Florida’s No-Fault Insurance Laws and Auto Accident Victims
April 6, 2015
[clickToTweet tweet=”Florida is one of about a dozen US states that follows “no-fault” insurance laws. ” quote=”Florida is one of about a dozen US states that follows “no-fault” insurance laws. “]
Other states requiring no-fault insurance include Hawaii, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Dakota, and Utah. No-fault coverage is optional in Kentucky, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
What does no-fault insurance mean? In basic terms, no-fault insurance will pay some or all of your medical bills and lost earnings if you get into an auto accident, regardless of whether you caused the accident or were a victim.
In no-fault insurance states like Florida, drivers must buy personal injury protection (PIP), as well as Property Damage Liability (PDL) which can raise the cost of car insurance coverage significantly. Florida’s no-fault insurance policy makes it one of the most expensive places in the US for car insurance.
While this type of coverage is expensive, our no-fault insurance does come with perks. The most important benefit of no-fault insurance is that it provides medical coverage to some extent. If you are injured in an accident, your insurance company will have to pay for any bodily injuries you sustained, regardless of who was at fault. Your insurer will pay for your damage, while the other driver’s insurance company will pay for his or hers.
What is Included in No-Fault Medical Coverage
As a driver in a no-fault insurance state, it’s important that you understand what your no-fault medical or PIP coverage includes.
Bodily injury. With no-fault insurance, your insurance company will provide coverage for any bodily injuries you sustain, including hospital bills and other medical expenses. This type of insurance should cover you, your family members, and anyone else riding in your car without a registered vehicle and without PIP.
Associated losses. In some cases, PIP coverage can cover some of the losses associated with your injury, such as lost wages.
Property damage. PDL pays out damages if a driver causes damage to another’s vehicle or property.
Problems with Florida’s No-Fault System
While Florida’s no-fault laws were enacted to reduce complicated lawsuits and provide those injured in auto accidents with more immediate access to treatment, there are several flaws in our no-fault system.
limits injured parties to $2,500 of their PIP if they aren’t seriously injured. Only people with “emergency medical conditions” can access the full $10,000. That means that despite having to carry $10,000 in PIP, most policyholders are only eligible for up to $2,500 of coverage for their medical expenses. This drastically limits the services that are available to accident victims, as an MRI alone can cost as much as $1,400.
Certification requirements. After being in an accident, policyholders must provide certification from a medical professional if they want to receive attention, which can delay access to medical attention significantly.
Time restrictions. Policyholders must seek treatment within 14 days if they want to qualify for PIP. If they aren’t able to see their doctor within two weeks, or if injuries don’t flare up until after the accident, their insurers may not reimburse them.
Medical treatment restrictions. Many less traditional, low-cost forms of medical treatment are not covered under PIP, including acupuncture and massage therapy.
If Your Medical Bills Exceed PIP Coverage
As mentioned above, in many cases PIP coverage only allows for $2,500 in reimbursements if the injury doesn’t qualify as an “emergency medical condition.” A mere $2,500 is often not nearly enough to cover the injuries someone sustains in an accident. Even if your injuries do qualify as “serious” and you are able to secure the full $10,000, this is also rarely sufficient to cover all the costs of treating and recovering from a severe injury.
When your medical bills and other costs related to recovery exceed your coverage, you may be forced to pay a large sum out of pocket. However, if you were the victim of an accident where the other driver was at fault, you can file a personal injury claim to pursue compensation for the remaining medical costs, as well as lost wages and overall pain and suffering. You may also be able to secure additional damages and tort if the injuries and complications you suffered will affect you for the rest of your life.
Florida’s no-fault insurance laws can be complex, confusing, and constantly in flux.
Navigating the process of filing a personal injury claim to secure the compensation you and your family direly need can be frustrating—no one should have to do it alone. If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident, and you are worried you won’t be able to secure the medical care, coverage of lost wages, and coverage of other recovery-related fees that you require, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer. A compassionate and aggressive attorney can help you fight for your right for just compensation, giving you the time, support, and finances necessary to help your family recover.
About the Author:
John K. Lawlor, a South Florida personal injury attorney who focuses his practice on complex personal injury, wrongful death, and professional malpractice, founded the law firm of Lawlor, White & Murphey in 1998. Since 1995, Mr. Lawlor’s trial advocacy and litigation skills, as well as his wide-ranging legal expertise, have provided plaintiffs and their families with a distinct advantage when seeking financial compensation and justice for injuries caused by the negligence of others. Mr. Lawlor is an EAGLE member of the Florida Bar Association and an active member of the American Association for Justice, the Broward County Justice Association, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and several professional associations.