We’ve spoken about the legislative intent of our Florida Motor Vehicle No Fault Law and the general tenets and parameters thereof. Many people mistakenly think an at fault driver will pay their medical bills, or think that their health insurance will pay them. As previously indicated, an at fault driver’s insurance company only pays the 20% of your medical expenses not covered by your own policy, and state law requires you to use your own policy no matter who was at fault. I reiterate you have nothing to worry about in terms of an increase in rates, etc. (beyond small increases most of us see annually due to inflation, etc.) and moreover, your health insurance will tell any doctor, etc. that state law requires you to use your own auto policy’s no fault benefits as primary coverage.
If you have a deductible on your Personal Injury Protection (no fault coverage) get a rate quote for a zero deductible, you will find that it is very little difference in premium dollars. If you’ve been in a recent accident or would just like to have your policy reviewed, call The Freedom Law Firm, 407-883-2618.
I spoke at some length earlier about the legislative intent of the Florida Motor Vehicle No Fault Law, originally written and passed in the 1970′s and its evolution, and about the definition(s) of our permanency threshold, an integral part of that law and will expand on both later.
I want to talk today about a very…very…misleading phrase. Many times I’ve heard clients or prospective clients say “I have full coverage on my vehicle.” Unfortunately, all too often this is what that person heard from an insurance agent who actually issued them Florida’s minimum requirements to register, tag and operate a vehicle on Florida roads. Florida only requires no fault coverage (Personal Injury Protection or “PIP” for short) which pays medical expenses and lost wages to $10,000 with basic coverage and property damage liability coverage at $10,000 to pay for the vehicle damage for anyone you may be involved in an accident with where you were at fault. PIP pays the benefits outlined regardless of who was at fault, hence the term no fault law, HOWEVER…Florida allows up to a $1,000 deductible on such coverage and pays medical expenses at 80% once a deductible is surpassed. If you are in an accident and deemed to be at fault and take an ambulance ride to the emergency room, and let’s say you don’t have health insurance, between the ambulance, hospital, emergency room doctor (which is a separate bill) and a radiologist’s bill for reading x-rays at the emergency room, you can easily wind up with $1,000 owed or more. So as you can see “full coverage” is often very misleading. If you’ve been in an accident, our consultations are free with no obligation and we will be happy to give you a detailed analysis of your own auto insurance policy and any other driver deemed to be at fault or partly at fault will analyze their insurance company’s declaration of coverages and let you know what we can do for you.
The Freedom Law Firm, 407-883-2618.
Remember our discussion of the legislative intent of Florida’s No Fault Law and the pecking order, or order of priority, of entitlement to those benefits.
The converse side of the coin in a manner of speaking is that to recover money for pain and suffering (the 20% of medical expenses and 40% of lost wages are compensable, payable, by an at fault driver’s liability insurance coverage without regard to this rule) you must have sustained a permanent injury. That said, residual (lasting) stiffness, soreness and / or loss of range of motion meets the law’s definition of permanent impairment and the American Medical Association‘s Guides on the subject. Overall get yourself checked out by a doctor and if you need treatment, get it. With purely muscle strain, we can still probably recover thousands of dollars for you for pain and suffering with all your medical bills and attorney’s fees paid. The Freedom Law Firm, 407-883-2618, call today for a free consultation!
We spoke yesterday of a key change to Florida’s Motor Vehicle No Fault Law requiring injured victims to seek medical treatment within fourteen days of an accident or lose $10,000 or more in medical expense and lost wage benefits.
Today I’ll discuss the basic parameters of that law and the legislative intent. Indeed, one of my staff members knows a retired physician in Lake County who was a former Florida state representative and later a Florida state Senator. In the early 1970′s at committee level he helped write what was called the Florida Motor Vehicle Reparations Act, later becoming officially named what everyone called it…the No Fault Law. So we know a good deal about legislative intent as we’ve often discussed with the man who helped write the law over forty years ago. Then later we will discuss the definitions of “permanency threshhold”.
The basics of the No Fault Law are that if you are a Florida resident and injured in the operation, maintenance or use of a regular highway passenger four wheeled vehicle (motorcycles don’t count and there are other excluded classes of vehicles such as taxicabs and city buses), you are entitled to $10,000 in medical expense and lost wage benefits from your own policy NO MATTER WHO WAS AT FAULT. If you were not at fault, you have nothing to worry about in terms of an increase in premiums or being dropped. When we say your own policy, this is defined in a particular order under that law:
1. If you own a car, truck or van those benefits come from your policy again no matter who was at fault and NO MATTER IF YOUR VEHICLE WAS EVEN INVOLVED IN THE ACCIDENT.
2 If you do not own a vehicle or it is disabled, but live with a relative who owns a vehicle, the benefits come from the resident relative’s coverage and again, fault does not matter and whether or not the vehicle was involved doesn’t matter.
3. If you do not own a vehicle and don’t live with a relative who does, you draw your benefits from the vehicle you occupy at the time of the accident.
4. If you do not own a vehicle nor live with a relative who does and were not occupying a vehicle when you were injured by another driver, i.e., you were a pedestrian or on a bicycle
(but not on a motorcycle) that is the one time you draw your no fault benefits from the vehicle that strikes you.
