Florida is one of a handful of states that has no fault insurance. The requirement that vehicle owners in Florida have no fault insurance, or Personal Injury Protection (PIP) as its also known, means that you should receive some restitution for your medical bills and car repairs regardless of who caused your accident.
As a personal injury attorney, I am often asked by people who have been in car accidents how Florida’s Personal Injury Protection coverage works. It is important to know what to do to protect your rights to receive no fault benefits after an accident. If you have more questions about your specific accident and injuries after reading this general information, please do not hesitate to call me at the Holliday Karatinos Law Firm, PLLC. We offer a free consultation to review your accident and discuss your legal options.
What Is Personal Injury Protection Insurance?
In Florida, PIP insurance will pay for your medical bills and vehicle repairs up to the limits of your policy. The minimum amount of personal injury protection medical benefits coverage that drivers in Florida are required to carry is $10,000. Drivers also are required to have $10,000 per person, and $20,000 per crash, in property damage liability. Both of these requirements are per the Florida Financial Responsibility Law. Policyholders are eligible to collect compensation after a crash regardless of fault for the accident.
One of the biggest benefits of carrying personal injury protection insurance is that it covers more than just you. Personal injury protection insurance also can be used to help cover injuries to your child, members of your household, and passengers in your vehicle who do not have their own PIP insurance, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Your PIP coverage also protects you if you are injured in a pedestrian accident or while riding a bicycle.
Are There Any Time Limits for Seeking Personal Injury Protection Benefits?
Here’s a critical point to keep in mind: It is very important for you and your passengers to seek initial medical treatment for your injuries within 14 days of the car accident to protect your right to no fault medical benefits. If you don’t seek medical care within that 14-day time frame, then you may jeopardize your right to insurance coverage of your injuries. All of the money you have paid in insurance premiums will be for naught if you wait too long to seek treatment, as you will be legally barred from compensation.
I highly recommend that if you are involved in an accident, you should preserve your right to claim the PIP insurance benefits that you have paid for through insurance premiums by seeking a medical assessment of your injuries without delay.
Can I File a Lawsuit Against a Negligent Driver?
One of the caveats of Florida’s personal injury protection insurance coverage is that drivers who are involved in a crash are barred from filing a lawsuit against another party except in certain circumstances.
If another driver caused a crash and you sustained serious injuries that rise to a certain threshold, then you are permitted to step outside of the PIP insurance/ no fault system and file a lawsuit against the at fault driver. To file a civil lawsuit seeking compensation for mental anguish, pain, or suffering, you must have sustained an injury that resulted in:
- Permanent and significant scarring or disfigurement;
- Permanent loss of a bodily function;
- Permanent injury
This threshold is described in more detail in 2016 Florida Statutes, Chapter 627, Section 627.737(2).
If you do not have an injury that meets the threshold above, then you must seek compensation through your own PIP policy only, and cannot seek damages for pain and suffering.
What Happens If I Do Not Carry Personal Injury Protection Coverage at the Time of My Crash?
If you do not carry personal injury protection coverage at the time of your crash, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles recommends immediately purchasing personal injury protection and property damage liability coverage.
If the other driver was at fault, you may be able to seek compensation through their bodily injury liability coverage if you were injured in the crash. Your health insurance policy will also help to pay for your medical bills.
You may face a penalty for failure to adhere to the law and not carrying insurance.
Contact Holliday Karatinos Law Firm, PLLC
As a car accident attorney in Florida, I have seen many cases of car accidents in which the drivers or passengers were injured, and were unsure of their legal rights to benefits through PIP insurance. I have helped numerous clients in the Tampa area seek their PIP benefits, and negotiate insurance settlements that address the full extent of their losses. The legal team at the Holliday Karatinos Law Firm knows how to investigate an accident, build a case and negotiate effectively with insurance companies. If a fair settlement cannot be reached, our attorneys have the courtroom experience and determination to pursue justice for you in court.
A consultation with a car accident attorney at the Holliday Karatinos Law Firm, PLLC is free. If you have questions about your legal rights to compensation after a crash, contact us online or by phone.