Florida is a no-fault insurance state for traffic accidents. Florida law requires drivers to have a minimum amount of no-fault car insurance known as Personal Injury Protection (PIP). Florida does not have insurance requirements for liability insurance like those in at-fault states.
Understanding PIP coverage and when you could sue an at-fault driver can help you receive the maximum compensation for a car accident claim. Even though PIP is no-fault insurance, it does not mean you automatically receive full benefits after a car accident.
How Does PIP Insurance Work After a Car Accident in Clearwater?
PIP covers a portion of your medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses after a traffic accident. Your insurance company pays the benefits to you regardless of who caused the car wreck. However, PIP coverage is limited and does not cover all damages caused by a car accident.
Medical Payments Coverage Under a PIP Policy
PIP insurance policies cover medical expenses you incur after a car accident. You can receive reimbursement for up to 80% of your medical bills. However, things you need to know about a PIP claim for medical expenses include:
- Medical treatment must be provided within 14 days of the accident date to receive benefits
- Benefits are limited to $2,500 if you do not sustain an emergency medical condition
- Licensed medical providers must provide treatment, such as a physician, emergency medical personnel, dentists, chiropractors, and hospitals
- Family members could receive PIP benefits if they do not own a vehicle but live with a spouse or blood relative who has a vehicle with PIP auto insurance coverage
Your insurance provider may challenge your PIP claim. If so, seeking prompt legal advice could protect your right to benefits.
Loss of Income Coverage Under a PIP Insurance Policy
You may be entitled to reimbursement for lost wages if you cannot work because of a car accident injury. PIP covers up to 60% of the loss of income after a car accident. However, the benefits are included with your medical bills, subject to the policy limits.
You must provide medical records proving that you could not work because of your injuries. You must also provide proof of the amount of income you would have earned had you been able to work.
Other Benefits PIP Insurance Covers
PIP covers other economic losses because of a car accident. For example, you can receive reimbursement for help with household chores. Family members may receive up to $5,000 in death benefits for funeral expenses and other damages if someone is killed in an accident.
No-fault insurance does not compensate accident victims for non-economic damages and other financial losses. However, Florida insurance laws permit accident victims to sue at-fault drivers in specific circumstances.
When Can I Sue the Other Driver for a Clearwater Car Accident?
Florida law permits you to sue the other driver for a car accident if you meet the serious injury threshold. “Serious injuries” are defined by statute as:
- Permanent impairment within a reasonable degree of medical certainty
- Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function
- Scarring or disfigurement that is permanent and significant
If the other driver has liability insurance, the insurance company may be liable for compensating the accident victim for damages. However, Florida does not require drivers to have liability insurance coverage. Therefore, the victim would need to sue the other driver to obtain a personal judgment for their damages if the driver does not have liability insurance or the insurance company denies the claim.
Before you can recover money for a car accident claim, you have the burden of proving:
- The other driver owed you a legal duty of care
- The other driver breached the legal duty of care
- The breach of duty was a direct and proximate cause of your injury
- You incurred damages because of the breach of duty
Once you prove the other driver caused the car crash, you can recover compensation for economic and non-economic damages. Unlike a PIP claim, you could recover compensation for the total amount of your damages.
What Damages Can I Receive for a Car Accident Claim?
Examples of the non-economic and economic damages in a car accident case include:
- Past and future medical expenses and bills
- Past and future lost wages and benefits
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Emotional distress
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Disfigurement, impairment, scarring, and disability
- Physical pain and suffering
- Long-term nursing care or personal care
- Diminished earning capacity
- Mental anguish
- Decrease in quality of life
The amount you receive for a car accident settlement depends on numerous factors. For example, the availability of insurance coverage, monetary damages, and the severity of your injuries impact the value of an injury claim.
The insurance company will offer the least amount possible to settle your claim. Talking with an accident lawyer before you accept a settlement offer ensures you know how much your personal injury claim is worth.
Contact Us for a Free Consultation With a Personal Injury Lawyer
Florida insurance laws can be confusing. Call our law firm Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes Personal Injury Lawyers at (727) 796-8282 to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced car accident lawyers to discuss your case. You could be entitled to more money for your car crash than you realize.