What is Personal Injury Protection in Florida?
Personal injury protection (PIP) is an important part of your auto insurance if you live in Florida. Understanding the rules around PIP coverage is essential if you were injured in an accident and need financial compensation for your injuries. Miami car accident lawyer Prosper Shaked discusses what personal injury protection is and what it covers in case of a car accident. For help with your car accident injury case, contact The Law Offices of Prosper Shaked today to schedule a free consultation on your potential case.
What Does PIP Cover in Florida?
Florida uses no-fault car insurance rules, which use PIP coverage to pay for medical expenses and lost wages rather than allowing claims against the at-fault driver’s insurance. Personal injury protection is a “first-party benefit,” meaning that it pays damages to you, the insurance subscriber, if you were injured in a car crash. PIP payouts do not look at who was at fault for the crash, meaning that you can get money from your PIP coverage even you caused the accident. You also have no need to prove the other driver caused the accident before you can get paid.
Understandably, PIP has its drawbacks. Since PIP covers your injuries regardless of fault, it is expectable that PIP might not cover everything, trading off full compensation for the ease of making a claim. Most PIP policies cover medical expenses and lost wages, but personal injury protection might not cover full damages for two reasons. First, your insurance policy likely has deductibles. This might require you to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars to get the coverage you need, even if you were an innocent victim of the accident. Additionally, your PIP policy might not cover full damages and could leave a certain percentage of the damages unpaid so that you are forced to pay for them out of pocket anyway. Typically, PIP covers around 60% of your damages.
PIP typically does not cover damages for pain and suffering, which can be one of the highest portions of damages in your case. If you were severely injured, but your injuries do not require ongoing medical expenses or prolonged care, the majority of the damages you face could be locked away from PIP coverage if they fall under the “intangible” or “non-economic” damages of pain and suffering.
Can I Sue if I Have Personal Injury Protection?
Having PIP typically means you cannot sue, but there are large exceptions carved out in these rules. The default expectation in Florida is that when you are injured, you might have property damage only or your accident could include minor injuries. PIP is designed to get you the help you need and cover your injuries in these cases as part of the routine operations of an insurance company. However, severe injuries or catastrophic car accident injuries do not fit well into this system.
If your injuries were particularly severe, you might be able to sue instead. Lawmakers created Florida’s no-fault laws to ensure coverage and reduce the number of lawsuits. However, severe injuries might need substantial damages that PIP simply does not cover. In these situations, the law allows you to take the at-fault driver to court instead.
In cases involving permanent injury, you may be able to sue even if you have PIP. The definition of permanent injury includes injuries that result in loss of a bodily function. Things like amputations, paralysis, or death would be considered “permanent,” allowing you to sue for your own injuries or a loved one’s death.
Injuries may also be eligible for a lawsuit in some borderline cases. Significant scarring may not affect a bodily function, but very severe scarring can be considered a “permanent” injury. Additionally, even if the injury does not produce any permanent injuries or effects, you can still sue as long as the injury is worth more than $10,000 in medical expenses and lost wages. With healthcare costs as high as they are, even moderate injuries like concussions and broken bones may allow you to sue for damages.
Do I Need PIP in Florida?
As part of Florida’s no-fault insurance rules, every driver must carry PIP coverage. Florida’s basic insurance minimums require each driver to carry $10,000 in personal injury protection and $10,000 for property damage liability.
In Florida, as in most no-fault states, the insurance is said to “follow the driver.” This means that your own insurance typically pays for your injuries instead of relying on the other driver’s insurance to cover you. If you were seriously injured, you may be able to reach out to their PIP coverage or bodily injury coverage, but Florida does not require bodily injury coverage. Because the insurance policy simply might not cover your damages, filing a lawsuit might be your best chance for full compensation.
Call Our Miami Personal Injury Lawyer Today for a Free Legal Consultation
After being involved in a serious car accident, consult with a Miami personal injury lawyer on how to best get compensation for your injuries. Your insurance company or the other driver may try to convince you that you need to file your claim through insurance or that you should take a settlement, but filing a lawsuit may be your best chance to recover the maximum compensation you are entitled to. To schedule a free legal consultation on your accident case, contact The Law Offices of Prosper Shaked today at (305) 690-0244.