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Did you know that if you are in a motor vehicle accident and seriously injured that damages for pain and suffering are not automatic? You, the injured party, carry the burden of proof in establishing the right to ask a jury to award you pain, suffering and mental anguish along with bodily injuries. See Fla. Stat. 627.737(2). This evidentiary burden can be accomplished in a variety of ways. The first, and probably the most common way, is to have your treating physician provide his or her opinion that you have sustained a permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability. This opinion is usually expressed in a percentage directed to a specific body part and then related to your body as a whole. Any doctor or physician who treats personal injury patients is familiar with this requirement known as the “tort threshold”. The second way is to have experienced a significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function. By way of example, a loss of a finger, arm or kidney as a result of a motor vehicle accident would certainly establish a pain and suffering claim. Lastly, significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement is another way to meet this burden of proof. Women are oftentimes more likely to be impacted by permanent scarring and disfigurement than men. However, that’s not to suggest that men can’t be affected by this category of injury. By way of example, a 4 inch scar from broken glass across one’s cheek would clearly establish permanent scarring or disfigurement for an award of pain and suffering to a man or a woman. However, such damage would likely be perceived by a jury as more devastating to a woman than a man. Our experience has shown that the claims of the fairer sex would likely have a greater monetary value than a man’s. Remember, pain and suffering is not automatic. It’s up to your attorney to insure your claim for personal injury qualifies for such consideration by a jury. That’s the law in Florida.

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