Florida Insurance Laws: PIP
To register or operate a vehicle in Florida, you must show proof of having obtained $10,000 in PIP insurance, as well as $10,000 in Property Damage Liability (PDL) coverage.
The PIP is intended to pay you for any injuries you sustain in an accident, regardless of who is responsible. The PDL covers any damage to property your vehicle causes in an accident. You can always purchase PIP and PDL riders for larger amounts.
Typically, PIP will reimburse you for 80 percent of your medical expenses and 60 percent of wages lost due to time off from work because of injuries. If your injuries exceed the limits of your PIP, you can pay out of pocket. If the other driver caused the accident, you can seek compensation from his or her insurance policy, or you can initiate a personal injury lawsuit if your injury was serious enough.
Pursuing Compensation for Your Injuries
Remember that Florida imposes a four-year statute of limitations on filing personal injury claims, which is actually fairly generous given that many states impose two-year limits. If you do file a lawsuit against the responsible, at-fault driver, your potential compensation expands to cover not only economic damages for medical expenses and wage loss, but also non-economic damages for pain and suffering.
However, you will have to prove to the other driver’s insurance company or to a judge and jury that the negligence of the other driver caused your injuries, in whole or in part. Under Florida’s pure comparative negligence standard, each driver will be assigned a portion of the fault. You can recover the percentage of responsibility assigned to the other driver.
To illustrate: You seek $25,000 in damages, both economic and non-economic, from a driver who crashed into your car, causing you injuries and property damage. That driver’s insurance company or a jury in court will then examine the circumstances. Assume they find you to be 40 percent at fault for speeding or driving too closely. They may award you $25,000, but your compensation will be reduced by 40 percent, down to $15,000.
Because Florida uses a “pure” standard of comparative negligence, as opposed to a “modified” standard, you can still recover damages even if you’re judged 90 percent or more to blame. Of course, this would mean the other driver could recover 90 percent from you for their injuries and property damage.
Wrongful Death Lawsuits
If a loved one dies in a car accident because of another driver’s negligence, a wrongful death lawsuit can be filed. However, Florida limits the filing of wrongful death lawsuits to the personal representative of the decedent’s estate. Family members and relatives cannot otherwise initiate wrongful death claims.
The personal representative is someone named in the decedent’s will or trust, empowering that person to carry out the wishes expressed by the decedent. If the person died without a will or trust, then a probate court will appoint someone – often a family member – to assume the role.