Florida is among the limited number of states that has a “no fault” insurance law. Under this law, all vehicle owners are required to carry a minimum amount of insurance coverage, known as Personal Injury Protection (or “PIP). When a driver who has PIP coverage suffers physical injuries in an accident, he or she must rely exclusively on this PIP coverage unless an exception applies. Since the law provides for “no fault” compensation, insurers must provide PIP coverage regardless of who was at fault in their policyholder’s accident.
However, this is not necessarily as good as it sounds. In Florida, the minimum mandatory PIP coverage is $10,000, and PIP only covers 80 percent of accident victims’ medical bills and 60 percent of their lost income. Personal Injury Protection does not cover other categories of losses (such as pain and suffering), and all PIP payments are subject to the policyholder’s chosen deductible. For motorists with the minimum PIP coverage and maximum deductible of $1,000, this means that they will often recover far less than the true cost of their accident-related injuries.
The “Permanent Injury” Exception to Florida’s “No Fault” Insurance Law
Fortunately, there is a major exception to Florida’s “no fault” insurance law. This is known as the “permanent injury” exception, and it is outlined in Section 627.737 of the Florida Statutes. Under this exception, accident victims can pursue claims for full compensation against at-fault drivers’ insurance companies in cases involving:
- “Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function.”
- “Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability, other than scarring or disfigurement.”
- “Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement.”
The law also entitles family members to seek full compensation in cases of wrongful death.
Assessing Your Injuries and Losses After a Car Accident
After a car accident, it is important to obtain a comprehensive medical diagnosis and fully assess the immediate and long-term costs of your injuries. While your PIP coverage may be sufficient to cover your losses, you should not decide to rely solely on PIP until you are sure that this coverage is adequate. If your losses exceed your PIP policy limit (taking into consideration your deductible and the limitations on PIP coverage mentioned above), then you may need to pursue a fault-based claim in order to avoid bearing the financial burden of someone else’s driving mistake for years (if not decades) to come.
How do you know if your injury qualifies as a “permanent injury” under Florida’s insurance law? This requires an expert medical opinion as well as advice from an experienced auto accident attorney. If you were injured in an accident in the Crestview area and would like to learn more about your options, we encourage you to contact us for a free consultation.
Schedule a Free Car Accident Consultation Today
At Powell, Powell & Powell, P.A., we bring decades of experience to representing car accident victims in Crestview and throughout the Florida Panhandle. If you have been injured and would like to speak with an attorney, we encourage you to contact us for a free consultation. To schedule an appointment, please call (850) 682-2757, or send us your contact information and we will be in touch as soon as possible.