Personal Injury Protection 101
Those who may have come to Florida from other states may not be familiar with the nature of personal injury protection (PIP) insurance, as many other states use a different form of auto insurance. However, every driver in Florida must be at least familiar enough with the basics to be able to insulate themselves from liability if they are involved in an auto accident. Ensuring that you have your facts straight before heading out on the roads can save significant time and trouble in the future.
As of this writing, twelve states including Florida use a no-fault auto insurance system, with the others using a standard fault system which allows suit in civil court for damages. In Florida, by comparison, your PIP policy is intended to cover any medical bills or lost wages, with suit against another driver only being permissible if your injuries are “severe and permanent,” or in some cases, if your medical costs are in excess of $10,000. (Property damage is not covered in any no-fault state but Michigan; in Florida a separate policy must be purchased to cover property damage, with a minimum of $10,000.) The rationale is that in this system, most auto accident claims can be handled through each person’s insurance company, freeing up court dockets for more serious and dire matters.
However, there are downsides to such a system, namely that so much control over whether someone’s bills get reimbursed is left to private insurers, who sometimes act unethically or try to deny claims that deserve payment. To begin with, PIP only covers 80 percent of one’s medical bills, with the remainder being your responsibility unless you have additional coverage. Also, there is a very strict statute of limitations – namely that someone must file a claim within 14 days of suffering their injuries, or they will be denied reimbursement. If someone is not aware of this statute of limitations, they will nonetheless be denied.
Filing A Claim
Florida requires a minimum PIP coverage amount of $10,000 (in addition to the $10,000 worth of property damage liability insurance), but it is important to be aware that in many cases, your insurance will not pay out the entire $10,000 in PIP benefits unless your injuries are deemed to be sufficiently severe. Many will simply elect to carry more insurance, but this is not required, and many are either unable to or are unaware of the option. Either way, filing with your insurer is the first step toward having your claim paid, and many will in fact be paid with little issue.
If your claim is disputed or denied, your next step is to ascertain why, because while many insurers are honest, some are not and will search for any reason to deny an otherwise-valid claim. You may be able to either provide the information the insurer says is absent, or otherwise show that their pretext for denial is just that. Having an experienced attorney on your side can be a great help.
Call Our Tampa Auto Accident Lawyers Today
New Florida residents should be able to focus on settling into a beautiful and welcoming state, rather than worrying about whether they may one day wind up in debt due to someone else’s negligence in driving. If you have questions about your policy or about your insurance after an accident, contacting an attorney who knows how the system works can be of great help. The Rinaldo Law Group focuses on auto accidents and personal injury for a large part of their practice, and its friendly and helpful attorneys are happy to sit down with you and try to assist you however possible. Contact the Tampa office today at 813-831-9999 to schedule a free consultation.