Florida is a no-fault state for auto insurance. This means that each driver is required to carry personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. At a minimum, you are legally required to have $10,000 in PIP insurance in Florida.
In the event of a crash, you would file a claim against your own PIP insurance regardless of who was at fault. Your PIP benefits will then kick in, and your insurer will provide you with a claim number. When you go to the doctor, receive physical therapy, or need diagnostic services, you can provide them with this claim number so that your insurance can be billed directly instead of you paying out of pocket.
This is the main benefit to PIP insurance. It allows you to visit a doctor, as well as have your car repaired without having to worry about coming up with money from your own finances.
Essentially, if the total for your medical bills, lost wages, and the cost to fix your vehicle is under your PIP coverage limits, then no one is considered at fault, your bills will be paid, and life will go on.
This process tends to work well for small accidents that result in only minor damages and superficial injuries. However, anyone who has required major medical care knows that $10,000 disappears quickly.
Although Florida is a no-fault state, you can still file a personal injury claim or lawsuit against the at-fault party as long as the expenses associated with your accident exceed your PIP insurance coverage. Of course, the damage to your vehicle alone may be well over $10,000—not to mention the significant expense of being taken to the emergency room in an ambulance, visiting the doctor several times a week, receiving diagnostic services, and so on.
Also keep in mind that you can seek compensation for nonmedical expenses. For example, lost wages should be considered. If you make $5,000 a month and are unable to work for four months while recovering, you would then be entitled to $20,000—the full amount of your lost wages. If your doctor believes you are disabled and unable to return to work, you deserve to be compensated for the damage done to your income-earning ability.
Another advantage to filing a personal injury lawsuit is that you can seek compensation for noneconomic damages:
Pain and suffering
Loss of consortium, which covers damage to your marriage and personal relationships
Decreased enjoyment with and quality of life
You will need an attorney who can prove that another party was at fault for your accident. To recover financial damages beyond what is available through your PIP insurance, someone else needs to be to blame for the actual crash.
At Lavent Law, PA, we offer a free, no-obligation consultation to all new clients. If you would like to discover if you have options beyond the compensation offered by your PIP insurance, give us a call at 305-440-0450 or contact us online.