Who pays for medical treatment following a car accident? This is one of the most commonly asked questions that injury lawyers receive. Following a car accident in Florida, trying to understand who is responsible for paying your medical bills can be confusing. Not only are accidents stressful, but the legal details can add even more frustration to your situation.
If you were the victim of a car accident, it’s important to be able to understand how Florida law affects your ability to recover money for your medical bills. This article will outline your options and highlight important things you need to be aware of so that you can get paid when you need money most.
Florida’s “no fault” designation means that certain benefits are paid to car accident victims regardless of who was at fault. Your own auto insurance company is responsible for 80% of your medical bills and 60% of your lost wages regardless of who is at fault in an auto accident. In fact, this coverage which is called Personal Injury Protection or PIP, covers any injury related to your use of an automobile including slamming fingers in the door or being injured if your car falls off of a jack while changing a tire.
If an injured person does not have their own auto policy, then the PIP coverage is provided by any policy owned by a resident relative of the injured person’s household. If there is no resident relative of the household with PIP coverage then the PIP policy of the automobile they were riding in covers these PIP benefits.
These Florida PIP policies may have a deductible that is the responsibility of a person’s health insurance if they have health insurance or may have to be paid out of pocket. These PIP policies have policy limits of $2,500 or $10,000. Under the Florida law if an injured person does not have what the legislature describes as an “Emergency Medical Condition” diagnosed within 14 days of the crash then the PIP policy is limited to $2,500.
An at fault or negligent driver is responsible for any medical bills or lost wages not covered by the PIP insurance.
Once PIP coverage is exhausted an injured person’s own health insurance is responsible to begin paying bills. Generally, Florida health insurance companies will not pay any medical bills that appear to be related to an auto crash until they are provided with a PIP insurance payout ledger proving that PIP has paid the limits of its responsibility.
An injured person is only entitled to monetary compensation for pain, suffering, inconvenience and loss of enjoyment of life if doctors determine that they have suffered a permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability.
Medical payments coverage is not mandatory coverage. Available in addition to PIP coverage, MedPay offers a second layer of protection, providing for the 20% co-pay not covered by PIP and for for medical expenses over $10,000.
Uninsured and Underinsured motorist coverage, or UIM, is important insurance to buy that will protect an injured person who is injured by an uninsured driver, a phantom driver who leaves the scene of the accident,,or an at fault driver who does not have enough insurance to cover the harms and losses sustained.
Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage may be available from a resident relative of the injured person’s household or from the auto that the injured person was riding in if it is owned by someone other than the injured person. This area of the law is very complex and legal advice from an experience car accident lawyer is very important to find insurance coverage that may not be evident to a non-attorney.
Not all accidents are as clear as they could be, in terms of identifying fault. For example, if you are seeking compensation from the other party, the possibility exists that the other party may say you are to blame, in whole or in part, for the accident. If it is found that you are partly to blame, the amount you receive in compensation will be affected.
In Florida, something called a “pure comparative negligence rule” applies to these kinds of cases. This rule adjusts your amount of compensation, by taking your percentage of fault for the accident into account.
For example, if your damages are $6000, but you are found to be 20% responsible for an accident, your compensation would be $4800, or 20% less than the original damage amount.
As stated previously, Florida’s “no fault” designation means that compensation will be paid to you, regardless of who is at fault for a car accident. Most accidents considered to be minor will be considered no-fault by compensation personal injury lawyers.
However, it may be that your particular case does not fall within the no-fault system. Filing for personal liability may be a possibility for you if the car accident you were involved in caused you to suffer:
Of course, the above terms are general and will require some deliberation to determine the degree of severity of your injuries and whether or not those injuries meet Florida’s threshold for permanent injury.
Regardless of the details, the key to success for the claiming of any damages in a car accident is to be prepared.
When an accident occurs, you must ensure that no injured parties are moved. You must also not apologize for the incident because this can be considered as an admittance of guilt. Also, the other party should not be told how much auto or injury coverage you have.
It is important not to “agree and walk away.” A verbal agreement with the other party to simply forget about the accident may result in a future claim being filed against you.
The more evidence you can gather, the stronger your claim will be. Therefore, it’s important to have as much documentation prepared as possible. This means taking notes for your personal injury case about what you remember about an accident and taking pictures for evidence, either right after the accident or by revisiting the scene.
You can also take physical evidence, such as a piece of clothing that was torn during the accident or an object which you believe contributed to the cause of the accident. As well, you should review any contact information you collected from witnesses when the accident occurred and get in touch with them regarding what they observed.