Loss of Enjoyment of Life Compensation in Florida

Loss of enjoyment of life is a type of financial compensation that may be available in a Florida car accident case. It is a type of non-economic damages. It relates to the victim’s changes in lifestyle and the limitations that a victim has because of the accident.

If you’re the victim of a car accident in Florida, you need to be aware that loss of lifestyle is one type of damages that you can claim. However, it’s only available in cases that meet the personal injury threshold, as stated in Florida’s no-fault law. As you evaluate and pursue your case with an experienced Tampa car accident lawyer, understanding how loss of enjoyment of life may impact your claim is critical to getting a fair result.

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What Is Loss of Enjoyment of Life Compensation in a Florida Car Accident Case?

Loss of enjoyment of life is a type of damages available in a civil tort negligence claim. It provides financial compensation for a victim for the fact that the victim is unable to pursue the same activities in life that they would have been able to enjoy if it weren’t for the accident. Things like being able to walk, ride a bike, tend to personal affairs, and pursue recreational activities are all a part of loss of enjoyment of life.

Compensation for loss of enjoyment of life falls under the categories of non-economic damages that are available to victims with serious injuries. Because Florida uses a no-fault system for car accident compensation, a car accident victim must have a serious or permanent injury to collect non-economic damages. A victim must have injuries that constitute a significant loss of a bodily function, a permanent injury, or an injury that causes scarring or disfigurement. When a victim meets this standard, they can claim compensation for loss of enjoyment of life in addition to other types of compensation for their Florida car accident case.

Loss of Enjoyment of Life Compensation in Florida

Loss of enjoyment of life compensation in the Florida no-fault system is a matter of significant debate. The issue centers on whether loss of enjoyment of life can be recovered in a case that doesn’t meet the personal injury threshold. In other words, what can a victim recover if their injuries do not meet the significant personal injury threshold in Florida law 627.737?[1] Can their recovery include loss of enjoyment of life?

The issue has been challenged through Florida’s higher courts. The courts have repeatedly rejected the suggestion that individuals not meeting the significant injury threshold should be able to recover for loss of enjoyment of life under Florida law and Florida’s no-fault system. Instead, the courts have stated that loss of enjoyment compensation is only available when the injured party has a serious injury, as determined by Florida law 627.737.

Loss of Enjoyment Legal Challenges

The crux of the legal challenge is that Florida law 627.737(2) specifically enumerates several types of non-economic damages. The list of non-economic damages is, according to the law, available to a victim only if they are a victim of a serious injury. Loss of enjoyment of life is not on the list of these specific non-economic damages. The legal challenge suggests that because loss of enjoyment is not on the list of types of damages that are available only to victims meeting the personal injury threshold, loss of enjoyment damages should be available to all victims through the no-fault system.

However, Florida courts soundly rejected the challenge on at least two different occasions. For example, Smiley v. Nelson was a 2001 case that challenged the inclusion of loss of enjoyment damages in a case that did not meet the personal injury threshold.[2] The court said that the list of damages in Florida law 627.737 isn’t meant to be exclusive or a technicality. Instead, the court noted that the intent of the law was to place all kinds of non-economic damages beyond the personal injury threshold. The court rejected the assertion that a victim can claim loss of enjoyment of life compensation without having a qualifying injury under Florida law 627.737.

A Florida appeals court again answered the question of loss of enjoyment of life when it decided the Giles v. Luckie case in 2002.[3] The case, from the First District Court of Appeals, resulted in a jury finding. The jury finding was that the victim had a loss of enjoyment of life, but there was no finding of serious injury. The court said that while Florida law 627.737 specifically states those categories of damages that fall outside the Florida no-fault system, the law also says that no-fault is intended to be the sole source of recovery when the injury threshold is not met.

Learning From Florida Case Law and Loss of Enjoyment in No-Fault Car Accident Cases

The existing case law for the Florida serious injury threshold and loss of enjoyment recovery gives legal practitioners significant direction for representing clients in no-fault car accident cases. Whether a serious injury has occurred is a question for the jury. However, it’s up to the judge to determine the instructions that the jury hears when they decide the case. Both points are critical stages for a victim wanting a fair recovery after a car accident. To recover for non-economic damages, you must show the jury that the injury is serious. You can work with your attorney to have the right expert testimony to make the evidence clear to the jury about the severity of your injuries.

In addition, you must be prepared to ask the court for the proper jury instructions for your case. You need to identify the jury instructions that you believe are appropriate and favorable. It’s also important to anticipate what jury instructions the other side might request. Improper jury instructions may result in an unfavorable verdict and appeals. You should have case law and legal arguments ready to ensure that the jury hears appropriate instructions.

Contact Our Florida Car Accident Attorneys

Have you been in a car accident? All car accident claims are complex. Don’t become a victim twice. Let our Florida car accident attorneys ensure that you receive all of the categories of compensation that you may deserve. Call us today to talk about your case.

Sources

[1] FLA. STAT. § 627.737 (2019)

[2] Smiley v. Nelson, 805 So. 2d 870 Retrieved 18 November 2019 from https://casetext.com/case/smiley-v-nelson?

[3] Giles v. Luckie, 816 So. 2d 248 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2002) Retrieved 18 November 2019 from https://casetext.com/case/giles-v-luckie-1?

About the Author

Jack G. Bernstein, ESQ.

Jack Bernstein is a hard working and highly motivated personal injury attorney in Miami, Florida with over three decades of experience. He is a strategist and idea person, with a genuine passion for helping his firm’s clients. If you've been injured, contact Jack Bernstein today for a free evaluation of your case.

The information contained herein is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.