When and How Your PIP and UM Insurance Covers Your Own Losses
Florida’s laws regarding motor vehicle liability insurance are confusing at best, even to those who work with issues related to motor vehicle accidents and the insurance coverages that may be available to those injured as a result of another’s negligence on a daily basis. Many clients come to us confused about how their own insurance might be implicated if they were injured in an accident caused by someone else. They are often shocked at first to hear that their own insurance may pay part, or maybe even all, of their damages and losses suffered because of someone else’s negligence. However, this is just a fact of life driving in Florida. Given the huge numbers of uninsured motorists that are out and about on Florida’s roads, it is simply much more likely if you are involved in an accident in Florida that it will be with a driver who is not insured or whose insurance will be insufficient to cover whatever damages or injuries you suffered as a result of that person’s negligence. In such instances, then, the only insurance you likely will be able to look to for coverage of your damages and losses is your own.
Given these unique wrinkles to driving in the Sunshine State, there are some important things that every Florida motorist needs to know about his or her own insurance, starting with what exactly to expect if they are involved in an accident not of their own making. Personal injury protection (or PIP) benefits are mandatory for Florida motorists and cover the first $10,000 of damages and/or losses you suffered as a result of a motor vehicle accident. This insurance is therefore implicated in every motor vehicle accident regardless of who was at fault in causing the accident, unless you are not injured, and you suffered no damages or losses whatsoever as a result of the accident. Therefore, PIP coverage will always be implicated, regardless of whether the other driver had insurance or not. But, if your damages from an accident exceed that $10,000 threshold, then the issue as to whether the other driver has insurance becomes particularly important. If that driver either does not have insurance or has insufficient insurance to cover your damages, then you may find yourself looking to your own insurance to help compensate you for your damages and losses as a result of the accident. This is one reason it is particularly important to carry uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM) coverage given the number of uninsured and underinsured drivers on Florida’s roads. This type of insurance is there for the exact scenario in which you may have suffered injuries or damages that exceeded the amount of your PIP coverage, but the other driver is either uninsured or only carrying the bare minimum required under Florida law.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Benefits
Florida’s personal injury protection (PIP) insurance scheme is unique to the Sunshine State. This controversial mandatory automobile insurance provides benefits for the first $10,000 in damages that someone suffers in a motor vehicle accident, regardless of who was at fault. Despite multiple attempts at overhauls of the state’s PIP scheme in recent years, the Florida Legislature has been unable to reform the system. Therefore, even if someone else‘s negligence caused you to suffer injuries and/or property damage in a motor vehicle accident, then your own PIP benefits will always come first to cover whatever costs of medical treatment and lost wages you have up to $10,000. This is true regardless of whether the other driver has insurance or not. Therefore, you will always look to your own insurance for that first $10,000 in damages you may have suffered as a result of a motor vehicle accident, regardless of who caused it. However, this is not even the only case in which you might find yourself looking to your own insurance policy for coverage related to your injuries and property damage suffered in a motor vehicle accident in Florida.
Uninsured/Underinsured (UM) Coverage
Another scenario in which you might find yourself making a claim against your own motor vehicle liability policy when you are involved in a motor vehicle accident in the Sunshine State is if you are hit by a motorist who is uninsured. Uninsured motorists are a particular problem in Florida. Some estimates place the number of uninsured drivers on the state’s roads as high as 20%. This leaves you in a particularly vulnerable position if you are involved in an accident with one of these uninsured drivers because there will be no insurance on the other side for you to look to in order to cover your losses and damages suffered as a result of the other driver’s negligence. While you do always retain the right to sue the driver that caused you injuries regardless of whether or not he or she has insurance, the juice is often not worth the squeeze if the person lacks any motor vehicle liability insurance; if they are refusing to comply with the law and carry even the minimal PIP coverage required under Florida law, they might not be worth suing for your damages from a motor vehicle accident. Therefore, this is again one scenario in which you may find yourself looking to your own insurance to cover damages you suffered as a result of someone else’s negligence. This is only true if you carry uninsured/underinsured (UM) coverage, then you will be making a claim against your own insurance policy in the event you are involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorists. This coverage will pay for your damages up to the amount of your coverage limits for UM coverage.
Contact Schwed, Adams, & McGinley
At Schwed Adams & McGinley, P.A., our experienced personal injury attorneys have more than 150 years of combined legal experience and many of our firm’s cases stem from motor vehicle accidents in which our clients have been injured due to someone else’s negligence. We know the ins and outs of Florida law and what is and is not covered by the many different types of insurance policies available in the market because we have dealt with it on behalf of our clients for so many years. We have helped many accident victims who were injured and then found out that the other driver was uninsured or underinsured. However, this does not necessarily have to be a catastrophe; you have options and can seek compensation from your own insurance policy and we can help. Call us toll free at 877.694.6079 or email us today at firstname.lastname@example.org to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer.