What You Should Know About Car Accidents In Florida
Florida has some special laws for car accidents that are more or less shared by fewer than 20 states. As personal injury attorneys, we often get questions from injured car accident victims such as: “Who will pay my car accident medical bills?” If you were hurt in a car accident in Florida, this page is designed to shed light on some of the questions you may have. If at the time of the accident you did not own a car (you were a passenger or driving someone else’s car) this section still applies to you, but we will need to look into your facts more closely.
What Is ‘No-Fault’ Insurance?
Florida is a “no-fault” state. This means that no matter who is at fault, your own car insurance will have to cover the first $10,000 dollars of medical bills, and also some of that same $10,000 can be used for loss of wages. But, of course, the law is never as clear and as simple as the easy explanation above.
What Is ‘PIP’ Insurance?
The kind of insurance that you have on your car that pays for the first $10,000 of medical bills is called personal injury protection insurance, also known as PIP benefits. It seems unfair that some other person rear-ended you causing you to go to a doctor or hospital for your injuries, and your own insurance has to pay for the medical bills. We agree.
However, the idea behind the law was to provide some insurance benefits for doctor bills and lost earnings without having to prove someone else was at fault. This is why the law is often referred to as “no fault.”
Basically, the earlier you get a free consultation with a Florida personal injury law firm, the better. Also, what if you were in a Florida car accident and it was not your fault? What if the other driver had no insurance? At least your own PIP insurance should pay the beginning of the medical bills. Also, you may have uninsured motorist coverage (and underinsured motorist coverage) that can provide you far greater benefits.
A small point here about PIP insurance: It does not pay the medical bills or lost wages at 100%. If your car accident injuries ring up let’s say $3,000 in bills, the PIP insurance will only pay a certain percentage of the $3,000 bill. It pays even a smaller percentage of lost wages. Also, there can be a deductible that applies. You may also have an extra bonus type of insurance in addition to your PIP called “medical payment,” and this “med-pay” coverage may help you to pay more than just the first $10,000 of medical bills and loss of wages. This coverage is not mandatory.
Now that you have a basic understanding of Florida’s no-fault law and how PIP insurance covers your medical bills up to $10,000, let us explain another part of the no-fault law. It is usually the least understood from the outset, and sometimes not fully explained to clients by their attorney.
The Florida ‘No-Fault Permanent Injury Threshold’
There are a variety of damages that are split into different categories under Florida’s fairly complicated automobile accident laws. This section helps explain pain and suffering damages.
Because the insurance companies are so politically powerful in Florida, and to keep the cost of car insurance down (supposedly), there are special laws about you getting monetary compensation for your pain and suffering in a Florida car accident. If you were hurt in a Florida slip-and-fall accident, or by a defective product, your legal rights to monetary compensation for pain and suffering would be quite different than what they would be in cases of Florida car accidents.
In order to get financial compensation for your pain and suffering due to injuries in a Florida car accident, you must have suffered a “permanent injury” as a result of the automobile accident. This does not necessarily mean that you must have a missing arm, eye or leg, nor does it mean that you must have had a fracture. Lesser injuries may qualify. A permanent loss of what is called a “significant bodily function,” permanent and “significant scarring or disfigurement” also meet the threshold.
The problem is that if you do not have a clear-cut injury beyond disagreement, the insurance company may decide to offer less than you expect, sometimes far less than you think is fair. It may sound unreasonable to you, but it is often the case. This permanent injury requirement may possibly be a tough hoop for you to jump through, if you do not have a crystal-clear permanent injury.
An experienced Florida personal injury law firm, with knowledgeable trial attorneys who specialize in personal injury litigation, spend their days determining what is and what is not a “permanent injury.” Sometimes, it can all boil down to your continuing complaints being backed by a good and qualified physician’s opinion and the jury’s belief that you are being truthful.
What if you had an old back problem, but it had been more or less O.K. for a year or two, then you were hit from behind and now the pain has returned?
Perhaps you never had a back problem before and now your MRI scan shows a bulging disk or a herniated disk? These circumstances require an understanding of not just the law, but also of medicine. A Florida lawyer that practices personal injury should investigate your medical past in great detail, and look at the medical evidence in your car accident case with a fine-tooth comb.
Call Us To Understand Your Particular Case And Needs
Each case is unique and should be discussed with an experienced personal injury attorney. Call Goldberg and Hirsh P.A. at 305-909-6522 to discuss your personal injury matter in a free legal consultation. You can contact us via our online form.
**SPECIAL NOTE: This article is intended for your general information and of course it should not be relied upon. Since our personal injury law firm offers a first consultation free of charge, you can call us about your case facts without pressure or committing to paying a penny in legal fees. Also, we do not charge for legal fees unless they come out of money that you may get for your case, either as a settlement agreement or in a jury verdict, so you do not have to spend a penny now for our services and we will only get paid if you have a case which results in monetary compensation.