Why Do We Have to Use My Insurance?

Frequently, I am asked by my clients who are injured in automobile crashes, why is my insurance involved? I am not at fault. Why isn't the other guys insurance paying for my medical expenses?

Since the early 1970's, people injured in automobile crashes in Florida are usually entitled to have 80% of their medical bills and 60% of their lost wages paid by their own auto insurance policy, up to a maximum of $10,000. This amount of insurance does not have to be paid back out of the proceeds of any settlement or verdict, but the insurance company for the person who caused the crash-and who is paying the settlement or verdict-is entitled to deduct any PIP payments made on the injured person's behalf from their settlement offer or from the verdict. (See related article-Why are they subtracting $10,000 from my jury verdict?). This is because Florida law requires every owner of an auto mobile to have a minimum level of auto insurance which includes so called "No Fault" insurance, or Personal Injury Protection (PIP). PIP pays its benefits if the injury suffered arose out of the "use, maintenance or operation" of an automobile. So, for instance, if you are walking across the street and are hit by a car, your own auto policy applies to provide you with PIP coverage. This safety net of insurance coverages was thought by the legislature to be a preferable system because every person injured in an automobile crash would have access to valuable insurance coverages to get the medical attention they needed, regardless of whether the crash itself was their fault or not. Hence the term "No Fault". Over the years, the "No Fault" scheme has come under increasing criticism, but as of now, it is still the law in Florida. More importantly, it has been my experience that it is a vital and important resource for injured clients and that they should never be reluctant to access it. You have-after all-been paying your own insurance company premiums every month for the coverages.


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