If you are involved in a serious car accident that results in hospitalization for broken bones, fractures, spinal cord damage, brain injuries, or other significant injuries, you can quickly be overwhelmed by legal requirements and insurance company obstacles. When you suffer an injury or lose a loved one to a motorist who is alcohol impaired, distracted, or a reckless driver, you will need to navigate insurance issues to maximize your financial recovery. Our Miami auto accident lawyers have provided an overview of a couple of key insurance issues relevant to Florida crash injury victims.
Woefully Inadequate Florida Liability Insurance Requirements
The Florida Financial Responsibility Law requires that all drivers carry bodily injury (BI) liability coverage or post a bond if they are at-fault in an accident. However, this requirement rings hollow given the minimal amount of coverage that motorist are required to purchase. The statutory minimum for BI liability coverage under Florida law is $10,000 per injury victim and $20,000 per crash for all victims. The minimum liability coverage for property damage is $10,000.
When drivers carry nothing more than this negligible amount of coverage, policy limits will be woefully inadequate to compensate a victim who has suffered catastrophic injuries. If there are multiple vehicle occupants injured by an at-fault motorist, policy limits might be exhausted without an injury victim receiving any compensation unless he or she wins the race to file a claim. Even more alarming, drivers convicted of DUI on or before October 1, 2007 are subject to the same minimal requirements for coverage.
Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can result in debilitating conditions that cause cognitive impairment, behavioral changes, diminished sensation, paralysis, distorted emotional responses, and memory loss. The cost of catastrophic injuries like a TBI can amount to hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars in economic and non-economic losses, including medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, pain and suffering, lost earnings, diminished earning capacity, supportive assistance, loss of consortium, burial/funeral expenses (wrongful death), punitive damages, and other relevant forms of damages.
The nominal amount of liability coverage required under Florida law typically will not even cover a seriously injured car accident victim’s hospital bills. An experienced Miami auto accident attorney recognizes the importance of identifying all viable sources of compensation, including other potential defendants with insurance coverage and assets, assets of the at-fault driver, the victim’s own coverage, and other financial resources.
Potential Traps for Policyholders Pursuing Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Coverage
Under Florida law, drivers are required to carry $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP), which pays for medical bills and disability benefits on a no-fault basis. The coverage pays for 80 percent of all reasonable expenses from medically necessary medical, surgical, X-ray, dental, and rehabilitative services, including prosthetic devices and medically necessary ambulance, hospital, and nursing services.
PIP disability benefits cover any loss of gross income, loss or earning capacity, or loss of household services the injury victim would have provided if not for the disabling injuries. This form of coverage also includes a $5,000 death benefit for surviving family members in the wake of a fatal collision.
However, changes in Florida law that went into effect January 1, 2013 created a number of potential pitfalls for policyholders. First, policyholders can be limited to only $2,500 in coverage unless the insured is determined to have an emergency medical condition. Second, an insured must seek medical treatment within 14 days of the collision to claim PIP benefits. Third, injury victims must obtain certification from a specifically designated medical professional that immediate medical attention was necessary.
PIP coverage also was revised to exclude certain healthcare practitioners, such as acupuncturists and message therapists. These so-called “reforms”, which were the product of intense pro-insurance lobbying efforts, also permit insurers to make changes to PIP coverage without prior notification to policyholders. Our Miami Car Accident Lawyers explore all available sources of compensation to obtain the fullest monetary recovery.
Greenberg Stone and Urbano: Seeking Maximum Recovery for Damages Sustained Due to Negligence
If you or your family member has been injured in a motor vehicle accident in Miami or the surrounding areas of Florida, our Florida Auto Accident Attorneys at Greenberg Stone and Urbano can explain your options and tenaciously pursue the full compensation you deserve. For over 130 collective years, our firm has assisted accident victims in personal injury and wrongful death actions across South Florida. We seek to obtain compensation for your tangible and intangible damages, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. Our skill and dedication has earned us an AV rating from Martindale Hubbell and recognition as one of South Florida’s top firms by the Miami Herald. Call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or visit our website to schedule your initial consultation.