I am missing work due to pain from my Florida car accident; who is responsible to pay my lost wages?

Generally, in Florida, everyone that owns a car is required to have no fault or PIP (personal injury protection) insurance. That insurance pays for 80 percent of medical bills and 60 percent of wages, up to a total of $10,000. And since this is no fault insurance, it does not matter if you are at fault or the other car is at fault or there is a dispute as to fault. The bottom line is that your own insurance pays 60 percent of your lost wages, when sufficient proof is submitted (generally a disability note from your doctor and a wage verification form from your employer). If the other car is at fault, you can seek, as part of a settlement or verdict, the other 40 percent of unpaid wages.

Why do I need to go to a doctor to get money for a car accident in Florida? Doesn’t the other person owe me money solely because they caused an accident?`

Under Florida law, the person who causes an accident can be sued for damages. The damages that one can generally seek are medical bills past and future, lost wages past and future, and non economic damages (generally pain and suffering) past and future. If someone does not go to a doctor, then they would not have past medical bills and obviously obtaining future medical bills would be difficult in that scenario. If someone did not go to the doctor, they likely would not have lost wages. Most people focus on the “pain and suffering” or “inconvenience” when they ask this sort of a question. However, under Florida law, a permanent injury (or death, significant scarring or permanent disfigurement) is required to be entitled to any sort of non economic damages like pain and suffering. A permanent injury is generally proven by medical testimony and thus a doctor is necessary. Someone generally cannot prove a permanent injury with their own testimony. Thus, doctors and medical treatment is generally required to have a case for injuries in a car accident in Florida.

In Florida, if the No-Fault PIP pays the medical bills, why is the lawyer using some of my settlement or verdict to pay medical bills?

Generally, Florida no fault PIP (personal injury protection) pays for 80 percent of medical bills and up to $10,000. Thus, there is generally 20 percent of unpaid medical bills AFTER PIP pays. Plus, if you have more than $12,500 of medical bills (80 percent of $12,500 is $10,000), then any billing after that would be due and payable. Thus, part of the claim against the person that caused the accident would be for the 20 percent unpaid medical bills plus any of the medical bills that go over and above the PIP. And therefore part of the settlement is to pay those bills and are to be paid from the settlement/verdict.

Do all of my medical bills get paid by No-Fault Insuance in Florida?

Generally, in Florida, no-fault insurance (personal injury protection or PIP) pays 80 percent of medical bills, NOT 100 percent. Also, no fault PIP coverage pays up to $10,000 of medical bills. This is the minimum PIP coverage that the law requires. In my experience, this is the coverage that the vast majority of people in Florida purchase. However, it is possible to buy more than $10,000 of PIP and you can also buy something called medical payment coverage which pays the other 20 percent and any monies over and above the $10,000. Most commonly medical payment coverage is for $5,000 but sometimes it is for $10,000 or even more.

Why should my insurance pay the medical bills if everyone agrees that the other car is at fault for a Florida car accident? Why should my insurance have anything to do with it???

This is a common question that people ask following a car accident. Florida is a no fault state which means that your own insurance pays your medical bills following a car accident. The reason generally ascribed to answering this is that the lawmakers wanted to be sure that everyone had some insurance to pay medical bills and did not want the cause of the accident to dictate whether someone could get treatment and thus required all vehicle owners to have no fault or PIP (personal injury protection) to pay medical bills. Obviously, it would make sense for the other person’s insurance to pay the bills if they agree they are at fault but in fact your own insurance is primarily responsible for your medical bills at 80 percent up to $10,000.

In prior blog entries, it is discussed whether it is lawful or not for the insurance company to raise your rates for an accident that you are not at fault. Generally, the law says that it is not lawful to raise your rates for an accident that you make a PIP claim; however, if you are in three accidents within three years, then they are allowed to raise your rates.