One of the common misconceptions regarding a personal injury claim in Florida is the other person’s insurance is supposed to take care of your medical bills. In most other states this is correct, however, Florida mandates drivers to have personal injury protection insurance (otherwise known as PIP insurance). In short, the law states that regardless who’s at fault your own insurance takes care of the first $10,000.00 of medical bills first. Then is the responsibility of the person who caused the accident.
Many times when we start a claim for a client, I receive some pushback because the client does not want to open a PIP claim. The reason for the pushback is they don’t want their rates to go up. In a normal world I would agree that you shouldn’t have to make a claim on your own insurance when someone else is at fault, however we are in Florida. The proper thing to do is to make a claim on your own insurance for your PIP benefits, and then go after person who caused the accident for their bodily injury coverage to take care of any excess medical bills, co-pays, future damages, and pain and suffering.
WHY MAKING A CLAIM AGAINST YOUR PIP SHOULD NOT RAISE YOUR RATES
Attorney Jeffery Adelman wrote a terrific article in Justlaw magazine regarding just this issue. Under Florida Statute 626.9541(o)3a, bars imposing or requesting an additional premium for a policy of motor vehicle liability, personal injury protection, medical payment, or collision insurance or any combination thereof or refusing to renew the policy solely because the insured was involved in a motor accident unless the insurance file contains information from which the insurer in good faith determined that the insured was substantially at fault in the accident.
In essence, what this means is that an insurance company cannot bully you into raising your rates simply because you are in an accident. They must determine your substantially at fault for the accident to justify any rate increase.
ANY RATE INCREASED WITHOUT FAULT COULD SUBJECT THE INSURANCE COMPANY TO BAD FAITH LITIGATION
In the event you find your insurance company has either dropped you, or has raised your rates, for an accident you didn’t cause, talk to your insurance company and show them Florida Statute 626.9541(o)3a. If they do not alter their position, you may have the ability to file a bad faith action against the insurance company. You would have to follow the procedure under the Florida civil remedy statute.
NOW YOU KNOW, MAKE YOUR CLAIM
Now you know that making up PIP claim will not necessarily affect your rates as long as you were at fault, be confident in making your claim. If you choose not to make a claim, understand the other person’s insurance will discount the value of your case by $10,000.00 because they are entitled to a PIP set off. It wouldn’t make sense to do it this way for the above stated reasons. If you want to know more about how your personal injury case is valued, read my book “What the Heck is My Case Worth?” and look for more answers to frequently asked questions about your personal injury cases go here.