Florida roads are no strangers to motor vehicle accidents. Last year alone, Florida drivers were involved in nearly 400,000 traffic accidents, and accidents resulted in approximately 250,000 injuries, according to .1 Moreover, approximately 212,000 of 400,000 traffic accidents also resulted in some form of property damage.
Motor vehicle accidents can result in injuries as well as property damage, and individuals may have an opportunity to recover damages for those costs and expenses associated with the accident. Typically, the damages that may be recovered include those for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and property damage.
While individuals may be legally entitled to recover damages as a result of these accidents, Florida insurance laws may create complications for those seeking recovery.
What is PIP?
2 requires that all drivers maintain Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance. PIP is part of Florida's no-fault insurance coverage and is designed to provide drivers with up to $10,000 in immediate medical coverage in the event of an accident.
PIP was implemented in an effort to make insurance claims far less adversarial. In the event of an accident, an individual will file a personal injury claim with his or her own insurance company. The insurance company, so long as the insured has timely met all of the policy's requirements, will pay out the claim, up to the maximum amount of coverage, regardless of fault. Essentially, Florida drivers are self-insured regarding personal injuries.
Can I Sue After PIP Payout?
As stated above, PIP can complicate the process for recovering damages. PIP provides the insured with immediate medical coverage in the event of an accident. Because the maximum coverage provided by PIP is $10,000, those individuals who are injured as a result of another driver's negligence may find that their medical expenses and any additional costs far exceed the amount of coverage paid out by PIP.
Whenever an injured party's insurance is unable to cover all of the expenses associated with an automobile accident, he or she seeks to recover through alternative means. Many turn to the court system in an effort to recover through litigation and adversarial means.
The road to recovery may not be so easy for Florida drivers seeking to recover damages through litigation. The implementation of PIP has made a driver's ability to use the court system much less clear; in some cases, recovery may be altogether barred. Litigation may be barred in some instances because PIP was designed to settle matters out of the court system by providing immediate medical coverage. As such, the injured party may only bring personal injury lawsuits against the at-fault party under certain circumstances.
In order to have an opportunity to file a lawsuit against an at-fault party, the Plaintiff must have sustained serious or permanent injuries as a result of the accident. These aforementioned categories may include injuries such as, but not limited to, the following:
- Paralysis (whether full-body or otherwise)
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Injuries to the back or spinal cord
- Disfigurement or permanent scarring
- Broken bones
The injuries and others like them are examples of serious or permanent injuries that can impact the everyday lives of an accident victim. Because of their severity, the costs associated with the injuries far exceed the immediate medical coverage provided under PIP.
Injury victims should keep careful records of all expenses and costs associated with treating serious or permanent injuries. Injured parties will only be able to recover damages for those costs, expenses, and injuries which can be proven. This fact also requires that injured parties demonstrate the seriousness of their injuries by some form of medical report/examination.
It is also important to note that Florida law permits insurance companies to request an independent medical examination. This examination may be conducted by a medical professional of their choosing, one who is undoubtedly on the insurance company's dime and will likely be swayed to reach medical conclusions in favor of the insurance company.
Injured parties should obtain the legal counsel of an experienced personal injury attorney before filing a Post-PIP personal injury lawsuit. Experienced attorneys understand the nuances and complexities of Florida's judicial system as well as the requirements when dealing with Post-PIP matters. An attorney will, among other things, help an injured party avoid signing any documentation without having previously reviewed same, will evaluate the viability of potential claims, and coach clients on answering questions that may be posed by examining medical professionals.
Contact a Clearwater Auto Accident Attorney Today for a Free Consultation
Florida's PIP law should not impede your ability to recover damages resulting from injuries you suffered in an automobile accident. Retaining a skilled and knowledgeable attorney will help improve your chances of recovery. The attorneys of the Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA in Clearwater, Florida, have the experience and knowledge to help you navigate your personal injury claims. Call us today at 727-451-6900 for a free consultation.