The first thing that you need to understand when you have been in a car accident in Florida are the types of insurance coverage which may apply in your cases and the role of each type of coverage. You have probably heard that Florida is a “No Fault” state. That is not entirely correct. Florida is what I refer to as a “Quasi No Fault” state. Generally, Florida car accident victims may come into contact with different insurance companies providing coverage for each vehicle involved the car accident; and most likely deal with their own insurance company and the insurance company of the driver of the other car involved in the collision.
(1) Your Vehicle: In Florida, if your vehicle is registered in the State of Florida, and is being driven on the roads of Florida, you are required to carry certain forms of insurance. Florida’s minimum insurance coverage is $10,000 personal injury protection (PIP) and $10,000 property damage liability (PDL) as long as you have a valid Florida license plate on your car.
a) Personal Injury Protection (PIP): This is the type of insurance which covers a portion of your medical bills and lost wages – regardless of fault (i.e. whether or not you cause the crash) – up to the limits of your policy. Generally this is $10,000.00. The amount of coverage is combined for both medical bills and lost wages – meaning it is one sum of money to cover BOTH lost wages and medical bills. PIP however only pays 80% of the medical bills and 60% of the lost wages.
b) Med Pay: If you elected to obtain Medical Payments coverage under your auto policy, your insurance company will pay up to the limits of the policy for your necessary accident-related medical expenses. This coverage may apply even when you are hurt while a passenger in another vehicle. Check your policy to determine what these limits are. Keep in mind that most policies will require that you repay your carrier for these expenses advanced out of the proceeds of your settlement.
c) UM/UIM: Hopefully, you purchased Uninsured/Underinsured Motorists coverage at the time you bought your policy. The uninsured motorist coverage (UM) will pay for your damages in the event that the driver that caused the accident did not have liability coverage in place. The underinsured coverage (UIM) will pay for your damages in the event that the other driver failed to have liability coverage in place. In some cases, this form of coverage may apply even if you are a passenger in someone else’s vehicle.
d) Bodily Injury/Liability (BI): This category of damages generally includes payment for your medical expenses, physical injuries, pain and suffering, lost wages, loss of earnings capacity and other economic losses. Settlement negotiations for these types of damages should not take place until your doctors have completed your course of medical treatment. In many cases, insurance adjuster for the other side will either delay settlement or make “low-ball” offers requiring the commencement of litigation to resolve the case. Or they may entice you with what seems like a “fair” number early on, then have you sign a Release. In almost every case, once the Release is signed your claim is over. Never, never, never sign a Release until you speak with an experienced car accident lawyer.