If you’re injured in a Fort Lauderdale car accident, you may be aware that your first avenue to collect damages is personal injury protection (or “PIP”) coverage. This is state-mandated auto insurance that you pay for that will cover a portion of your medical bills and lost wages if you are injured in a Florida car accident – regardless of who is at-fault. However, as our Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyers can explain, PIP is not likely to cover all of your damages – particularly if it was a serious wreck. That is why if someone else caused the crash (or exacerbated your injuries from it), you will want to explore stepping outside of that no-fault system and filing a claim against the at-fault driver.
What PIP Does NOT Cover
Although PIP is the go-to for no-fault accident coverage in Florida, it does not cover every scenario, every type of loss – or even every person. The following is a list of what PIP won’t cover:
- Property damage. If your car is damaged in the crash, you’ll need to file a separate claim with your own insurance company (or the insurer of the at-fault driver) in order to be compensated for necessary repairs. Florida law requires drivers carry at least $10,000 in property damage liability coverage.
- Motorcycle operators. PIP coverage is not mandated – or even available – to owners/operators of motorcycles or other self-propelled vehicles. Motorcyclists must rely on other types of auto insurance coverage.
- More than $10,000 in medical expenses. No matter how serious your injuries are, PIP is only going to cover up to $10,000 in medical expenses. In fact, PIP is only designed to cover up to 80 percent of “reasonable medical expenses.” Furthermore, if your injuries are not “emergent,” PIP may cover no more than $2,500 in medical expenses. Unless you take legal action against the at-fault driver, you and/or your health insurer will be liable for the rest. If your injuries are “serious and permanent,” as outlined in F.S. 627.727, you may step out of the no-fault system and pursue a claim against the at-fault driver for damages for the full amount of your losses. If they do not have insurance or lack enough insurance, you may file a claim with your own uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) carrier for the difference.
- More than 60 percent of your lost wages. PIP will cover up to 60 percent of your lost wages if you can’t work due to your injuries – but not if it equals more than $10,000 (and usually far less because that is all that’s available to cover your medical expenses too). If you can’t return to work at all or must take a lower-paying job as a result of your injuries, you could be facing substantial income losses. These are recoverable from the at-fault party if you step outside the no-fault system and pursue damages.
- Pain and suffering. PIP coverage only covers economic losses. This would include things like medical bills and lost wages. But Florida car accident victims are traumatized, both physically and emotionally. The law recognizes the impact of this, which is why crash victims can pursue damages (compensation) for pain and suffering – but only in a civil claim. You won’t recover pain and suffering damages from your PIP carrier.
Other PIP Coverage Considerations
Other things to note about PIP coverage is claimants have a very short window of time in which to file a claim. PIP claims must be filed within 14 days. If you wait longer to seek medical attention/file your claim, your damages may be limited to $2,500 – or less.
If you have ongoing medical expenses, PIP will only cover those incurred within three years of the crash date. Any long-term medical care or treatment beyond that is likely going to be paid out-of-pocket, unless you take legal action against the other driver.
Note too that PIP coverage also has a deductible, which varies by carrier and policy. Typically, the deductible is about $500. So even if you have $10,000 in coverage, you’d still be paying at least $500 out-of-pocket.
If you have been in a Fort Lauderdale car accident, our injury attorneys offer free initial consultations to advise you of your rights regarding PIP coverage and third-party claims.
Call Fort Lauderdale Injury Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
Consumer Pamphlet: Automobile Insurance, The Florida Bar