What is Florida “No Fault” or “PIP” Insurance?
By your Tampa Auto Accident Attorney – Martin Hernandez
When it comes to auto insurance, Florida is a “No-Fault” insurance state. This is an often misunderstood topic and what other people tell you it is, like most legal concepts, is usually wrong.
Drivers who are injured in a car accident in Florida and sometimes wonder why they are filing a “No-Fault” Claim under their own insurance policy when they are not at-fault. Those drivers incorrectly believe that because the other party is at-fault they should be paying all of the injured party’s medical bills. However, that is not the case. Why? Let’s change the facts around. What if both parties are blaming each other for the accident? For example, they both say that they had the green light. Yet, the injured party went to the hospital and incurred $5,000 in hospital bills (cheap for a Tampa hospital after a car accident). What if they missed two weeks of work ($2,000 in lost wages)? That means that the injured party is in the hole $7,000 for an accident that may not be their fault. The hospital is going to ask for payment from you because you are the patient and you are responsible for payment.
Hence, Florida No-Fault. You pay yours. I’ll pay mine. We’ll figure out later on who is responsible.
Now, under Florida law, every motorist is required to carry a minimum of $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. A driver’s PIP coverage, as this type of insurance is most often known, is to cover medical bills and lost wages the driver may suffer in an accident, no matter who caused the accident. When a crash occurs, each person involved in the crash turns to his or her own insurance company to pay the costs of medical care and other losses.
Car Accidents under Florida’s No Fault Insurance Scheme What many drivers do not realize is that, under Florida’s no fault statute, their PIP coverage by law only covers 80% of the medical bills which they may incur in an accident as well as only 60% of lost wages or income they may suffer in a car accident. For example on how this works, assume you have a $10,000 PIP policy with a $1,000 deductible, the absolute minimum required under Florida law. You are hit by another driver in an accident in which the other driver is clearly at fault. Assume you go to the emergency room and your medical bills are $5,000 plus you are out of work for two weeks and lose out on $2,000 in income. Your car insurance will pay $4,000 to the hospital (leaving you a $1,000 co-pay) and pay you $1,200 of your lost wages. This way your bills are getting paid and you are not being sent to collections for the entire hospital bill.
But I shouldn’t pay the rest! Shouldn’t they pay for everything else?
Yes, they should and that’s how we can help. There are exceptions to Florida’s “No- Fault” law that permit a motorist to directly sue another motorist who caused the accident. The first exception to Florida’s no fault statute is if a person suffers a permanent injury as a result of the accident, Florida statute (627.737(2)) defines a permanent injury as: (i) significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function; (ii) permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, other than scarring or disfigurement; (iii) significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement; or (iv) death. Accordingly, if a driver suffers a “permanent injury” as defined above, then he is not subject to the “No-Fault” limitation against the at fault driver and may be able to bring a claim not only for medical bills and lost wages but also to recover for pain and suffering and other “intangible” damages suffered as a result of the accident. Another exception would be if the injuries suffered are not permanent, but the medical bills (or lost wages) total more than the $10,000 in PIP coverage. In that instance, a claim can be brought to recover the medical bills (or lost wages) not covered by the PIP insurance.
Obviously, even though Florida is a “No-Fault” state, the application of the law is limited since it only applies to those accidents in which the medical bills and/or lost wages or lost income do not exceed $10,000 and where someone has not suffered a permanent injury.
If you have been injured in a Tampa Car Accident and need a Tampa Injury Attorney, Get Lawyered Up Now and call Tampa Injury Attorney Martin Hernandez of Fernandez and Hernandez, LLC for a free consultation at 813-229-5353 or read more at: InjuryLawyersOfTampa.com
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