Last Updated: September 22nd, 2022 at 3:15 pm
Read Time: 7 Minutes
After a car accident or slip and fall, the last thing a victim cares about is the legal definition of a serious bodily injury. To the victim, any ailment that puts them in the emergency room or takes them out of work is serious enough. Unfortunately, Florida law doesn’t quite view things the same way. The physical repercussions of a personal injury accident are classified as either a bodily injury or serious bodily injury.
Generally speaking, the ramifications of a serious bodily injury are much more extreme than those of a standard bodily injury. These more severe injuries tend to incur larger medical bills and more time away from work, generating more damages for the injury victim. If you or a loved one have recently been seriously injured in an accident, keep reading to learn more about the legal definition of serious bodily injury, and how an experienced attorney can help in the aftermath.
Legal Definition of Serious Bodily Injury
According to Florida Statute 316.027, the legal definition of serious bodily injury is one which “consists of a physical condition that creates a substantial risk of death, serious personal disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member or organ.” In other words, this kind of injury is more severe than a minor or superficial injury.
The serious injuries definition refers to wounds that will:
- Take an extended period of time to heal
- May never fully heal
To better understand the legal definition of serious bodily injury, take a look at some of the common examples in Florida.
Common Examples of Serious Bodily Injury
In the state of Florida, a serious injury is defined as a wound or condition that is long-lasting or will incur long-lasting effects. Examples of serious bodily harm in the Sunshine State include:
- Severe burns
- Spinal injuries
- Deep lacerations
- Permanent scarring
- Serious disfigurement
- Loss of a limb, via amputation or severance at the scene
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Head and neck injuries
- Severely broken bones
- Loss of vision
- Loss of hearing
Serious bodily injuries are typically inflicted during traumatic accidents, such as motorcycle collisions or trucking accidents, when the force of impact can be catastrophic. However, a severe injury like a TBI can also be inflicted during more common accidents, such as a slip and fall on concrete.
Serious Injury Definition vs. Bodily Injury Definition
When discussing the legal definition of serious bodily injury, one of the most common questions is how the serious injury definition differs from the standard bodily injury definition. Though the two concepts sound similar, they are quite different.
Bodily injury refers to the physical damage or pain inflicted on a victim’s body. It is also commonly referred to as physical injury. Any degree of pain or injury may qualify as a bodily injury, including something as minor as a bruise.
Other common example of less severe bodily injuries include:
- First degree burns
- Soreness or sensitivity
- Swollen muscles or tissue
- Superficial cuts, abrasions, and lacerations
Serious bodily injury refers to intense physical damage or extreme pain inflicted on a victim’s body. Also referred to as severe injuries, only high degrees of pain or injury may qualify as a serious bodily injury, such as a third degree burn rather than a scrape. For this reason, these conditions are not taken lightly in a court of law.
Potential Compensation for a Serious Bodily Injury
Unlike a minor bodily injury, like a scrape or bruise, serious bodily injuries often require frequent medical attention. These types of injuries typically require longer and more extensive treatment, incurring steep medical bills. Likewise, under the serious injuries definition, a serious bodily injury may not ever fully heal. So, the medical bills that began to roll in after the accident may become recurring for the rest of a victim’s life.
In the field of personal injury, medical bills and other fees incurred after an accident are referred to as damages. The types of personal injury damages found in a serious bodily injury case include:
- Medical Expenses — Costs of medical image testing, hospital stays, ambulance fees, doctor visits, surgery, therapy, prescription medication, and more.
- Pain and Suffering — Estimated costs of physical and mental anguish as well as emotional distress.
- Lost Wages — Amount of lost income resulting from the injury, including hourly wages, sick and vacation days, overtime, tips, and more.
- Out-of-Pocket Expenses — Gasoline and parking fees incurred while traveling to medical appointments, medical aids such as slings or bandages, over-the-counter medications, and more.
- Costs of Replacement Services — Expenses for house cleaning, child care, or other responsibilities that can no longer be completed due to the individual’s injury.
If your serious injuries were the result of an auto accident in your vehicle sustained damage, the cost of repairs or to acquire a new vehicle can also be included within your personal injury case.
Will Insurance Cover a Serious Bodily Injury?
One of the most common questions a personal injury lawyer in Florida receives is whether or not insurance can cover their serious bodily injury. While the honest answer is that it depends on both you and the at-fault individual’s auto insurance policies, the more realistic answer is probably not. The state of Florida requires auto insurance minimums that are considerably low compared to other states.
Unless a vehicle is registered as a taxi, Florida law requests drivers to have just $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and $10,000 in Property Damage Liability (PDL). After an accident, PIP covers 80% of all necessary and reasonable medical expenses up to $10,000, no matter who caused the crash. PDL coverage pays for damage to another person’s property caused by the insured party.
These minimum costs means that an auto insurance policy likely will not be able to cover the costs of a serious bodily injury adequately enough — meaning you will need to cover the remainder of the damages yourself. After your auto insurance runs dry, you may turn to your primary health insurance. However, the frequent medical attention required of serious bodily injuries means pricey co-pays or therapies can add up quickly.
So, yes, there’s a chance insurance can cover some of the damages incurred from serious bodily injury. But the chances that insurance can cover all of the damages is quite slim, unless the at-fault individual has a substantial insurance policy to tap into, like a corporate trucking company for example. More commonly, you will need the assistance of a trusted personal injury attorney to recoup damages.
How a Lawyer Can Help With Your Injury Case
After suffering a serious bodily injury, the last thing anyone wants to do is worry about where they’ll find the money to pay back medical bills or make up for wages lost at work. Yet, if you were recently involved in a traumatic accident, you might have found yourself in that exact spot. Fortunately, a personal injury lawyer in Florida can help.
Following a personal injury accident, such as a car crash, motorcycle collision, or slip and fall accident, a personal injury lawyer can work with you to keep track of all of your damages, like medical bills or lost wages. Then, they can work with you to put a price on your pain and suffering and out-of-pocket expenses. The best part is that the attorney doesn’t need to be part of these out-of-pocket expenses — they don’t get paid until you receive your compensation.
A personal injury attorney will work tirelessly to gather all evidence necessary for your case, including:
- Testimony of what occurred
- Photo evidence of your injuries
- Photo and/or video evidence of the scene of the accident
- Eye- or expert witnesses to argue your case
- Records of all medical examinations and formal diagnoses
- Receipts of all medical bills, related expenses, and proof of lost wages
A lawyer will speak on your behalf in a court of law to argue for the best possible chances of compensation.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer in Florida Today
If you or a loved one have recently been involved in an accident and suffered a serious bodily injury as a result, do not wait to receive legal representation. It is your right to have a qualified attorney represent you in a court of law and build the best possible case for compensation. At Weinstein Legal, our team works around the clock to prove your serious injury case.
Don’t wait. Contact Weinstein Legal today to get started with a free case evaluation.