If you or a loved one has been in a car accident, you might be wondering who’s responsible to pay for the medical expenses. Laws vary from state to state. Florida, for instance, is a “No-Fault” insurance state. Every motorist is required to have a minimum of $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP). This PIP coverage covers 80 percent of medical expenses up to the cap, and 60 percent of lost wages up to the cap no matter who is at fault. In other words, when there’s a car crash, each driver looks to their own insurance to cover their medical costs and lost wages. This differs from an “At-Fault” state, where a claim would be filed with the other driver’s insurer to prove who was at fault, and by extension, who would be responsible to pay the costs of the crash.
Because PIP insurance will only pay up to the amount you have in Personal Injury Protection, you become responsible for your own medical expenses once that amount is exceeded.
Are there exceptions to the “No-Fault” law?
Yes, under Florida’s “No-Fault” law you are permitted to sue the at-fault driver if a person suffered a permanent injury as a result of the accident, or if the injuries suffered, though temporary, exceeded the $10,000 PIP coverage cap.
What is considered a permanent injury under the “No-Fault” law?
As you can imagine, the $10,000 PIP cap doesn’t often go very far. So, according to Florida statute, one or more of the following requirements need to be met in order to file a claim against the person at fault:
- 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
In Florida, the victim of a car crash has up to four years from the time of the accident to file a claim against the at-fault motorist. Whether or not the victim has suffered a serious impairment is decided by a judge or jury.
Common car accident injuries:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Fractures and sprains
- Broken bones
Causes of car accidents:
- Vehicle malfunctions or design defects
- Drowsy driving
- Tire blowouts
- Taking inappropriate or abrupt turns
- Driving the wrong way on the street
- Weaving in and out of traffic or changing lanes unsafely
- Poor road conditions like potholes
- Weather conditions
- Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Running a red light or stop sign
- Reckless driving
- Distracted driving
How do you know if you have a car accident lawsuit?
If the other driver was negligent, it is likely that you have a valid claim. Negligence is defined by the law as, “failure to use reasonable care, resulting in damage or injury to another.”
- Did the other driver owe you a duty of care such as to stop at a red light?
- Did the other driver negligently disobey that duty of care?
- Did that negligence result in injuries?
- Did those injuries cause losses (i.e., damages)?
If you answered yes to all the above, you have the key components to a successful personal injury claim.
What if your insurance won’t pay your damages?
Occasionally, insurance companies may try to delay or deny paying your claim. If you find yourself in this position, consider the following:
- Keep detailed records of who you talked to, when you talked, and what was said.
- Make sure you understand your insurance policy and rights (best to check with a personal injury attorney with experience in the laws and their interpretations.)
- Stay on top of it with persistent, documented follow-ups
- File suit with the justice system
What should you do immediately after a collision?
It’s important that you don’t refuse medical treatment at the scene of the accident as some injuries may not present themselves until months later, and you are more likely to be covered by insurance if you previously sought or agreed to medical care when, or right after the crash occurred. Remember, even if you feel fine, the shock of the trauma and adrenaline can interfere with your ability to sense pain.
Additionally, it’s important that you do not take any responsibility for the crash unless you are certain that you were at fault. It’s wise to call the police and fill out an accident report right away as Florida law requires that you tell the investigating officer about the details of the accident. As soon as possible notify your insurance company and fill out a claim keeping a copy for your records. If able, take your own photos of your damaged car, body, and scene of the crash.
When should you notify your insurance carrier that you’ve been in an accident?
The short answer is, immediately. As soon as you’ve been in a collision, call your insurance company and explain what happened. When able, fill out a written claim with the facts of the incident, and keep a copy for your records.
Partnering with an experienced car accident attorney
Most car accident attorneys work on a contingency basis, meaning they do not get paid unless the plaintiff is awarded a settlement. If you need assistance with your motor vehicle accident, we encourage you to contact our experienced car accident attorneys about your situation for a no-obligation, no-cost consultation. Call Hardesty, Tyde, Green & Ashton, P.A. at 904-249-9030 or email us. You can learn more about personal injury claims on our Personal Injury FAQs web page.