Florida PIP Law in an Auto Crash Case

Personal Injury Protection, or “No-Fault” car insurance, is mandated by the state of Florida for all drivers to carry. PIP pays for injuries you sustain in an accident regardless of who was at-fault in the accident. Just like other states that mandate PIP however, Florida has its own set of special laws and regulations. Under Florida law it is required that every vehicle owner and driver on the road have $10,000 worth of PIP insurance coverage.PIP benefits are paid by your own insurance company if you are in an accident. Florida PIP covers medical costs, lost wages and death benefits. 19,000 of PIP coverage can be used up quickly so it is important to make sure you have adequate uninsured and underinsured coverage, as many drivers have no insurance or just the minimum coverage of $10,000 per accident.

Medical Costs

Most medical costs will be covered by PIP with the exception of popular, but not widely accepted practices such as acupuncture. In other states, PIP will generally cover the injuries of anyone in your household, but in Florida you can choose whether you want your PIP to cover just yourself or other residents in your household. The following are eligible for a PIP claim:

  • Medical Services and Medication Surgical Services and Hospital Expenses
  • Rehab Costs
  • Diagnostic Services
  • Ambulatory Services

What sets apart Florida from other states is that only 80% of your medical costs will be covered by PIP. So if you have injuries which cost $10,000, PIP will only pay for $8,000 worth of that. Furthermore, if your injury is not considered an emergency, you will actually only be entitled to $2,500 worth of benefits. If you have a good health insurance policy, it should be able to take care of the rest of the costs, but be sure it will cover car accident injuries.

Florida PIP and Economic Benefits

If you are injured in an accident, and are disabled, Florida PIP will pay for 60% of your lost wages, subject to a $10,000 limit. This payment also includes services you would normally do, but now cannot because of the accident. These services include daily chores like doing laundry, cleaning the house, taking care of pets, etc.

Death Benefits of Florida PIP

If the policyholder were killed, PIP would pay for their funeral and burial expenses in addition to the benefits listed above. You, or your next of kin, are entitled to $5,000 for those associated costs.

When and How to File a PIP Claim in Florida

Florida has strict rules to follow when filing a claim for PIP. The most important is that treatment for any injuries must happen within two weeks of the car accident to be eligible for PIP reimbursement. Your claim will not be accepted after 2 weeks. Due to a high incidence of insurance fraud in the state of Florida, your insurer has up to 60 days to investigate your claim for any falsehood, but must pay for your damages within 30 days, even if there is suspicion. If your case is not straightforward, or your insurance company is giving you issues, it may be a good idea to get a personal injury lawyer to ensure you get your payment. In the meantime, you should keep a log of all of your medical expenses following the accident.

For the work loss benefits, you will need to submit a “Wage and Salary” verification that is filled out by your employer. The verification documents your wages in the 13 weeks prior to the accident. A lawyer might help ensure your employer fills out the verification in a timely manner. You may also be required to get a note from your physician detailing how you are disabled.

Florida PIP Law Still Gives You a Right to Sue

No-fault states like Florida institute PIP laws to reduce the amount of people suing each other over damages. Most no-fault states, including Florida, only allow drivers to sue when the injuries are considered severely disfiguring and/or permanent or resulted in death. Florida however, also allows drivers to sue even if the injury is not severe, so long as the medical costs exceed $10,000. So if you are injured in an accident, which results in $20,000 worth of hospital bills, you are allowed to sue the other driver for the remaining $10,000 not covered by your PIP. You may also sue them for any emotional pain and suffering you think the injuries have caused you.

Considering the average hospital stay after an accident is around $60,000 it is probably a good idea to have a good amount of bodily injury liability coverage on your policy. While Florida does not make that coverage mandatory, if you were to get sued for excessive medical costs, the other driver can sue against your bodily injury insurance, rather than you directly.

Why You Should Also Consider Adding Medical Payments Coverage

Medical Payments or MedPay is essentially the same type of insurance as PIP except it does not have economic benefits. It may be worth having on your policy in Florida because the limits are quite low. MedPay can add an extra $5,000 worth of coverage for around $100 per year for our sample 30 year old driver. Additionally, MedPay can also help pay for the 20% of your costs that PIP won’t cover, if your health insurance won’t cover it as well. MedPay can also help pay down the deductible on your PIP.

If you have been injured in a Florida accident, and want to know your legal rights under PIP and compensation for your injuries and pain and suffering, call Rowe Law Offices for a free consultation.

 

Do Not Sign a Release Without Talking to an Attorney

When you have been in an accident, it is very important not to sign any release from an insurance company before you talk to an attorney. After an accident, you may be confused, and not understand what is going on and how to properly deal with an insurance adjuster. This is when the insurance companies pounce and try to take advantage of you in this vulnerable position. You often do not know the full extent of your injuries, whether you will have to miss time for work, and what the reasonable damages you are entitled to due to the other drive’s negligence. This does not stop many insurance companies whose goal is get out of the case as cheap as they can and try to get you to release the claim as soon as possible.

In Florida, there are restrictions on attorneys or medical professionals contacting you right after an accident, but there is no prohibition on an insurance adjuster contacting you on your claim. Many adjusters will seem very sincere and very concerned about you, but do not be fooled. Often they just want you to sign a release of all claims so they can move on to the next claim. You must understand that when you sign a release, all your claims against that driver have been released, and you cannot go back later against the person if you find out your damages or injuries are greater than originally thought. Many times they may offer you a nominal sum of money in exchange for a release, and the promise of some quick compensation is not always in your best interests. Often your claim for damages is worth far more than what they are offering. You need to talk to an attorney who is experienced in personal injury accidents who can properly advise you as to your rights before signing your claim away.

Many of the big name insurance companies, that their commercials say you can trust, are using these tactics to settle claims quickly and often pay less than what the claim is worth. Also a release does not necessarily have to be in writing. Some insurance companies are recording you and asking you on the phone if you orally agree to settle your claim for X amount of dollars, and then sending you a check. An oral agreement can be a binding contract and enforceable in certain circumstances. So be careful not to agree to settle your case over the phone without seeking the legal opinion of a personal injury attorney.

There is no hurry to settle your claim. The insurance company will try to put pressure on you to settle as quickly as possible, and if you are injured, this is rarely in your best interest. Often injuries from an accident can put financial pressures on you especially if you cannot work and bills are piling up. This is why it is important to seek legal counsel to discuss what your options are. Quickly signing a release without talking to an attorney can significantly reduce your right to fair compensation and cause you a lot of financial headaches in the future. Future medical bills and lost income and having to deal with debilitating injuries with no means of compensation can be a nightmare.

Be wise, and do not sign or agree to anything without talking to an experienced personal injury attorney first. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, contact Rowe Law Offices for a free consultation so you fully understand your rights and do not compromise your claim.