How Does Florida’s No-Fault System Handle Minor Injuries?
When a person is involved in a vehicle accident in Florida, their next steps will be governed by the severity of their injuries. If their injuries are severe, an injured driver is permitted to file suit against the driver who allegedly caused them. However, Florida is a no-fault state when it comes to auto insurance, which means that those who sustain minor injuries must seek compensation through insurance claims instead of in court. This can be confusing for new drivers, or for people who have just begun to drive in Florida, so it is important to understand your options after an accident.
Insurance Claims Over Court Cases
The majority of U.S. states have fault-based systems for auto insurance, which essentially means that a driver who caused an accident will be liable for any injury or damages, and will also likely have their auto insurance premiums rise. Florida and a handful of others have instead opted for no-fault insurance, which means two things for drivers. The first is that each driver in Florida (and in any other state with a no-fault system in place) is required to carry a certain amount of personal injury protection (PIP) auto insurance coverage, ostensibly to cover any bills they may incur while driving.
The second important factor regarding no-fault auto insurance is that in the event of a car crash, anyone who is injured can (at least in theory) file a claim with their own insurer to help pay for their medical bills. This extends even to passengers as long as they own a vehicle or are named on a PIP policy owned by someone else in their household. If you own your own vehicle (and thus, carry your own PIP coverage), but were injured while riding in someone else’s car, you would be able to file a claim for your injuries with your own insurer.
Is PIP Coverage Enough To Cover Bills?
One of the main reasons for Florida’s initial adoption of a no-fault insurance system was to help clear up overcrowded court dockets, shunting claims for minor injuries toward insurers so courts could take more time to handle cases involving more serious injuries and larger amounts of property damages. The relevant state law explicitly states that unless an injury is “significant and permanent,” or “permanent within a reasonable degree of medical probability,” a tort immunity exists, meaning that someone trying to file suit over any injury less severe will not legally be permitted to do so.
It is possible to use PIP coverage to help pay for major injuries, but it will generally not be sufficient if your injuries are particularly severe. If your injuries are minor, it is more likely (though not guaranteed) that your PIP coverage will be able to cover all your expenses. In Florida, PIP coverage is only required to cover 80 percent of all “reasonable expenses” for “medically necessary” care – and as one might imagine, “medically necessary” is a subjective and mutable term. PIP coverage also can only be used to pay bills if an injured person seeks medical care within 14 days of their accident – which often happens, but not always.
Contact A Tampa Auto Accident Attorney Today
If you have been involved in an auto accident and have sustained minor injuries, it can be very confusing trying to figure out how to navigate Florida’s no-fault system in order to get your medical bills paid. If you have questions about your injuries or a possible no-fault claim, contacting a Tampa car accident attorney from the Rinaldo Law Group may be the first step toward getting them answered. Call our office today at (813) 831-9999 for a free consultation.