Florida automobile accident laws combine a strange mix of “no-fault” and “fault-based” insurance systems that make it complicated and confusing when trying to figure out how to recover compensation for car accident injuries and from whom. First, there is Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance coverage, which is supposed to pay benefits without regard to who was at fault in causing the accident. This makes receiving PIP benefits somewhat easier, since you do not have to prove the other driver’s negligence or fault in order to recover. The benefits available under PIP insurance are incomplete, however. First of all, PIP benefits only cover 80% of your medical expenses and 60% of your lost wages, up to a total of $10,000, so you may still suffer a significant loss and expense. To make matters worse, recent changes to the law bring down the total amount you can receive in PIP benefits from $10,000 down to only $2,5000, unless you were seen and treated for an “emergency medical condition” within 14 days of the accident.
PIP coverage also severely limits your right to sue the other driver who caused the accident. In fact, the only times you can go after the negligent, “at-fault” driver is in one of the following circumstances:
You suffered a significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function
You suffered significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement
You received a permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability
In these instances, the law does allow you to pursue a claim against the other driver for all of your medical expenses and lost wages, as well as other harm such as pain, suffering, mental anguish and inconvenience. If the other driver has bodily injury liability insurance, you may be facing the driver’s insurance company in your attempt to get compensation to cover your legal damages, either through a negotiated settlement or a jury verdict if a trial becomes necessary. However, about one-fourth of Florida drivers are uninsured. In this case, you may be able to pursue a claim for benefits under your uninsured motorist coverage. Be aware, however, that regardless of whether you go up against the other driver’s insurance company or your own, your interests and the insurance company’s interests are not the same. You want to be fully compensated for your injuries, while the insurer wants to pay as little as can get away with. You need a tough, effective Bradenton auto accident attorney on your side to make sure you get all the compensation that is due to you.