When you get into an accident, the injuries lingering for some can go beyond physical injuries. In some states, that does not matter – but in Florida it does.
Florida has something called the Florida Impact Rule. This rule can seem a bit complex, but what it does is create a road for someone who has been emotionally traumatized by an accident to seek compensation. That’s why, if you were in an accident but didn’t suffer physical injuries, there may still be a path for you to receive compensation under this rule.
Here is what you need to know about the Florida Impact Rule, including what it allows, what it doesn’t allow, and what you need to do to pursue a case under it.
What Is the Florida Impact Rule?
Florida’s Impact Rule is a law that allows someone in a personal injury lawsuit to recover damages for emotional injuries, even if there was no physical impact or touching of any kind during the incident in question.
Now, this isn’t a free-for-all that allows just anyone to bring a personal injury claim. There are limits to it. The biggest exception is that, in some situations, you must have suffered some sort of physical harm from the emotional trauma sustained to qualify for damages under the law.
A good example is this: A pedestrian is struck and killed by a driver. The mother of the person killed witnessed the entire event and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the emotional trauma she experienced at the time of the accident. The mother could file a claim under the Florida Impact Rule in this situation.
There are other exceptions to the Florida Impact Rule, so your best bet, if you think you may qualify for it, is to meet with an experienced attorney. They can look at your case to see if it meets the requirements to pursue damages.
Why Does Florida Have This Rule?
When someone is in an accident and sustains a physical injury, this is damage that can be seen. There have been systems set up to help calculate compensation for physical injuries, like looking at the cost of medical treatment or hospital stays.
On the other hand, emotional injuries are a completely different type of injury that deserves a different type of calculation.
Florida is one of only a handful of states that have held onto their impact rule. This is mostly because the court views the rule’s absence as a risk that allows someone to be granted compensation based on an arbitrary number or standard. The impact rule allows the court to have a system in place to calculate emotional distress and make sure there is some sort of order to the process.
How to Pursue an Emotional Distress Claim Under Florida’s Impact Rule
In Florida, many people successfully recover damages for emotional distress, but the impact rule does add a layer of complexity to the situation. That’s why having an experienced attorney on your side is paramount to success.
When you meet with your attorney, they can demand the insurance company of the at-fault party negotiate a settlement. If denied, they can file a civil suit to help you get the compensation you need for emotional distress.
Just because you cannot see an injury doesn’t mean it isn’t there. That’s what Florida’s Impact Rule is all about.
About the Author:
Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of Winston Law. For over 20 years, he has successfully represented countless people in all kinds of personal injury cases, with a particular focus on child injury, legal malpractice, and premises liability. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, and named one of America’s Top 100 High-Stakes Litigators. Mr. Winston is AV Preeminent Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, enjoys a 10.0 rating by AVVO as a Top Personal Injury Attorney, has been selected as a Florida “SuperLawyer” from 2011-2021 – an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state – was voted to Florida Trend’s ”Legal Elite,” recognized by Expertise as one of the 20 Best Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys, named one of the Top 100 Lawyers in the Miami area for 2015-2021, and one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Florida for 2015-2017 and 2019-2021.