Your medical bills after a car accident are paid through your personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. Your PIP policy will at least partially cover medical bills following auto accidents. Depending on the circumstances of your accident, an auto accident lawyer may be able to help you find other routes through which to pursue compensation.
Florida’s No-Fault System
The state of Florida requires that motorists carry $10,000 in PIP coverage. Because Florida is a no-fault state, your own PIP policy will cover your medical bills, regardless of who caused the accident. PIP also covers:
- Your child
- Members of your household
- Passengers who do not have PIP and are not the car’s owner
If your child is injured on a school bus, your PIP also covers their associated medical expenses. Furthermore, your PIP covers your medical costs if you are injured in someone else’s car, or if you are hit by a motor vehicle and injured as a bicyclist or a pedestrian.
The PIP statute limits the types of losses you can claim. For example, you cannot receive compensation for pain and suffering and other non-economic damages you suffer from your car accident. PIP only covers 80 percent of your medical bills.
Note: You must seek medical attention within 14 days of your accident, or your insurer will not cover your medical bills.
Getting Around PIP Limitations Using Florida’s Serious Injury Threshold and Third-Party Claims
If you meet certain state-established thresholds for “serious injury,” you can move outside Florida’s PIP system and file a third-party insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party and pursue compensation for non-economic losses you have experienced. You would recover these losses through that driver’s bodily injury liability policy.
Florida defines “serious injury” as one of the following:
- Significantly limited use of a body organ or member
- Significant and permanent disfigurement or scarring
- Significantly limited use of a body system or function
Florida’s Minimum Auto Insurance Requirements
Any driver of a four-wheeled motor vehicle in Florida must carry the following types of insurance:
- $10,000 in PIP benefits; and
- $10,000 in property damage liability (PDL) benefits (This covers you if you damage another person’s car or property in an accident.)
Florida drivers are not required to carry liability insurance that covers bodily injury to another person in an accident the policyholder caused.
Bodily Injury Liability Coverage
Although the law does not require you to purchase bodily injury liability (BIL) coverage, you can add this coverage to your policy, if you choose. If you cause a car accident, and the other person steps outside Florida’s no-fault policy to file a third-party insurance claim against your policy, and you have no BIL coverage to pay the claimant’s medical damages, you will have to pay for their expenses out of your own pocket.
With BIL coverage, your insurance company pays for the other party’s serious injuries, up to the limits of your policy.
The Move to Repeal Florida’s No-Fault Auto Insurance System
In April 2019, the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee voted to approve Senate
Bill 1052 (SB 1052), which aims to eliminate Florida’s no-fault auto insurance system. The House has a similar proposal (HB 733), which committees have yet to hear.
Lawmakers have argued for several years that the PIP coverage of $10,000 — an amount that has remained the same since 1979, and which legislators believe does not measure up to where the amount should be in 2019.
The Senate could not close on the bill.
The Proposed New Bodily Injury Coverage
Under the Senate and House proposals, Florida drivers would no longer have PIP coverage. Instead, Florida motorists would have bodily injury coverage of $25,000 for the injury or death of a single individual and $50,000 for that of two or more people. A property damage financial responsibility policy of $10,000 would also be included.
The Senate bill proposes that insurance companies would be required to offer motorists optional “MedPay” coverage to pay for their own medical expenses.
Why Florida Offers No-Fault Insurance and Why Some People Do Not Like It
Not many U.S. states have no-fault auto insurance. The idea behind Florida incorporating such a system was to circumvent expensive lawsuits that arise from limited liability claims. With speedy payouts, the system is designed to keep consumers’ monthly premiums low. The no-fault system has also enabled insurance companies to present premiums that are lower than the national average.
Critics of this system protest with concerns that by protecting at-fault drivers from costly lawsuits, they continue to engage in reckless driving. The University of Pennsylvania published a study correlating no-fault insurance with increased instances of drinking while driving, more speeding, and a greater number of fatalities.
How a Florida Car Accident Lawyer Can Help You
If you sustained auto accident injuries in Florida, you deserve to have the person who caused your injuries pay for your medical costs and other damages. A Florida car accident lawyer like those at Law Offices of Wolf & Pravato can help you sort through the process of filing a claim, collect evidence that establishes the at-fault party, and negotiate with insurers to get you the compensation you need. We can also file a personal injury lawsuit on your behalf and represent you in civil court.
We will explain your legal rights and options, and our caring and attentive staff will handle your case with responsive and prompt communication. In other words, we will treat you like family and make sure you receive the compensation you deserve.
Call the Law Offices of Wolf & Pravato at 954-633-8270 to receive a free case review with no obligation.