Florida’s No-Fault Law requires that every auto insurance policy issued in the state of Florida carries PIP or Personal Injury Protection coverage, we also call that PIP. Essentially, what PIP is, is regardless of fault 80% of bills up to $10,000 will be paid for by your insurance carrier, whether it is your fault or someone else’s fault. It’s important to understand that making a claim under this policy will not increase your rates unless you are substantially at fault. Personal injury protection benefits under your insurance policy will cover medical bills for any injuries sustained resulting from an automobile accident or anything that arises out of the use of a motor vehicle. For example, if you are loading lumber onto the back of a pick-up truck and fall off, you may qualify for PIP benefits. If you just got out of your vehicle and you are walking across a parking lot and got hit by another vehicle, your PIP will pick up coverage on those medical bills accrued as a result of an accident. So anytime you are involved in any sort of use of a motor vehicle and an injury occurs, you are permitted to use your PIP coverage to pay for 80% of the bills up to $10,000. It’s not limited to just auto accidents.
An Overview Of Florida’s No-Fault Insurance Laws
While this will be a brief and general discussion of automobile insurance laws in the state of Florida – and some of your questions may be answered here – if you are involved in a traffic accident with injuries in central Florida, it’s best to obtain sound legal advice regarding your individual situation by consulting an experienced Orlando personal injury lawyer. Keep reading, and you’ll learn what automobile insurance is required by Florida law and how the state’s “no-fault” auto insurance system impacts motorists, their passengers, and the pedestrians who are injured in traffic accidents.
Under Florida law, automobile insurance policies may only be purchased from insurance companies that are licensed to do business in the state. Florida requires motorists to have two kinds of automobile insurance. Drivers must carry a minimum of $10,000 in property damage liability (PDL) insurance and also must have a minimum of $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. However, and in contrast to most other states, Florida does not require drivers to carry bodily injury liability (BIL) insurance to pay others for their injuries if a collision happens.
HOW DOES PIP INSURANCE WORK?
Florida lawmakers made Florida a no-fault state and established the PIP system in 1972. PIP insurance protects a policyholder who is injured in a traffic collision without regard to which driver is at fault. After an accident with injuries in Florida, a policyholder must use the PIP coverage for the first $10,000 in medical expenses and lost income. PIP will not protect you against a legal action by someone who has been permanently injured, and it will not pay for non-economic damages (such as pain and suffering).
When a traffic accident happens in Florida, each driver involved in the crash has medical treatment and other expenses paid for by his or her own PIP policy. PIP benefits are automatic, no matter which driver was at fault in the accident. Florida drivers may pursue a personal injury claim outside of the state’s no-fault system – and against the at-fault driver directly – only if the injuries from the accident are deemed permanent, if considerable or permanent disfigurement or scarring occurs, or if the accident has led to the permanent loss of an important bodily function.
According to research published in 2011 by the Insurance Research Council, one out of seven motorists in the United States has no automobile insurance of any kind. Driving without automobile insurance in the state of Florida is illegal under all circumstances, and a Florida driver may have his or her driver’s license suspended for driving without the minimum insurance requirement. Reinstatement of a suspended driver’s license requires the driver to pay a fine of up to $500 and to provide proof of insurance for each vehicle the driver owns.
HOW DOES UIM INSURANCE WORK?
Florida does not require drivers to carry uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. However, insurance companies in Florida must offer UIM coverage when an auto insurance policy is purchased, and if declined, UIM coverage must be explicitly rejected with the policyholder’s signature. UIM coverage provides benefits if a policyholder is injured by a motorist who is uninsured or cannot cover the policyholder’s medical expenses and other damages.
Candidly speaking, having the right insurance can make all of the difference after a Florida traffic collision. Even though it is not mandated by law, it’s a smart choice to have bodily injury coverage and UIM coverage. If you do not purchase bodily injury liability coverage, and an uninsured driver collides with you, you have only $10,000 of personal injury protection, and the cost of one trip to an emergency room will probably exceed that amount.
If a negligent driver seriously injures you, does not carry bodily injury insurance, and can’t afford a personal injury judgment, that is when you’ll need uninsured motorist coverage. UIM insurance covers medical expenses and lost wages after the $10,000 personal injury protection benefits are exhausted and after the at-fault driver confirms that he or she has no way to pay for your damages. The bodily injury portion of UIM insurance may also cover injuries to any passengers. While you should see an Orlando personal injury lawyer to discuss the details of any specific case, if you are injured in any traffic accident in Florida, these are the first steps to take:
• The immediate and top priority is medical attention. Get it. If you don’t seek treatment at once, and you file a claim later, an auto insurance company might claim that you were not actually injured in the collision.
• If you sustain any injury in a Florida traffic crash, do not even talk with an insurance company, don’t admit to anything, and do not sign any paperwork. Your personal injury attorney is an experienced negotiator who will manage all of the talks and negotiations.
• After most accidents with serious injuries, an experienced personal lawyer can negotiate an agreeable settlement on your behalf without having to go to court. Don’t act as your own attorney. Your health and your future are too important.
HOW LONG DO ACCIDENT VICTIMS HAVE TO FILE CLAIMS IN FLORIDA?
In Florida, the statute of limitations for personal injury and property damage claims arising from traffic accidents in most cases is four years, but do not wait four years to speak about your case with a personal injury attorney. Although an accident victim usually cannot file a lawsuit over a traffic collision in Florida unless the claim qualifies as a “serious injury,” an Orlando personal injury lawyer can tell you if your claim qualifies and can also provide the legal advice and guidance you’ll need.
Anyone injured in a traffic accident in Florida that involves a government-owned vehicle, a government employee, or government property will need legal counsel at once. Claimants must put the state agency involved in the claim and the Florida Department of Financial Services on notice of the claim in writing within three years of the accident. A lawsuit cannot be filed until after a 180-day investigation period unless the claim is denied. Again, if you’ve been injured, don’t wait to act. Seek an attorney’s advice if you are injured by a government employee or by a government-owned vehicle – or if you are injured in any traffic accident in the state of Florida.