Again, later on we will discuss the permanency threshhold and what The Freedom Law Firm, 407-883-2618 can do for you. We can explain your coverages in more depth than your agent and make recommendations.
Q: I have read some things in the newspaper and seen one clip on the evening news about changes in state law for auto accidents. What can you tell me?
A: The most important change to Florida’s Motor Vehicle No Fault Law which was revised in January of this year is that an injured victim involved in an auto accident here and who is a Florida resident must seek treatment within 14 days of an accident or they lose $10,000 (per person) in medical expense and lost wage benefits. Even if you feel you’re “not really all that hurt” (stiffness, soreness) you owe it to yourself and often your family to at least get checked out. Not to tell you a horror story, but sometimes it’s worse than you might think. We are in the 21st century and with the advent of MRI, again, get checked out by a doctor and we can help in that regard. Tomorrow I will talk about Florida’s “threshhold” to collect for pain and suffering and the legislative intent of state law and its transition over the years. One of my staff knows a former Florida legislator (now retired) who helped write this law in the 1970′s so we’re pretty well versed. Further questions? Call The Freedom Law Firm at 407-883-2618.
Q: My wife was in an accident three days ago and got checked out at the hospital. I want to be sure her followup care is with a very well credentialed doctor and I’m not enamored of lawyers on TV. Can you help us? Do law firms help their clients locate better medical providers?
A: Yes. The physicians we work with (of a variety of specialties) are most often board certified and excellent caregivers, who also testify very well. Insurance companies know this law firm means business therefore we maximize claims. Our consultations are free and we are happy to meet after hours. The Freedom Law Firm, 407-883-2618; we look forward to hearing from you!
Q: I was riding with a buddy and we got hit by a drunk driver. The police gave us his insurance information before carting him off to jail and it’s a good company, one of the biggest.
I got checked out by paramedics and so did my friend but we didn’t go to the emergency room because we were worried about an ambulance bill and hospital bill. I don’t own a car and I live alone but my buddy has good insurance. This was four days ago. Can you help us?
A: Yes. You should call us immediately as our consultations are free with no obligation and if you do not seek medical treatment within 14 days of the accident you EACH lose $10,000 in medical bill and lost wage benefits. As you do not own a car or live with a relative who does you draw these benefits from the vehicle you occupied, that is from your friend’s insurance policy. We can help your friend on his car damage for free, and pursue a settlement (money) for each of you versus the drunk driver’s insurance company. Unless we are successful, you owe us nothing. The Freedom Law Firm, 407-883-2618, we look forward to your call!
Q: I was sitting under an umbrella the other day dining outside at a little cafe. An elderly woman jumped the curb and careened toward us. Several patrons leapt out of her way and I dived but hit the pavement hard. She stopped and the police came out. We were all given her insurance information. I own a car and so does my wife. I am very stiff and sore. How does this work?
A: Under Florida’s No Fault Law, the coverage on your and/or your wife’s auto (may be pro-rated) covers your medical expenses and lost wages if they apply up to $10,000 or more if you carry supplemental coverage, no matter who was at fault, and even though your car wasn’t involved. You don’t have to worry about a raise in rates or anything and you can check that with your agent. It is IMPERATIVE you seek medical treatment within 14 days of the accident or you lose those benefits. We can help in that regard. We will pursue the elderly driver’s insurance company for a settlement for you for pain and suffering and you owe us nothing unless we are successful. The Freedom Law Firm, 407-883-2618 - we look forward to your call!
Q: My situation is a little unusual. My wife was in an accident a week ago and her forearm was shattered and she had surgery on that and her hand. The at fault driver’s insurance company said they have $100,000 in coverage and with confirmation of her injuries are prepared to pay it. They are repairing our car and have us in a nice rental. I also have good coverage as we’ve always paid the premium dollars for such and we’re with a big insurance company. Would it be silly of me to hire a lawyer or can you help us?
A: Yes, we can help. Bear in mind your wife is entitled to no fault coverage to pay medical expenses to $10,000 or more with supplemental coverage. Bear in mind, you may also carry underinsured motorist coverage and if you accept the $100,000 from the liability insurance carrier and sign a release, you will have nullified your underinsured coverage without going through a technical step requesting a waiver of what is called subrogation interests. Simply put, you could be throwing away another $25,000, $50,000, $100,000 or even more if you are not careful. This is a bit of a minefield and our consultations are free at no obligation; we’re happy to explain all this in depth in person and to meet with you after hours. The Freedom Law Firm, 407-883-2618 - we look forward to your call!
Q: Do I have a case? I was in an accident this past weekend and the police officer said fault could not be determined as there were no witnesses. I disagree, my passenger, although my friend, certainly witnessed that we had a green light and the other driver ran the red light. The officer just seemed to discount that. I got a ticket for no proof of insurance, but I am insured, just didn’t have my card with me. Both my friend and I are now real sore. Can you help us?
A: Yes. With your passenger’s statement I believe we can successfully prosecute a claim versus the other driver’s insurance company for both your vehicle damage and to compensate you both for pain and suffering and you owe us nothing unless we succeed in that regard. You must seek treatment within 14 days of the accident….both of you…or you lose $10,000 EACH in prospective medical expense and lost wage benefits, we can help in this regard also. Our consultations are free with no obligation and we are more than willing to meet after hours including weekends. The Freedom Law Firm, 407-883-2618; we look forward to your call!