Florida car insurance laws differ from those of many other states because Florida is a no-fault state. Vehicle owners must purchase personal injury protection (PIP) coverage as part of their auto insurance policy.
If you are involved in an accident, your first source of recovery is through your PIP coverage. This process differs from some other states where you would expect to pursue a claim through the at-fault driver’s liability insurance.
These are not new Florida car insurance laws, yet some drivers opt to go without insurance. At one point, Florida ranked second in the nation for the most uninsured drivers, with almost one in four drivers without insurance.
What PIP Insurance Covers
PIP Insurance covers only some reimbursement for your medical expenses and your time off work. It will not pay you for your pain and suffering or any other compensation related to tort-based claims. Be advised that PIP coverage typically pays only 80% of your medical expenses and 60% of your lost wages up to your policy limits.
Vehicle owners must have a minimum of $10,000 in PIP and $10,000 in property damage liability (PLD). $10,000 is not much if you are seriously injured.
Understandably many prospective clients want to know whether Florida’s car insurance laws provide seriously injured victims some alternative. The answer is yes; there’s something called the serious injury threshold rule that allows you to move beyond the no-fault system.
Serious Injury Threshold Rule
Florida’s serious injury threshold law allows injured victims to pursue a personal injury claim outside the no-fault system. The injury must affect your daily activities and result in a serious permanent injury, such as:
- A significant loss of a bodily function;
- Significant and permanent scarring;
- Disfigurement; or
- Fatal injuries.
If your injuries meet one of the requirements, you could have the right to sue for pain and suffering compensation on top of your medical expenses and lost wages.
Florida’s Optional Auto Insurance Coverage
Some insurance agents will tell you that purchasing the minimum PIP and PLD equals full coverage. However, that’s far from the truth. While PIP and PLD are legally required, there are other optional coverage options you can purchase. Some of these insurance options include:
- Bodily injury coverage: Third-party liability coverage that could cover you if you caused a collision that meets the serious injury threshold.
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage: This coverage can protect you if another driver hits you and doesn’t have insurance or has bodily injury limits that are too low to cover your damages.
- Med-pay: Medical payments coverage is like PIP; however, it pays the 20% that personal injury protection doesn’t cover. You can also use medical payments coverage in a motorcycle accident, which differs from PIP rules.
Several of these coverage options can help pay for your damages in the event of a severe collision. In contrast, bodily injury coverage can protect you if you cause someone else to sustain severe injuries in an accident.
Maximizing Your Potential Settlement Starts Right After the Accident
Your actions immediately following the accident can impact a future car accident settlement.
You should always call the police following an injury accident. It would help if you had the police respond and document the scene. You also want to exchange contact information and get witness information if applicable.
If you can do so safely, take photos of the scene. These photos can be crucial evidence in proving the accident’s severity for your injury claim.
Seek medical treatment right away. You do not want to delay treatment if you are not transported to the hospital from the accident scene.
You should also follow all doctors’ orders. For example, if your doctor recommends injections in your neck or back, and you decide to suffer through the pain, that could go against you in a personal injury claim.
Because the car insurance laws in Florida allow you to pursue a personal injury car accident claim only under certain circumstances, it’s crucial to get checked out right away. Be sure to explain all the symptoms you’re having. Some collisions could leave you with internal injuries that are not visible.
Keep a pain diary. You want to log how your injuries have changed your life. It’s easier to reflect on your recovery when you are keeping notes. Detailed notes can be vital in a severe injury case where you are pursuing a claim against another party.
Hiring an experienced Florida car accident lawyer right away is one of the best ways to maximize your potential settlement. Having a legal advocate on your side from the start is crucial. Your attorney will protect your rights, which can help you maximize your possible compensation.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer in Florida
Do you have questions about Florida car insurance laws or how to maximize your potential settlement? Contact our skilled legal team at Barrett Nonni Homola & Ferraro.
We have decades of experience assisting injured victims like you. Don’t risk your potential right to pursue a personal injury claim by trying to represent yourself. Car accident claims can be rather complicated in Florida.
You need a skilled lawyer to protect your rights and handle the confusing legal aspects. Contact us today online or call us at 850-601-1111 to schedule an initial consultation to learn how we can help.