 627.737):

Pain and suffering
Mental anguish
Inconvenience

Florida operates under a no-fault system. If you are a Florida driver, you are required to purchase insurance (called personal injury protection, or PIP) that will cover your own injuries if you are involved in a car accident. Your insurer covers your personal injury damages, up to your policy limits, and the other driver’s insurer covers his/her personal injury damages (up to his/her policy limits), regardless of who was at fault.

So if you are involved in an accident and sustain both property damage and personal injuries, your standard Florida no-fault policy will cover most of your medical expenses (again, up to your policy limit), some of your lost wages, possibly prescriptions and travel expenses, and possibly household help if recommended by your doctor. Check your policy. If you have a deductible, you must pay your full deductible before your coverage kicks in. If the other driver was at fault, his/her insurance will cover the property damage.

In exchange for this guaranteed payment of claims, Florida drivers give up their right to sue for all but the most serious personal injuries sustained in a car accident. If your accident results in death or some form of permanent injury, such as scarring or permanent physical impairment (paralysis, severed ligaments, etc.), Florida’s no-fault law would allow you or your personal representative to sue the at-fault party to recover damages above and beyond your PIP coverage. These damages could include pain and suffering (past and future), lost wages, lost wage-earning capacity, future medical expenses, and loss of consortium (if you were married at the time of the accident). In such a lawsuit, the jury would determine, using their best judgment, how much to award in damages. To see how juries go about this task, see How Do Insurance Companies and Juries Assign Values to Pain and Suffering?

Resources:

Document Your Pain and Suffering Claim (Checklist) : A checklist that helps you document your economic and non-economic damages. An essential tool to help you prove and record your pain and suffering claim.

Florida Motor Vehicle No-Fault Law: Text for the current Florida no-fault law. Link to the code and then scroll down to Section 627.730 and the sections that follow.

Florida Office of Insurance Regulation: Florida’s official insurance regulation site offers news, alerts, FAQs, and ways to ask for help from the office. Check out the Consumer section.

Free Advice Auto Insurance Center:. Articles, FAQs, free quotes and research links

Back to Florida Car Accident Resources and Statutes.