Florida has what is called a No-Fault Auto Insurance Liability system for car crashes. It is really only partially a no-fault system because many aspects of car crash liability in Florida, including car accidents involving texting and pedestrian accidents, are still based upon fault or negligence of drivers.
The first $2,500 to $10,000 of medical bills and lost wages are covered under the no-fault part of the system. Financial losses and pain, suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life damages are based upon a traditional negligence-based fault liability system with a right to jury trial. Florida has no caps on the dollar amount of damages a jury can award for future medical expenses or for the quality of life damages such as pain, suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life.
The no-fault part of the Florida insurance system does set a threshold on entitlement to quality of life damages that requires that the plaintiff or person claiming the injury show that at least part of the injury is a permanent injury before these damages are allowable. In other words, in most cases even if a person suffers severe pain and inconvenience from an auto injury if no doctor says the person suffered a permanent injury the person cannot recover any quality of life damages from a negligent or careless driver who caused the crash.
Many jury trials in auto crash cases, especially in whiplash type cases, revolve around this issue of whether the injured person suffered a permanent injury. Torn or overstretched muscles in a whiplash case can heal with scar tissue creating a permanent medical injury. Broken bones or surgeries almost always result in a permanent injury under the Florida law.
The no-fault portion of Florida auto crash law is based on the Personal Injury Protection insurance referred to as PIP in Florida. Owners of cars in Florida are required to buy this insurance to register an automobile. PIP insurance pays for a portion of medical bills and lost wages for a person injured in a car crash. A driver’s own PIP insurance pays the medical bills and lost wages incurred in an auto crash or auto-related injury no matter who was at fault or even if no one was at fault. An injured passenger’s own PIP pays for that passenger’s bills and wages likewise without regard to fault.
If a passenger in a car does not have PIP then either PIP from a resident relative of their household or the driver’s PIP will pay those expenses. An at-fault driver’s insurance will never cover PIP for the driver or passengers of the other car in a collision. Further, PIP insurance is considered primary over health insurance so a person’s health insurance will generally not pay medical bills until the health insurance company receives proof that the PIP insurance has been exhausted.
PIP insurance also has a $5,000 death benefit.
Florida PIP provides for $10,000 in medical benefits or lost wages if the injured person sees a doctor within 14 days after a car crash and a M.D. or D.O. gives an opinion that the injury qualifies as an emergency medical condition. If the injured person does not see a doctor within the 14 days and does not get an opinion then the PIP benefits are limited to $2,500.
Under Florida law an “Emergency medical condition” means:
A medical condition manifesting itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity, which may include severe pain, such that the absence of immediate medical attention could reasonably be expected to result in any of the following:
Consequently, it is important for people involved in auto crashes in Florida to get medical care and seek legal advice as soon as possible. Insurance companies have trained negotiators that will contact you to try to weaken your claims to insurance and compensation or even to blame you for the accident.
Do not give any statements to insurance adjusters without getting advice from a lawyer first. This is the best way to protect your legal rights. Our firm gives free consultations to all auto accident victims and we handle cases on a percentage basis where the client never gets a bill or has to pay out-of-pocket expense of the legal proceedings. Call us now if you have been injured in an auto accident.
You have only a limited period of time in which to file a personal injury lawsuit. That’s because the law places a statute of limitations, or deadline, on legal action. Once your time has expired, you will no longer be able to sue the other party and receive car accident compensation.
Statutes of limitations vary by state. Deadlines also depend on the type of case you’re pursuing. Personal injury cases involving negligence, for example, follow a different timeline than wrongful death cases. Seeing as how each case is different and how laws can change, an auto accident attorney in Pinellas Park, FL can help you determine the deadline that applies in your case.
There are other reasons why hiring a car accident lawyer immediately after a crash is the best course of action. As time goes by, evidence tends to disappear. Witnesses forget key events. Photographs are lost. Contact information is misplaced. If you want the best chance of securing just compensation, then time is of the essence. The more time you give your legal team to prepare a case, the better your prospects will be, particularly in light of the legal restrictions and the time-sensitive nature of personal injury cases.
Saunders & Walker specializes in obtaining compensation for victims of car accidents, particularly in cases where companies put profits ahead of safety. If you’ve been injured in a car crash, our experienced car accident lawyers can help you at every step of the way. Our legal team can:
All too often, big insurance companies value their bottom line more than they value their customer’s wellbeing. If you’ve been injured in an auto accident, it’s important to understand your legal options. The lawyers at Saunders & Walker can help. We can evaluate your case and help you move forward with the complex legal realities of a personal injury claim. Call us at 1-800-748-7115 or email our Pinellas County headquarters for a free consultation.