Florida law establishes strict requirements for auto insurance, including requiring all drivers to carry a type of coverage called personal injury protection, or PIP. Per F.S. 627.736, this PIP coverage provides up to $10,000 in medical and disability benefits and $5,000 in death benefits resulting from bodily injury, sickness disease or death arising from the ownership, maintenance or use of a motor vehicle. This applies to crashes, regardless of who is at-fault.
When lawmakers established Florida as a “no-fault” state, the goal was to make it easier to obtain fast coverage for injuries suffered in a crash – even if the other driver didn’t have insurance – and to reduce the burden on the court system.
However, our accident lawyers know that while there are some benefits to this PIP system, the problem is far too many victims who have suffered serious injuries are denied benefits, or else they are offered settlement “deals” that are far less than the actual losses they suffered. Plus, there are a number of exclusions. Still, the only way a person can step outside the boundaries of PIP is to meet the threshold of injury as outlined in F.S. 627.737.
This provision says individuals can recover damages for pain, suffering, mental anguish and bodily injury if (and only if) the related injury involves:
- Significant and permanent loss of an important body function;
- Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability (other than scarring);
- Significant and permanent scarring and disfigurement;
Defendants have the right to question whether a plaintiff in such a case meets this criteria by filing a motion with the court, asking for a hearing to examine existing evidence indicating plaintiff meets at least one of the aforementioned requirements. This hearing has to be held at least 30 days before the pretrial hearing or the trial, whichever is first. This will require your car accident lawyer in Fort Myers to be ready to prove this information in court before your case can even go to trial.
Most car accident lawsuits in Florida are settled prior to trial, but that doesn’t mean our attorneys won’t be ready to take it to that phase if need be.
In cases where injuries are serious and perhaps even catastrophic, proving your damages meet the criteria allowing you to step outside the state’s no-fault law for recovery of additional damages is usually not difficult particularly considering PIP insurance limits are anywhere from $2,500 to $10,000. Plus, PIP doesn’t cover the kind of intangible losses you might otherwise be entitled to recover in a car accident case, such as pain and suffering and future lost earning capacity.
In addition to showing you suffered damages in the crash, you will also need to prove the negligence on behalf of defendant(s). This generally requires a showing that the other driver did not use reasonable care in operating a motor vehicle, usually by violating some provision of the law or just generally being careless. In some cases, where defendant driver was on-the-clock at the time of the crash, we may assert the employer was to blame. We might also seek action against the owner of a motor vehicle, if that person/ business is different from the driver.
If you have been injured in a crash and have trouble collecting PIP benefits or believe you are entitled to an amount in excess of your PIP benefits, we can help.
Call Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, at 1-800-646-1210.
More Blog Entries:
Court Rules ‘Good Samaritan’ Can Receive UIM Auto Insurer Benefits, July 12, 2017, Fort Myers Car Accident Lawyer Blog