When Can You File a Personal Injury Lawsuit Under the PIP Insurance System?
Under Florida law, not every car accident victim is entitled to bring a personal injury lawsuit. Florida is a no-fault state, which means that your auto insurance company will provide coverage for your medical expenses, lost wages, and other related expenses up to the limit of your policy (the minimum coverage is $10,000 under the current personal injury protection (PIP) insurance system, which all drivers are required to have).
Part of the reasoning behind this system is to reduce personal injury litigation. Therefore, drivers who would otherwise be legally responsible for accident-related damages are exempt from tort liability to the extent that the damages are covered by insurance.
However, If you are eligible to seek damages for pain and suffering, you may file a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver(s) or anyone else who can be held legally responsible, such as the owner of a trucking company if the accident happened while the driver was working. But you may only do so if you meet the serious injury threshold.
The Serious Injury Threshold
What constitutes a serious injury under Florida law? One important thing to note is that how much you spend on medical expenses does not in itself determine the seriousness of your injury. For example, if you spend thousands of dollars on plastic surgery for minor scarring, that will not be enough to meet the injury threshold. Instead, here is the legal criteria for determining whether your injury meets the applicable threshold:
Car accident victims may recover damages for pain, suffering, mental anguish and inconvenience caused by bodily injury only if the injury consists (in whole or in part) of:
- Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function;
- Permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical certainty (this does not include minor scarring or disfigurement);
- Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement; and/or
If your (or a loved one’s) injury satisfies that criteria, you may file a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party to recover damages for pain and suffering and other expenses not covered by your PIP insurance.
What’s Going on With the PIP System?
The latest effort to replace the PIP insurance system died in May when the state Senate failed to act on a House-approved bill repealing the system.
The House voted to replace the current system with one requiring motorists to carry minimum bodily insurance coverage of $25,000 for injuries to another person and $50,000 for injuries to two or more people. While the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee also voted to replace the PIP system with a requirement that motorists carry bodily injury protection, the proposal was never considered by the entire chamber. There was also a key difference between the House bill and the Senate proposal: The Senate version included a provision creating a medical payment (called MedPay) coverage mandate of $5,000.
If the Senate had passed its version of the bill, the two chambers would have had to agree on one version before it could be sent to the governor for his signature or veto.
Contact Us for Professional Assistance
If you have been injured in a car accident, contact a Jacksonville personal injury attorney at The Pendas Law Firm today for a free consultation. We will determine whether you’re eligible to bring a personal injury lawsuit and help you receive the compensation that you deserve.
The Pendas Law Firm also represents clients in the Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Fort Myers, Miami, Tampa, Orlando, Daytona Beach and Bradenton areas.