In auto accident cases, and most other personal injury cases, the person who is injured will seek compensation for his or her injuries by filing a lawsuit. Typically, the compensation is for medical treatment that was required as a result of the accident, as well as compensation for the estimated costs of any possible future medical care. In auto accident cases in particular, compensation is also based on the rules of liability that are followed in your state. In some states, the person who was injured is required to “meet the threshold,” before they can receive compensation. But, many clients ask what is meant by “meeting the threshold?”
What does the term mean?
In states that have “no fault” laws that govern auto accident cases, the person who is injured cannot make a claim for damages against the person who was responsible, unless they meet the “threshold.” In other words, unless your injuries are serious enough, such as broken bones, disfigurement, or permanent injuries, you cannot seek a claim for damages.
States with specific dollar thresholds
The threshold amount varies from one state to the next. In some cases it is described by the required seriousness of the injury, or by a specific dollar amount. In Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Utah, an injured individual’s medical expenses must exceed a dollar threshold amount before they will be allowed to take their injury liability claim to court.
States with serious injury thresholds
In other states, including Florida, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania, an injured person can file a claim if they are seriously injured. What is considered a serious injury is defined by the laws in each state, and usually are expressed either by criteria (permanent disfigurement, scarring, or fractured bones) or expressed in terms of length of disability.
Arkansas and Missouri do not apply the “meeting the threshold” doctrine
Both Arkansas and Missouri are “at fault” states. This means that the driver who is responsible for the accident is the person who will be held financially responsible for the injuries and property damage the accident caused. All drivers in “at fault” states are required to carry auto insurance. At fault states, such as Missouri and Arkansas, do not have a serious injury threshold.
What do damages for personal injury claims consist of?
Economic damages, resulting from a personal injury, generally include reimbursement for medical expenses related to the treatment of your physical injuries. This also includes future expenses for medical services such as doctors, emergency room treatment, and ambulance fees.
Another type of economic loss relates to loss of income. Lost wages represent the money you would have earned if you had not missed work due to your injuries and the treatment you received. It is also possible to recover for any lost earning capacity. If your ability to earn money in the future has been reduced by your injuries, you may be able to recover for that as well.
If you have questions regarding automobile accidents, or any other personal injury concerns, call the Cottrell Law Office at (800) 364-8305.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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