What Is It?
In the state of Florida, motorists are legally required to carry Personal Injury Protection coverage through their auto insurance as part of Florida's No-Fault car insurance laws. To the uninitiated, this can seem like a confusing prospect, especially when you are involved in a crash where a party is clearly at fault. Florida lawmakers adopted the No-Fault system to provide compensation to victims of car accidents without having to go through the hassle of a lawsuit. The idea is that by requiring each driver to first accept coverage from their own insurer, accident victims can gain access to insurance payments much more quickly and efficiently than they would have by filing a suit. This system of laws was also written with the intention of lowering the number of tort (civil wrongs, typically caused by negligence) lawsuits filed in relation to car accidents.
Are There Exceptions to the No-Fault Laws?
While these laws were made to lessen the number of filed lawsuits, you can still file a suit against another driver should the accident occur outside of Florida, or if you sustain one of the following injuries in an accident:
- Significant disfigurement,
- Bone fracture,
- Permanent limitation of use of a body organ or member,
- Permanent injury/trauma,
- Significant limitation of use of a body function or system,
- Substantially full disability for 90 days.
What Does my Auto Insurance Policy Cover?
A personal auto insurance policy is comprised of sections on Uninsured Motorist coverage, Liability coverage, Medical Payments coverage, and other sections with general policy information (general provisions, duties following an accident, damage to your audio, endorsements, etc.). Uninsured Motorist (UM) Coverage protects the insured party should they be involved in an accident where they are not at fault with an uninsured or under-insured motorist. For liability limits, they are typically split into three categories: bodily injury per person, bodily injury per accident, and property damage per accident. The minimum liability limit in Florida is 10/20/10, which means that the insured party would receive $10,000 of Bodily Injury coverage per person, with no more than $20,000 paid out per accident, and $10,000 of property damage coverage per accident. Limits for Medical Payment apply per person per accident, and act as the primary coverage when the insured party is driving an owned automobile, and as secondary coverage when the insured is driving an automobile that they do not own; typical limits for this are $500, $1,000, $2,000, and $5,000.
The legal minimum Personal Injury Protection coverage limit is $10,000, which is what pays the insured party's expenses (up to the limit of the insurance) regardless of who is at fault. For example, if someone were to get into an accident, their No-Fault coverage would pay $10,000 towards their personal recovery. Personal Injury Protection (PIP) pays 80% of the insured's medical bills, 60% of lost wages, and 100% of replacement services costs, which is any service needed because of a loss of ability caused by the accident. Personal Injury Protection also contains a $5,000 death benefit should the insured driver die because of injuries sustained in the accident; but note that PIP claims MUST be made within fourteen days of the accident. An important note about Personal Injury Protection is that it is not liability insurance, meaning that it benefits the insured party only. PIP coverage also follows the insured party throughout the state of Florida, whether driving an owned, borrowed, or rented vehicle.
In summary, Florida's No-Fault car insurance laws were made with the intent of protecting and paying for the insured's accrued expenses in any accident. Once their No-Fault coverage is exhausted, the insured party can turn to their Medical Payments coverage; after the Medical Payments coverage is exhausted, and if the insured party is not at fault, they can look to the opposing party's liability insurance; and finally, the opposing party's Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage may be able to cover remaining expenses. Should you have any questions about your coverage or would like to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys, please call us anytime at (239) 461-5508!